|Manufacturer:||Vickers Defence Systems Ltd.|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Main battle tank|
The Chieftain MBT (covered in detail in an earlier entry) was designed to meet the requirements of the British Army during the late 1950s. Realising that several countries would not buy such a heavy and expensive tank, Vickers designed a new 37 tonne MBT armed with the Royal Ordnance 105 mm rifled gun from the Centurion and the engine, transmission, brakes, steering and fire-control system of the Chieftain. The use of these Chieftain components in a tank weighing only 37 tonnes improved its reliability and durability.
In January 1961, a team of defence experts visited Germany and the United Kingdom to examine tank designs that could be produced in India. The Vickers proposal was accepted and in August 1961 an agreement was signed between Vickers and the Indian government under which the company would establish a factory in India for the production of the Vickers MBT.
The first two prototypes of the Vickers MBT were completed in 1963; one was retained in the United Kingdom and the other sent to India. Vickers began production at its Elswick works in 1964 and the first production tank was delivered to India in 1965. The Indian factory at Avadi, near Madras, was built and the first Vijayanta (the Indian name for the Vickers tank) rolled off the production line in January 1965. Some 2,200 Vijayantas have been built in India although some reports have quoted a lower figure of 1,600; production has been phased out.
The Vijayanta still has the original ranging machine gun but, after evaluating several systems, late in 1980 India selected the British GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems, Defence Control Systems Division, SFCS 600 fire-control system for installation in the tank. An initial batch of 70 systems was supplied from the UK. Since then India has developed and placed in production its own computerised fire-control system for this vehicle.
In 1968, Kuwait placed an order for 70 Vickers Mk 1 MBTs which were delivered between 1970 and 1972. These are no lo'nger in service.
In 1975, Vickers replaced the original Leyland L60 engine with the Detroit Diesel 12V-71T turbocharged diesel developing 720 bhp at 2,500 rpm, but retained the TN12 transmission. This increased the power-to-weight ratio to over 18 bhp/t, as well as increasing the maximum road speed to over 50 km/h.
In 1977, Kenya placed an order for 38 Vickers Mk 3 MBTs plus three ARVs, which were all completed by late 1980. In December 1978, Kenya placed a second order for 42 Vickers Mk 3 MBTs plus four ARVs which were delivered from 1981 to 1982.
In August 1981, the Nigerian government placed an order worth some £60 million with Vickers Defence Systems for 36 Vickers Mk 3 MBTs, five ARVs and six bridgelayers. The MBTs are fitted with the Detroit Diesel 12V-71T diesel engine, the David Brown Defence Equipment TN12 V5 transmission, the British Aerospace Systems and Equipment-York L23 gunner's sight which has a SIMRAD LV352 laser range-finder, the Pilkington Optronics Condor commander's day/ night sight and the GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems, Defence Control Systems Division, EFCS 600 fire-control system. First production vehicles for Nigeria were completed in mid-1983. Early in 1985, Nigeria placed a repeat order for Vickers Mk 3 MBTs; first deliveries were made late in 1985 and final deliveries in late 1986. Included in this order was a further batch of five ARVs and six AVLBs.
In 1989, Vickers Defence Systems supplied Tanzania with four Mk 3 ARVs to support its Chinese-supplied Type 59 MBTs.
In early 1984, a Vickers Mk3 MBT was demonstrated in Thailand.
Late in 1991, it was disclosed that Vickers Defence Systems had received a contract worth £150 million for the supply of a significant number of MBTs and specialised support vehicles. These were for Nigeria, with deliveries taking place from late 1992 through to late 1995.
- Description (Mk 1)
The all-welded rolled steel hull of the Vickers MBT is divided into three compartments: driver's at the front, fighting in the centre and the engjne and transmission at the rear. The driver's compartment is on the right, with a single-piece hatch cover opening to the right. Forward of the cover is a single AFV No 44 Mk 2 wide-angle periscope for closed-down driving. This can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night. To the left of the driver are stowed 25 rounds of 105 mm ammunition.
The all-welded steel turret has an ammunition reloading hatch in the left side and a stowage basket at the rear. The loader is seated on the left of the turret and the commander and gunner on the right.
The commander is provided with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear, a sight with a magnification of x10 and six periscopes for all-round observation. The gunner is seated in front of and below the commander and is provided with a single sighting telescope with a ballistic graticule. The loader has a two-piece hatch cover that opens front and rear and is provided with an observation periscope in front of his position.
The engine, transmission, steering system and brakes are at the rear of the hull. The complete power pack, consisting of the L60 engine, transmission, radiators, fans, coolant and oil filter, can be removed from thetank as a complete unit. Cooling air is drawn by way of the louvres, through the radiators and engine compartment and is discharged by fans through outlet louvres over the gearbox compartment.
The TN12 gearbox combines the Wilson epicyclic gear change principle with the Merritt steering system and provides six forward and two reverse speeds. Input to the transmission incorporates a centrifugal clutch and an input-driven pump provides oil pressure for gear engagement. Steering is controlled by hydraulically applied disc brakes with a mechanical interlock to prevent simultaneous engagement.
In addition to the belt-driven 24 V generator, an auxiliary three-cylinder engine drives a second generator to provide turret power and heat as well as charging the batteries when the main engine is not running.
The torsion bar suspension system consists of six dual rubber-tyred roadwheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear and three track-return rollers. Suspension units one, two and six mount secondary torsion bars which are brought into action by stops mounted on the hull. The first, second and sixth roadwheel stations are provided with a hydraulic shock-absorber. The tracks are of cast manganese with removable rubber pads.
Standard equipment for the Mk 1 includes fire warning and internal firefighting systems. Optional equipment includes an NBC system, night vision equipment and a flotation screen carried collapsed around the top of the hull which would take between 15 and 30 minutes to erect. The tank would then be steered and propelled in the water by its tracks at a speed of 6.4 km/h. Some Indian vehicles have an infrared/white searchlight mounted to the left of the main armament.
Main armament consists of a Royal Ordnance 105 mm L7A1 gun which is normally aimed using a 12.7 mm (0.50) ranging machine gun mounted coaxially with the main armament. This has a maximum range of 1,800 m and fires three-round bursts of tracer ammunition. The 105 mm gun fires the following types of Royal Ordnance ammunition: APDS-T (L28A1), APDS-T (L52A1), APFSDS-T (L64), DS/T (L45A1), HESH (L37) and Smoke (L39), or any of the othet makes of 105 mm ammunition from Austrian, French, German, Israeli or US sources.
The tank is fitted with the then GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems, Defence Control Systems Division, EC517 gun control and stabilisation system which has three modes of operation: non-stabilised, stabilised and emergency. A coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun is mounted to the left of the main armament, and a second 7.62 mm gun is mounted on the commander's cupola. On each side of the turret are six electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers.
- Vickers MBT Mk 2
This was a project only and basically a Mk 1 with two integral missile launchers either side of the turret rear for the Swingfire ATGW missile. One example of the Mk2 was built.
- Vickers MBT Mk 3
The all-welded rolled steel hull of the Vickers Mk 3 MBT is divided into three compartments: driver's at the front, fighting in the centre and the engine and transmission in the rear.
The driver's compartment is on the right, with a single-piece hatch cover opening to the right. Forward of the cover is a single AFV No 44 Mk 2 wide-angle periscope for closed-down driving. This can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night. To the left of the driver 25 rounds of 105 mm ammunition are stowed.
The steel turret has a cast front welded to armour plate to give improved ballistic protection. It has an ammunition reloading hatch in the left side and a stowage basket on the rear. The loader sits on the left of the turret and the commander and gunner on the right.
The commander's cupola has 360° hand traverse and has a rear-opening single-piece hatch cover. The commander has a Pilkington Optronics Condor combined day/night sight; this has day magnifications of x 1 and x 10 and a night magnification of x 4. Using -=-the Condor, the commander can aim and fire the main 105 mm armament at night or in poor light. The sight has an injected ballistic graticule from the collimator, a range readout from the laser range-finder, and controls for operating the laser and for laying and firing the main armament. The commander also has six periscopes for observation.
