Main battle tank

A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank,[1] is a tank that fills the role of armor-protected direct fire and maneuver in many modern armies. Cold War-era development of more powerful engines, better suspension systems and lighter composite armor allowed for the design of a tank that had the firepower of a super-heavy tank, the armor protection of a heavy tank, and the mobility of a light tank, in a package with the weight of a medium tank. The first designated MBT was the British Chieftain tank, which during its development in the 1950s was re-designed as an MBT: "Chieftain, which until then had been called Medium Gun Tank No 2, was renamed the Main Battle Tank".[2] Through the 1960s and 1970s, the MBT replaced almost all other types of tanks, leaving only some specialist roles to be filled by lighter designs or other types of armored fighting vehicles.

German Army Leopard 2A5 main battle tanks in August 2010

Main battle tanks are a key component of modern armies.[3] Modern MBTs seldom operate alone, as they are organized into armoured units that include the support of infantry, who may accompany the tanks in infantry fighting vehicles. They are also often supported by surveillance or ground-attack aircraft.[4] The average weight of MBTs varies from country to country. The average weight of Western MBTs is usually greater than that of Russian or Chinese MBTs.

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