Is The Tank Dead?

But now most Americans are rivaling in the images of twisted metal and burnt out hulks of Russian tanks destroyed on the streets of Ukrainian cities.

Those images beg the next question….are tanks all that effective or needed for that matter?

Now that the question has been asked……let’s move on to an answer (of sorts)…..

Is the value of the tank in modern warfare zilch? That’s the lesson many observers are taking from a flood of images depicting Russian tanks mired in the mud, their turrets blown off, having been ambushed and destroyed by Ukrainian forces armed with cheap anti-tank weapons. These images are often pointed to alongside feeds from Turkish-produced drones destroying tanks, seemingly with ease. After the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which Russian-produced tanks were destroyed by the same model of drones, this is heady stuff for those ready to proclaim the death of the tank.

We already see comparisons of armor advocates to the battleship admirals before World War II, who refused to see the importance of carrier aviation, or Maj. Gen. John Herr, the last U.S. Army chief of cavalry, who continued to insist on the relevance of the horse on the battlefield even after the Nazi blitzkriegs against Poland and France.

Are the headlines coming from the Russo-Ukrainian War the final obituary for the tank as a viable instrument of war correct or — as with the Chicago Daily Tribune banner declaring Truman’s loss to Dewey in the 1948 presidential election — premature? Is the tank the horse cavalry of the 21st century? Or is it a useful supporting system, like the battleship in World War II? Or is it still, with adaptation, the weapon of choice for ground combat?

As with every other move in the never-ending wrestling match between offense and defense, unmanned systems and top-attack weapons pose heretofore unencountered challenges that must be met, or you will have to conduct a Monty Python reassessment of your military: And now for something completely different.

Before the rush to the funeral, however, the first question that must be addressed before one buries the tank is this: Is there a continued role for mobile, protected lethality on the battlefields of the future? If the answer is yes, or even maybe, then the next act in the ongoing drama of how to protect the tank is to enable it to do what only it can do. And, given the events of the day, this question must be addressed objectively and urgently.

The Tank Is Dead: Long Live the Javelin, the Switchblade, the … ?

Is it time to re-think the usefulness of a tank in modern warfare?

I say it should be given some major thought since the anti-tank weapons have been getting better and better….is the cost of a tank worth the advantages?

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12 thoughts on “Is The Tank Dead?

  1. The modern tank is basically useful for clearing combatants out of urban areas in door to door fighting scenarios. But electronically guided missiles and their adaptations are the future of field combat. I am waiting for the advent of the hypersonic drone myself; a drone with the capability of recognizing the enemy and targeting them with mass elimination weapons or individual shots much the same as a sniper.

    1. Tanks have always been death traps but more so now…..we all always need grunts to clear urban areas…..anti-tank weapons are effective just look at the ‘reports’ from Ukraine. chuq

  2. I would guess the use of tank armor would depend on the conflict… terrain, enemy defense capabilities, etc. Our Abrams fire a sophisticated depleted uranium shaped charge penetrating Sabot round through a smooth bore barrel. While excellent for knocking out other armor (ala ,Iraq/Kuwait), is rather not worth much as an artillery piece, which has always been one traditional role of the tank… surrounding a town and laying siege in the absence of heavy artillery. Russian tanks still fire conventional rifled barrel rounds.
    The tank is an open field weapon, offering cover for advancing infantry behind it. It was originally designed to cross over entrenchments.. entrenching is not something done with infantry these days. Also, if a tank gets hit by an HE/AP round the 3-4 man crew inside is more than toast (those tank turrets you see blown off mean the crew inside are smudges on the wall. Those tank turrets are held in place on those tanks by gravity alone. You’d think it would be fastened down somehow. If a tank runs off the road and flips on its side or totally over the turret just falls off (same gravity thing on large Navy ships… which is why when a ship sinks and lists over the large gun turrets fall off).
    But to your greater question.. are tanks obsolete? Id’ say that depends on the enemy and nature of the conflict.

  3. The new battlefield for Third World nations poking the bear in the West is simply urban terrorism and guerilla warfare. No room for tanks there.

      1. Good one…there is an excellent movie about the building of the Abrams starring that guy from “Frasier”…..”The Pentagon Wars”…that pretty much explains it all. chuq

  4. They can be effective against poorly-armed insurgents, or untrained armed civilians. But up against drones and any modern shoulder-launched missile or rocket, they are a waste of lives and money.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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