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"Come play the MBT procurement game!" Topic

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609 hits since 6 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Zookie06 Jul 2018 4:17 p.m. PST

I came up with this thought experiment/game as a fun way to show off our tank knowledge.

You are the minister of defense for the Generic Nation Republic (GNR). The Parliament has allocated funds to purchase MBTs for the national defense force. Your task is to determine the type and quantity of the MBTs for procurement. The following is an intelligence briefing to familiarize yourself with the situation.

The year is 1996, your nation's former dictator has died and after a brief conflict a new democratic government has been established. The GNR consists of primarily of rolling hill country with some open plains and a few patches of dense forest. The GNR is an underdeveloped landlocked country with most of the economy supported by agriculture and mining. It is roughly rectangular in shape, measuring 250 kilometers east to west and 200 kilometers north to south. Since the republic was formed the GNR has established good relationships with the major powers of the world but tension have risen between it and its autocratic neighbors; the People's Republic of Generic Bad Guy (PRGBG) and the Kingdom of Stereotypical Baddies (KSB).

Under the old regime the GNR had no real armored force as its army focused on counter insurgency against internal state enemies. Currently the GNR army's manpower is based on conscription but is transitioning to a all volunteer force over the next 5 years. The borders with both the PRGBG and KSB are formed by non-fordable rivers followed by about 30 of kilometers of open planes, crisscrossed by the occasional small river and streams and then giving way to the rolling hills of the central highlands. Most urban and industrial centers are in the interior highlands.

The PRGBG army is formed along old Soviet doctrine. It has a massive armored force of approximately 800 MBTs, though about 75% of those are older T-54, T-55 and Type 59 models. It is also doubtful this full force could be mobilized at once due to logistics and maintenance limitations. It is expected that no more than 400 MBTs could be fielded at a given time, though with its mass of reserves losses could be replaced quickly. The PRGBG does field elite battalions armed with about 50 various T-80 export models along 150 Type 85 MBT models. The elite battalions feature a much higher state of training and readiness then the rest of the PRGBG army. In addition to tanks the PRGBG fields a huge number of older Soviet APC, mostly BTR 60s and BTR 70s with smaller numbers of BMP-1 IFVs.

The KSB has a unique armored doctrine were it relies on tanks as primary infantry support and uses infantry mounted in trucks and APC to engage armor with ATGMs. The KSB army can field a large number of MILAN and HOT missiles. Most infantry are carried in unarmored 4x4s and older model M113 APCs. Though they are not without MBTs. The KSB has approximately 200 M47 tanks in reserves which have undergone some modernization in the 1970s. Their front line units are equipped with various export models of T-72s and AMX-30 MBTs, it is estimated that they have an inventory of 60 of each.

Your army GNR is in a state of transition. Moral is high but training remains poor, but it improving. Logistics were severely neglected under the prior regime but a competent logistic forces is hoped to be only a few years away. The army has access to a variety of ATGMs, but most of these date back to the 1980s or earlier. One bright spot is the army is heavily mechanized with a sizable inventory of mostly French built vehicles, consisting predominately of Renault VABs and Panhard M3s. These are complimented with a variety IFVs in the form of AMX-10Ps and AMX-VCIs. These IFVs have been the prior work horses of the army functioning as "poor man's" MBTs. The GNR does have a small inventory of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft dating from the 1970's or earlier. The airpower of the GRN is limited, but comparable to the PRGBG and KSB. Though the PRGBG has a slight edge in transport helicopters and the KSB has a slight edge in fixed wing craft. But neither has a decisive lead in the air.

Intelligence predicts that hostilities with either the PRGBG or KSB are not likely in the next 6 to 12 months, though the diplomatic situation deteriorating quickly. There is a high likelihood of war in the next 2 to 3 years Fortunately, the PRGBG and KSB distrust each other so it is unlikely that they would participate in a combined offensive.

Your aids have provided you with the following purchasing options for the GNR:

550 AML-90
400 AMX-13 105mm
320 Type 59 MBT
270 Type 69-II MBT
230 T-55AM
215 M48A5
190 Type 85-IIM MBT
180 T-72M1
160 AMX-30B2
160 Leopard 1A5
150 T-80UM
130 Chieftain Mk. 11
110 Leopard 2A4

Please select the purchasing option you wish to present to parliament with a brief explanation of your choice.
Long live the GNR!

