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AMX-30B Medium Tank
France

AMX-30 Tank Series

AMX-30B2 Tank During the 1991 Gulf War
Unveiled / Entered Service
1963
AMX-30 Tank
Status
In Service
Steel Aces Play for free
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Table of Contents

Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Introduction

The AMX-30 Tank, is a former medium tank, developed and manufactured by the French State company Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (AMX). Production was swapped in 1971 to the newly formed state company “Giat”.

The AMX-30 Tank is a generic name given to the AMX-30B, which was the main production model. It served with the French Army well into the 1990’s in upgraded models and was well exported. Its chassis/hull was used to form a family of vehicles ranging from engineering to nuclear missile launcher.

The vehicle has seen active combat in a number of Middle East conflicts and remains in service with less affluent countries or held in reserve. The AMX-30 series has been replaced in French Army service with the Leclerc 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank.

Background

In the post war 1940’s and 1950’s, France had successfully developed the Light AMX-13 Tank, but had struggled to finalize the design of the AMX-50 medium/heavy tank.

In 1953 a French led program to jointly develop a new medium tank was established with Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg under the acronym “FINBEL”. When Germany later joined the program in 1954, this was changed to “FINABEL” (the “A” standing for Allemagne or rather “Germany” in French).

Europa-Panzer (European Tank)

french version Europanzer
french version Europanzer

Known as the “Europa-Panzer” (European Tank), the common design requirements of the new tank was completed in 1957. The principal designers were Germany and France, with design input from the specialists of the other member countries.

This mean’t France would no longer pursue the Auto-Loader concept and return to a 4xman crew. The new tank would focus on the attributes of firepower and mobility. The main gun would be a rifled 105mm calibre and the overall weight would be just 30 tonnes, due to relativly thin steel armour.

This low weight would increase the power-to-weight ratio and with its low silhoutte, afforded the tank a high level of mobility compared to the British Centurion or other meduim tanks.

Both countries built several prototypes of their version of the proposed Europa-Panzer, which each country hoped would be selected as the final design by all members of the program. The 1st French prototype was completed in 1960, followed by several more.

1963 was a critical year in the Europa-Panzer project. The relationship and status of France in NATO had changed, France also wished to use its own 105mm main gun, where as West Germany had already purchased the British L7 105mm main gun and ammunition, which the French did not want to use.

Germany formally withdrew from the program in the later part of 1963, with both it and France pursing their own national tanks as further developments of their Europa-Panzer designs.

AMX-30 Prototypes

The French design was now known as the AMX-30. The initial prototypes had a larger dome shaped turret, but this was later changed for a less blotted, slicker shape currently used by the AMX-30 series, on later prototypes.

These have been refereed to as the AMX-30A in some publications. Its understood that these prototypes were trialled not only by France, but were used in comparative trials against Germany’s design, which was now called “Leopard”. Results of these trials showed that the Leopard had slight improvements in mobility.

AMX-30B

The AMX-30B was the finalised design and production model. It was selected for service in 1963 by the French Army and entered service in 1966. Using the slicker second turret, the prototype’s SOFAM engines were replaced by a Hispano-Suiza HS 110.

AMX-30B Modernised

During the AMX-30B production, a stabilization system was added to the 105mm main gun and the coaxial Machine Gun was replaced with a 20mm chain gun. All earlier AMX-30B were upgraded.

AMX-30B2

The second production model, it was unveiled in 1979 and featured significant improvements to the Fire Control System as well as a more reliable power-pack (engine & transmission).

The AMX-30B2 new power-pack consisted of the SESM ENC 200 semi-automatic transmission and an improved version of the original engine, the HS-110-2.

AMX-30B2 Gulf War

Modified for the French Army as part of their contribution to the Coalition during the 1991 Gulf War, this version was fitted with additional side skirts and soft kill activation protection system.

AMX-30B2 BRENUS

BRENUS is a post Gulf War upgrade implemented in limited numbers for French Army rapid deployment forces. It focused on increased protection with the appliqué Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) and improved soft kill Active Protection. Other minor external modifications to accommodate the appliqué ERA.

AMX-30B2 Repower – From 1998 onwards, the French Army acquired 500 Renault Mack E9 750 hp engines. The number employed and those kept in reserve is not clear.

AMX-30 Stealth Tank – An experimental tank based on the AMX-30B2 commissioned by the French DGA. Using radar absorbing materials to form a new external shape that resembled the now Leclerc Main Battle Tank.

AMX-30B2 FORAD – FORAD tanks are AMX-30 series tanks modified to resemble Russian tanks for training purposes. They are used as part of the mock opposing force and fitted with the DX175 Combat Fire Simulator System. This is made up of sensors and lasers to replicate tank fire.

