- Belgian or BeneLux tree
- French tree
- I said no
In this suggestion we’ll be having a look at a Belgian Light tank, the ACEC Cobra 90.
The Cobra 90 is the final development of ACEC’s Cobra chassis. Despite the failure of their IFV platform, ACEC was not ready to give up on the Cobra just yet. Their confidence in the potential of their unique product pushed them to create one last version. This would become the Cobra AFV. A light tank chassis based on the drivetrain with the unique electric transmission of the Cobra IFV. Only the wheels, tracks and aforementioned transmission were retained from the IFV, all the other components were changed or reorganized. In 1982 the first prototype using this chassis was shown to the world, this was a scout tank armed with a 25mm autocannon, known as the Cobra 25. The Cobra 90 in turn started its tests in 1984.
The vehicle was promising, featuring a 90mm main gun on the small and mobile chassis of the Cobra AFV. ACEC took the vehicles to several exhibitions from 1985 onwards in an attempt to find buyers for their product. The vehicles attracted attention, but despite several years of marketing never attracted any buyers.
In the end the Cobra was shelved and never made it beyond the demonstrator phase. Unfortunate for a vehicle that showed such good prospects on paper. However, its unique electric transmission scared customers away as the technology was largely untested in real combat scenarios. The vehicle also appeared on the market at an unfortunate time. The cold war was ending, and many nations were scaling down their armed forces rather than investing in new vehicles.
The Cobra 90 vehicle still exists to this day, it sits in the Gunfire museum in Brasschaat, just north of Antwerp, Belgium.
The Cobra 90 was a fairly small light tank, standing at only 2 m tall, 6.89 m long (including gun) and 2.75 m wide. The weight was also kept very low at only 9500 kg. This allowed the 190 hp engine combined with the electric transmission to give the vehicle outstanding mobility. Top speed is said to be as high as 80 km/h, with a range of up to 600 km. Such light weight obviously can’t come without a downside, and that is the armour protection of the vehicle. The vehicle is protected against 105mm HE shell fragments, and only frontally against 7.62mm AP munitions.
Main armament of the vehicle consisted of a 90mm MECAR/KENERGA cannon. The option was also given to instead fit a Cockerill Mk. 7 cannon, but due to a lack of orders this was never actually mounted. The MECAR cannon is capable of firing a wide variety of munitions, among which also APFSDS rounds. This allowed the light vehicle to be a significant threat to much heavier enemy armour if it was used correctly. The turret also featured a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. Elevation limits of the main gun were -10° to + 25°, and the 2-man turret could do a full rotation in 28 seconds.
Fire control was provided by the OIP LRS-5 system, this fire-control-system featured a laser-rangefinder and a set of thermal sights.
- Crew: 3 (driver, commander, gunner)
- Length: 6.89 m
- Width: 2.75 m
- Height: 2 m
- Weight: 9500 kg
- Engine: Cummins VT-190 V6 diesel, providing 190 hp
- Maximum speed: 80 km/h
- Power-to-weight: 20 hp/t
- Main gun: 90mm MECAR/KENERGA cannon
- Coaxial: 7.62mm FN MAG machine gun
- Laser rangefinder
- Thermal sights
The Cobra 90 has the potential to be a fun addition to the game thanks to its powerful cannon, good mobility and small size. These characteristics will allow you to get into advanced positions early-game and then punish the enemy team from where they least expect it. The small-caliber rounds might mean that you will need more than one shot to fully disable an enemy vehicle, but your small silhouette should make it relatively hard for the enemy to locate you before you can shoot again. The vehicle could be an important part of the proposed BeNeLux tree, but could just as well be placed in the higher ranks of for example the French tree. No matter where it ends up, I’m certain that this vehicle can overcome its unfulfilled potential and become a fan-favorite in-game.