Lion in the Stars06 Jul 2018 5:02 p.m. PST

For me, it'd be a tough call between T72s and Leo1s.

The T72 would be easy for the conscripts to keep working, and has that massive 125mm gun.

The Leo1 is lighter and faster, but only has a 105mm, which is going to be marginal against the T80s.

28mm Fanatik06 Jul 2018 5:05 p.m. PST

180 T-72M1 with ERA please. Relatively low cost, not too obsolete and easier to operate and maintain than western tanks.

And as a purely defensive force (surely the peace-loving and democratic GNR will not be the aggressor in any conflict), it will only have to deal with the country with tanks (i.e. PRGBG). The T-72 outclasses everything in the PRGBG's inventory other than the 50 odd T-80's, which is not as reliable as the T-72.

Without much in the way of tanks, the KSB won't be able to mount any offensive that the GNR's own infantry force can't counter.

dragon606 Jul 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

Lion how can you say the T72 is easy for conscripts to keep working?
Soviet conscripts had a very difficult time with that. Why will GNR conscripts, with no armour experience, be better?

Battle Phlox06 Jul 2018 10:03 p.m. PST

I would go with the 110 Leopard 2A4s. As a volunteer force you would need less recruits because there are fewer tanks. Fewer tanks also means a smaller logistics train. The terrain of the country favors high quality tanks holding a defensive line.

BattlerBritain06 Jul 2018 11:43 p.m. PST

What actually happens is the procurement process drags on for at least 15 years as the Government
a: uses the procurement process as a gravy train to establish a kick backs for the various Government heads and their families and
b: the Contract is then awarded to the Foreign Government or Company that can continue the kick backs gravy train to those that award the Contract regardless of if they're still in power.

The Contract actually delivers 1 Hummer a year to the Army, but the kick back receivers all have a fleet of top spec Mercs and Beemers.

Note that this scenario can be applied equally to former Communist or well established 'Democratic' Government, just that the Demos claim to be 'above board', muzzle the press and generally get rid of any whistle blowers better than the Commies.

The Commies just deny everything and blame it on foreign fake news.

Katzbalger07 Jul 2018 5:57 a.m. PST

Since my preferred option isn't available on the list of options (work out a deal with the Israelis for some "obsolete" Merkavas mounting ERA), I have to go through process of elimination.

Tilting toward French designs, as already have experience with those in the army. Plus, I've heard the French are really good with the kick-backs and extras (even better than the Germans).

AMX-30B2--Decent gun and maint shouldn't be too much of a problem, and there's a version with ERA, so that would help against HEAT warheads, but armor overall isn't quite up to standard.

AMX-13/105--decent speed, decent gun, though really crap armor, but get enough of them to be able to replace losses and increase size of army. Minimal chance of misidentification, though.

AML-90: Great numbers (which means we have the political leverage to significantly increase the size of the army, if only to man these buggies), mobility, and maintenance should be easier, but gun is too weak against the PRGBG and losses will be high whenever they are committed, as we don't seem to have a qualitative advantage crew-wise over enemies. Can these even be fitted with ERA? Minimal chance of misidentification (friend/foe issues).

T-55AM/Type 59/Type 69-II all use the 100mm gun, which would have problems against PRGBG "elites" and the chassis is getting REALLY old on these (when were the last new builds?). Slower and less reliable than the AMLs. PRGBG has similar looking tanks, so identifying friend/foe could be a significant problem.

Type 85--maybe as it has better armor and gun than the other previously listed T-55 based platforms. But maintenance could still be a problem. Fratricide may be a problem though, as PRGBG has similar looking tanks.

T-72M1--Great gun, but monkey expert version? If equipped with ERA, it is in the running (though I expect maintenance to be a significant problem).

T-80UM--great gun, but nobody seems to be able to keep large numbers of these working and this package includes the lowest number of Russian type tanks.