Firepower

The AMX-30 tank series uses the French 105mm Modèle F1 Rifled main gun. Also known as the CN-105-F1, it is a rather unique rifled main gun, in that France developed a HEAT round for it, where as the British L7 (including those built under licence) used HESH rounds.

This is because the imparted spin from the rifling breaks up the shaped charge of the HEAT round on impact. The OCC 105 F1 HEAT round overcame this by suspending the shaped charge from the shells outcasing using ball bearings. It could penetrate between 360 to 400mm of steel. NEXTER (formerly Giat) still produce modern 105mm HEAT rounds. The main gun can also fire APFSDS, HE and illumination rounds.

The main gun had a thermal sleeve to regulate the barrels temperature, but is missing the fume extractor in the centre of the barrel.

The  commander has a Machine Gun mounted on his cupola that can be traversed and operated from with inside the turret. It has a spot light and a curved ammunition box that runs along the top edge of the cupola.

The AMX-30 series has a coaxial mount that can be fitted with either a .50 cal Machine Gun or a 20mm chain gun. The adoption of a 20mm chain gun mean’t the gunner could successfully engage lighter armored vehicles and APC’s without having to waste 105mm rounds.

The mount has an additional 20 degree elevation over the main gun, theoretically allowing it to engage low flying anti-tank helicopters.

Protection

During the Europa-Panzer program, it was established that due to the high effectiveness of modern (at the time) shaped charge weapons (including HEAT rounds) that the design of the tank would not require thick heavy armor, but rely on improved mobility and a low silhouette.

The AMX-30 tank series has a basic sloping steel armor. The turret is a cast section, whilst the hull is welded sections of rolled steel, with the upper glacis set at an angle of no less than 70 degrees and sides at 24 degrees. The frontal armor is just 80mm thick. A Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) system is also fitted as standard.

The AMX-30B2 would be later upgraded with a French Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) designated “BRENUS”.

Mobility

The AMX-30B tank was powered by a Hispano-Suiza HS-110 generating 720hp. This multi-fuelled, 12 cylinder, water-cooled diesel engine was coupled to a G.H.B.200C centrifugal clutch type transmission.

The engine and transmission were replaced during the AMX-30B2 upgrade with the SESM ENC 200 semi-automatic transmission and an improved version of the original engine, the HS-110-2. This was fitted with new turbochargers resulting in changes to the HP (Horse Power) output, which varies from publication to publication.

The final engine model adopted by the French Army was the 750hp Renault Mack E9. Only 500 engines were purchased by the Army as the Leclerc Main Battle Tank was entering service. The AMX-30 series uses  torsion bar suspension and x2 exhausts located on either side of the hull rear.

Like the Leopard 1, the AMX-30 series was fitted with a deep wading snorkel kit for river crossings. Two distinct plates were kept secured to the hulls front that were used to cover the engine air vents on the rear of the engine deck when the snorkel kit was added.

Variants and Marks

AMX-30D (AMX-30 Dépanneur-Niveleur)

The Armoured Recovery Vehicle variant for the AMX-30 family. Development started in 1966, with full production commencing in 1975. The vehicle features a front dozer/stabilisation blade, winches, crane (used to lift power packs) and tools for the recovery crews.

AMX-30H  (Poseur de pont)

The Armoured Vehicle Launching Bridge (AVLB) vehicle featured a scissor type bridge launching device on an AMX-30B hull. It was capable of launching both 20m and 22m long bridges, which could support vehicles weighting up to 46 tonnes. Development of the vehicle finished in 1975 and is in service with the Saudi Arabian Army.

AMX-30 AuF1

Developed in the 1970’s and utilising the AMX-30B hull, the AuF1 (aka canon automoteur de 155 GCT) is a Self Propelled Gun, armed with the 155mm calibre Length 39, CN 155 AUF1 howitzer, which is loaded via an autoloader with a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute, with an effective range of 23km.

The turret housing the howitzer main gun offers the crew protection from artillery splinter shells, machine gun fire and NBC fallout. Carrying 42 rounds of 155mm ammunition, production started in 1979.

AMX-30R

Armed with the Roland Surface to Air Missile, the vehicle featured an AMX-30B hull and a superstructure for the crew and spare missile storage. The launcher carried two missiles and radar system, with an effective range of 16km’s. Once fired, the launcher was replenished via an autoloader in the super structure. Production of the vehicle started in 1973.

