T-98

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T-98 Medium Tank
T-98 2.png
T-98 Medium TAnk
Place of origin  Arthurista
Service history
In service 2002-Present
Used by Arthurista. Afalia
Production history
Designed 1998
Manufacturer Arthuristan Dynamics
Produced 2000 - present
Specifications
Weight 54 tonnes
Length 7m (hull), 10.6m (gun extended)
Width 3.62 m
Height 1.85 m
Crew 3

Armor Modular composite armour, heavy ERA
Main
armament
designed for 125mm L55 ETC smoothbore (45-60 rounds). Export variants may be armed with up to 140mm.
Secondary
armament
Browning 12.7mm Co-ax, Kongberg RWS on roof with 12.7mm, box-launcher for ATGM
Engine Arthuristan Motors V-12 AVE-2 hybrid turbo-diesel
1,200 kW (1,609 hp)
Operational
range
620km on road
Speed 75 kph on road (governor), 70kph off-road


The T-98 was designed to be a lightweight, strategically and operationally mobile medium tank that would complement heavier 140mm-armed MBTs in service where the latter are unsuitable, while providing a creditable degree of overmatch against legacy-era MBTs. Although not procured in large numbers by the Arthuristan People's Army due to the availability of upgraded Boudiccas, the T-98 was a moderate export success.


Origins

The design for this next generation medium tank was not entirely new. Rather, it was based on the T-80U. Arthuristan Dynamics engineers were impressed by how the Russian design managed to create an excellent combination of mobility, firepower and protection within a very light weight class. It does have weaknesses, namely that its sensors, fire control, stabilisation and post-hit crew survivability were subpar. These were, however, considered to be minor details that could be improved upon when the excellent chassis receives a deep and comprehensive upgrade to produce the T-98.

The aim was to produce a medium tank to complement 140mm-gunned MBTs while retaining a reasonable amount of protection against common AT ordnances, including 120mm NATO and 125mm Russian APFSDS rounds and tandem heat warheads, as well as being lighter, less costly, able to be produced and deployed in greater numbers and possessing better strategic mobility.

Ultimately, relatively few were procured by the Arthuristan People's Army due to the availability of upgraded Boudicca Main Battle Tanks in large numbers. However, the model has been fairly successful in the export market due to its excellent balance of firepower, weight, protection and cost.

Networking

T-98s are equipped with the Arthuristan Dynamics Digital Battlefield Management System which integrate vehicles in one or multiple units into the combat network (the ARES Battlenet in the Arthuristan Army), allowing them to communicate efficiently and share valuable intelligence, whether with other tanks and vehicles, UAVs, APAF aircrafts providing CAS, or any other platforms or 'information nodes' of the Arthuristan military.

Protection

Integral passive armour

The front of the T-98's armour suite consists of a non-reactive armour element, composed of two titanium-alloy plates sandwiching a thick layer of resilin in between. When struck by a munition, the impact energy causes a localised bulging of the plates, counteracting the energy of the HEAT jet or KE impactor. Below that is a matrix of ceramics (titanium diboride) and titanium alloy, a lighter variant of the traditional chobham. These armour modules were originally backed by a tungsten alloy mesh. The newest vehicles, however, use a mesh of nanocrystalline titanium-tungsten alloy, an exceptionally hard and strong materiel, though measurably lighter than its predecessor. Another layer of resilin comes between the matrix and the plate, providing an elastic layer to absorb the energy rebounded from the plate to the matrix after a KE hit.

An alternative, emergency wartime production variant of the armour module has also been developed. It is fronted by a layer of perforated, hardened steel, followed by rubber, then a layer of relatively cheap ceramics (alumina or pyrex are both acceptable) backed by a perforated layer of tungsten alloy or, if the situation is really desperate, ordinary rolled homogenous steel. Although this setup compromises protection levels to a measurable extent, as well as being slightly heavier, it does not necessitate the use of rare, strategic materiel such as titanium, enabling tanks to be turned out however dire the straits of the wartime economy. Tanks protected by this downgraded armour scheme are labelled as T-98(E).

Closest to the crew compartment is a layer of Kevlar/Dyneema spall-liner for improved crew-survivability.

Applique armour modules

Two modular applique armour suites may be fitted to the tank: ERA or spaced.

The first option features the Hoplon heavy explosive reactive armour, a much improved derivative of the Russian 'Relikt' or 'Kaktus', themselves developed from the 'Kontakt-5' which proved immune to American M829A1 DU APFSDS in tests conducted in the 1990s. These clamshell-shaped modules of 'heavy-ERA' can exert tremendous pressure on penetrating KE projectiles, capable of snapping APFSDS rods in half. Needless to say, they are also effective against HEAT ammunition, as well as easily replaceable in the field.