The gunner has a British Aerospace Systems and Equipment-York L23 periscopic sight, with magnifications of x1 and x10, incorporating an Nd:YAG laser range-finder and a ballistic graticule. The gunner's sight is linked to the gun by a temperature-compensated link bar and to a collimator in the commander's cupola. The collimator projects an illuminated ballistic graticule image into the field of view of the commander's sight when the cupola and the turret are lined up.
The loader has a single-piece hatch cover that opens forward and an AFV No 30 Mk 1 observation periscope.
The main armament is the Royal Ordnance 105 mm L7A1 gun which fires APFSDS, APDS, HEAT, HESH, HE, smoke and canister rounds. A muzzle system is fitted which allows rapid compensation to be made for barrel movement due to changes in temperature.
The tank is fitted with the then GEC-Marconi Radar and Control Systems, Defence Control Systems Division, EC620 gun control and stabilising system which has three modes of operation: non-stabilised, stabilised and emergency.
The 12.7 mm ranging machine gun is retained. It is a very effective heavy machine gun for use against lightly armoured and soft-skinned vehicles. It also provides a back-up in the event of failure of the laser range-finder or fire-control computer.
The secondary armament is a coaxially mounted 7.62 mm machine gun. A further 7.62 mm machine gun is provided on the commander's cupola, in front of and to the left of the hatch. This weapon can be elevated from -10° to the vertical, and can be mechanically cocked, aimed and electrically fired from under armour. A spotlight is fitted to the cross shaft of the machine gun mounting. Elevation is achieved by the commander's sight elevation gear; thus the machine gun and the spotlight follow the commander's line of sight through all angles of elevation.
There are 50 rounds of 105 mm ammunition carried, 18 rounds in the turret below the ring, 25 stowed horizontally in the front of the hull and seven stowed vertically in the hull centre section.
Electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers are fitted on each side of the turret.
The engine, transmission, steering system and brakes are at the rear of the hull. The power pack consisting of the engine, radiators, coolant and oil filter can be removed as a complete unit. All connections to the power pack are by means of self-sealing couplings, plugs and sockets so that the power pack can be readily removed from the vehicle for major overhauls. Power is provided by a Detroit Diesel 12V-71T, two-stroke, turbocharged diesel developing 720 bhp at 2,500 rpm. If required the complete power pack can be run outside the vehicle.
The TN12 V5 automatic gearbox combines the Wilson epicyclic gear change principle with the Merritt steering system and provides six forward and two reverse gears. The driver can initiate an emergency sequential downchange to first and also engage one forward and one reverse gear manually. Transmission is by a centrifugal clutch; an input shaft-driven pump provides oil pressure for gear engagement. Steering is controlled by hydraulically applied disc brakes with a mechanical interlock to prevent simultaneous engagement. The final drive gear ratio has been raised to take advantage of the extra power available.
Cooling air is drawn in through inlet louvres over the engine compartment, through the radiators and engine compartment and is discharged by fans through outlet louvres over the gearbox compartment.
The torsion bar suspension system consists of six dual rubber-tyred roadwheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear and three track-return rollers. Suspension units one, two and six incorporate secondary torsion bars which are brought into action by stops mounted on the hull. The first, second and sixth roadwheel stations have hydraulic shock-absorbers. The tracks are of cast manganese steel with removable rubber pads.
Optional equipment includes added passive night vision equipment, deep wading and flotation equipment, full NBC filtration and pressurisation, a heater, air conditioning, contrarotating gear for the commander's cupola, and an automatic fire detection and suppression system. A 12.7 mm machine gun can also be fitted on the commander's cupola in place of the standard 7.62 mm machine gun.
This has been developed to meet the requirements of Malaysia, details are given in a separate entry. As of 1999 this remained at the prototype stage.
- Vickers Armoured Bridgelayer
- Vickers Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle
- Vickers Anti-aircraft Tank
This is the Vickers Mk 3 chassis fitted with theMarconi Electronic Systems Limited Land and Naval Systems Group, Marksman twin 35 mm turret. The Marksman turret has only been installed for trials purposes. The only customer so far is Finland which has fitting it to T-55tank chassis. Details of the Marksman twin 35 mm turret are given in Jane's Land-Based Air Defence 1999-2000, page 83.
Production as required. In service with the following countries in the accompanying table.
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