M48A5--really old platforms and unless they have had significant rebuilds done, just NO. On the plus side, good gun with modern ammo and limited opportunities for misidentifying friends as foes (closest is the KSB M47s).

Leo 1A5--decent gun but crappy armor and not enough numbers to make up for it, so just say NO.

Leo 2A4--great gun, better armor than any of the other tanks above, but numbers are low (which helps with maintenance, but hurts us in getting large numbers of trained crews and replacing casualties). In the running, but they'd have to give us a really great support deal (like a few platoons of Flak tanks).

Chieftain Mk 11--great gun, great conventional armor, excellent sights, but maintenance and speed could be problems. Still vulnerable to HEAT warheads and without the numbers to make up losses means this is a no.

Final answer--see if we can get a package deal from the Frogs for a mix of AMX-30B2 and AML-90s. Gives us numbers and some ability to stand up to ATGMS. Plus, think of the kick backs!

Legion 407 Jul 2018 8:00 a.m. PST

Wow ! So many good choices ! evil grin

Zookie07 Jul 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

Hey all thanks for playing and smart posts. TMP members know how to count their rivets!

Just as I side note I tried to research the best I could as to what was widely exported, and reasonably affordable, on the market in 1996 (the game year) for the procurement list.

I am cooking up some ideas for a part II where the GRN finds itself in an arms race years later. I will put into the story the procurement choice from this part based on which model has the most posts.

Timbo W07 Jul 2018 10:17 a.m. PST

Maybe spend a few million clearing land for a joint US, UK, French overseas training base, conveniently near our disputed borders. Then spend the rest on swimming pools and gold plated rolls royces

Lion in the Stars07 Jul 2018 10:39 p.m. PST

Lion how can you say the T72 is easy for conscripts to keep working?
Soviet conscripts had a very difficult time with that. Why will GNR conscripts, with no armour experience, be better?

Because the GNR army is used to keeping French machines running, and the T72's engine is an evolved version of the engine in the T34!

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2018 3:55 a.m. PST

Let's look at it from a pragmatic point of view.

No French president is going to refuse a deal and a photo-op with the newly elected leader of a new democracy in the post Cold War-Fukuyama world.

So it will end up being AMX-30B2, but with the wildcard that in case of trouble we may get Mirage air cover and elements of the Foreign Legion dropping in case of trouble.

I'd probably try to get in some GCT's and as many Milan and Mistrals as I could get away with as a "bonus aid package" And maybe offload some of the older AMX-30 tanks in reserve to be upgraded domestically for a kickback program.

gunnerphil08 Jul 2018 7:44 a.m. PST

Sorry but one vital but if information, what inducements are the various suppliers offering?

Zookie08 Jul 2018 9:26 a.m. PST

For the game purposes the GNR is not a particular wealth nation or a nation in a particular important strategic region. So the purchasing packages are more or less stand alone deals other than contracts to provide spare parts, training materials and other basis support items.

Also don't assume that each purchase is a lump delivery from the nation of origin for brand new vehicles.

For example the AMX-30B2s could from older models purchased from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Greece and then upgraded locally with kits purchased from France. The T-72s could be from half a dozen different nations, cobbled together from with surplus East German spare parts that the new reunified Germany is unloading. Then brought up to M1 standards by an upgrade kits from Ukraine.

In short the GRN is not getting any sweetheart deals and many tanks being purchased may be hand-me-downs several times over or "Frankensteins " brought up to current model equivalents.

Lion in the Stars brings up a good point that GNR mechanics have experience with French vehicles. But keep in mind that these were sold the prior regime. The current relationship could be less warm. Also keep in mind that that the GNR is the "new kid on the block" and the primary arms dealing nations might be reluctant to sell to an untested government at the risk of alienating its neighbors who have been good customers to this point. (Note no US weapons were offered)

In short what is listed is everything the GNR could get MBT wise by shopping around leaving a sufficient budget for the other arms and supplies to maintain its army. So assume other purchasing deals are being made for AA, logistics, artillery and so forth to make a sufficiently well rounded army for a competent developing nation.

28mm Fanatik08 Jul 2018 3:16 p.m. PST

Buying second-hand equipment is a great way to save $ for cash-strapped Third World countries.

