M2066 Vindicator

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M2066 Vindicator
M2066 Vindicator.png
M2066A1 Vindicator
Type Light Battle Tank
Place of origin  Layarteb
Service history
In service 2008 - present
Used by
Production history
Designer Layartebian Defense Corporation
Designed 2000 - 2008
Manufacturer Layartebian Defense Corporation
Produced 2006 - Present
Specifications
Weight 40 tons (36,287 kg)
Length 22.8 ft (6.95 m)
Width 10.5 ft (3.2 m)
Height 8.3 ft (2.53 m)
Crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)

Armor AMAP Composite Armor
Main
armament
M68A3 105mm/52-caliber smoothbore cannon (48 rounds)
Secondary
armament

  • (1) M35A4 7.62MM LMG coaxial (2,800 rounds)
  • (1) M35A41 7.62MM LMG (2,400 rounds)
  • (1) M2A1 12.7MM HMG in RWS (2,000 rounds)
  • MGM-250 LAHAT ATGMs
Engine VD270-V12-1050 Twin-Turbocharged Diesel Engine
1050 hp (783 kW) @ 2300 rpm
Power/weight 26.25 hp/t (21.58 kW/tonne)
Transmission Semi-automatic: 7 gears forward, 2 gears reverse
Suspension Hydropneumatic Active
Ground clearance 18 in (45.72 cm)
Fuel capacity 320 gal (1,200 L)
Operational
range
300 mi (483 km)
Speed 50 mph (80 km/h) [on-road]


The M2066 Vindicator is a third-generation, Layartebian Light Battle Tank (LBT) in service with the Imperial Layartebian Military.

Development

Origins

In 1998, the Ministry of Defense issued an RFP for a new class of vehicles, the Light Battle Tank. Until then, Layartebian tanks were virtually all of the larger Main Battle Tanks weighing in excess of 60 tons. The proposal for an LBT came with a shift in doctrine in the Imperial Layartebian Military, which called for the use of lighter, smaller, more agile tanks in urban situations. In such battle conditions, MBTs often found themselves heavily limited and so a smaller and lighter vehicle could provide adequate fire support and face fewer hindrances, though infantry support would still be required.

Two designs were submitted, one a modification of the CV90 and the other the Vindicator LBT, a foreign design that could be easily tailored to the ILM's needs. The CV90105, as it was designated, appeared to have all of the advantages early on in the competition, chiefly because the CV90 had been selected to replace existing M2 Bradley IFVs and M3 Bradley CFVs. Commonality among vehicles was a major theme and push for the Ministry of Defense who wanted to ease the logistical burden of a vastly growing military.

By 2000, the first prototypes of each vehicle were constructed and ready to begin testing. From 2000 - 2004, the grueling nature of the tests put the two vehicles through unprecedented trials. Commentators often remarked that if MBTs were put through the same trials none would pass. This was done because the Ministry of Defense believed that the LBT should be far more agile and maneuverable in rough terrain and it needed to be able to survive in the most harrowing of combat environments, namely urban centers under full assault. By 2004 there was no clear winner and the competition was extended for a further 2 years.

It was not until mid to late 2005 that the Vindicator appeared to have the advantage. The CV90105 was nearly 15 tons lighter than the Vindicator but it was not considerably smaller. When exposed to battle conditions, the vehicle lacked the power that the Vindicator had. In rough terrain it was an excellent performer but the Vindicator simply outclassed it and while the Vindicator was as heavy as most Eastern MBTs, it was considerably lighter than the Layartebian MBTs. Thus, the decision was made in November 2005 to adopt the Vindicator as the M2066 Vindicator LBT. Ultimately, this decision would lead to the Ministry of Defense seeking replacements for the CV90-series vehicles beginning in the early 2010s for a more robust and capable vehicle.

Production

Production requirements for the M2066 Vindicator LBT were firmed by April 2006 and production began in May 2006. However, production orders were only for 510 vehicles, much lower than originally envisioned, chiefly because the Imperial Layartebian Marine Corps did not order any vehicles. Of the 510 initial vehicles, 410 would go to the Imperial Layartebian Army and 100 would go to the Layartebian Foreign Legion. A total of 190 vehicles were produced in 2006 at an average of 24 per month. In 2007, production was stable at 30 vehicles per month until July when the factory moved to turn out 40 vehicles. In August and September, 50 vehicles were turned out per month, completing the orders for the Imperial Layartebian Army and the Layartebian Foreign Legion.

However, production would not have to stop. In March 2007, the ILMC signed an order for 1,080 tanks and production began in October 2007 at a rate of 120 per month. Through June 2008, those 1,080 vehicles were produced. Despite this, 756 tanks would not reach frontline service but instead enter into a vehicle pool to replace damaged vehicles. Once again, the production line kept going, this time with a massive order.

The Imperial Layartebian Defense Force had initially expressed interest in the M2066 when it was undergoing trials; however, doctrine did not call for the ILDF to maintain tanks. Following the end of the Conquests, it seemed unlikely that the ILDF would be able to operate tanks but then a dramatic shift occurred within the ILDF. It was determined that the ILDF's cavalry divisions could be used in low intensity conflicts as a spearhead element. Chiefly bringing this on was the war in Mato Grosso and in November 2007, the ILDF agreed to purchase 7,200 vehicles. Production began in July 2008 and ran clear through June 2013 at a steady rate of 120 per month.

With 8,790 vehicles produced, the Imperial Layartebian Military opted to keep the line open but at a reduced rate to procure extra vehicles for spare parts and to replace vehicles destroyed in battle. The production rate was reduced to 10 per month and a contract for 580 vehicles was signed, which would keep the line open through April 2018. The LDC had hoped that export customers would materialize for the M2066 but it was not until July 2016 that the first export customer for the Vindicator would materialize.

In July 2016, a joint agreement with the Mexican government allowed for an export contract of some 120 vehicles. However, due to materials requirements, the LDC will only be able to deliver 50 tanks by the end of 2016 with the remaining 70 tanks being delivered by March 2017. Export orders, while not forthcoming, could keep the line open. Due to the export, the line has production orders through the end of 2018, in which it will produce the final 210 vehicles of its final 580-vehicle contract. Export orders could keep the line open for longer and the LDC is banking on additional export orders to keep the line open through at least 2020. The LDC has the capacity to produce up to 120 vehicles per month though with current materials orders, significant lead time is required for new production orders to begin full-rate production.

Upgrades

The first 190 M2066A1 Vindicators rolled off of the production line without an RWS chiefly because of a shortage in M153 PROTECTOR RWS units, which were being rapidly retrofit onto all Layartebian light trucks. RWS units were retrofitted onto these vehicles beginning in 2009 and all vehicles produced after 2006 were equipped with an RWS. Due to internal space constraints however, only one RWS could be installed, which would be operated by the commander.

M2066A2

In 2013, a design study by the team that created the Vindicator was commissioned to evaluate increasing the size of the main gun on the vehicle. The design team did not believe that the M68A3 was insufficient but rather they believed that the vehicle could handle a larger gun. Initial thoughts centered around the M360A2 125-millimeter/52-caliber gun, which was used on the M2032 Sabertooth. However, it was determined that the gun was going to be too large for the vehicle and instead, designers looked at the M360A1 120-millimeter/44-caliber tank gun. The ETC design weighed only 1,135 lb (515 kg) more than the M68A3. Additional changes were made to the turret, increasing the weight of the tank to 42 tons (38,102 kg).

The first prototype was converted in January 2015 but it was not well-received by the Imperial Layartebian Military. This was not because the vehicle underperformed, quite the contrary. Instead, the vehicle was not well-received because the Imperial Layartebian Military had phased out all 120-millimeter ammunition. Despite this, interest does exist in the model, just among minority groups within the Ministry of Defense. The possibility of the vehicle being put into limited service with the Layartebian Foreign Legion has perhaps the highest chance.

M2066A3

Following the rise of the Hi No Moton Empire in 2009 and the subsequent annexation of most of the western Pacific by the Hi No Moton Empire, the ILMC issued a request to upgrade 168 of its M2066A1 Vindicators to be optimized for jungle warfare. The request was issued in November 2012 as the ILDF was nearing the end of its full-rate production for the ILDF's tank order. Design work on the ILMC's vehicle began in March 2013 and the first prototype was available for testing in October 2013.

The M2066 platform is ideal for jungle warfare chiefly because of its very low ground pressure. The ground pressure of the M2066A1 is only 10.37 psi (71.5 KPa) while the ground pressure of the slightly heavier M2066A3 is 10.65 psi (73.43 KPa). For comparison, the Centurion main battle tank had a ground pressure of 13.51 psi (93.16 KPa) and performed excellently in jungle warfare.

The conversion process did not change the M2066 as the tank itself was suitable for jungle warfare but it did enhance its ability to operate in jungle environments. For starters, the side skirts were removed to prevent vegetation and mud from building up between the tracks and the mudguards, a common problem with tanks operating in the jungle. Secondly, the air conditioning system was improved to provide better cooling in hot and humid environments. Thirdly, the conversion provided two permanent attachments on the front for mine clearing blades, which would aid in the rough terrain of the jungles. Fourthly, the conversion provided the ability to install a flamethrower kit onto the vehicle. Additional changes were made to provide better suit the vehicle for the hot and moist environments of the jungle.

The vehicle was originally designated as the M2066A1M for "Marine" and four vehicles were tested between October 2013 and December 2014, all in the jungles of Central and South America. The vehicle conversion was approved in December 2014 and the last of the 168 vehicles were converted to the M2066A1M standard by February 2016. The vehicles were designated as M2066A3 upon entry into service. Despite the addition of various systems, the removal of the side skirts increased the weight of the vehicle only slightly from 40 tons (36,287 kg) to 41 tons (37,195 kg).

Design

External

Externally, the Vindicator is approximately the same size as the T-80 MBT. However, the turret of the Vindicator has roots in that of the Leopard 2A4 like the M2032A1 Sabertooth MBT. There are no plans to procure an angled turret for the Vindicator.

The Vindicator adheres to the traditional layout of a tank with one exception; like the Merkava, the Vindicator places its engine in the front of the tank. This was done to ensure better protection for the engine and allow for better rear armor protection, which was considered crucial for urban battlefields. Even though no Vindicator would operate without infantry support, designers believed that extra protection should be afforded to the tank and its crew. The profile on the Vindicator is relatively low compared to MBTs but this is mainly because of the smaller size of the tank.