AMX-30 DCA (défense contre avion)

The AMX-30 DCA Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun featured the S 401 A turret, as used on the AMX-13. The turret features x2 Hispano-Suiza 30-millimeter (1.2 in) 831 A automatic guns (1200 rounds carried) used to engage low altitude aircraft. Tracking is via radar and the guns were controlled by an analogue fire control system. Development started in the late 1960’s.

AMX-30EBG (Engin Blindé du Génie)

A combat engineer vehicle fitted with a 142-mm demolition gun, a dozer blade, a manipulator arm, launchers for anti-tank mines, a winch and a 7.62-mm machine gun. Developed in the 1980’s.

Pluton Launcher

An AMX-30B hull retrofitted with the Pluton Tactical Nuclear missile launcher.

AMX-30 ACRA

A prototype turret featuring a new 142mm main gun capable of firing the supersonic ACRA (Anti-Char Rapide Autopropulsé) anti-tank guided missile and High Explosive rounds.

Operators

Chile:

  • 21 AMX-30B delivered in 1981.
  • 21 AMX-30B delivered in 1998 (surplus vehicles).
  • 10 AMX-30D delivered in 1999 (surplus vehicles).

Cyprus:

Supplied from Greece as 2nd hand –

  • 52 AMX-30B delivered from 1996 to 1998.
  • 9 AMX-30B delivered in 2003.

France:

The French Army received –

  • 1355 AMX-30B, AMX-30B2 (new builds and conversions) and BRENUS were delivered from 1966.
  • 195 AuF1 self-propelled guns.
  • 44 AMX-30 Pluton Launchers.
  • 83 AMX-30R.
  • 134 AMX-30D.
  • 48 AMX-30EBG.

Greece:

The first international operator of the AMX-30B outside of France,

  • 55 AMX-30B tanks delivered in 1971.
  • 130 AMX-30B tank delivered from 1976 to 1978.
  • 14 AMX-30D were delivered from 1976 to 1978.

Iraq:

  • 5 AMX-30D delivered in 1981.
  • 85 AMX-GCT/AU-F1 were delivered from 1983 to 1985.

Qatar:

  • 24 AMX-30B delivered in 1977.
  • 1 AMX-30D delivered in 1977.

Saudi Arabia:

A significant operator of the AMX-30 series of vehicles –

  • 290 AMX-30B tanks were ordered delivered from 1976 to 1982 and designated the AMX-30S.
  • 57 AMX-30D were delivered from 1976 to 1981.
  • 12 AMX-30H were delivered from 1979 to 1981.
  • 53 AMX-30SA were delivered from 1979 to 1982.
  • 51 AMX-GCT/AU-F1 were delivered from 1978 to 1980.

Spain:

A licensed manufacturer of the AMX-30B, designated the AMX-30E.

  • 280 AMX-30E licence built and 19 initially purchased from France, totalling 299.
  • 10 AMX-30D delivered from France.
  • 18 AMX-30R delivered from France.

UAE:

  • 64 AMX-30B delivered from 1980 to 1982.

Venezuela:

  • 82 AMX-30B delivered from 1973 to 1974.
  • 4 AMX-30D were delivered from 1973 to 1974.

Combat History

1980 – 1988 Iran Iraq War:

Iraqi forces of the Republican Guard operated the AMX-30 AuF1 during the later years of the war.

1991 Gulf War:

The French Army deployed a modified AMX-30B2 as part of the coalition force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. Iraq was operating a range of T-55 and Type 69 medium tanks as well as their own local built T-72.

Qatar also deployed their AMX-30B during the war, with both armies scoring kills against Iraqi operated medium tanks and BMP type infantry fighting vehicles.

UN Mission to Lebanon:

AMX-30 AuF1 were photographed in Lebanon during 2006 with UN markings.

Houthi–Saudi Arabian conflict:

An ongoing conflict between the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi forces that has been taking place in the Arabian Peninsula.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
105mm Modèle F1 Rifled
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 50. cal Machine Gun, Commanders 7.62.mm Machine Gun
Ammunition Storage
x38 105mm, x1250 7.62mm, x300 12.7mm
Engine
Hispano-Suiza HS-110
Transmission
Manual (5 forward/ 1 reverse gears)
Top Road Speed
70 km/h
Road Range
335 km
Fuel Capacity
1840 Litres
Vertical Obstacle
1m
Water Capability
1.8m Fording, 5m with snorkel kit
Trench Crossing
2.85m
Gradient
60%
Side Slope
40%
Length Gun Forward
9.65m
Length Hull
?m
Width
3.58m
Height
2.21m
Ground Clearance
0.45m
Weight
43.7 tonne combat
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Bar
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA)
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver