Forecast International (FI) says the Al-Khalid (pictured), Type 98 and T-90 main battle tanks will continue to dominate the market for heavy armour for the next decade.
In its annual analysis “The Market for Tanks,” FI`s Weapons Group projects that the international market will produce over 6,500 main battle tanks, worth in excess of $26.76 billion.
FI expects new production of high-end tanks to remain relatively low, accounting for 14.9% of all production and 24.22% of the value of the market during the forecast period.
In terms of sheer numbers, FI expects Pakistan`s Al Khalid, the Type 98 of the People`s Republic of China, and the Russian Federation`s T-90 (including India`s licensed T-90S production program) to continue to dominate the market, representing 60.57% of all new tanks rolling out worldwide, and accounting for 52.28% of the value of the market, through 2018.
Dean Lockwood, weapons systems analyst at FI notes that “in 2008, US Department of Defence contract awards for the maintenance, reset and upgrade of the existing M1 Abrams inventories carried a total value in excess of $1.46 billion.
“That was equivalent to more than 46% of the total value of all new-production main battle tanks entering the international market in 2008 (nearly $3.17 billion).
“Last year, the Chinese Type 98 program maintained its position as the single largest new-production program. Yet, with a total value of $395.79 million (for 116 new-production tanks), the Type 98 program was worth only about 27.11% what the US DoD spent on the M1 Abrams in 2008.”
In the international market for main battle tanks, the days of US and European domination over new production are long gone. Nevertheless, the established US and European players continue to make their presence felt.
The 120mm Rh 120 smoothbore ordnance, the state-of-the-art Leopard 2, and the combat-proven M1 Abrams continue to set the standard for main battle tank design worldwide.
Second only to the infantryman in terms of combat effectiveness, the “mailed fist” of heavy armour remains the arm of decision on the modern battlefield.
Further, as Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-present) evolved from a war of movement into a security operation, the main battle tank has proven surprisingly adaptable.
According to Lockwood, “In the congested streets of Iraqi cities, the Abrams serves as a significant force multiplier, fully up to meeting the challenges of an asymmetric warfare environment.”