The chassis of the vehicle is 22.8 ft (6.95 m) long, 10.5 ft (3.2 m) wide, and 8.3 ft (2.53 m) tall without an RWS. With an RWS this is increased to 10.8 ft (3.29 m). With the gun forward, the length of the Vindicator increases to 31.33 ft (9.2 m). The vehicle is 40 tons (36,287 kg) in weight while the M2066A2 is 42 tons (38,102 kg) in weight due to the addition of the larger and heavier main gun.

Featured on the M2066 Vindicator is something that was featured on the M2032A2 Sabertooth. Like the Sabertooth, the Vindicator's lower hull is solid forged with a shallow "V" angle for blast deflection. This means that there is no lower escape hatch but as the M2032A1 showed, the escape hatches were rarely used due to their placement and time required to access. The use of a solid-forged hull provides exceptional resistance against blast-based anti-tank mines and IEDs, which was seen as a greater imperative for the Vindicator. In addition, the solid-forged lower hull is lighter and provides better fording capabilities. For escape, a crew can utilize a rear hatch, which utilizes clamshell-style doors like in the Merkava.

Internal

Within the Vindicator sits four crewmen. This proved controversial at first. Due to the smaller size of the Vindicator, a school of thought believed that a three-man crew was sufficient as it worked on the T-80. However, a second school of thought believed that losing a pair of hands inside of the vehicle would hinder the vehicle's crew in making repairs and fighting in combat. Ultimately, the former school won and the vehicle was equipped for three crewmen though there is space for a forth. The crew of the vehicle thus consists of the driver, the commander, and the gunner. An autoloader is provided to take the place of the loader.

Like all tanks, the Vindicator is cramped and though a fourth man can be seated within the hull, he would find the space even less comfortable. To protect against NBC threats, the vehicle operates an overpressure system that prevents external air from mixing with internal air when the vehicle is fully sealed. When it is fully sealed it is watertight. The tank is fully climate controlled, utilizing heat from engine to provide warmth in cold weather and air conditioning in warm weather. It has been noted however that even with the air conditioning running at full blast, the heat from the engine keeps the inside from getting too cold.

Electrical systems within the Vindicator are EMP hardened and the tank's main computer can be linked to the greater Layartebian defense network. Because of cyber warfare capabilities, systems are offered with triple redundancy and dynamic protection against digital threats. The entire software system of the tank can be updated in less than 90 minutes with nothing more than a laptop. Regular software updates are done to ensure the tank's systems are the most up-to-date.

For internal power and for power when the vehicle is not running, there is an auxiliary power unit installed, which is capable of generating 10kW @ 28VDC with 350 Amps of current. The APU runs off of regular fuel and consumes 0.96 gal/hr (3.63 l/hr).

To aid with crew comfort in downtown, the vehicle is equipped with an AM/FM radio that can accept both CDs and an auxiliary input. Speakers throughout the tank can provide ample listening coverage for all crewmen. However, when the tank is running, the noise generated by it often renders this system useless. The speakers can be used as a backup to the intercom system but it would not be very effect in full combat situations.

The vehicle is also equipped with a loudspeaker to use in crowd control scenarios or when addressing soldiers. On the rear of the tank is a communications uplink in a protected box. A simple two-handset to the tank's intercom system is provided as well as an audio jack for soldiers wearing headsets. In addition, the vehicle contains a single floodlight with 5,000 candle power of illumination.

To protect the crew, padding is used on various parts of the tank where it is deemed likely that a head injury could occur in the event of a collision or a projectile strike. Ammunition is stored in a protected locker designed to blast outwards in the event of an impact, rather than inside. Harnesses are included as well.

Powertrain

The Vindicator is powered by the VD270-V12-1050 Twin-Turbocharged Diesel Engine. This 27L V12 diesel engine produces 1,050 hp (783 kW) @ 2300 rpm and 2,515 ft·lbf (3,410 N·m) @ 1700 rpm. While the original RFP called for the use of a gas turbine engine, this was amended before the designs were submitted due to various reasons. The application of the twin-turbocharged diesel engine certainly did not cause any loss of power for the vehicle as it maintains a power-to-weight ratio of 26.25 hp/t (21.58 kW/tonne), which is highly respectable. The drawback to this is the weight of the engine. Dry, the engine weighs in at 6,495 lb (2,946 kg), which is more than double the gas turbine in the M2032 Sabertooth.

Coupled to the engine is a semi-automatic transmission, which allows the driver better control over engine speeds. The system is clutchless and the driver is required to shift gears both up and down; however, with seven forward and 2 reverse gears, he maintains significant control over both horsepower and torque. The second reverse gear is unregulated for emergency situations.

The suspension of the Vindicator is built to endure absolute hell. It is modeled on that of the M2032A2 Sabertooth and thus it is a hydropneumatic, active suspension. This allows for better recoil absorption, a smoother ride, more agility at high speed, and variable height adjustment. The tracks for the Vindicator are attached to seven road wheels with four return rollers. The rear sprocket wheel and the front idler are sizeable to ensure smooth ride and high reliability at top speed. The Vindicator can change between metal and rubber tracks, depending on the surface, with relative ease.

Performance

The M2066 Vindicator, being a light tank, is able to advertise more in the performance category than most main battle tanks but this is chiefly due to its size and weight. The vehicle's top speed is 50 mph (80 km/h). Off-road this is limited to 40 mph (64 km/h) and up a 10% slope this is reduced to 20 mph (32 km/h). Up to a 60% slope, the maximum speed is just 8 mph (13 km/h). The vehicle is not equipped with a governor as part of its standard design.

