The M1128 Mobile Gun System (MGS) is (was now) an interim vehicle specific for the replacement of the light tank, Vietnam veteran M551 Sheridan, retired after the 1991 Gulf War. The quest for its replacement spanned decades and is now resolved with the actual M10 Booker. The M1128 MGS from GLDS was ordered in 2002 alongside the Stryker family as a completely different solution better adapted for the asymetric conflicts of the time. This was however not a sucess, and only 142 were made from 2002 to 2010 by General Dynamics Land Systems. Integrated into the current Stryker brigade combat teams, their planned retirement started in 2022.
The SO-152 (GRAU 2S3 Akatsiya) is a Soviet 152.4 mm self-propelled gun. It was first developed in 1968 to answer the American 155 mm M109 howitzer. Development started in 1967, an it completed, accepted for service in 1971 entered service. Its GRAU designation is 2S3. Following the ironic flower naming tradition of Soviet SPGs, "Akatsiya" (Акация) stands for "Acacia".
The T55AM2B is one of the last, but not the very last evolution of the T-55, born in 1959. After the T-54B, the Czech built T55AM and AM2, the AM2B is the final coldwar non-Soviet evolution of the type. Only a handful were so modernized and served in both the East German and Czech armies before the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Passed to the successor states, the East German ones soon found new international customers (along with the postwar Polish T-55AM2BP): Cambodia (50), Sudan (20), Slovakia still having 206 by 1995.
Born in the Trenches, when the front became static, the idea of the tank was a resurgence of ...science fiction, when some looked at HG Wells' "land battleships" novel. In UK, development was stirred by Wintson Churchill and the Navy. In France, by an artillery officer, J.B. Estienne. And soon the world took notice. Tanks were rare and few in between still, with grand plans in 1918 that never were realized. When the front was not static, armored cars reigned supreme.
In 1939, thanks had nearly two decades to evolve at peacetime rate, though the boiling of new ideas of tactics and combined arms, with some armies more acute of these than any others. Ground combat proved absolute masters of these new ideas, the Wehrmacht, with luck and opposite incompetence. After moving to USSR, the fight moved to Africa, then to Italy and back to Western Europe at large, driving fast-paced innovation in a deadly food chain contest.
The atomic age started with the opposition of two superpowers, which developed deterrence but at the same time, always considered conventional warfare. Far from peaceful, this second half century, until 1991, saw gradual improvement, with a gap of twenty years before generations, towards 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation main battle tanks and a cohort of armoured personal carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and many specialized variants, wheeled and tracked.
As the recent conflict in Ukraine shows us, the tank is still useful in the frame of a conventional war. However drones unexpectedly showed deadlier as well as artillery. Between 1991 and 2023are we really seeing a radical transformation of ground warfare ? One thing is sure through for all generals: The main battle tank is still king of the battlefield, when well used and accompanied. From city scapes to desert, steppe, rolly hills and mountains, even coming from the sea, the tank adapted and is there to stay.