GIAT AMX-30

     Notes: The AMX-30, first accepted into French Army service in 1966, was a more-or-less standard sort of tank of the period, though in several ways they had advanced, innovative features, and in some ways they were behind the times.  Since their introduction, they have been exported to several countries and given many upgrades, often by their owning countries or by the French on behalf of their countries.  France uses them only on a limited basis by 2008, though many of their export buyers still use them as primary or secondary main battle tanks.

 

The AMX-30

     The AMX-30 was originally designed to fulfill a joint French-German-Italian requirement for a main battle tank to replace the ageing tanks of each of those countries, with design beginning in 1957.  Strangely enough, heavy armor was not a requirement, as the rapid development of ATGMs and APDS and APFSDS penetrators was believed to make heavy armor obsolete by the designers.  Instead, the accent was on speed and agility, along with enough firepower to destroy Soviet tanks of the period.  A low silhouette was also deemed desirable.  Though the Germans ended developing the Leopard 1 instead and the Italians also decided to buy the Leopard 1, GIAT went ahead with the AMX-30 project for the French Army.

     Unlike most late 1950s designs, the AMX-30 used a diesel engine instead of one powered by gasoline.  This was changed to a multifuel engine before production began to comply with the new NATO requirements of that time.  This was a Hispano-Suiza HS-110 engine developing 720 horsepower.  Steering is of the differential type with the driver using laterals, along with neutral steer levers; the transmission is automatic.  The tracks are wide, giving the AMX-30 a low ground pressure.  Roadwheels are aluminum alloy with rubber rims, also uncommon among tanks of the time; return rollers are basically small versions of the roadwheels.  The location of the roadwheels and torsion bars was designed to help keep the silhouette low, while not making the interior so cramped that crews had to be chosen by the height of the troops.  Without preparation, fording capability is 1.3 meters; with a few preparations 2 meters can be forded, and with the attachment of a snorkel, 4 meters can be forded.

     GIAT jumped straight to the then-new 105mm gun as main armament.  However, instead of using the L-7, which was used by most of the NATO tanks that used a 105mm gun, the French developed their own rifled 105mm gun, designed by DEFA.  This is a long-barreled gun (56 calibers) with a magnesium-alloy thermal sleeve and fume evacuator.  Primary ammunition was to be the OCC F1, a HEAT round with a fragmentation jacket that has unusual, unique properties.  As fin-stabilized HEAT rounds were considered less accurate (they were at the time) and spinning HEAT rounds are less effective, they developed a round that spun, but the warhead was mounted on ball bearings and gyroscopically stabilized so that it would not rotate.  It was a more expensive and difficult solution, but superior to most HEAT rounds of the day against armored targets.  Unfortunately, it was less effective against unarmored or lightly-armored vehicles.  Unlike most tanks of the day, the French did not initially develop APDS or APFSDS rounds because the French felt their OCC F1 round was effective enough to warrant them unnecessary.  However, the AMX-30 can also fire standard L-7/M-68 ammunition.  The standard elevation of the main gun ranges from +20 to -8 degrees, but the main gun can also be overridden and super-elevated to +40 degrees, allowing the main gun and coaxial to be used against helicopters.  The coaxial was a GIAT 20mm M-621 autocannon (though it could be replaced with a .50 machinegun at the buyerís request).  The commanderís cupola is rather large and was armed with an AAT-F1 machinegun which could be aimed and fired (but not loaded) from inside the cupola.  The commanderís cupola had all-around vision blocks.  The commander also has a x10 periscope with a coincidence rangefinder and auxiliary controls for the main gun.  The gunner has a x20 telescopic sight with night vision, as well as two observation periscopes.  The loader (doubling as the radio operator) has three wide-angle vision blocks, allowing vision to the front and left side.

     The layout of the AMX-30 is conventional, with the driver to the front left, commanderís cupola on the turret right, and loaderís hatch on turret left.  The turret is a one-piece steel casting, with a hull of mixed castings and hull armor plates.  Both the glacis and sides are sloped.  The turret rotates using a hydraulic motor which slews the turret to the target of the gunner, with a mechanical/manual backup.  The AMX-30 includes an NBC system with separate filters for each crewmember, an electric pump for refueling, and a telephone for communicating with ground troops at the exterior rear of the tank.

 

The AMX-30B2

     Though some countries were already performing upgrades on their AMX-30s, the first French modernization of the AMX-30 came in the late 1970s, in for form of the AMX-30B2; first deliveries to the French Army began in 1982. 

     Most of the upgrades took the form of night vision and fire control improvements.  The COTAC FCS system was installed; this consisted of a modernized fire control and gunnerís sight suite that included a ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder.  The gunner now had a x10 day sight along with a CASTOR thermal camera (mounted in a separate armored box to the left of the main gun, with armored shutters) with variable magnification.  The gunner also has rotating periscope, a fixed periscope, and a small TV monitor that takes the information from all of the gunnerís sights and displays them, with the gunner choosing which sight to display on the monitor.  Gun stabilization is electronic and controlled by the ballistic computer; this system can also automatically slew the turret and elevate or depress the main gun to the appropriate angle to match the gunnerís inputs.  The 20mm autocannon is the same (as is the main gun), but can be moved independently from the main gun.  The commander has a x8 day/night periscope to allow him to aim and fire the main gun, autocannon, or his own machinegun; he can also access the gunnerís thermal imager, and he has his own small monitor that can show the view from his own sights or the gunnerís sights.

     The AMX-30B2 has a new engine; while it is a simpler and more reliable version of the HS-110 engine of the AMX-30 (called the HS-110-2), it develops 700 horsepower at 2600 rpm, instead of the 720 horsepower at 2000 rpm of the HS-110.  The driverís station has an infrared vision block, and a conventional driverís yoke and brakes rather than using the laterals of the AMX-30.  The new transmission is fully automatic.  The suspension uses improved torsion bars, increasing off-road mobility; improved tracks make the AMX-30B2 quieter.

     The AMX-B2 uses a collective NBC system rather than the individual system of the AMX-30.  An inertial land navigation system is installed.  Appliquť armor is added to the glacis, turret front, and turret sides. Lugs for ERA are added to the same faces, as well as the side skirts.  Side skirts were added to the hull sides, protecting the tracks.  In addition to two banks of six smoke grenades on either side of the turret, the AMX-30B2 can lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust.

     The French Army has long thought that the HS-110 and HS-110-2 engines were inadequate for the job of powering the AMX-30B2 (or even the AMX-30).  In 1998, they contracted with Renault to produce a version of the Mack E9-750 diesel engine to power the AMX-30B2, since Leclerc production was not as fast as they first thought it would be, and the AMX-30B2 would have to stay in service longer.  This version has double turbochargers, which are more reliable on steep side slopes than the HS-110 and HS-110-2.  The output is rated at 750 horsepower, and the engine offers a greater lifespan and a longer operating life.

 

The AMX-30S

     The AMX-30S is an AMX-30 optimized for desert operations and given some fire control upgrades.  It is also designed with lesser budgets in mind, being less expensive than corresponding tanks of the 1980s (when it was designed).  Itís customers are unknown, with the exception of Saudi Arabia.  The tracks and roadwheels have modifications to prevent sand build-up and jamming, the air intakes, air filters, and exhaust system have sand shields to prevent entry of sand into the engine and transmission.  Likewise, crew cooling ports are given sand filters.  The transmission and engine are also modified to prevent sand problems, but these modifications unfortunately lower the gear ratio and the output of the engine to 620 horsepower (though with the engine developing more power for off-road operations).  The AMX-30S has night vision for all crewmembers, image intensification for the gunner, and telescopic 8x sights for the commander and gunner.  A simple ballistic computer and laser rangefinder are also fitted, along with air conditioning.

 

The GIAT AMX-30 Upgrade Package (AMX-30B2+)

     GIAT offers a comprehensive upgrade package for the base AMX-30 that brings it up a standard almost better than the late AMX-30B2 standards.  These upgrades include the suspension taken from the AMX-30B2, the replacement of the engine by the Mack E9-750 750-horsepower engine, the replacement of the transmission with the ENC-200 automatic transmission, modifications to the ammunition racks and fire control equipment to allow the main gun to fire the latest versions of 105mm APFSDS rounds, the installation of a DIVT thermal camera system which gives the gunner thermal imaging and the equivalent of a CITS for the commander, an automatic fire detection and suppression for the crew compartment, size smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret, and a decoy on the turret roof to detect incoming laser designator and ranging beams and automatically launch smoke grenades.  The housing for the laser detection system also includes a jammer for fuzes for ATGM and HEAT rounds, rendering them 50% incapable of detonating when they his the upgraded AMX-30, as well as a laser-based jammer to decoy heat-seeking fire-and-forget ATGMS and other rounds.  A simple ballistic computer and laser rangefinder are added.  Lugs for ERA are added to the glacis, hull sides (on new side skirts), turret front, and turret sides.  Sales have been made to unknown countries.  This upgrade is sometimes called the AMX-30B2+, and a very few French Army AMX-30B2s were upgraded to this standard.

 

AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT

     The AMX-30B2 has recently been used as a testbed for a tank using stealth technologies.  This tankís stealth primarily consists of special shaping, air and water cooling of the outer surfaces of the hull, and IR suppression of the exhaust.  The commanderís cupola has also been given a new stealth shape.  It is rumored that RAM is also used in itís angled plates; the plates themselves form a superstructure over the turret and hull (one for each).  Dust suppression measures and shields are also added.  The AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT is one level more difficult to detect on radar, two levels more difficult on IR, and one level more difficult to target using laser designators.  As yet, the AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT is still a testbed and not in production.

 

AMX-30 (Venezuelan)

     The Venezuelans have carried a fairly big upgrade on their AMX-30s.  GDLS of the US installed a new fire control system with a fire control computer and laser rangefinder.  The main gun and 20mm coaxial are stabilized electronically with input from the ballistic computer, and a small mast on the turret roof has sensors for wind, temperature, and humidity.  The gunner also has a thermal imager.  The commanderís station is also modified, with its own laser rangefinder and thermal imager; both the commander and gunner have image intensifiers.  The commander can use his sighting equipment to take control of the main gun or coaxial, or fire his own machinegun.  An automatic fire suppression and detection system is installed.  Appliquť armor is installed, and the suspension is beefed up.  Finally, the engine is replaced by a version of the AVDS-1790 engine, granting a massive increase in power to 908 horsepower, and this is coupled to a fully-automatic transmission.  The smaller engine allows for an increase in fuel capacity.  The upgrade package is done by SABCA of Belgium, though the upgrade work was done in Venezuela.

 

The AMX-32

     In 1979, GIAT completed the first prototype of the AMX-32.  The AMX-32 was to be a major upgrade for the AMX-30 series, incorporating the latest in fire control systems and armor improvements.  Unfortunately, GIAT found no buyers for the AMX-32; this is probably because better French tanks, like the AMX-40 and Leclerc, were just around the corner.

     The AMX-32 has a layout that is basically the same as the AMX-30, but the turret faces, glacis, and hull sides are more angular to allow for more modern armor, including Chobham on the turret front and glacis.  The gunnerís sight has been repositioned to the right side of the main gun, with the coaxial autocannon moved to the left of the main gun.  The commanderís cupola has an externally-mounted machinegun that can be aimed, fired, and loaded from inside the cupola.  A CITS is also mounted on the rear of the cupola.  The commanderís sight is fully stabilized, and includes a laser rangefinder of its own.  The gunnerís sight and ballistic computer is a development of that of the AMX-10RC (at the time), and includes telescopic and unity sights, night vision, and a ballistic computer.  The gunnerís sight system also has a low-light TV, and both the commander and gunner have monitors that display information from the sights and ballistic computer.  The tracks used on the AMX-32 are beefed up, as is the suspension.  The engine is an HS-110-S2 supercharged multifuel engine developing 800 horsepower, coupled to a fully automatic transmission.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT and the AMX-30B2+ do not exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline.  In addition, the repowering of the AMX-30B2 was never done.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

AMX-30

$438,466

D, G, AvG, A

400 kg

36 tons

4

16

Passive IR (G), WL/IR Searchlight

Shielded

AMX-30B2

$556,961

D, G, AvG, A

400 kg

37 tons

4

16

Passive IR (D, C), Image Intensification (G), Thermal Imaging (G), WL/IR Searchlight

Shielded

AMX-30B2 (Repower)

$557,161

D, A

400 kg

37 tons

4

16

Passive IR (D, C), Image Intensification (G), Thermal Imaging (G), WL/IR Searchlight

Shielded

AMX-30S

$485,397

D, A

400 kg

36.6 tons

4

14

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G), WL/IR Searchlight

Shielded

AMX-30B2+

$508,305

D, A

400 kg

36.02 tons

4

17

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT

$714,314

D, A

400 kg

37.46 kg

4

20

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

AMX-30 (Venezuelan)

$587,560

D, A

400 kg

40 tons

4

20

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (D, C), WL/IR Searchlight

Shielded

AMX-32

$621,817

D, G, AvG, A

500 kg

40 tons

4

24

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (D, C)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

