Military-Today.com founder Andrius Genys notes that "The AMX-30 is considered as the worst protected main battle tank ever built..... Its development was focused on firepower and mobility rather than protection."
The AMX-30 was developed at the same time as the West German Leopard-1, and AMX-30 series production began in 1965. The continental European tanks of the 1960s, such as the West German Leopard 1 and the French AMX-30, were tanks that ceded the conflict between armor and ammunition to the latter. Their low ballistic protection was supposedly compensated for by speed and agility. It wasn't. Hypervelocity ammo and high performance fire control systems demonstrated a battlefield verity: tanks can't outrun bullets. Since then, there was a worldwide design trend towards greater built-in survivability, as evidenced by the new armors (e.g. Chobham and special armors), automatic fire suppression systems, compartmentation of ammo, and removal of fuel from the interior of the vehicle, to mentionsome of the more prominent measures.
The AMX-30 body is welded out of rolled armor sheets; the turret is one piece cast and streamlined. Main armament is the French 105-mm rifled cannon, with which a 12.7-mmmachine gun (or 20-mm cannon) is coaxially mounted. A 7.62-mm anti-aircraft machine gun is mounted on the commander's cupola. The gun's combat load consists of unit-loaded rounds (47) — shaped-charge, HE fragmentation, smoke and illumination projectiles. The gun has no stabilization system. The AMX-30 tank is equipped with multi-fuel, 12-cylinder engine and mechanical transmission. It has torsion suspension. The tracks are metal with detachable rubber pads. The tank is capable of overcoming water obstacles by fording (along the bottom). It has a system for protection from weapons of mass destruction, heating unit in the fighting compartment, automatic fire-fighting system, radio.
The driver's place is in the front left part of the vehicle and the other three crew members are in the turret. The tank is armed with the CN-105-F.1 105-mm rifled gun. The barrel (56 calibers long) has a magnesium alloy thermal sleeve. There is no muzzle brake or fume extractor. Gases are removed from the bore by compressed air. Nineteen ready rounds are stored in the turret recess and the other 28 are in the hull to the driver's right. The basic load includes ready-to-use shaped-charge, fragmentation-HE, smoke, and illumination rounds. It is also possible to fire rounds of the L7 British gun mounted on many tanks, including the M60 and Leopard 1 series.
A 20-mm gun is coaxial with the main gun. It can betrained in the vertical plane (up to +40°) independentlyof the main armament. A 12.7-mm machinegun wasused in its place in the first series tanks. A 7.62-mmantiaircraft machine gun with remote control from the commander's or gunner's seat is on a ring mount on the commander's cupola. Smoke grenade launchers are located along the sides of the turret. The tank can be fully covered by a smoke screen in eight seconds by using them.
The commander's periscopic sight with infrared attachment is in the front part of the commander's cupola, and ten surveillance periscopes are located around the circumference. The commander uses a monocular range-finder to measure distance. The gunner has day and night sights as well as two periscopic observation devices. If necessary the commander can take over control of firing.
A 12-cylinder multifuel liquid-cooled HS 110 diesel engine with turbo-supercharging is installed in the AMX-30. The mechanical transmission includes an automatic centrifugal clutch with electric drive, steering mechanism, brake with hydraulic drive, planetary final drives and mechanical gearbox providing five gears forward and five in reverse. The tank is capable of moving overrugged terrain at a speed up to 40 km/hr. Installation of new fuel tanks with a capacity of 970 liters permitted bringing the range up to 600 km. Running gear suspension is torsion-bar, with five road wheels on each side and driving wheels situated in the rear. Hydraulic shock absorbers are mounted on the first and fifth road wheels. The tracks are steel with detachable rubber pads.
The tank is equipped with an NBC protection systemand automatic fire extinguishing system. It negotiates water obstacles to 1.3 meter deep without preparation and has an underwater kit with snorkel mounted on the loader's hatch for an assault crossing of bodies of water to 4 meters deep.
Giat Industries built and delivered to a dozen armies almost 2,300 AMX 30 main battle tanks, as well as 1,100 derivative versions (155 GCT self-propelled howitzers, anti-aircraft missile or gun systems, armoured recovery vehicles, etc.). An entire family of various-purpose armored vehicles has been developed based on this tank. These tanks also are in the inventory of thearmies of Venezuela (81), Greece (190), Spain (299), United Arab Emirates (64) and Chile (21). The Saudi Arabian Army has 290 tanks made in the AMX-30S version, intended for fighting under desert conditions. Twenty-four such vehicles have been supplied to Qatar. By 1988 France had about 1300 AMX-30 and AMX-30B2 (the modernized variant—about 300 are provided) tanks inits ground forces inventory. Up to 700 AMX-30 models were planned to be re-outfitted to the AMX-30B2 version.
An entire family of special purpose vehicles was created based on the AMX-30, including an armored recovery vehicle, engineer vehicle, armored vehicle launched bridge, self-propelled [SP] antiaircraft mount with twin 30-mm guns, Roland SP SAM system, 155-mm SP artillery piece, and Pluton SP tactical missile launcher.
An improved model of the tank designated the AMX-30B2 was delivered to French troops since 1982. The tank is well profiled, strongly armed, endowed with a very good mobility and a great autonomy. The AMX 30 B2 is an improved version of the AMX 30, either by rebuilding or by production of new tanks, equipped with an COTAC (Conduite de Tir Automatique pour Char) automatic fire control system enabling it to fire a ammunition arrow (Vo 1525 m/s). The COTAC fire control system which includes laser rangefinder and electronic ballistics computer. A television system, with camera mounted on the forward right section of the turret, is used for the conduct of fire up to 1000 meters in night conditions. An armor-piercing, sub-caliber projectile was developed for the main gun.
The use of hydromechanical transmission and new torsion bars has resulted in increased tank mobility. It is protected only from small gauge weapons and the effects of artillery. The AMX 30 B2 is able to fight in a contaminated atmosphere and to cross in immersion of the water levels 2 depth meters (4 meters with snorkel). It is encased in rolled plates and castings, entirely welded; traditional turret, entirely cast, of very shaped form.Its armor protection has been strengthened and a new air filtration and ventilation system has been used. It is intended for all missions requiring operations in traditional or nuclear environments power: direct destruction of the enemy forces, and in priority of the armoured forces immediate and major exploitation of the effects of the others weapons, in particular of the nuclear weapon. The tank's mobility was improved by using a new ENC-200 hydromechanical transmission and torsion bars of improved design. The engine is a modification ofthe AMX-30 engine (power output 700 hp).
Experimental models of the AMX-32 and AMX-40 tanks (the latter outfitted with a 120-mm smooth-bore cannon) were introduced at France's annual arms display early in the 1980's. The AMX-32, intended for export, was a further development of the AMX-30B2 tank and its main armament was the very same as for the AMX-40. Designated for export, production of these tanks never began.
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