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The AMX 30 B2 during operation Daguet

Soldiers of France special issue Gulf War
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Thirty years ago, a tank destined forthe central European theatre had its baptism of fire in the Iraqi desert: the AMX 30 B2. The history of this vehicle is closely linked to that of the4thDragons Regiment (DR), the only heavy armoured unit engaged during this campaign.

A transitional vehicle with new capabilities

The AMX 30 B2 is an improved version of the AMX 30 B. This generation of tank was born in the early 1960s from the splitting of a Franco-German program. The B2 version appeared in 1982, the first time that a French tank incorporated on-board electronics, creating a transitional vehicle between the old generation resulting from the Second World War and the new one, of which the Leclerc is the result. It is either a retrofit of the AMX 30 B or a new production model. The aim of this evolution is to achieve a 90% probability of hitting the target, both by day and by night.

The major differences between the two versions are mainly in the rangefinder, which has been changed to a laser version, but also by the installation of a Castor thermal camera on the right of the gun. The latter makes it possible to detect targets at more than 5,000
meters and their identification from 3,000. In addition, a new night vision system replaces the previous one. The engine is also revised with a Hispano-Suiza 110.2 turbocharged, multi-fuel engine delivering 680 horsepower at 2,400 rpm (revolutions per minute). It is accompanied by a Minerva semi-automatic gearbox with torque converter. Suspension-wise, the torsion bars are reinforced and hydraulic shock absorbers complement the end rockers. As for the version specific to the Daguet operation, the4th RD machines are equipped with skirts on the undercarriage, GPS and Ruggeri 'Spider' decoy and smoke launchers. Finally, as far as firepower is concerned, the AMX 30 B2 is capable of firing a 105 mm arrow shell which, combined with its fire control, enables it to hit a target with almost 90% from the first shot.

The4th Dragoon Regiment in the Gulf

For France, the mission entrusted by the Coalition was characterised by the dispatch of battle tanks. The choice fell on one of the two professionalized squadrons: the1st squadron of the4th RD or the2nd squadron of the 501st Tank Regiment. The Army finally decided on October 5, 1990, to professionalize the entire4th RD by grouping all the heavy cavalry recruits within it. After eight days of training during the Christmas week, and then a transport by boat, the unit landed in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on January 2. It was then more than 1,000 kilometres away from the future parking area called Miramar, located in the tri-border area. The tanks arrived there less than a week before the end of the UN ultimatum and the launching of the air offensive.

The commitment

In the first version of the operation order, they were to attack their objective head-on in a sort of ram attack in order to break the enemy front and drive the bulk of the troops through. This vision was counterbalanced by a proposal from Colonel Bourret, commander of the4th RD, to take the objective from the rear in coordination with artillery support. However, the capture of Rochambeau1 was not modified and the adaptation of the manoeuvre to the terrain was left to the initiative of the commander. During the day of 24 February 1991, the plan was carried out as planned. The dragoons of the4thRD demonstrated the full potential of their equipment, whether it was the 105 mm gun on the bunkers or the 20 mm gun on the vehicles. In the evening, the mass of prisoners to be controlled and a strong sandy wind stopped the progression for the night, which allowed the recompletions. The next day, the assault on Chambord2 saw the destruction of a squadron of Iraqi T-55 tanks but also the first minefield. On the 26th, the tanks supported the3rd RIMa in the capture of As-Salman airfield, the cease-fire was then sounded. The4th RIMa stayed in position for a month before going back to France on April 18th.

The 44 tanks of the4th Dragoon Regiment performed perfectly and accomplished their mission to the best of their abilities. The AMX 30 B2, a tank designed to stop the Warsaw Pact, will express its full potential in a desert area for which it is, a priori, not made. As for the4thRD's involvement in Operation Daguet, I invite you to read Colonel Bourret's testimony, which recounts this epic in a humble but truthful manner. (


Multi-fuel: vehicle that can use most petroleum products (gasoline, diesel)

Retrofit: replacement of certain parts to improve the vehicle's capabilities

Undercarriage: a system of "wheels" forming a "train" on which a chassis (tank body) rests

Turbocharged: engine whose efficiency is increased by the addition of a turbine.


AMX: Ateliers d'Issy-les-Moulineaux

EMAT: French Army Staff

RD: Dragons Regiment

RIMa: Marine infantry regiment


1 - Code name given to the first objective assigned to the French.

2 - Code name given to the AS-Salman complex.

Title : The AMX 30 B2 during operation Daguet
Author (s) : auteur vide