AMX-30

135/95

30/20

970

367

Trtd

T6

TF46  TS17  TR13  HF58  HS12  HR8

AMX-30B2

117/90

26/19

900

317

Trtd

T6

TF51  TS22  TR13  HF64  HS14Sp  HR8

AMX-30B2 (Repower)

124/87

28/22

900

345

Trtd

T6

TF51  TS22  TR13  HF64  HS14Sp  HR8

AMX-30B2+

128/91

29/23

900

336

Trtd

T6

TF46  TS17  TR13  HF58  HS12  HR8

AMX-30S

106/81

23/18

970

274

Trtd

T6

TF46  TS20  TR13  HF58  HS14Sp  HR8

AMX-30B2 Stealth MBT

123/86

28/22

900

348

Trtd

T6

TF51  TS22  TR13  HF64  HS14Sp  HR8

AMX-30 (Venezuelan)

144/101

33/26

1170

451

Trtd

T6

TF51  TS25  TR16  HF64  HS18Sp  HR10

AMX-32

126/88

29/23

900

378

Trtd

T6

TF64Cp  TS22Sp  TR14  HF80Cp  HS18Sp  HR10

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

AMX-30

+1

Fair

105mm GIAT Gun, 20mm GIAT M-621 Autocannon, AAT-F1 (C)

47x105mm, 1050x20mm, 2050x7.62mm

AMX-30B2/Stealth MBT/Venezuelan AMX-30

+3

Good

105mm GIAT Gun, 20mm GIAT M-621 Autocannon, AAT-F1 (C)

47x105mm, 480x20mm, 2070x7.62mm

AMX-30B2+

+2

Fair

105mm GIAT Gun, 20mm GIAT M-621 Autocannon, AAT-F1 (C)

47x105mm, 1050x20mm, 2050x7.62mm

AMX-30S

+2

Fair

105mm GIAT Gun, 20mm GIAT M-621 Autocannon, AAT-F1 (C)

47x105mm, 1050x20mm, 2050x7.62mm

AMX-32

+3

Good

105mm GIAT Gun, 20mm GIAT M-621 Autocannon, AAT-F1 (C)

47x105mm, 480x20mm, 2070x7.62mm

 

GIAT Leclerc

     Notes:  Deliveries of this vehicle to French forces began in 1992, and by 2008, 460 of them were built, as well as 338 for the Army of the United Arab Emirates.  First combat use of the Leclerc was in Kosovo in 1999. The Leclercs for the UAE as well as those sent to the Middle East with French forces have modifications allowing them to better operate in desert conditions, such as more efficient cooling systems, dust guards around the hull, and wider tracks, but are otherwise almost identical to stock Leclercs.  

 

The Leclerc Block I

     The layout is conventional, with the driver at the front of the hull in the center, the turret in the center of the vehicle with commander and gunnerís hatches on the turret deck, and the engine at the rear.  Unlike most tanks armed with a 120mm gun, the Leclerc is equipped with an autoloader that allows only 3 crewmembers to operate the tank.  The bustle can carry 22 rounds of ammunition for the autoloader, and has blow out panels to minimize damage if the turret is penetrated and the ammunition detonated (the same concept as on the M-1 Abrams, if not the same mechanism).  If this occurs, the Leclerc is not destroyed and the crew killed; instead, the turret ammunition supply is destroyed, the autoloader may not longer be operated, the gun, optics, radios, and night vision suite take minor damage, and each crewmember takes 50 points of concussion damage.  The other 18 main gun rounds are carried in a drum beside the driver, and are not protected from the crew by blow-out panels.

     Another departure from normal tank design is that the M-2HB is the coaxial armament and the AAT-F1 machinegun is the commanderís machinegun, instead of the other way around; this also allows the M-2HB to be used as a ranging device if the rangefinder is damaged and inoperative.  The AAT-F1 may be aimed, fired, and loaded from within the vehicle if necessary.  The main gun is a longer L/52 gun, with almost identical performance to the Rheinmetall L/55 120mm gun.  French or other Western ammunition may be used in the Leclerc, including several special rounds developed by GIAT.  Seven smoke grenade launchers are on each side of the turret in clusters, using the Galix system, and can launch 88mm smoke, AP, or IR screening smoke grenades.

     The gunner and commander essentially have their own set of the same sights for the main gun and coaxial machinegun, along with a thermal imager, image intensification, and a laser rangefinder.  The main gun and coaxial machinegun are fully stabilized using electronics, gyroscopes, and an internal computer.  The commander and gunner each have two LCD panels, showing the ammunition, main gun, and coaxial state, and the other showing sight and target information.  The commander also has a panel showing the state of the entire tank.  The Leclerc has an inertial navigation system that keeps constant track of where the Leclerc is in relation to the start point inputted into the system.  The inertial navigation system is also tied to a computer that keeps track of vital friendly units, such as supply, replenishment, and command units.

     The armor of the Leclerc is modular; as better or new types of armor are developed, the faces of the turret, glacis, and hull sides can be easily removed and replaced with new developments in armor.  The engine is a 1500-horsepower SACM V8X-1500 Hyperbar supercharged diesel.  It can spray diesel fuel into the exhaust to produce a smoke screen.  The Leclerc also has a 30-horsepower TM-307B gas turbine APU to reduce fuel consumption when the Leclerc is on watch operations or simply staying still.  The transmission is fully automatic.  The Leclerc has an NBC overpressure system and an automatic fire detection and extinguishing system (one for both the engine and transmission and one for the crew compartment).

     UAE Leclercs start out as Block I tanks, but the engine and transmission replaced with the EuroPowerPack consisting of an MTU 883 1500-horsepower supercharged diesel along with an automatic transmission that are both more reliable in desert conditions.  The UAE Leclerc is a bit longer in the rear sections to allow it to carry larger internal fuel tanks.  UAE Leclercs have improved cooling systems for the engine, improved air filters, a diesel APU instead of the gas turbine APU, and air conditioning.  Starting in 2003, they use a version of the FINDERS battle management system that allows for the passing of friendly and enemy positions, mapping, and commands and routing messages.  GPS was added at the same time.

 

Later Leclercs

     The Leclerc Block II was delivered to the French Army from 1997-2003, and includes an air conditioner, updated computers and software, appliquť armor for the hull sides, and an enhanced cooling system for the engine, transmission, and suspension.

     The Leclerc Block III was first delivered to the French Army in 2004.  The thermal imagers are replaced by 2nd generation Iris FLIR cameras, along with new laser rangefinders.  A new French battle management computer system, called Icone, equips the Leclerc Block III.  This adds IFF and a central processing unit that keeps track of units on the battlefield, integrates intelligence reports, and keeps track of the condition of the Leclerc.  A subsystem, called IconeTIS, maintains contact with higher and lower-echelon units, and uses GPS.  The entire system is tied together by software and hardware called FINDERS. In the Block III, an upgrade to the Galix system called KBCM adds several more defensive measures to the Leclerc, including a laser warning system, a missile warning system, and an IR jammer.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The French sent few Leclercs to the Middle East, retaining most of them for use at home and sending AMX-40s as 120mm-armed tanks instead.  The Leclercs in the Twilight 2000 timeline are all Block Is and UAE Leclercs without the FINDERS system and the GPS.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Leclerc Block I

$682,343

D, A

700 kg

56.5 tons

3

29

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

Leclerc Block II

$683,154

D, A

700 kg

57.8 tons

3

31

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

Leclerc Block III

$1,024,130

D, A

700 kg

58.14 tons

3

33

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

UAE Leclerc (Early)

$683,443

D, A

700 kg

56.6 tons

3

29

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

UAE Leclerc (Late)

$728,310

D, A

700 kg

56.72 tons

3

30

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G, C)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Leclerc Block I

168/116

35/26

1300+400

755

Trtd

T6

TF136Cp  TS39  TR30  HF170Cp  HS28Sp  HR19

Leclerc Block II

164/113

34/25

1300+400

773

Trtd

T6

TF136Cp  TS39  TR30  HF170Cp  HS33Sp  HR19

Leclerc Block III

163/112

34/25

1300+400

778

Trtd

T6

TF136Cp  TS39  TR30  HF170Cp  HS33Sp  HR19

UAE Leclerc

168/116

35/26

1600+400

755

Trtd

T6

TF136Cp  TS39  TR30  HF170Cp  HS28Sp  HR19

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Leclerc Block I/UAE Leclerc

+4

Good

120mm GIAT Gun, M-2HB, AAT-F1 (C)

40x120mm, 950x.50, 3000x7.62mm

Leclerc Block II

+4

Good

120mm GIAT Gun, M-2HB, AAT-F1 (C)

40x120mm, 1100x.50, 3000x7.62mm

Leclerc Block III

+5

Good

120mm GIAT Gun, M-2HB, AAT-F1 (C)

40x120mm, 1100x.50, 3000x7.62mm