AMX-10 RC: Ukraine is still waiting for Leclerc
The topic of the war between Ukraine and Russia does not leave the front pages of foreign media. And one of the most controversial issues of recent weeks remains the transfer of tanks. Both Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and Prime Minister Denis Shmigal are fighting on the diplomatic front for the transfer of tanks to Ukraine.
Germany also received good news, because the Bundestag does not rule out such a possibility and calls on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to agree on the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks. However, our officials are also turning to France with a request to transfer Leclerc tanks.
The French consistently help Ukraine, because their CAESAR self-propelled guns and Crotale air defense systems are successfully working at the front. And after US President Joe Biden confirmed the transfer of Bradley combat vehicles, the French president spoke with Zelensky about the possible delivery of French AMX-10 RC armored vehicles. Let’s consider what the French defense complex is known for in this area and what we can soon get from Paris.
Difference between AMX-56 Leclerc and AMX-10 RC
Let’s start with what Emmanuel Macron said. AMX-10 RC is not quite a tank in the classical sense. It is illogical to compare this armored vehicle with the Leopards, or even more so with the Abrams, although it is classified as a “light tank” according to the classification. The two letters RC in the name of the AMX-10 RC stand for Roues-Canon, French for “wheeled gun”.
The main battle tank of the French army is the AMX-56 Leclerc. And he just occupies one step with the Abrams and Leopards, and, most likely, it is after the announcement of the transfer of American and German tanks that Paris will be ready to take a similar step with the Leclercs.
The common manufacturer for the two cars is GIAT (now Nexter). It was she who in the 80s began the development of both armored vehicles and tanks. The AMX-56 Leclerc has replaced the outdated AMX-30 tank and has been mass-produced since 1992.
The AMX-56 Leclerc is operated by only three countries, France has 406 units and 388 tanks in the United Arab Emirates, and the Jordanian army also uses these tanks. The AMX-56 Leclerc is named after General Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloc, whose armored division liberated Paris in 1944. By the time it was made, this tank was the most expensive in the world.
AMX-10 RC serve as reconnaissance vehicles and were created for expeditionary missions. Often this armored vehicle is called a wheeled tank, because in France the word “char” (French for “tank”) is used to describe the vehicle. Serial production of the AMX-10 RC has been launched since 1981, and production began back in the 70s.
Open data indicates that France has 245 AMX-10 RC units in service, 80 units were exported to Morocco, 12 to Qatar and another 6 went to Cameroon. The combat experience of the machine began with the Persian Gulf War, and the AMX-10 RC was also involved in Afghanistan, Mali, Kosovo, Côte d’Ivoire.
First acquaintance with the AMX-10 RC
Consider the design of the AMX-10 RC armored vehicle in order to understand how it will strengthen the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
A 105/47 F2 MECA rifled 105 mm cannon is mounted on a 6 × 6 wheeled chassis, which is installed in a three-man GIAT Industries TK 105 turret. The gun is not stabilized, therefore it does not allow firing on the move, but it has an electro-hydraulic guidance system. Of the secondary armament, a 7.62 mm NF1 coaxial machine gun is provided, and a 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun can also be installed.
The undercarriage provides extreme mobility and accurate aiming thanks to the suspension and transmission, which allows the car to spin in place and quickly reverse. The armored vehicle is maneuverable and fast, capable of accelerating up to 85 km per hour on the highway and overcoming off-road at a speed of 40 km per hour. Since 1985, the Baudouin 6F11 SRX diesel engine has been used, designed for 280 hp. at 3000 rpm.
The machine has three modifications: the basic AMX-10 RC, with additional armor AMX-10 RC Surblindé and the third latest AMX-10 RCR revalorisé. In 2010, Paris upgraded 256 of these vehicles with additional SIT battlefield control system armor, new DIVT-16, 18 and 19 CASTOR thermal sights, and Galix smoke grenade launchers.
In addition, the car received an improvement in the suspension, gearbox and tactical communications. The AMX-10RC is equipped with a nuclear/biological/chemical hazard protection system and can perform reconnaissance in a radioactive environment. It should be noted that the first version of the AMX-10 RC vehicle was “amphibious”, but the additional compaction of the armor left the vehicle only with the possibility of land movement.
Like any other wheeled vehicle, the AMX-10 RC is inferior to a tracked chassis in patency, and the wheels themselves remain vulnerable to debris. However, the armored vehicle has better mobility, and the operational range is 800 km. For comparison, Leclerc has a range of 550 km on the highway. The armor of the vehicle protects it from 14.5 mm bullets, and the frontal armor can withstand 23 mm projectiles.
AMX-10 RC, thanks to advanced detection tools, is able to see the enemy at night and destroy him on her own. Firing from closed positions is supported, and high mobility will help you move quickly, which is important in a stretched front line.
AMX-10 RCR in action can be seen in the video:
Specifications AMX-10 RC (in the latest version):
|The weight||from 17.2 to 22 tons|
|Length with cannon||9.15 m|
|Body length||6.24 m|
|Engine||Baudouin Diesel Model 6F11 SRX|
|Operating range (highway)||800 km|
|Speed (highway)||85 km/h|
|Speed (off-road)||40 km/h|
Value for the front
Of course, the AMX-10 RC is not capable of replacing any tank for attacking or breaking through enemy defenses. However, in a situation where you need to enter into battle, and then go a few hundred more kilometers, the AMX-10 RC boasts high operational mobility.
The vehicle’s suspension allows it to “squat” in order to successfully fire from ambushes, and the cross-country ability, although inferior to tracked tanks, still allows the AMX-10 RC to be used in difficult conditions. For example, the French army has experience using the AMX-10 RC in the highlands of the Alps.
Experts call the potential place of the AMX-10 RC in the Ukrainian army as an operational reserve for a quick response to enemy actions. The AMX-10 RC vehicles are suitable for quick transfer of forces, in conditions of a stable front – for night “sorties” to advanced positions, and in conditions of a breakthrough in defense – for direct work as a reconnaissance vehicle.
France is decommissioning these machines, replacing them from 2021 with the latest EBRC Jaguars, so one can hope for a quick transfer of the AMX-10 RC and in sufficient numbers. However, for a successful offensive and counterattacks, Ukraine is still relying on heavier weapons, including Leclerc, Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks.