AMX-10 RC: what are these “tanks” that France is going to provide to Ukraine

It became known that the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, in a telephone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, said that France will send to Ukraine AMX-10 RC tanks of its own production and Bastion armored personnel carriers. “These are the first Western-made tanks that will be handed over to Ukraine,” said the French president. But, the thing is… the AMX-10 RC is not exactly a tank.

So, in the French army, the word “char” is used to define these machines, which in French means tanks. But Western experts define the AMX-10 RC as armored reconnaissance vehicles, wheeled tank destroyers, or at the very least as light wheeled tanks. And even the French themselves agree with this because the RC in the name AMX-10 RC is Roues-Canon, that is, a wheel cannon. So we have a typical example of “translation difficulties”.

The AMX-10 RC is far from the Leopard 2, M1 Abrams, or even the T-72B3. France’s main battle tank is the AMX-56 Leclerc, not the AMX-10 RC at all. But the AMX-10 RC is also quite an interesting vehicle, besides, it is really the first Western armored vehicle that comes even a little closer to what is considered a modern tank. The AFU will find exactly where to use it.

The AMX-10 RC was developed by the company Nexter Systems (formerly GIAT Industries) that produces the Leclerc tanks and the 155-mm CAESAR self-propelled guns, which the Ukrainian military liked. The main purpose of the AMX-10 RC is reconnaissance, that is, it is a “cavalry unit”, as they say in the USA.

The development of the tank, we will already characterize the AMX-10 RC as a light tank and call it accordingly, began back in the 1970s. The first prototypes arrived for testing in 1976, and in 1981 the AMX-10 RC went into production.

A total of 457 such vehicles were produced. According to Military Balance, 245 of the AMX-10 RCs remain in service with the French Army, 80 have been sold to Morocco, 12 to Qatar and another 6 to Cameroon. The rest are somewhere in warehouses.

The main weapon of the AMX-10 RC is the 105mm F2 BK MECA L/47 gun. Modern sub-caliber projectiles for this gun are capable of penetrating 350 mm of armor at a distance of up to 2,200 m, that is, they should be able to cope with an average, and with some luck, a main tank.

An interesting feature of this wheeled tank in the 6×6 formula is the hydropneumatic suspension with variable ground clearance and camber from Messier Auto-Industry, and a centralized lubrication and tire inflation system. In addition, the AMX-10RC is equipped with a nuclear/biological/chemical protection system and can conduct reconnaissance in a radioactive environment. An example of the AMX-10 RC hydropneumatic suspension is below.

During its operation, the AMX-10 RC received numerous updates. New thermal imaging sights DIVT-16, 18 and 19 CASTOR; additional high-density steel armor; more effective muzzle brake; the FINDERS C2R battlefield control system.

The base version of the AMX-10 RC could swim, the better armored AMX-10 RC surblindé lost this ability. The latest version with updated electronics is called AMX-10 RCR revalorisé.

As part of the French Army, the AMX-10 RC participated in the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, missions in Mali, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, etc.

Currently, it is not known exactly how many AMX-10 RCs and when Ukraine will receive them. But this is a good sign, because the next Western partners will be able (if, of course, they want to) proceed from the premise that Western tanks are already in the Armed Forces. Let them be light tanks, and on wheels, and not on tracks, but still tanks. Char, as the French say. So thank you Mr. Macron.

AMX-10 RC specifications
Weight – 15.8 tons; 16.6 t (AMX-10 RC); 17.2 (AMX-10 RCR); 22 t (with SEPAR mine/IED protection package)
Length – 9.15 m (with cannon)
Body length – 6.24 m
Width – 2.78 m
Height – 2.56 m
Crew – 4 (3 in the turret, driver-mechanic in the hull)
Wheel formula – 6×6
Armor – all-around armor against 14.5 mm AP; frontal armor against 23 mm AP
Main armament – 105-mm F2 BK MECA L/47 medium-pressure gun (38 rounds)
Secondary armament –1× 7.62 mm NF1 coaxial machine gun (4,000 cartridges)
1× 12.7 mm M2HB AA machine gun (Optional)
4× GALIX smoke dischargers
Engine – Hispano-Suiza HS-115 multi-fuel (1981-1985); Baudouin Diesel Model 6F11 SRX (current)
Power – HS-115: 250 hp. (186 kW); 6F11: 280 hp (208.8 kW)
Suspension – hydropneumatic
Operational range — 800 km on the highway
Speed – 85 km/h on the highway; 40 km/h off-road