The Vindicator can ascent slopes up to 60% and traverse side slopes up to 40%. It can surmount obstacles up to 34 in (85 cm) in height and it has a ground clearance of 18 in (45.72 cm). The vehicle's trench is 9.19 ft (2.8 m). While the vehicle is not amphibious it can ford up to 4 ft (1.22 m) without preparation. Using a snorkel extends this to 13.12 ft (4 m) and with preparation, the vehicle can ford up to 16.4 ft (5 m). In either of these latter two scenarios, the vehicle is completely submerged underwater. As it is watertight there is no issue of the vehicle leaking water.

The vehicle's maximum range is 300 mi (483 km) and it can operate in temperatures ranging from -51°F (-46°C) to 149°F (65°C).

Systems

The Vindicator utilizes a multitude of systems for both self-protection and detection. The modular systems utilized on Layartebian vehicles were easily adapted onto the Vindicator to make it more than just a tank but rather a full battle platform.

For sensor detection, the Vindicator uses the AN/VSQ-40(V)-3 Modular Integrated Detection Suite or MIDS. The AN/VSQ-40(V)-3 makes uses of three systems for detection. The first is the AN/VAS-42 Multi-Spectral Imaging System, a high-definition, electro-optical, thermal imaging system. The AN/VAS-42 is the primary means of detection for the Vindicator, providing its crew with the ability to see clearly day or night and detect vehicles and personnel purely based on their thermal signature. Added to this is the AN/VEG-43 Laser Designator, which allows the Vindicator to designate targets for its own laser-guided missiles, which are fired from its gun barrel. Lastly, the Vindicator is equipped with the AN/VSR-44 Seismic Acquisition System. The AN/VSR-44 deploys when the vehicle is turned off and in an ambush position. It detects vibrations through the ground to warn the vehicle crew of approaching soldiers or vehicles.

For self-defense, the Vindicator uses the AN/VSQ-30(V)-1B Modular Integrated Protection Suite or MIPS. The suite is fully loaded with a variety of sensors for detection and self-defense. The suite mounts a passive detection system, the AN/VSR-32 in order to identify and classify incoming threats. It uses the AN/VLQ-33 for electronic jamming of incoming threats and the AN/VLQ-34 with the AN/VPG-36 for defeating incoming threats by way of projectile destruction through active measures. The AN/VLQ-35 laser dazzler provides additional protection against infrared-guided weapons. The final system is the AN/VLQ-38, which is a system for defeating IEDs, a major threat to vehicles in the kinds of battlefields where the Vindicator is used.

Export variants use the Thermal Imaging Sight of the M1A2 Abrams and the Trophy APS in place of the MIPS and MIDS.

Armor

The Vindicator uses the AMAP modular, composite armor system to protect itself. The modularity of the AMAP system gives the Vindicator the ability to defend against a wide array of threats. The AMAP system includes the AMAP-B, AMAP-IED, AMAP-L, AMAP-M, AMAP-R, and AMAP-SC. Add-on systems such as ERA, NERA, and slat armor provide additional defenses for the vehicle.

The primary component is the AMAP-B Heavy, which provides protection against kinetic energy penetrators such as bullets, autocannon rounds, and tank shells. AMAP-B Heavy offers protection against modern tank rounds with limited protection up to 125-millimeter APFSDS rounds. The AMAP-R component provides roof protection against both artillery bomblets and explosively formed penetrators or EFPs. The AMAP-R used on the vehicle is Level 2 as Level 1 provided insufficient protection against EFPs. Given the ease with which EFPs can be deployed in an urban environment, the decision to use AMAP-R Level 2 on the Vindicator was a no brainer. Internally, the AMAP-L provides a spall liner. Spalling occurs to the inside of a vehicle after it is hit by a projectile. The fragments generated by the impact are lethal and can kill occupants without the projectile even penetrating. The AMAP-L liner thus reduces the spall cone to negate the effects of spalling. AMAP-SC provides protection against shaped charge rounds and unlike ERA it is a passive system that produces a minimum amount of collateral damage.

While the AMAP-B, AMAP-L, and AMAP-R are all geared towards defending against projectiles and their effects, the AMAP-IED and the AMAP-M are geared towards protecting the vehicle from explosives. The AMAP-M is designed for mine protection and it is capable of protecting the vehicle against an explosive mass greater than 22 lb (10 kg) detonated underneath the vehicle's center. AMAP-IED is designed for protection against improvised explosive devices but it can function equally as well against mines, EFPs, and rocket-propelled grenades through upgrading the protection to Level 2. This Vindicator thus carries AMAP-IED Level 2 protection.

All of the aforementioned modules come standard on the Vindicator LBT. However, there are additional protective systems that the vehicle can use. For added protection against RPGs, the vehicle can mount slat-armor around its entire body. This provides protection to the skids and running gear where armored protection is often limited or non-existent but where RPGs can be the most effective. Against these components, RPGs can often disable a tank with only a handful of shots, which would allow hostiles to destroy the tank much more easily. The drawback to the slat armor is that it is heavy, takes several hours to mount, and increases the width of the vehicle, limiting its ability to traverse tight spots. As such, the slat armor is often not fitted.

What is more common is the use of explosive and non-explosive reactive armor. Built in bricks 4.13 in (10.49 cm) wide, 9.05 in (22.98 cm) long, and 3.75 in (9.52 cm) weighing 28.5 lb (12.93 kg) each, ERA provides an outermost layer of protection and is very effective against explosive weapons. Using a shaped-charge, the ERA bricks detonate upon impact, forcing the blast outwards to defeat an incoming round. It is not considered a safe application when combat soldiers are in close proximity.

To counter that, the Vindicator can also mount non-explosive reactive armor or NERA. Safe to use around troops, NERA is not as effective as ERA is since it does not use an explosive to destroy the incoming round. Instead, NERA is largely consisting of high-density rubber, which is inert. There is, however, one major advantage of NERA over ERA, it cannot be defeated with a tandem charge warhead. NERA blocks are roughly the same size and weight as ERA blocks.

Armament

Main Gun

M2066A1

Since the Vindicator is a light tank, the option to arm the M2066A1 with a 105-millimeter gun was virtually set in stone from the get-go. Initially it was viewed that a larger gun would cause unnecessary weight gain and mission creep for a vehicle that was intended not to take on main battle tanks in open warfare but rather provide infantry support in urban environments where extra firepower above that of an IFV was needed.

Designers immediately sought out the standard in 105-millimeter tank guns, the Royal Ordinance L7 or M68 as it was called in Layartebian service. The M68 had proven to be highly effective on the M1128 Stryker MGS, which was being phased out not because of its gun but rather because of the Stryker platform having only been an interim platform. Proposals initially sought a modification of the M1128's M68A1E4 to the M68A2, which would allow it to fit a different autoloader and fire missiles like the Merkava I and II tanks could. However, the M68A2 was scrapped early on in the design phase for the M68A3, which featured a smoothbore barrel versus a rifled barrel. It was decided that the reduced barrel wear and greater performance for HEAT and APFSDS rounds was preferable to the higher accuracy of the rifled round. Thus, the M68A3 105-millimeter/52-caliber tank gun was installed on the M2066A1 Vindicator LBT. The gun itself weighs approximately 3,000 lb (1,350 kg) and it can elevated within -10° to +20° with an elevation rate of 25°/sec. The traverse rate is 40°/sec.

The M68A3 is linked to a 48-round magazine that normally carries 40 - 42 shell and 6 - 8 missile rounds. It utilizes an 8-round, revolver-based, autoloader that pulls from a 10-round replenisher. It is up to the gunner to ensure that the replenisher is stocked with rounds. There is a manual bypass system to allow for manual loading. Ammunition in both the replenisher and the autoloader is protected by blast-proof covering and spall liners while the ammunition in the magazine is protected by a blast-proof compartment that explodes outwards versus inwards. The autoloader can fire at a rate of 10 rounds per minute. Spent casings are automatically ejected into a removal collection bin. The M68A3 has multiple types of ammunition that can be used against an array of targets.

Export versions of the M2066A1, designated as the M2066A1E, fit the M68A1E4 rifled cannon and do not retain ATGM capability. The smoothbore-specific ammunition for the M68A3 is incompatible with the M68A1E4. Instead, the M2066A1E uses ammunition that is compatible with the Royal Ordinance L7.

M416A2 WP-T

When smoke or target marking is required, the old and venerable M416 WP-T round is used. The current M416A2 is different only in that it is machined for use on smoothbore guns. The round weighs 45.5 lb (20.64 kg) and it is filled with 6 lb (2.72 kg) of White phosphorus, which is ignited by 1.76 oz (50 g) of Comp B. It has a muzzle velocity of 732 m/s (2,400 fps) and it can create a smoke screen for 40 - 60 seconds in an area 115 m (126 yd) wide. The M416A2 round is 37 in (93.98 cm) long and it has a maximum range of 9,150 m (10,000 yd) though in actuality it would likely be used at ranges of under 2,000 m (2,187 yd).

M1040A2 Canister

The M1040A2 Canister round is purely for anti-personnel purposes. It is essentially a shotgun-type round for the tank. It can incapacitate an entire squad with just one shot through the use of tungsten spheres, which act as buckshot. The round is scaled down from the M1028, a 120-millimeter canister round. The round weighs 46.07 lb (20.9 kg) and it contains 900 tungsten spheres weighing 19.84 lb (9 kg). It has a muzzle velocity of 1,410 m/s (4,626 fps). The M1040A2 round is 30.7 in (78 cm) long and it has an effective range of 500 m (547 yd).

M1100A1 APFSDS-T

For dealing with heavily armored threats, the M1100A1 APFSDS-T round is used. The round weighs 42.32 lb (19.2 kg) and it fires a 17.28 lb (7.84 kg) sabot penetrator made from depleted uranium. It has a muzzle velocity of 1,688 m/s (5,538 fps). With this performance, the round is equivalent to the 120mm M829A1 Silver Bullet round, perhaps one of the most effective anti-tank shells in modern times. The M1100A1 round is 39.31 in (99.87 cm) long and it has an effective range of approximately 3,000 m (3,281 yd).

M1101A1 HEAT-MP-T

For dealing with medium and light armor, the M68A3 utilizes the M1101A1 HEAT-MP-T round. This high-explosive, anti-tank round weighs 49.6 lb (22.5 kg) and contains a projectile with 2.75 lb (1.25 kg) of Comp B explosive filler. It has a muzzle velocity of 1,360 m/s (4,462 fps). The M1101A1 round is 41.65 in (105.8 cm) long and it has an effective range of 2,250 m (2,461 yd). This round is also effective against helicopters.

