NEWTOWN, Conn. --- In light of the global war on terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Forecast International Weapons Group has re-evaluated its annual ranking of the world’s best main battle tanks.
With an unmatched combat record in Operation Desert Storm (1991) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-present), the M1A1 Abrams by General Dynamics Land Systems Division has clearly proven itself to be the premier main battle tank in service today. Based on its combat debut with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) Abrams now sets the international standard for main battle tank performance.
“With the demands of the global war on terror, we no longer have the luxury of evaluating weapons systems solely on their performance in the safe confines of a training environment,” said Dean Lockwood, author of the Forecast International rankings. “For man and machine alike, combat has a way of revealing previously unknown strengths and weaknesses,” Lockwood said.
When viewed through the prism of actual combat performance, the annual main battle tank ranking takes on a radically different character from years past. The Israel Ordnance Corps Merkava Mark IV moves up to second place in the Forecast International ranking. Although generally considered to be outside the mainstream of international tank development, the Merkava series is uniquely suited for the demands of the Israeli security environment. Like the M1A1 Abrams, the Merkava can boast a proven combat record.
Japan’s Type 90, by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, maintains its third-place position on the Forecast International list. Drawing heavily on German Leopard 2 technology, the Type 90 is arguably the most technologically advanced main battle tank in service today. However, the Type 90 suffers from being untried in combat. As such, its performance remains essentially theoretical. For the same reason, the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Leopard 2A6 falls to fourth place. The oft-praised advanced features of the Leopard 2 and the integration of the Rh 120/55 main armament simply cannot compensate for the fact that the Leopard 2A6 remains untested in the crucible of combat.
Fifth place on the Forecast International ranking belongs to the British Challenger 2 by Vickers Defence Systems Division. Like the Abrams, the Challenger 2 has earned a solid combat record during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In comparison with the other tanks on this list, however, the Challenger 2 suffers from the lack of NATO-standard ordnance. Should the U.K. Ministry of Defence adopt the NATO-standard 120mm Rh 120 ordnance as part of the Challenger Lethality Improvement Program (CLIP), the Challenger 2 will likely take over second place on this list.
Forecast International, Inc., is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. Based in Newtown, CT, USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market presentations, including regular 10-year forecasts. Its products are utilized by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide.