Pz96 Tranche III.
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin|| |
Error creating thumbnail: File missingAustrasien
|Designer|| REST AG |
|Manufacturer|| RKW |
|Unit cost||$10 million|
|Length|| 11.5 m (gun forward)|
7.75m (hull only)
|Passengers||4 (commander, gunner, driver, radio operator)|
|Armor|| Modular "special" armor|
Active Protection System
|12cm Pzk M-90 L/60|
|Engine|| REST AG G99 gas turbine|
|Transmission||REST AG semi-automatic transmission|
|Ground clearance||Variable 0.1-0.5m|
|Fuel capacity||2,000 l (internal)|
|500 km (road)|
|Speed|| Road: 60 km/h |
Off road: 40 km/h
The Panzer 96 (Pz96) is an Austrasian main battle tank, designed and produced by a partnership between RKW and REST AG. Design began in 1982 and production started in 1996; more than 1,000 have been produced, and acquired by the Austrasian Panzerwaffe. The Panzer 96 incorporated a number of next-generational technologies, especially vehicle electronics, and concepts but has been controversial because of its cost - each vehicle costs $10 million to produce.
The Panzer 96 was developed by a partnership between state arms manufacturer RKW and the industrial giant REST AG in response to a requirement issued by the OKH for a new generation main battle tank in 1982. The requirement was driven by three main factors: technical intelligence estimates provided by military intelligence, operational research conducted by the Osterode Armour School, and studies conducted by RKW and industry in the 1960s and 1970s. Consequently, planners believed that that a major leap in tank technology would occur between 1990 and 2000, and having anticipated these advances, incorporated design aspects such as active suspension and a high-performance 120 millimetre main gun.
|Armament||Protection||Mobility||Crew Comfort and Sustainment||Cost and Technology Risk|
The tank uses a conventional layout, with two men located in the turret and two in the hull, consistent with the Panzerwaffe's historical preference for an extra crewman. The biggest innovation in the configuration is the use of an extremely low profile turret. This has given the Panzer 96 a profile of 2.35 metres, which is low for its size, and helped control weight while retaining crew situational awareness and a large protected arc.
The Panzer 96 mounts the high-power Austrasian 120 millimetre gun as its primary armament and a Dnieugan 8.76mm general purpose machine gun as its coaxial weapon. The armament represents an increase in firepower over previous designs, both Austrasian and international, and was chosen as a response to the growing proliferation of special armour and explosive reactive armour.
The Panzer 96 fields a modular armor design. The tank is built around a cast steel superstructure supporting modular armour. The armour modules can be rapidly removed and replaced, either for repair, to decrease weight, or because more advanced armour has been developed as a replacement. The tanks armour modules incorporate composite "special" armour which provides effective multi-hit protection against shaped charge and kinetic threats. Internally ammunition is stored in segregated compartments with blow out panels and hydraulics have been eliminated completely. A fast acting halon fire suppression system is fitted in both the crew and engine compartments.
All Panzer 96 in Austrasien service have been equipped or retrofitted with the hard-kill active protection system Panzerhemd. This system provides protection from rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles, HEAT shells and mortars. The system includes four two-colour mid-wave infrared warning sensors for detecting "hot" threats like ATGMs or muzzle blasts in the presence of ground and clutter and four long-wave infrared warning sensors for detecting "cold" threats like mortar bombs against the background of the sky. Supplementing Panzerhemd are four laser warning sensors. Each sensor can detect and provide an azimuth bearing (accurate to within 1 degree) on laser illuminators and laser rangefinders over a 45 degree sector. They can also detect and provide bearing on indirect illuminators striking the ground in the vicinity of the tank. Each module also includes a high-sensitivity detector for intercepting low power laser beamrider signals, though it can only indicate which quadrant the threat is illuminating the vehicle from.
The tank is propelled by a gas turbine engine connected to an efficient and a reversible semi-automatic transmission - a seven speed forward gearbox and three speed reverse gearbox - with a triple-differential steering system. A turbine were chosen over a diesel engine because of it's superiority in cold weather, low noise and the lack of visible smoke. The transmission and steering system was designed by REST automotive systems engineers to achieve the highest possible mechanical efficiency and notably features no hydraulics. To mitigate the high fuel consumption of turbine engines while idle, a small 100 hp microturbine is also installed in the powerpack which produces enough electricity to drive all the tanks electrical systems. The tanks hydro-pneumatic suspension system was chosen because of its inherently superior dampening characteristics compared to spring suspensions provided a better ride and more stable firing platform. Hydro-pneumatic suspensions variable height control was also considered essential for offsetting the limited main gun depression permitted by the low profile turret.
The Panzer 96's vetronic systems are produced by ElektronWerke. The system, which is named 'Ria', was based around two common electro-optical/infrared modules for the commander and gunner, in an independent periscope and stabilized hard mount respectively. Earlier tranches incorporated a 2nd Generation forward looking infrared and a low light level television sensor and a laser rangefinder, whereas later tranches replaced the LLTV with a short-wave infrared imager and 3rd Generation staring FLIR. Both sight modules are wired to a common processor which provides automatic target tracking, ranging, engagement and IR aided target recognition for rapid area search. These systems mean that the Panzer 96 can fight "hands-off" engagements, where the commander/gunner are only required to lay the sights on target and depress the firing stud. The system also allows the crew to geo-lock any target or location desired by laying the sights and ranging it, after which the tanks navigation system will then automatically keep the gun pointed towards the targeted position.
