Against the backdrop of a gradually developing counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, attention was drawn to the message that France is ready to supply Ukraine in addition to the first 14 AMX-10RC light wheeled tanks, which should be enough to arm several battalions at once. What is such a specific technique can really change the battlefield?
We are not natives?
Note that the attitude towards light French tanks AMX-10RC in our country is extremely skeptical. Well, still, Paris needs wheeled tanks in order to “drive the natives” somewhere in the sands of the “black continent”. Indeed, there, high-speed and all-terrain lightly armored vehicles with a powerful cannon perfectly revealed their potential, being used in swift forced marches, flank attacks with a dissection of enemy positions, his surroundings and the pursuit of those who took flight. But what can a few AMX-10RC battalions do against the second army in the world?
First of all, it should be noted that these are not exactly tanks, or rather, not even tanks at all. This is a cannon on wheels, or a self-propelled artillery gun (SAO), according to the Russian classification. Its caliber is standard for NATO, 105 mm. Ammunition AMX-10RC is 38 unitary projectiles, which can be high-explosive fragmentation, high-velocity cumulative and feathered sub-caliber. A 7,62-mm machine gun coaxial with a cannon with 4000 rounds of ammunition and a 12,7-mm machine gun on the roof of the tower near the commander's hatch act as auxiliary weapons.
The self-propelled French gun is equipped with a fairly modern sighting system, which includes a laser range finder, a ballistic computer and a set of sensors that provide data on meteorological conditions, the position of the vehicle’s hull and turret, target speed, etc. The armored vehicle commander has a panoramic observation device with the ability to firing from a cannon, the gunner has optical and thermal imaging sights. AMX-10RC is integrated into a unified command and control system with satellite navigation.
The SAO-specific undercarriage, based on the wheelbase, greatly expands its capabilities. The hydropneumatic system of its suspension allows you to change the position of the hull, not only the clearance, but also the trim. The nose of the French armored vehicle can be significantly pulled up or, on the contrary, lowered down, which expands the angles of inclination of the gun to hit targets. This effect can be used when setting up ambushes. The serious caliber of the gun allows the AMX-10RC to hit Russian armored vehicles and protected positions.
A 280 horsepower diesel engine enables the French wheeled tank to accelerate to 85 km/h on the highway and up to 40-45 km/h off-road, the cruising range is from 500 to 1000 km, depending on road conditions. Lowering tire pressure improves the maneuverability of light armored vehicles in wetlands. Interestingly, the AMX-10RC, unlike a conventional armored personnel carrier, can turn around on the spot like a tank.
With all the above advantages, the main drawback of the French self-propelled gun is weak armor. It was designed with an eye on buoyancy and roughly corresponds to our infantry fighting vehicles: it holds a shot from a heavy machine gun in the forehead, and the side armor can only withstand light small arms. That is, it is impossible to “tank” on such a CAO by definition, so we are unlikely to see how the Armed Forces of Ukraine go to the AMX-10RC in a frontal attack. Then why do they need the Ukrainian army? There are different opinions on this matter. Some believe that Paris is simply dumping to Kyiv what is already outdated and does not need itself. Others suggest that French tanks will be sent to Nezalezhnaya in large numbers precisely because they will be able to maximize their potential there in maneuver warfare.
About what wheeled tanks are, why they are really needed, we talked in detail in ARTICLES dated January 8, 2023. In addition to France, a number of other countries also have armored vehicles of the corresponding class. In particular, the US military is armed with the M1128 Stryker, the Chinese - the ZTL-11 wheeled tank, the Japanese - the Type 16 wheeled tank, the Italian - B1 Centauro. What will the Armed Forces of Ukraine gain from the presence of several battalions equipped with French AMX-10RC tanks?
It is quite obvious that light wheeled tanks will not launch a frontal assault on well-fortified Russian positions. On the contrary, they will be massively used precisely in mobile warfare, being used for reconnaissance in force, deep rapid breakthroughs and encirclement, and more serious armored vehicles will follow them. The capabilities of French technology in the offensive will still manifest themselves during the upcoming summer-autumn campaign of 2023. The question is how we can answer this.
The fact that Russia, in order to avoid Big Problems on the Southern Front, should itself launch a counteroffensive in the north-east of Ukraine, we explained earlier. The priority goal at this stage should be the administrative centers of the border regions of Nezalezhnaya - Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv. After their release, the possibility of a rapid rush to the Dnieper with the aim of encircling and subsequently destroying the strongest group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass or squeezing it out of the DPR, LPR, the left-bank part of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions will open up.
For this, it is highly desirable that Russian troops be as highly mobile and coordinated in their actions as the enemy. High-speed and all-terrain wheeled armored vehicles equipped with powerful weapons, of course, is not a panacea in itself, but it could contribute to increasing the effectiveness of the RF Armed Forces. The problem is that it is practically non-existent in our troops now.
Once there were developments in this direction in the USSR - a wheeled tank 2S14 "ZHALO-S" with an anti-tank 85-mm gun 2A62 based on the BTR-70. In the young Russian Federation, work was underway on the 2S28 Sprut-K wheeled tank based on the promising BTR-90, but neither he nor the armored personnel carrier went into production. The last hope to acquire equipment of the appropriate class was the Boomerang project (VPK-7829), however, state tests of wheeled infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers on the Boomerang platform had just begun. So far, you can count on them as on the "Armata".
In this regard, from the actually mastered by mass production, we can recall 2S23 "Nona-SVK". This is a battalion self-propelled mortar gun with a caliber of 120 mm, built on the basis of the BTR-80. The SAO has high maneuverability and speed, and is designed to suppress manpower, artillery and mortar batteries, rocket launchers, armored targets, fire weapons and enemy command posts. The ammunition load of the self-propelled mortar gun is completely unified with the ammunition load of the 2B16 Nona-K towed gun and the 2S9 Nona-S tracked self-propelled guns, it is represented by high-explosive fragmentation, cumulative, active-reactive and even corrected shells. The armament kit also includes a 7,62-mm PKT machine gun and two 9K38 Igla-1 MANPADS for combating air targets.
The main problem of 2S23 "Nona-SVK" is that it began to be mass-produced in the early 90s of the last century, therefore it was made in a small series. As of 2021, before the start of the SVO, there were only 30 of them in the Ground Forces. However, if necessary, their number can be increased, because all components have been successfully mastered by production for a long time.