The Lévesque tank (French: char Lévesque) is a main battle tank (MBT) built by South Alban Ironworks. It was named in honour of General Dimitri Lévesque, who was instrumental in the Van Curan Valley campaign at the end of the Dormill-Stiura War.
The Lévesque is in service with the United Republics Armed Forces and the Almorean Army. In production since 1990, the Lévesque entered service in 1996 with the reorganized United Republics Army, replacing the Barracuda as the country's main armoured platform. Production, both for domestic and foreign orders is ongoing, with the United Republics Army fielding 412 Lévesque tanks, 113 serve in the Almorean Army, and 70 with the Serpens Land Army.
In 1971, studies were initiated about a possible replacement vehicle for the Barracuda 10.1 as the Dormill-Stiura War came to an end. Although the Barracuda performed exceptionally well in the war against their Noronnican counterparts, the Stiuraian military, cognizant that the Barracuda was only a stopgap and that it would soon be outclassed by the growing class of 120mm armed tanks (specifically the "Heavy" variant of the Noronnican Stickleback MBT), began to seek out a means of enhancing on the original design. In 1973, a working committee was created that agreed on a list of specifications in 1977 to address what they considered to be the most critical flaws in the original design. While some of these modifications, most important among them the inclusion of a 120mm gun to the Barracuda in the form of the 20.1A1, it became clear that the Barracuda would be insufficient in the coming 21st Century army. By 1982, the Stiuraian government began investigating other options as the tone both in the political and military spheres pointed towards the eventual replacement of the Barracuda.
This need was emphasized in the course of the White Eagle Cape War, where the Barracuda was mostly unable to fight in the urban environments that dominated the battlespace of the war. Ultimately, during talks among the Committee on Doraltic Reunification, the intergovernmental body tasked with harmonizing Doraltic law and coordinating efforts relevant to the coming reunification, the decision was reached on a plan to replace the Barracuda along an expanded set of specifications set in 1977, included in this plan was that Stiura was to consider replacing the Barracuda with the Svalbardian-Miklanian M6 Timberwolf with modifications to make it Diesel powered alongside two domestic options, a design offered by the Kapolder-based South Alban Ironworks with a 115mm gun and one offered by Eppendorf's Eagle Industries with a 125mm gun.
In contrast to other tank programs of the time, much consideration was given to active, rather than passive protection, to limit the overall mass of the vehicle. Mobility for evading enemy fire and fire control systems were also given particular attention, both to enhance on the present designs of the Barracuda and address lessons learned from the recent war. Nevertheless, it was a stated design goal to achieve at least identical protection against KE-penetrators in comparison to the level attained through the Barracuda, equal to ~400mm RHA.
Partnership with a foreign state was sought to limit the cost per unit, and this was found when the Federal Republic of Almorea early into development, adding to the 110 units already planned for the reunified Doraltic Army. In 1986, the project was started under the name of "Lévesque" with six prototypes being built by 1988. Adopted quickly by the Stiuraian Army to speed up the development process, mass production started in 1990 with the four-unit Batch 1, used mainly for comparative tests against contemporary armor. The subsequent 17 units of Batch 2 were shipped in 1993, with improvements in the turret and in the hull armour as a response to poor craftsmanship in the rushed Batch 1. These units were quickly diagnosed with problems in the engine and suspension, a result of subcontractor failures and the rushed assembly. The units of Batch 2 were promptly retired and the Stiuraian and Kapolderian governments held multiple hearings to address these issues, resulting in the handout of fines to nearly all companies involved in the construction of the Lévesque to that point.
When the United Republics reformed in 1995, the 96 unit Batch 3 followed with some improvements and were used to define the doctrine of use and instruction for the unifying armies. Now with greater access to the industrial capacity of both Ardeda and Dormill, the following batches 4 and 5 were better built, eliminating the recurrent problems in the powerplant. The 231 units of these batches, also referred to as the 20.2A1 series, are still in service, after having been refitted at the end of the 2000s in line with subsequent upgrades.
Batch 6 was the first produced since 2000, which a new climate control system in the right rear of the turret, addressing operator complaints when operating for extended periods of time. Batch 7 introduced a data suite and transmission system to the command vehicle, giving instantaneous vision of the state of all battle tanks and acquired targets. The system would eventually be the basis of the present Unified Battlefield Command and Control System of the United Republics. Batch 7 also incorporated minor improvements in the visor in all vehicles. Batches 8 and 9 replaced the thermal imaging ATHOS by a SAGEM Iris with better resolution and modernized the electrical system with a standardized system used across most Doraltic-manufactured military vehicles.
At the turn of 2009, all previous batches were modernised up to the standards of Batch 9 and another 100 units were delivered to the United Republics Army. In an amended agreement with the Almorean Army, the tanks in its service were also modernized to Batch 9 standard at a significantly reduced cost and in local facilities. In 2004, Batch 10 was presented, incorporating the still in development Unified Battlefield Command and Control System, an information system which could share the disposition of enemy and friendly units to all vehicles on the battlefield. The Batch also introduced the present modular armor package, including titanium and a semi-reactive layer.
This was the beginning of the 120-unit third series, designating the tank as 20.2A2 that concluded initial production in 2014. Batch 11, equipped with the newest version of the UBCCS information suite, is the current model in production, with the first order from the United Republics of 22 units being currently fulfilled. By 2020, 412 tanks should have been operational within the United Republics, with another 113 within Almorea, and 70 within Serpens Land, making it one of the most widely used tanks in the Western Isles.
As of 2020, there are over 500 Lévesques in service across the Isles, predominantly within the United Republics Army in the form of several dozen tank companies within the Army's eight Infantry Brigades and the two distinct Armored Brigades. Within the Federal Union of Almorea, the Lévesque sees service primarily as part of 3rd and 5th Armored Battalions. The Serpens Land Army additionally fields a fleet of 70 vehicles across several formations.