French AMX-10 RC: Looks like a tank, but is not a tank. Why it could still be useful for Ukraine?
You can call this vehicle a tank because it looks like one: it has a turret with a cannon and and is also plated with some armor. But fighting other tanks is certainly not what it does best.
The AMX-10 RC, however, is often described as a light tank that, under the right circumstances, could destroy larger armored vehicles, including main battle tanks.
This French armoured fighting vehicle was manufactured by GIAT for armoured reconnaissance purposes. The French Army used these units since 1981. “RC” in its name stands for “Roues-Canon” which means “Wheeled gun” – it indeed uses six wheels instead of tracks.
At the present time, the French Army already has a replacement for these old vehicles and is actively decommissioning the last of them with aim of completing the transition to a newly developed EBRC Jaguar.
Last June, the French government announced a military aid package for Ukraine. Then, the Armed Forces of Ukraine received a group of armored personnel carriers that have been successfully serving in Ukraine so far. Theoretically, AMX-10 RC could become a good candidate for the next round of cooperation between France and Ukraine. France doesn’t need these vehicles anymore, but there are quite a few scenarios where these wheeled tanks could prove their value in the Ukrainian Army.
What are the possibilities to use the AMX-10 RC in Ukraine?
As we already mentioned, AMX-10 RC is not a full-fledged tank. Its armor is much lighter and can be penetrated with light autocannons using armor-piercing ammunition; wheels lack stability compared to a track-based chassis; and the 105-mm gun is smaller compared to many leading tanks and is not stabilized. In addition to that, the AMX-10 RC medium-pressure cannon uses 105mm×527R proprietary ammunition which is not compatible with the NATO 105-mm projectile standard.
The Ukrainian Army, however, has lots of experience in working with an extremely diverse selection of armaments, and the proprietary ammunition would not be a major issue here. During the current Russian invasion, armored vehicles are needed everywhere, especially when performing reconnaissance operations or transporting personnel. And this particular use is where AMX-10 RC could be one of the best choices.
In this machine, the ability to overcome difficult terrain is exceptionally good. In AMX-10 RC, all six wheels are driven; in fact, it also uses the skid steering principle, where the left side and the right side wheels can be driven independently, and wheels are also coupled with an automatic tire inflation system. Furthermore, this armored vehicle is fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension system with variable ground clearance and tilt. The lightest version weighs 16 tons (strengthened version – 22 tons), but the overall agility is much better compared to heavier tanks, which makes it a very good choice for reconnaissance purposes.
The main gun, while being smaller compared to tanks, is still enough to easily destroy BMP or APC class vehicles from the Russian Army. In fact, the equipped 105 mm rifled gun can fire four types of different ammunition, including armor-piercing, high explosive, and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) projectiles.
The armor-piercing round is capable of defeating a standardized NATO single heavy tank target (with a 150mm armor thickness) at a range of 1200 metres and the NATO triple heavy tank target at a range of 2200 metres. The high-explosive fragmentation ammunition allows to carry out quite effective direct support on the battlefield.
Currently Ukraine does not have many options for strengthening the Armed Forces with new armored vehicles. And in the case of offers from France with an adequate number of AMX-10RC, this opportunity should not be neglected.