21st Century Tanks
In the 21st century, tanks have continued to evolve to counter new developments in anti-tank weaponry.
Active protection systems, which intercept guided anti-tank missiles before they can damage their targets, are becoming important components of 21st century tanks.
Israel's Trophy active protection system, which is fitted to the Merkava main battle tank, was first used in combat in 2011. The Trophy active protection system detects missiles inside a protected zone and then destroys them.
Russia's Arena active protection system, which was tested in the 1990s, also detects and destroys incoming anti-tank weapons.
The United States tested Raytheon's Quick Kill active protective system in 2010.
Tank warfare has changed, with tanks being less likely to engage in combat with other tanks.
When tank vs. tank combat was the norm, heavy armor was essential. A tank had to be able to withstand a hit from enemy tank cannon.
Now, tanks will often engage individual combatants who have no tanks and who are armed with the lightest of anti-tank weapons.
Therefore, light tanks, which are easier to maneuver, have become an attractive alternative to main battle tanks.
The ASCOD LT-105 light tank, which is produced in Spain and Austria, uses the chassis of an infantry-fighting vehicle (IFV) and has a 1.18 inch (30mm) main gun.
Some countries have even considered eliminating tanks from their arsenals altogether, replacing them with IFVs and wheeled anti-tank guns.
Tanks have been modified to be more effective in urban combat situations.
The Tank Urban Survival Kit, or TUSK, which can be fitted to American M1 Abrams tanks, allows the commander to fire his gun from inside the turret and has an armored gun shield for the loader. The commander has a 360-degree camera, and the tank has a phone that allows the crew to communicate with infantry.
Israel's Merkava LIC (Low Intensity Conflict) tank has a heavy machine gun, which is more useful than a tank cannon in urban combat. It also has a 360 degree camera, as well as marking poles to help guide the tank down narrow city streets. A hatch in the rear door allows a sharpshooter to fire from a protected position.