Zookie09 Jul 2018 10:52 a.m. PST

It's a tie! So the Defense Ministry could not find everything it wanted in a single MBT and went with a split force of 90 T-72M1s and 60 AMX-30B2. Initial concerns about the logistical burden of two MBT models were later put to rest as the two tanks complimented each other well in combat. Making the extra expense seem a good trade off.

So here is what happened:

1995-With the death of the old dictator the prior regime dissolves and in a relatively peaceful revolution the GNR is formed.

1996- The GNR defense forces undergoes dramatic reforms to modernize and transition to a all volunteer force. As part of this process 90 T-72M1s and 60 AMX-30B2 were acquired.

1997- Freed from the shackles of corruption under the old regime, the GNR economy prospers, particularly the agricultural sector. Though still a small and developing economy, the standard of living begins to notably rise in the GNR. In contrast the neighboring PRGBG's economy has collapse without Soviet Bloc aid and the nation is on the verge of famine.

1998-The PRGBG food crisis become critical and the PRGBG politburo eyes with envy the increasingly productive farms of the border region with the GNR. The PRGBG launches a diplomatic campaign of false accusations of mistreatment of ethnic minorities in the region. Using this as a justification PRGBG army crosses the border into GNR to provide "Safe Zones" for civilians, launching the "August War"

Summary of the "August War"

The PRGBG hoped to annex productive farm land of the GNR along its border. The plan was that its diplomatic actions would isolate the GNR and that the war would swiftly concluded based on the assumption that the new civilian government of the GNR lacked the stomach for a fight.

On August 2, 1998 PRGBG forces invaded the GNR. GNR boarder defenses shattered in under an hour, but the PRGBG struggled to cross the river that constitutes the boarder in sufficient numbers. Local bridges were either destroyed, too damaged, or too weak for MBTs to cross, and fording operations resulted in several losses given the river's swift current and deep silt deposits of the river bed. A viable crossing was delayed by 8 hours, until suitable pontoon bridges were constructed.

This delay gave the GNR much needed time to prepare. It deployed a defense in depth in the surrounding farm land.

As PRGBG forces approached GNR defensive positions GNR mechanized infantry with ATGMS and AMX-30B2 would engage at long range from pre-prepared hull down positions. Post-war analysis showed that GNR AMX-30B2 crews constantly out ranged their opponents by 200 to 500 meters. When superior numbers of PRGBG's forces threatened to overwhelm GNR defenders the GNR infantry and AMX-30B2s would withdraw and T-72M1s would counter attack from concealed positions, sending PRGBG forces into disarray and allowing for an orderly withdrawal. This pattern repeated itself over in over until August 10, 1998 when PRGBG's losses prevented any further advance. The PRGBG had pressed 26 kilometers into the GNR, taking most of the agricultural regions it had hoped to seize. But it was a spent force. On August 12, 1998 the GNR counterattacked. Again the combination of T-72M1s leading the advance with their heavy armor and AMX-30B2 in overwatch positions with long range fire melted away what was left of the PRGBG invading force. By August 15, 1998 the GNR had fully secured its border effectively ending hostilities. After two weeks of an unease cease fire a peace treaty was signed on August 29, 1998. In the treaty PRGBG was forces to acknowledge GNR sovereignty over disputed regions and note no evidence was found supporting accusations of abuse of local ethic minorities.

Post war reports show that The GNR forces were better trained, better equipped, and had better moral PRGBG forces. The notable exception were elite "Shock" battalions of the PRGBG, however these units seemed to only be "elite" in the sense equipment and political devotion of its officers. Though well armed and aggressive the units fundamental training was lacking and suffered high causalities.

The PRGBG artillery, though numerous, did not coordinate well with frontline forces and lacked the accuracy to dislodge GNR defenders and PRGBG infantry relied on mechanized wave attacks to overwhelm the enemy, but these waves were repeatedly broken by well coordinated defensive fire.

Overall the PRGBG were ill-equipped and trained to deal with pre-prepared defensive positions in a layered defense in depth.

