The French participation in the Gulf War, codenamed Opération Daguet, saw the deployment of the 6e Division Légère Blindée (“6th Light Armored Division”), referred to for the duration of the conflict as the Division Daguet. Most of its armored component was provided by the AMX-10RCs of the cavalry reconnaissance regiments, but a heavy armored unit, the 4e Régiment de Dragons (“4th Dragoon Regiment”) was also sent to the region with a complement of 44 AMX-30B2s. Experimentally, a new regimental organisational structure was used, with three squadrons of thirteen tanks, a command tank and six reserve vehicles, instead of the then normal strength of 52 units. Also six older AMX-30Bs were deployed, fitted with Soviet mine rollers provided by Germany from East German stocks, and named AMX 30 Demin. The vehicles were all manned by professional crews, without conscripts. The Daguet Division was positioned to the West of Coalition forces, to protect the right flank of the U. S. XVIII Airborne Corps. This disposition gave the French commander greater autonomy, and also lessened the likelihood of encountering Iraqi T-72s, which were superior both to the AMX-10RCs and the AMX-30B2s. With the beginning of the ground offensive of 24 February 1991, French forces moved to attack its first target, “Objective Rochambeau”, that was defended by a brigade from the Iraqi 45th Infantry Division. A raid by Gazelle helicopters paved the way for an attack by the 4e Régiment de Dragons. Demoralized by heavy coalition bombardments, the Iraqi defenders rapidly surrendered. The following day, the 4e Dragons moved on to their next objective, “Chambord”, where they reported destroying ten tanks, three BMPs, fifteen trucks and five mortars with the assistance of USAF A-10s, and capturing numerous prisoners. The final objective was the As-Salman air base (“Objective White”), that was reported captured by 18:15, after a multi-pronged attack, with the 4e Dragons attacking from the South. In all, the AMX-30s fired 270 main gun rounds in anger.
Technical specifications of the AMX-30 B2
The AMX-30 B2, announced in June 1979, is essentially an AMX-30 with an integrated fire control system based on a laser rangefinder and an LLLTV system, a new transmission and other improvements (suspension, NBC system, gun stabilization,…).
The COTAC FCS, officially designated the APX M581, has been designed by the AMX-APX in collaboration with the Ateliers de Construction de Tarbes. Its main components are the gunner’s APX M544 telescopic (x10 magnification) sight which is combined with an APX M579 electronic control system and an APX M421 optical module containing a computer- controlled graticule. The laser rangefinder is the APX M550 and is made by CILAS under the designation TCV80. It has a maximum range of 10.000 m and is accurate to ± 5 m. The SOPELEM telescopic sight has a magnification of x10 and is directly coupled to the main armament. In addition to the M581 rangefinder telescope the gunner has a rotatable M282 periscope, a fixed M223 periscope and a tv monitor associated with an LLLTV monitor.
The COTAC FCS also incorporates an accelerometer-type trunnion tilt sensor and a control panel. The tank commander manually inserts information via the control panel concerning the type of ammunition being fired, drift and jump angles, cross wind velocity, altitude and ambient temperature. Apart from the ammunition details, most of this information has to be inserted only once a day. To determine lead angles for the engagement of moving targets, a two-axis gyroscope is mounted on the sight to measure target tracking rates in both azimuth and elevation.
Other parameters are automatically acquired by the gunner’s rangefinder telescope including target distance, its displacement speed in elevation and azimuth and turret slant. These parameters are processed by a lead computer built into the telescope which transmits the elevation and azimuth corrections to the gunner’s day sight by means of an optical compensator and the graticule of the LLLTV camera for engaging targets at night.
In addition to the 10 M268 periscopes in his cupola the commander also has an M496 telescope with a x8 magnification for firing the 105mm gun, for the secondary armament (20mm cannon and 7,62mm machine gun) and aiming assembly comprising an M591-02 prism head and an OB 49 monocular telescope.
Mounted externally on the right side of the turret is the CASTOR (Thales) thermal camera with both the tank commander and gunner being provided with a tv monitor screen. The screens display an aiming mark which enables the commander or gunner to engage targets at ranges of up to 4.000 m.
The loader has a rotatable M282 periscope and two fixed M223 periscopes with the driver having a central M223 periscope (or an OB 31A image intensification periscope) and two fixed M223 periscopes.
To allow the AMX-30 B2 to fire the newer APFSDS ammunition a new gunner’s sight graticule is fitted to match the ballistics of the rounds while the turret and ammunition racks have been modified to accept the different shaped APFSDS round.
Mounted on the left side of the turret, coaxial with the main armament, is a SOPELEM PH-8- B searchlight, which has a maximum range of 2,000 m when used in the white light mode and a range of 1,000 m in the infrared mode.
The engine of the AMX-30 B2 has been developed from that of the AMX-30 and develops 700 hp @ 2.600 rpm. The HS-110-2 is fitted with new and more powerful turbo-compressors which provide a 45 hp increase as well as improving the operational life of the engine and its torque characteristics. A new hydrostatically-controlled engine system incorporates oil heat exchangers cooled by air instead of engine coolant. The air filters have removable covers to facilitate field maintenance.
The SESM ENC-200 is a gearbox of the lock-up torque converter type with five forward and reverse speeds and hydrostatic steering controlled by a conventional steering wheel instead of sticks. This system allows on-the-spot turning and gear changing in bends.
The suspension is improved by adopting new torsion bars and shocks which increased the vertical deflection range of the road wheels, thereby improving the tank’s cross-country mobility.
The AMX-30 B2 is also fitted with a new collective pressurization system with two circuits, one with complete filtration for improved NBC protection.
French Army AMX-30 B2s have the OB 49 roof-mounted sight with two day and one night channels. This can be replaced by the M427 with day and image intensification night channels and a laser rangefinder or a roof-mounted SFIM M527 gyro-stabilized sight also fitted to AMX-32 and AMX-40. The gunner on French Army AMX-30 B2s has an M581 rangefinder telescope but this can be replaced by an OB 47. The driver’s infra-red periscope can be replaced by an OB 31 or CN2-516 image intensification periscope. Other options include new 125 Ah batteries with a longer life and needing less maintenance, new filters, DUK DUR 440 radiation counter, air-conditionning system and three different land navigation systems developed by Crouzet.
French Army AMX-30 B2s have a thicker gun shield. In place of the standard bank of two electrically-operated smoke dischargers either side of the turret, the GIAT/Lacroix GALIX AFV protection system can be fitted. This can fire a wide range of different types of grenade to meet various battlefield threats. An exhaust smoke generator system can also be fitted.