M1102A1 APAM-MP-T

The M1102 APAM-MP-T round is specifically for use against field fortifications, bunkers, infantry squads, and light armored vehicles. This unique weapon contains six lethal warheads that can be set to impact-detonated or airburst. In impact mode, the projectiles act as a unitary warhead, exploding after penetration of the target. This is used to destroy fortifications, light armored vehicles, and destroying walls for troop entry. In airburst mode, the warheads are ejected in close proximity to the target, detonating in the air to create a cloud of lethal fragments. It is highly effective against personnel. The round weighs 54.45 lb (24.7 kg). It has a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s (2,625 fps). The M1102A1 round is 39.29 in (99.8 cm) long and it has an effective range of 3,000 m (3,281 yd).

MGM-250 LAHAT

The Vindicator can launch anti-tank guided missiles and its weapon of choice is the MGM-250A LAHAT. This is a laser-guided missile with a range of 5 mi (8 km). It weighs 29 lb (13 kg) and contains a 10 lb (4.5 kg) tandem HEAT warhead for defeating explosive reactive armor. The missile has a flight speed of 285 m/s or Mach 0.84 at sea level. The weapon strikes a vehicle from a dive and it is capable of destroying even the heaviest of MBTs with a single shot. The biggest hampers to the weapon however are its minimum range, which is 1.25 mi (2 km) and the requirement for the vehicle to continually designate the target with a laser. The weapon has a CEP of 0.7 m (2.25 ft).


M2066A2

The M2066A2 Vindicator LBT is a prototype vehicle under evaluation. The biggest change to the vehicle is the change from the 105-millimeter/52-caliber M68A3 to the 120-millimeter/44-caliber M360A1. The M360A1 is not solely a smoothbore cannon but instead relies on ETC technology to provide more accuracy, more muzzle velocity, and thus more range. The change to the M360A1 increases the overall weight of the vehicle by 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) but significantly enhances its lethality.

To fit the M360A1, the turret's internal areas needed redesigning. The autoloader was changed from 8-round to 7-round and the 18-round replenisher was reduced to 16 rounds. The rate of fire is 12 rpm. Overall ammunition capacity was reduced from 48 overall rounds to 42 rounds. Missile capability has been retained and the MGM-250A LAHAT is fully compatible with the cannon through the use of an adapter ring due to its smaller size.

The performance of the M360A1 is superior to that of the M68A3 and it is nearly on par with the 125-millimeter tank guns used by the M2032 Sabertooth. Against all other 120-millimeter guns, the M360A1 is far superior in both range and muzzle velocity, exceeding the performance of a 55-caliber gun with only a 44-caliber gun. The M360A1 thus would give the Vindicator a major advantage against main battle tanks and allow it to go toe-to-toe with them in open combat though the gun does not make up for the Vindicator's lack of MBT-level armor. The M360A1 is compatible with all 120-millimeter tank rounds and no change is needed to the round to allow it to be compatible for the ETC gun. The standard rounds for the M360A1 are the M829A4 APFSDS-T, the M830A1 HEAT-MP-T, the M908A1 HE-OR-T, and the M1028A1 Canister. With adapter rings, the cannon is capable of firing all 105-millimeter ammunition as well.

In export M2066A2 tanks, designated as M2066A2E, the M360A1 is removed in favor of the M256A1 120-millimeter/44-caliber smoothbore tank cannon, the same cannon that arms the M1 Abrams. While performance is not equal to that of the M360A1, the M256A1 provides the M2066A2E Vindicator with the same performance as the M2066A1, allowing export nations the ability to utilize 120-millimeter ammunition in a light battle tank. The M256A1 cannon is compatible with the LAHAT missile and the M1111 Mid-Range Munition missile.

Secondary Armament

The M2066 Vindicator is equipped with three secondary weapons: the coaxial machine gun, the gunner's weapon, and the commander's weapon. Unlike the M2032 Sabertooth, the gunner's weapon and the commander's weapon are not considered tertiary systems on the Vindicator due to the role of the tank.

For the coaxial weapon, the M2066 Vindicator mounts the M35A4 Light Machine Gun, which fires the 7.62x51mm round. It has an effective range of 1,800 m (1,969 yd) and a rate of fire of 900 rounds per minute. The weapon is belt-fed and it draws ammunition from a single, unitary magazine with a capacity of 1,400 rounds. After exhausting this magazine, the gunner is able to replace it with a second magazine of equal capacity. This provides a total of 2,800 rounds for the coaxial weapon. Since the coaxial weapon is aside the main gun, its traverse limits are identical to that of the main gun though there is a small cone where the weapon can be pointed at a different heading than the main gun. The elevation is independent of the main gun but shares the same limitations.

The gunner's weapon is an M35A1 Light Machine Gun. The difference is the fact that the M35A4 is specifically designed for coaxial mounting. The weapon fires from a standard 200-round box and there is a capacity for 11 stowed boxes, bringing the total ammunition capacity to 2,400 rounds. The gunner's weapon is equipped to a skate mount on his hatch and it is protected by a Transparent Armor Gun Shield. The TAGS is rated to STANAG 4569 Level 3. This means it is capable of stopping a 7.62x51mm AP round at 30 meters with a velocity of 930 m/s.

The commander's weapon is the M153 PROTECTOR RWS. This remote weapons station is controlled by the commander in the turret and it is normally equipped with the M2A1 Heavy Machine Gun. The M2A1 has an effective range of 1,800 m (1,969 yd) and a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute. It fires the powerful 12.7x99mm or .50BMG shell and it feeds from a magazine of 400 rounds. There are four additional magazines of equal capacity stored within the tank for a total ammunition capacity of 2,000 rounds. The M153 provides the commander with total protection from enemy fire. The RWS weighs 379 lb (172 kg) without weaponry or ammunition and adds 30 in (76.2 cm) to the height of the vehicle. The M153 features an electro-optical, thermal sight and laser rangefinder. The EO sight has day and night capabilities with low light enhancement and night vision modes. The thermal sight works in both day and night and the laser rangefinder provides accurate distances for the RWS' computer so that the first round can arrive on target.

The commander's station does not solely mount the M2A1. It can mount several other types of weapons. It can mount an M35A4 Light Machine Gun and be equipped with 1,000 ready and 4,000 stowed rounds. It can mount an M49A1 Grenade Machine Gun, which fires 40x53mm high velocity grenades. The magazine holds 96 ready rounds and there are 384 rounds. The M49A1 has a rate of fire of 350 rounds per minute and an effective range of 1,500 m (1,640 yd). For firepower above a heavy machine gun but below that of the M49, there is the M307A1 Grenade Launcher which fires 25x59mm high velocity grenades. It has a rate of fire of 250 rounds per minute and an effective range of 2,000 m (2,187 yd). The magazine holds 225 rounds and there are 900 rounds stowed. For superior firepower, the M134A2 Minigun is mounted into the RWS. The M134A2 has a rate of fire of 4,000 rpm and an effective range of 1,000 m (1,094 yd). The Minigun is a Gatling gun with 6 barrels. It fires the 7.62x51mm round and feeds from a 2,200 round magazine. There are 4,400 rounds stowed in two additional magazines.

Regardless of the version of the M2066, the secondary weapon capabilities are not altered. A different weapon can be used in each station but the coaxial is limited to a light machine gun as is the gunner's weapons. The M153 RWS is kept on all versions of the M2066 for the commander.

Tertiary Armament

For self-defense, the M2066 Vindicator is equipped with four smoke grenade launchers. Along the sides of the turret are two, 6-barrel launchers and along the top of the turret fore and aft are two, 4-barrel launchers. This allows for a total of 24 smoke grenades. All of the launchers fire the standardized 66-millimeter smoke grenade. These grenades can provide not only a visual screen system but also contain infrared and radar jamming payloads. The vehicle is not equipped with an onboard smoke generator.

The M2066A1 and M2066A2 Vindicator both have the option to mount a mine clearing blade system while the M2066A3 Vindicator mounts the blades as a standard system. The system consists of two blades installed on the front of the vehicle, each one with 4 teeth for digging into the ground to upset anti-tank mines and render them inert. The blades are also useful in clearing debris from the path of the vehicle. The blades weigh a combined total of 4,630 lb (2,100 kg) and can be mounted in an hour. They can dig up to 12.2 in (31 cm) deep into the ground and 4.9 ft (1.5 m) to the side, clearing a full path for the vehicle. The biggest limitation to the blades is that the vehicle cannot exceed 10 mph (16 km/h) during their use.

The M2066A3 Vindicator can mount, as an option, the M7A2 Flame Thrower. The M7A2 is a modification of the venerable M7-6 Flame Thrower, which was used on the M67 Zippo. The M7-6 Flame Thrower fed from a tank of 365 gal (1,380 l) on the M67 tank and had a range of 256 m (280 yd). The M7A2 has a slightly longer range at 300 m (328 yd) but it feeds from a much smaller tank of 180 gal (681 l). The flame thrower uses Napalm B. The tank is installed on the outside of the vehicle in a blast-proof container on the back of the turret. The pump is installed in the container and the feed line runs to the side of the main gun. Use of the flame thrower negates use of the main gun as long as the flame thrower is in operation. The M7A2 has a maximum fire rate of 7 gal (26.5 l) per second, this gives enough fuel to 26 seconds of operation. The nozzle for the M7A2 is 1 in (2.54 cm) in diameter and the gun operates under 351 psi (2.42 MPa).

Operational History

Post-Conquests

The M2066A1 Vindicator made its combat debut in 2010 with the Imperial Layartebian Defense Force in the Rondônia Conflict (2010 - 2012). M2066A1 Vindicators were part of the initial invasion of Rondônia in Operation SPIDER SILK with the 57th Cavalry Division (Guards). The vehicles performed excellently during the invasion and while there were no armored threats to them, they did come under attack from RPG teams and IEDs. Throughout the two year conflict, 43 M2066s were damaged but hostile action with a total of 7 crew fatalities. Of the 43 damaged M2066s, all but 8 were returned to service after repairs.

They were used again in a limited capacity during the Sino-Layartebian War (2012). The job of the Imperial Layartebian Defense Force was largely to hold a defensive position around the island of Hainan. While combat was heavy, these units did not come under ground attack and the M2066A1 Vindicators deployed there did not see combat action.

In 2014, the M2066A1 Vindicator LBT saw action during Operation BLUE COBRA in Afghanistan when the 897th QRF Battalion was airlifted to Bagram Airfield outside of Kabul to aid Dutch forces against the Afghan Martyrs Brigade. These vehicles subsequently took part in the invasion of Pakistan by securing the Khyber Pass between Torkham on the Afghan-Pakistan border and the city of Landi Kotal. They saw limited action around Bagram Airfield but no action along the Khyber Pass. No vehicles were damaged during the fighting.

In 2015, during the South American War, the M2066A1 Vindicator once again saw combat action with the 57th Cavalry Division (Guards). They saw significant action against South American forces in the Pando Department of Bolivia, engaging units of the 1st Cavalry (Air) Division of the South American Army. Vindicators were part of the initial invasion and fought in heavy combat conditions in the city of Cobija. Eleven tanks were damaged and two destroyed by hostile fire with 8 men killed. They succeeded in destroying over 100 light armored vehicles during the course of the war.

Variants

Prototype Models

  • XM2066 - Prototype 'Vindicator LBT' for Future LBT Competition

Production Models

  • M2066A1 Vindicator - Initial production variant of the Vindicator LBT with different powerpack and sensors
  • M2066A1E Vindicator - Export M2066A1 with a M68A1E4 105mm/52-caliber cannon COTS sensors
  • M2066A2 Vindicator - Upgraded M2066A1 with a 120mm/44-caliber ETC cannon
  • M2066A2E Vindicator - Export M2066A2 with a M256 120mm/44-caliber cannon and COTS sensors
  • M2066A3 Vindicator - M2066A1 modified for jungle warfare

Operators

 Layarteb (8,702)

Mexico (120)

  • Mexican Army (120)
    • M2066A1E Vindicator (40)
    • M2066A2E Vindicator (80)

Specifications

M2066A1 M2066A2 M2066A3
Status In-Service In-Development In-Service
Role Light Battle Tank
Crew 3
Passengers None
Cost $4,000,000 $8,000,000 $6,000,000
Length
  • 22.8 ft (6.95 m) [Chassis]
  • 31.33 ft (9.2 m) [Gun Forward]
Width 10.5 ft (3.2 m)
Height
  • 8.3 ft (2.53 m) [Chassis]
  • 10.8 ft (3.29 m) [RWS]
Ground Clearance 18 in (45.72 cm)
Obstacle Crossing 34 in (85 cm)
Trench 9.19 ft (2.8 m)
Fording
  • 4 ft (1.22 m) [normal]
  • 13.12 ft (4 m) [snorkel]
  • 16.4 ft (5 m) [preparation]
Weight 40 tons (36,287 kg) 42 tons (38,102 kg) 41 tons (37,195 kg)
Payload Capacity N/A
Transmission Semi-automatic: 7 gears forward, 2 gears reverse
Powerplant VD270-V12-1050 Twin-Turbocharged Diesel Turbine Engine
Power Output
  • 1,050 hp (783 kW) @ 2300 rpm
  • 2,515 ft·lbf (3,410 N·m) @ 1700 rpm
Fuel & Range
  • 320 gal (1,200 L) [Capacity]
  • 300 mi (483 km) [Range]
  • 0.94 mi/gal (0.40 km/l) [Efficency]
Base Tracks
Suspension Hydropneumatic Active
Maximum Speed
  • 8 mph (13 km/h) [60% Slope]
  • 20 mph (32 km/h) [10% Slope]
  • 40 mph (64 km/h) [Off-Road]
  • 50 mph (80 km/h) [Maximum]
Maximum Grade
  • 60% [Gradiant]
  • 40% [Side Slope]
Armor Type AMAP Composite Armor
Main Weapon
  • (1) M68A3 105mm/52-caliber smoothbore cannon with 40 shell and 8 MGM-250 LAHAT missile rounds
  • (1) M68A1E4 105mm/52-caliber smoothbore cannon with 48 shell rounds [Export]
  • (1) M360A1 120mm/44-caliber ETC cannon with 42 shell rounds
  • (1) M256 120mm/44-caliber smoothbore cannon with 42 shell rounds [Export]
  • (1) M68A3 105mm/52-caliber smoothbore cannon with 42 shell and 6 MGM-250 LAHAT missile rounds
Coaxial Weapon
  • (1) M35A4 7.62MM LMG with 1,400 rounds ready and 1,400 rounds stowed
Commander's Weapon Any of the following in an M153 CROWS II RWS:

  • (1) M2A1 12.7MM HMG with 400 rounds ready and 1,600 rounds stowed
  • (1) M35A1 7.62MM LMG with 1,000 rounds ready and 4,000 rounds stowed
  • (1) M49A1 40MM GMG with 96 rounds ready and 384 rounds stowed
  • (1) M134A2 7.62MM Minigun with 2,200 rounds ready and 4,400 rounds stowed
  • (1) M307A1 25MM Grenade Launcher with 225 rounds ready and 900 rounds stowed
Loader's Weapon
  • (1) M35A1 7.62MM LMG with 200 rounds ready and 2,200 rounds stowed
Missiles None
Other Weapons
  • (2) Mine Clearing Blade System
  • (1) M7A2 Flame Thrower with 180 gal (683 l) of napalm [Optional]
  • (2) Mine Clearing Blade System
Smoke System
  • 4-Barrel Smoke Launcher (2)
  • 6-Barrel Smoke Launcher (2)
  • 66MM Smoke Grenades (24)
Sensors
Airdroppable No
Amphibious No
Fire-on-the-Move Yes
NBC Protection Full
Special Notes None

Links