Alternatively, one may opt for the Aspis spaced-armour module. It consists of a multi-layer laminate of aluminium foam, resilin, aluminium and titanium alloy plates. Its function is to degrade the performance of KE munition or HEAT jets by subjecting the penetrator to stresses caused by alternating layers of materiel with greatly different hardness and density. Although not as protective in absolute terms as the Hoplon, the Aspis is much lighter, less maintenance intensive and provides better multi-hit resilience. It is fitted by default to most vehicles in peacetime.

Active Defence System

Finally, active protection measures such as the LEDS-100 soft kill and LEDS-150 hardkill countermeasures (retrofitted on earlier tanks which have the Arena and Shtora systems) are installed to provide further protection against RPGs and ATGMs. Crew survivability is further improved the vehicle's overpressured NBC-proofing.

Signature reduction

Like most tanks of Russian derivation, the T-98 has a low profile. While this may increase its survivability in the open, it also makes fighting from a hull-down position more difficult. As such, production vehicles are equipped with a small dozer-blade in front of the hull, enabling each tank to dig its own entrenched fighting position without the aid of combat engineers.

A Defence Upgrade Package retrofitting program is due to begin, equipping the tanks with active thermal panels to achieve some degree of IR stealth, radar-absorbent coating and counter-laser bloomers to destroy laser range-finding gear targeting the vehicle.

Armaments and fire control

The T-98 is designed for a stabilised 125 mm ETC smoothbore gun made with licensed VMK Frontier Tank Gun Barrel technology, capable of firing APFSDS, HEAT, HE, TAGLATGM, thermobaric and the new smart top attack ammunition. Gun calibre may be up to 140mm in export variants. Rate of fire is usually between 9-12 rounds per minute. 45 rounds is the usual ammunition load, although up to 60 rounds can be stored in the tank. To carry the maximum load, some ammunition must be stored in the crew cabin itself, although this negates the advantage conferred by the blowout panel-equipped bustle and thus officially against regulations, although common in practice.

Anticipating that the T-98s would need to engage and defeat 70+ tonnes tanks at some point, a special ammunition was developed for such an occassion. The Arthuristan Smart Top Attack Munition (ASTAM) is, contrary to popular belief, not a gun-launched anti-tank guided missile (GLATGM), but relies purely on the shell's propellant for propulsion. Nevertheless, it shares much of the same characteristics. It has a range of over 15km, courtesy of the new high velocity ETC cannon. With it, the T-98 can engage targets while remaining fully behind cover, allowing recce platforms or other vehicles to designate targets. Lobbed on a relatively high-angle flight, the ASTAM can autonomously search for and engage targets (i.e. the 'fire and forget' capability) using its own on-board millimeter-band radar and IR sensor. It can attack the top of a tank (typically its most vulnerable position) with a tandem warhead, detonating explosive-reactive armour with a precursor charge before the main warhead hits the integral armour underneath.

The T-98 features a much-improved fire control system in comparison to its predecessor. In addition to the gunner's usual day/thermal sight, laser range-finder, crosswind sensor and ballistic computer, the commander receives his/her own independent panoramic IR sight, allowing him to override the gunner and lay the gun himself, i.e. the employment of hunter-killer tactics. A feature inspired the South Korean K-2 Black Panther is the addition of a powerful millimeter-band radar to the FCS, allowing the tank to track targets up to 12km away, lock onto targets based on the data transmitted via unit net from other tanks or vehicles and open fire on them with either shell or ATGM without requiring visual sighting from the tank. Another feature it borrowed from the K2 Black Panther is the trigger-delay mechanism, which prevents the gun from being fired if any sudden movement is drastic enough that the gunner’s aim could be thrown.

In Arthuristan service, an RCS unit mounting a 12.7mm HMG (typically Kongberg Protector or Oto Melara HITROLE) is fitted to the turret roof. The turret may also be equipped with external box launchers for SAMs (e.g. Stinger, Starstreak or VMK Nimbus type weapons) or ATGMs (Lamoni Havik II in Arthuristan service)

Crew Comfort

Air conditioning comes as standard to keep crews operating at top efficiency even at the height of Arthurista's tropical summers. Like all Arthuristan armoured vehicles, a boiler for tea is included in the crew compartment of every T-98.

Employment

A note on the employment of the T-98 - this vehicle is a relatively cost-effective medium tank designed for massed deployment to support mechanised forces, freeing up the more advanced, albeit heavier and more expensive Panthera Tigris (or the equivalent among export customers, say the Lyran Wolfhound, Lamoni Valkyrie or Anemonian HT9A7) for use by specialist armoured brigades. It is not intended for head on battles against those designs unless the T-98 force has a distinct advantage in the form of numbers, surprise, the massed use of GLATGM or other factors. It does, however, provide a credible overmatch capability against legacy-era 3rd generation MBTs such as the Leopard 2, Challenger 2, M1 Abrams or the T-90, as well as being roughly equivalent in combat value to other modern medium tanks such as the VMK Uncia or the Lyran Rottweiler.

Variants

  • Engineering Tank (160mm spigot mortar carried instead of 125mm ETC smoothbore, otherwise identical)
  • Armoured Recovery Vehicle
  • Bridge-laying tank