The Royal Army of Oman distinguishes itself in the ever-changing realm of military technology with its impressive and diverse collection of battle tanks. This article aims to provide insight into Oman’s five most prominent tanks.
Oman’s Prominent Tanks
The FV4034 Challenger 2, also known as the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT), is a third-generation British main battle tank utilized by the armies of the United Kingdom, Oman, and Ukraine. Originally developed by Vickers Defence Systems (now BAE Systems Land & Armaments) as a private venture in 1986, it underwent a significant redesign from its predecessor, the Challenger 1 tank. Equipped with second-generation Chobham armour, also referred to as Dorchester, both the turret and hull offer exceptional protection. Its primary armament is the L30A1 120-millimeter (4.7 in) rifled tank gun, an enhanced version of the L11 gun found on the Chieftain and Challenger 1 tanks. Propelled by a Perkins CV12-6A V12 diesel engine, the tank boasts a range of 550 kilometres (340 mi) on-road and 250 kilometres (160 mi) off-road using internal fuel. With a maximum road speed of 59 kilometres per hour (37 mph), the Challenger 2 entered active service with the British Army in 1998. The Royal Army of Oman procured these formidable tanks in the 1990s, completing the delivery of 38 vehicles by 2001. Designed for deployment in direct fire zones, this tank combines heavy armour with exceptional mobility.
The M-60A1 and M-60A3 are American main battle tanks that have been widely exported and used around the world. They were standardized as the Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105-mm Gun, M60 in March 1959. Although developed from the M48 Patton, the M60 tank series was never officially christened as a Patton tank. The upper glacis of the M60A1-M60A2-M60A3 is 4.29 in (109 mm) at 65° 10.15 in (258 mm) LoS. The main armament of the M60 / M60A1 is a M68 105 mm (4.1 in) gun. The M60A1 RISE Passive / M60A3 uses a M68E1 105 mm (4.1 in) gun. The tank is powered by a Continental AVDS-1790-2 V12, air-cooled twin-turbo diesel engine producing 750 bhp (560 kW). The tank has a range of 300 miles (500 km). The maximum road speed is 30 mph (48 km/h) (road) and 12 mph (19 km/h) (cross country). The Royal Army of Oman acquired 6 M60A1 and 73 M60A3 tanks supplied by the United States between 1981 and 1996. As of 2023, they all remain in service.
The FV4201 Chieftain, also known as the British Chieftains, were formidable main battle tanks during their time. They served as the primary MBT for the United Kingdom from the 1960s until the 1990s. Equipped with a 120 mm Royal Ordnance L11 gun, it was one of the most heavily armed tanks of its era. Its armour was also highly impressive, with up to 195 mm (7.7 in) thickness that was sloped to offer 388 mm (15.3 in) thickness along the line of sight. The Chieftain was an evolution of the Centurion, and it introduced the supine driver position to British design, allowing for a heavily sloped hull with reduced height. However, the engine and suspension system were of older design and proved to be the primary drawback of the design. This led to a series of improved models with new armour, sensors, engines, and suspension systems, which saw export success. Although the exact date of Oman’s acquisition of the British Chieftains is not specified, it is known that Oman has a long-standing military relationship with the United Kingdom. The Chieftain remained in front-line service until 1996 with the introduction of the Challenger 2, suggesting that Oman likely acquired the tanks sometime during the latter half of the 20th century.
The FV101 Scorpion, also known as the British Scorpion Light Tanks, are armoured reconnaissance vehicles that double as light tanks. They were the primary vehicle and fire support type in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), CVR (T), family of seven armoured vehicles. Alvis manufactured them, and they were introduced into service with the British Army in 1973 and retired in 1994. Over 3,000 were produced and used as either a reconnaissance vehicle or a light tank. The Scorpion holds the Guinness world record for the fastest production tank, clocking in at 82.23 km/h (51.10 mph) at the QinetiQ vehicle test track in Chertsey, Surrey, on 26 January 2002. The upper glacis of the Scorpion is made of aluminium armour, cast, and 1318b plate. It is equipped with a ROF 76mm L23A1 gun as its primary armament and a coaxial 7.62 mm L43A1 machine gun as its secondary armament. The tank is powered by a Cummins BTA 5.9-litre diesel engine and has a range of 756 km (470 mi). The maximum road speed is 72.5 km/h (45.0 mph). Although the exact date of Oman’s acquisition of the British Scorpion Light Tanks is unknown, it is known that Oman has a long-standing military relationship with the United Kingdom. The Scorpion remained in front-line service until 1994 with the introduction of the Challenger 2, suggesting that Oman likely acquired the tanks sometime during the latter half of the 20th century.
The VBC-90s, also known as the Véhicule Blindé de Combat or French armoured cars, consist of six-wheeled vehicles equipped with a 90mm high-velocity gun integrated with an advanced fire control computer and ranging system. These vehicles were primarily developed for internal security or armed reconnaissance purposes. Manufactured by the renowned French company Renault Véhicules Industriels, the first VBC-90 was produced in 1981. The upper glacis of the vehicle is constructed with 6-8 mm armour. It is armed with a 90mm rifled gun as its main armament, while a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun serves as its secondary armament. The tank is propelled by a Renault MIDS 06.20.45 6-cylinder water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine, providing it with a range of 1,000 km (620 mi). With a maximum road speed of 92 km/h (57 mph), the VBC-90s have proved to be an asset for the Royal Army of Oman. In fact, between 1984 and 1985, the Royal Omani Guard acquired six VBC-90s as part of a larger shipment of VABs. As of 2023, all of these VBC-90s are still in active service.