Surface Forces: The Viking Ancestors Of The Tank Boat


October 20, 2015: Indonesian shipbuilder PT Ludin recently revealed a new design; the X18 “tank boat”. Officially called a “fire support vessel” this catamaran (twin-hull) vessel has a turret with a 105mm howitzer (max range 10 kilometers) plus a remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-gun. The 20 meter (60 foot) long boat can travel as fast as 54 kilometers an hour and has a range of 1,600 kilometers. Normally its stays at sea several days at a time. The X18 can carry additional supplies or up to twenty troops or other passengers. The X18 is lightly armored, to the extent that passengers and crew are safe from medium (7.62mm) machine-gun bullets and most shell fragments. The UAE wants to buy a hundred X18s.

The X18 is not a new design and is based on a decade old Swedish concept that was built as the CB90H. X18 manufacturer PT Ludin has links with the Swedish builders of the CB90. In early 2015 PT Ludin revealed that it had adapted the basic CB90 fast patrol boat to a design (the X15) better adapted for use in tropical waters. The 20 ton X15/CB90 had earlier been adapted as a smaller version; the 10 ton X12. This boat proved very popular in Indonesia and a Bangladeshi firm is building 18 X12s under license from PT Ludin. The X12 has a top speed of 63 kilometers an hour and is 11.7 meters (38 feet) long and 11.4 feet wide. They can operate in shallow (one meter/three feet deep) water and are usually armed with two machine-guns and small arms. The coast guard versions have a radar and a crew of six or more sailors. These boats cost less than $100,000 each.




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