|Main battle tank
Design work was carried out on the AMX-30 at the Atelier de Construction d'lssy-les-Moulineaux, with the first two prototypes being completed in 1960. A further seven prototypes built with the Hispano-Suiza HS 110 12-cylinder multi-fuel engine, which was also fitted to production tanks, were completed early in 1963 and in July of that year the tank was adopted by the French Army as the replacement for its US-supplied M47 tanks. Prior to production two preproduction tanks were built.
Production of the AMX-30 began in 1966 at the Centre de Roanne and the AMX-30 was also built under licence in Spain (qv). In 1987, Cyprus placed an order with France for the supply of 15 AMX-30 B2 MBTs and a single AMX-30D armoured recovery vehicle; these were delivered in 1988. Late in 1989 Cyprus placed an order with Giat for the supply of a further 35 AMX-30 B2 MBTs and another AMX-30D armoured recovery vehicle.
AMX-30 series MBTs were used by France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar during operations conducted early in 1991 to retake Kuwait following its invasion by Iraq in 1990.
Production of the AMX-30 series was completed late in 1993 when the last AMX-30 EBGs were completed for the French Army. Late in 1994 the chassis went back in production as the French Army ordered another batch of 20 GCT 155 mm self-propelled howitzers.
Although the Giat Industries 120 mm armed Leclerc MBT is being introduced into service with the French Army the older AMX-30 B2 is now expected to remain in service until 2010.
For this reason it is being upgraded in a number of key areas including the installation of explosive reactive armour and a new diesel engine. Additional details of these upgrades are given later in this entry.
The hull of the AMX-30 is made of rolled steel plates welded together. It is divided into three compartments: driver's at the front, fighting in the centre and the engine at the rear.
The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle on the left with a single-piece hatch cover opening to the left and three periscopes. The centre periscope, depending on the model of the tank, can be either a day periscope which can be replaced by an image intensification night periscope (Thomson-CSF TH 9478), or a SOPELEM OB-16A periscope. This has a binocular system for infrared light by night and a monocular system for day driving. The infra-red system has a magnification of x1 and a 35° field of view and the day system has a similar magnification and a 24° field of view.
The other three crew members are seated in the turret, with the commander and gunner on the right and the loader, who also operates the radio, on the left. The commander's cupola is a TOP 7 with 10 periscopes for all-round vision and a single-piece hatch cover opening to the rear. Mounted on the forward part of the commander's cupola is a SOPELEM M 270 prism head. This comprises an armoured housing and a thick glass behind which is a prism, swivelling in elevation and reflecting the image of the terrain towards the M 267 day sight or the OB-23A infrared telescope (magnification x4, 9° field of view), the object lenses of which fit into its lower part. On the right of the prism is a swivelling arm which supports the 7.62 mm machine gun and its PH-9-A,infrared searchlight, it has a 500 m range when being used in the infrared mode and a 700 m range in the white light mode. The weapon can be elevated from -10 to +45° by a handwheel in the turret roof. The prism may also be used to aim the coaxial 20 mm cannon, in which case the head (of the prism) is electrically servo-controlled by the elevation swivel of the 20 mm cannon. The M 270 has a magnification of x10 and allows the tank commander to locate and identify targets and bring the turret to bear onto the target. The tank commander also operates the SOPELEM M 208 range-finder with a magnification of x6 and a range of 600 to 3,500 m.
Mounted on the left side of the turret, coaxial with the main armament, is a SOPELEM PH-8-B searchlight, which has a maximum range of 2,000 m when used in the white light mode and a range of 1,000 m in the infrared mode.
The gunner, who is seated below and in front of the commander, has an M 271 day sight with a magnification of x8 which can be changed for an OB-17A night sight. This is mounted in the roof of the turret and has a luminous graticule, magnification of x5.4 and a 7° field of view. When used with the PH-8-B infrared searchlight it has a range of 800 m. The gunner also has two periscopes.
