Originally Posted by Mk23
When did I ever claim that the M1A2 Abrams was a deployable main battle tank? You need either a beach landing or a fully established airfield to move the things in theatre!
The M1 Abrams was designed for essentially the same purpose as the Merkava. Defensive actions out of established bases, in the case of the Abrams, bases in Western Europe.
ALL modern main battle tanks have incredibly poor mobility and deployability, it's just not that apparent because the only thing natural to compare them to are... other main battle tanks designed around the same outdated strategic purposes. Tank designers don't even think about what the tank is going to be used for nowadays, they just compare it to the M1 Abrams or the Leopard 2.
There's no doubt that the sweeping armored thrusts that the Abrams performed in both Gulf wars were incredibly effective, but compared to a vehicle designed specifically for the purpose of high-mobility armored warfare (a vehicle that doesn't exist in the modern world!), the performance would be found to be poor in comparison.
I'd stop trying to build tanks that are both the ultimate street-fighting tank and the ultimate tank vs tank vehicle (such as the Merkava undoubtedly is, combat-wise), at the expense of actual strategic usefulness.
For a tank-vs-tank vehicle, I'd sacrifice armor protection (because let's face it, as it is there isn't a tank armor out there that can't be penetrated by /some/ form of attack, not even the Merkava's) for a more powerful main gun, and naturally have a lighter weight, better mobility, and lower cost. It'll level the playing field combat-wise. A single shot from a Merkava's ultra-powerful 120mm gun would knock one out, but put a gun big enough that a single shot can knock a Merkava out too... sounds even to me.
For urban fighting, that ultra-powerful 120mm gun is OVERPOWERED. You don't need that much penetration to blast an improvised bunker, or strong point. A lighter weapon such as a 76mm with a load of both low-trajectory high velocity rounds, and high-trajectory mortar-type rounds (eliminates the need for a seperate 60mm mortar like in the Merkava) would be effective enough. A smaller engine would also keep the weight lower to facilitate more effective transport in-theatre, as high vehicle top-speed isn't as critical when commited to clearing an urban area of enemies.
I misunderstood what you were saying. Agreed on almost all points... A highly mobile tank is something that has been needed for a decade and everyone has ignored.
Armor is really only useful in urban combat. A lightly-armored, high speed wheeled light tank makes a lot more sense on the open battlefield these days. Especially when you can mount very light active anti-missile systems on them. When it comes down to a 120mm vs 120mm fight, the odds of either side surviving a hit are low. The Merkava actually has a decent chance of being able to keep its crew alive against either a 120mm or 125mm frontal sabot hit, but it's engine would be wiped out in the process, removing the tank for combat.
However that doesn't mean I don't see a role for the Merkava... If you're fighting a defensive or delaying action, the Merkava is second to none. You don't really need a speed advantage in those cases, and its extra armor gives it the edge of keeping more of your crews alive, which can actually be more important than the tank itself in defensive or delaying combat.
At the same time for offensive roles, you need a fast, lightly armored and wheeled tank designed for speed and deployability, as already mentioned.
In urban combat, except for its weight making it hard to deploy, I think the ideal vehicle would be something Merkava-based... But with a different turret design. Imagine a Merkava chassis, but with a 2' tall steel wall canted at a 45 or 60 degree inward angle mounted around the hole where the turret would have normally been. Now make some firing portals for crew-served weapons [likely miniguns] in this wall... Probably four of them, mounted at 1:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 10:30 locations, allowing two of them to converge fire either forward, back, left or right. Atop this little 'gun deck' should be a light 75/76mm multirole rapid-fire cannon like you suggest. In addition to all of this some flamethrowers mounted around the tread-skirts might be a good idea, in case anyone manages to get too close. A special type of plow might be mounted to the front, looking somewhat like the cattle-catchers on old steam-engine-trains. This could be used to destroy buildings when needed or, more likely, just crash through walls and barriers... Heck mount a powerful electro-magnet on the bottom of it and use that to pre-detonate anti-tank mines.
Now for the final touches... The cabin should be lighted by dark-red lamps, to provide the most evil look possible. Powerful megaphones could be mounted to blast heavy metal and whatever other psychological warfare mixes we can come up with. Large and painful spikes should be mounted wherever it is possible to put them without interfering with operation, placing skulls and bodies on them [fake or real, doesn't matter] would be a good idea. Splatterings of red blood [probably fake, since real blood turns brown] would be a good idea. Smoke generators might also be handy, especially if used in combination with dark red floodlights, but one would have to be careful when using that to make sure it doesn't degrade the crews situational awareness... This might be solved in part by using thermal imaging.