GNR armed forces performed extremely well, with only two notable issues. Volunteer armed service members vastly out performed conscripts, which increased post war efforts to move to an all volunteer force. Secondly the T-72, AMX-30 combo proved war winning, but the GNR was unable to launching a counter attack into the PRGBG due to logistical concerns. Fortunately the war was concluded without needing to conduct offensives into foreign territory but it is now a cause for concern among some of the heads of the GNR defense force that it lacks power projection.

Final casualty reports noted approximately 450 MBT losses for PRGBG (with over half being abandon or breaking down during fighting) with a total loss of 2,500 KIA. The GNR lost 3 AMX-30B2 MBTs and 15 T-72M1s and a total of 700 KIA.

Most causalities suffered by the GNR were incurred in the initial river crossing on August 2 and during artillery exchanges when the frontline stabilized from August 10 from to August 12.

The August War solidified the role of MBTs in the GRN Defense Force and in the popular imagination of the GRN people. This mindset would play a definitive role 6 years later when the GNR would find itself at war again…

Stay tuned for "Tank Procurement Game Part 2"

The Archer09 Jul 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

Nicely done Sir.

Sounds like this would have been an awesome campaign to run on the tabletop.

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Jul 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

Indeed, I'd like to hear more about how you came to those results, sounds like it'd be some fun gaming.

Zookie09 Jul 2018 3:07 p.m. PST

I am glad people found it interesting.

Honestly I relied heavily on FFT3 and MSH rule sets and game states and gamed it out in my head. Since the forum post were split I just split the MBT force. When I did some research I notices that the AM-30B2 has a mean reach and the T-72 has decent frontal armor. Given the PRGBG follows Warsaw Pact doctrine, a mass advance of armor was a given. The Soviets put a lot of emphasize on river crossings but I figured a 3rd rate power like the PRGBG would bungle it up. Which would give time for the GNR to prepare hull down positions.

From a stationary position a decent crew in AM-30B2 can hit a target at 2000m without too much trouble. T-54/55s and Type 59s couldn't hope for much better than 1000m effective range, and this would be on the move, under fire against a hull down target. Pretty much recipe for disaster. ATMG infantry would fare little better with ranges no better than 1500m.

If it were the Soviets you would expect coordination with artillery and helicopter support to even this out, but again this was a 3rd rate communist satellite after the Soviet fall. So I considered Syria's performance in the Arab-Israeli wars, particularly the "Valley of Tears" as a close analog.

Lastly the "Elite Battalions" were modeled after every "elite" unit dictatorship have fielded post WWII. They are politically loyal and fanatical in fighting, but performance is not that different than the rest of the armies they come from. They just are more aggressive and don't run away. T-80s have a reach of about 1600m and Type 85s can do about 1400m. The T-72M1 can match both. So by the time they got in range the AM-30B2s could scoot and a slug fest can occurred with the T-72M1s, which has a main gun better suited to deal with more modern MBTs.

Additionally, I if figured even if T-80s were going flat out (50kph) they would be in range of the AM-30B2 for 30 seconds before being able to return fire. Even if the AM-30B2s could not knock out the T-80 they probably scored a hit, or at least a near miss. This would rattle the T-80 crew enough that they might miss the counter attacking T-72s getting into a position for a flank shot.

So at the end of the day the GNR would only lose a few MBTs due to dumb luck on the defense. On the offence the GNR would sweep aside the PRGBG as it would be so demoralized that it would not be able to mount a decent defense.
The casualty figures were based on similar sized battles with similar MBT casualty ratios in the Arab-Israeli wars and the Indo-Pakistani wars. With a hefty dose of guessing.

I am currently working on a part two of the forum game that takes place in 2002.

Lion in the Stars09 Jul 2018 4:56 p.m. PST

For the post-war refit, one option would be to put all the tanks on the same engine and transmission. Early T72s were only pushing 780hp from a conventional diesel design (as opposed to the T64's opposed-piston engine), so there should be pretty good space inside the engine bay for such a swap.

Alternatively, I'd opt for a major battlefield hot-rod of the T72. Drop the MTU+Renk engine+transmission from the Leopard 2 in there, maybe swap to the NATO 120mm gun.

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