An electro-optical/infrared drivers vision system is mounted on the hull to provide better visibility for the driver at night and in low-visibility conditions. Following the Tranche III upgrade this was further enhanced with a stereoscopic EMCCD that provides the driver with high quality 3D colour vision at a range of light levels.
The Pz96's hull and turret are cast as single pieces from high strength steel alloy at REST's foundry in Eisenburg and the Nordwerk foundry in. Final assembly of the Panzer 96 occurs at RKW's main factory in Altbrück. Major subcomponents manufacturers include Rinmetall and ElektronWerke.
Variants and upgrades
First entering production in 2011, the Panzer 96 Tranche III represents the definitive model of the Panzer 96 produced to date. The Tranche III upgrades focused primarily on the Pz96's electronic subsystems, taking advantage of the advances in microelectronics that had been made in the preceding decade. With production of new build tanks winding down significant emphasis has been placed on upgrading older Tranche I tanks still used by some units, with the Panzerwaffe aiming to retrofit all Tranche I & II Pz96s with the Tranche III enhancements by 2020.
The heavy Panzer 99 used by the Panzerwaffe's elite Heavy Armoured Battalions is derived directly from the Panzer 96 but features a number of modifications including a larger hull, new powerpack and a highly advanced fire control system.
|Panzer 96 Tranche III|
|Average unit cost||$15 million URD||Manufacturer||Reichskonstruktionwerk SG|
|Production to date||1,000||Crew||3 (commander, driver, gunner, radio operator)|
|Combat weight||65,000kg (loaded)||Height over hull||2.35m|
|Hull length||7.75m||Length with gun forward||11.5m|
|Width over skirts||4.1m (including skirts)||Ground clearance||Variable, 0.1-0.70m|
|Mean Maximum Pressure (Ground)||125 kPa|
|Type||Feed||Ammunition||Traverse||Elevation||Maximum effective range|
|Rinmetall 14.5cm PzK M-85 L/45||Rinmetall Automatic cassette loader||34 rounds||360° (60°/sec)||+15° to -5° (25°/sec)||3,000 m (APFSDS)|
|20mm automatic cannon (co-axial)||Linkless feed||1,000 rounds||360° (60°/sec)||+15° to -5° (25°/sec)||2,000 m|
|8.76x74mm general purpose machine gun (co-axial)||500-round box magazine||5,000 rounds||360° (60°/sec)||+15° to -5° (25°/sec)||1,500 m|
|Vision Systems||Gun Stabilizer|
| "Ria" common electro-optical modules
SWIR active/passive range-gated camera
Large format QWIP LWIR starring array
Hull azimuth rate
Turret azimuth rate
|Driver's vision system||Battlefield management system|
|Stereo EMCCD day/night||"Landsturm 10"|
| Digital closed-loop fire control computer
Automatic target tracker
Automatic shot tracker
CO2 laser rangefinder
Muzzle velocity sensor
Muzzle reference system
| V-band short range network radio |
VHF ground-ground BLOS radio
UHF ground-air LOS radio
HF long range NLOS radio
HF NVIS receiver
|Armor & Protection|
|Assembly||Structural armor||Spall liner|
|Welded||"Special" laminate armor||Boronated plastic|
|Add-on armor||Lightweight anti-tandem ERA|
|CBRN protection|| Overpressure|
Chemical agent detector
Boronated anti-radiation liner
|Fire suppression||Active protection system||Concealment|
| Automatic halon fire extinguishers in crew and engine compartments
Self-sealing fuel tanks
|"Panzerhemd" hard-kill active protection system||smoke dischargers|
|Turret front||Glacis||Lower front hull|
|1500 mm LOS thickness (MAX) (RHA + Special laminate)||1300 mm LOS thickness (RHA + Special laminate)||1300 mm LOS thickness (RHA + Special laminate)|
|Rear turret||Top turret||Side turret|
|50mm LOS thickness (RHA)||200mm LOS thickness (RHA + High density ceramic)||650mm LOS thickness (RHA + Special laminate)|
|Powerplant||REST AG G99 gas turbine|
|Output|| 1,200 kW,
|Fuel capacity||1,500L internal|
|Transmission||REST semi-automatic 7-forward 3-reverse|
|Steering||Steering wheel, electro-mechanical|
|Brake system||Electro-mechanical eddy current/friction multi-disk|
|REST Automotive hydropneumatic||Sixteen||Rear|
|Type||Center guide, double pin|
|Width||Shoes per track||Ground contact length|
|Maximum level road speed||60kph||Gradient||60%||Maximum vertical obstacle||120cm|
|Maximum off road speed||55kph||Side slope||40%||Maximum fording depth|| 2.1m unprepared |
15m with umbilical
|Average cross country speed||40kph||Minimum turning diameter||Pivot||Maximum trench-crossing distance||280cm|
|Operational range||500km road|