The loader is seated on the left of the turret and is provided with two periscopes and a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. A small circular hatch on the left side of the turret is used for replenishing ammunition and ejecting spent cartridge cases manually.
The engine is to the immediate rear of the bulkhead separating the engine compartment from the fighting compartment. The Hispano-Suiza HS 110 engine was manufactured by Renault and operates on oil, petrol or paraffin. The engine is water-cooled and air is drawn in above the chassis in the rear part of the tank and blown down through the radiator by a fan driven by the engine. The speed of the fan is governed by the water temperature.
The complete power pack, comprising the engine, combined gearbox and steering unit, and clutch assembly, can be removed in 45 minutes by a team of three. The power pack can also be run outside the tank before installation.
The transmission consists of an automatic clutch, combined gearbox and steering unit, brakes and two final drives. In the basic version the centrifugal-type clutch is activated electrically by the gear shift lever; a non-synchronised reverser enables the same number of gears to be engaged in reverse as forwards. The combined gearbox and steering mechanism contains the mechanically operated gearbox giving five speeds both forward and in reverse and a triple differential steering system.
The brakes are hydraulically operated and are used as both service and parking brakes. Each final drive comprises spur-type right-angle gears and an epicyclic gear train.
The torsion bar suspension consists of five rubber-tyred twin roadwheels with the idler at the front and the drive sprocket at the rear. There are five track-return rollers which support the inside of the track only. The first, second, fourth and fifth roadwheels are mounted on bogies and the first and fifth roadwheels are provided with hydraulic shock-absorbers. The centrally guided steel track has removable rubber pads and each track weighs 1,580 kg. When new it has 83 links. The AMX-30 can ford to a maximum depth of 1.3 m without preparation and 2 m with preparation. When deeper rivers are encountered a snorkel is erected over the loader's hatch. Two types of snorkel are available, a wide one for training and a much thinner one for operations, similar in concept to the snorkels fitted to the Russian T-54/T-55 and T-62 MBTs. Before entering the water a ring is inflated around the turret, mantlet and cupola using the electrically driven compressor and, two blanking plates are fitted over the engine compartment louvres; these are carried on the right side of the glacis plate when not in use.
Standard equipment on all AMX-30s includes a battery-operated electric pump for refuelling and a lubricating pump using the tank's compressed air circuit. The power receptacle in the driver's compartment can be used for recharging the tank's batteries from another tank and also for supplying the electric pump used for refuelling. The tank is also equipped with an NBC system, heater, automatic fire alarm system, radios, crew intercom system and an infantry telephone at the rear.
Main armament of the AMX-30 is a Giat Industries 105 mm smooth bore gun designated the CN-105-F1 with a length of 56 calibres. The gun does not have a muzzle brake or a fume extractor but is fitted with a magnesium alloy thermal sleeve. A compressed air system evacuates any fumes from the barrel. The recoil system consists of two diametrically opposed hydraulic brakes and an oleo-pneumatic recuperator for counter-recoil of the barrel.
The 105 mm gun can fire APFSDS, HEAT, HE, phosphorus smoke or illuminating rounds of a French design. It can also fire standard 105 mm ammunition as used with the L7 series of weapons mounted in the Leopard 1 and M60 series of MBTs. A 105 mm DU round has been developed by Giat Industries. This is now in service with the French Army but has not been released for export.
In total 47 rounds of 105 mm ammunition are carried, 19 of which are in the turret (18 in the bustle) and 28 in the hull to the right of the driver.
Mounted to the left of the main armament is a Giat Industries 20 mm Model F2 (Type M693) cannon, which can be elevated with the main armament and also on its own to a maximum of +40° for use against slow-flying aircraft and helicopters. The cannon has a maximum effective range of 1,500 m and can be fired by the gunner ortank commander. The 20 mm cannon can be either dual feed (with HEI rounds with a muzzle velocity of 1,050 m/s and armour-piercing rounds with a muzzle velocity of 1,250 m/s), or single feed firing American M56 type ammunition. In total 480 rounds of ready use ammunition are carried, with a further 550 rounds held in reserve. When originally introduced into service a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun was mounted to the left of the main armament. This was provided with 600 rounds of ammunition.
Mounted to the right of the commander's cupola is a 7.62 mm Model F1 machine gun which can be aimed and fired from within the cupola. The weapon has an elevation of +45° and a depression of -10°. In total 2,050 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition are carried, of which 550 are ready for immediate use. The empty cartridge cases are automatically ejected outside the tank. Maximum effective range of the 7.62 mm machine gun is quoted as 700 m.
There are two smoke grenade dischargers mounted either side of the turret which can lay a smoke screen covering the tank in 8 seconds.
The hydraulic aiming control system of the AMX-30 is a SAMM Model CH 27-1S with elevation controlled through a hydraulic actuating cylinder/shock-absorber and traverse controlled through a hydraulic motor. The gunner is provided with dual-handle controls and the tank commander has a single handle control which can also be used to override the gunner.
A simplified version of the AMX-30 was developed for export with no night vision or NBC system. The commander's cupola was replaced by an S 470 cupola with an externally mounted 12.7 mm machine gun, rather than a 7.62 mm machine gun as installed on French Army AMX-30s, and the coaxial weapon with a 7.62 mm machine gun rather than a 12.7 mm machine gun or a 20 mm cannon.
For Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East in 1991, most of the French Army AMX-30 B2 MBTs deployed to Saudi Arabia were modified with the installation of an infrared decoy system mounted on the forward part of the turret and smoke/decoy launchers mounted either side of the turret.
- AMX-30 with ERA
Under contract to the French Army, Giat Industries has developed an ERA package for part of the French Army's fleet of AMX-30 B2 MBTs.
The ERA package uses the Giat Industries BS (Brique de Surblindage) G2 module which is claimed to be resistant to small arms fire up to 20 mm in calibre but when hit by a HEAT warhead the module provides protection equivalent to 400 mm of steel armour at an angle of 60°.
Two AMX-30 B2 battalions of the FAR (Rapid Deployment Force) have been equipped with the ERA package while an additional two battalions will be fitted for but not with the ERA package.
This ERA package is being offered for installation on other MBTs by Giat Industries.
- French Army re-power of AMX-30 B2 MBT
The AMX-30 B2 was the final production model of the AMX-30 MBT and is powered by a Hispano-Suiza HS-110 12-cyUnder water-cooled multi-fuel engine built by Renault developing 720 hp at 2,600 rpm coupled to a SESM ENC 200 transmission.
The HS-110 has never been considered a satisfactory engine and following trials with a number of engines the French Army selected the Renault Vehicules Industriels (RVI) Mack E9 diesel and placed an order for 500 engines.
The first Mack E9 engines were delivered to the French Army early in 1998 as they will be carrying out the actual conversion work although the design authority remains Gait Industries.
The Mack E9 engines will first be installed in the AMX-30 B2 tank followed by some of the more specialised versions, including the 155 mm GCT and the AMX-30D armoured recovery vehicle.
For the AMX-30 B2 application the E9 is rated at 552 kW (750 hp) and according to RVI is almost a direct replacement for the current Hispano-SuizaHS-110 engine as no modificatons are required to be carried out for the actual hull. The SESM ENC 200 transmission is retained as this was fitted on all AMX-30 B2 series tanks.
The specialised versions of the AMX-30 had older manual transmissions which are expected to be replaced by the SESM ENC 200 in which the driver steers the vehicle with a steering wheel rather than the old tillers as originally installed.
The military E9 features double stage turbocharging on either side (2x2 turbochargers of the Garrett type), a Bosch direct injection system and a dry sump. The latter is a specific military requirement as it allows the AMX-30 B2 to operate on steep side slopes and gradients which are not required for the civilian Mack E9 engine.
The Mack E9 engines for the AMX-30 B2 are manufactured in the United States and are then sent to the RVI facility in Limoges where they are modified for the military role. When compared to the existing engine, the Mack E9 is expected to be more reliable and offer lower life cycle costs.
- AMX-30 Upgrades
Giat Industries is also offering a number of subsystem upgrades for the AMX-30 MBT including the following:
(1)AMX-30 B2 suspension for improved mobility
(2)Installation of microprocessor control box for the transmission
(3)Replacement of the existing Renault engine by the new MACK E9-750 diesel which develops 750 hp at 2,400 rpm
(4)Installation of an ENC 200 transmission
(5)Modification of ammunition racks and sights to enable the AMX-30 to fire the latest 105 mm APFSDS projectiles
(6)Installation of a DIVT thermal camera with monitors for commander and gunner
(7)Installation of a fire/explosion detection/ suppression system for the crew compartment
(8)Installation of a new smoke/decoy launching system either side of the turret
(9)Installation of an anti-tank missile decoy system on the turret roof.
- Spanish AMX-30 upgrade
In January 1987, after studying a number of proposals and trials with prototype vehicles, Spain approved a plan to upgrade 150 of its AMX-30 MBTs in two stages, first the installation of a new power pack and second a new fire-control system. Details of this plan are given under Spain.
- AMX-30 Venezuela
In 1985, SABCAof Belgium was awarded a contract to modernise Venezuelan AMX-30 MBTs with a new fire-control system. Teledyne Continental Motors (now General Dynamics Land Systems) of the USA has also modernised at least one Venezuelan AMX-30 with a 908 hp version of the AVDS-1790 series diesel engine coupled to a fully automatic transmission; speed is increased to 65 km/h and the operating range with increased fuel capacity is up from 535 km to 721 km. The AMX-30 was also fitted with a new fire-control system incorporating a laser range-finder, weapon stabilisation system and sensors for wind, temperature and humidity and a modernised commander's station. The driver's station has also been modernised, a fire detection and suppression system installed and the vehicle can now lay its own smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust system.
Other options include applique armour protection and the replacement of the torsion bar suspension with Model 2880 suspension units for improved crosscountry mobility.
The TCP (Travure Courte Portee) folding assault bridge has been developed by CNIM which is currently supplying the French Army with the Pont Flottant Motorise (PFM) motorised pontoon bridge system.
This bridge is fitted onto the EBG from a single-axle trailer using only the EBG's crane. Once in position, the scissors bridge is opened by a combination of cables and gravity and can be used to span a gap up to 12 m wide. When opened out the bridge is 14 m long, 4 m wide and weighs a total of 4,800 kg.
- AMX-30 MDR Flail Tank
Development of this system has been cancelled. For trials purposes an AMX-30 MBT has been fitted with Israeli mineclearing rollers at the front of the hull. For Operation Desert Storm, some French Army AMX-30 B2 MBTs were fitted with Russian KMT-5 plough/roller type mineclearing systems supplied by Germany from ex-East German Army stocks.
- Shahine anti-aircraft missile system
This was developed by Thomson-CSF specifically to meet the requirements of Saudi Arabia. It consists of a firing unit with six missiles in the ready to fire position on a modified AMX-30 chassis and, an acquisition unit with a large surveillance radar on a similar chassis. This is an all-weather system. The firing unit does not carry any reserve missiles, these being brought up by a crosscountry truck fitted with a crane.
- Twin 30 mm anti-aircraft gun system
This is an updated version of the turret installed on the AMX-13 light tank chassis, but installed on an AMX-30 chassis specifically to meet the requirements of Saudi Arabia which took delivery of a total of 53 vehicles. The chassis is fitted with a power-operated turret armed with twin 30 mm cannon for which a total of 600 rounds of ready use ammunition is carried (300 for each gun) with a further 900 rounds being carried in reserve. Mounted on the turret rear is the radar system.