This article should be read in conjunction with that on tanks.
Armoured transports, be they APCs, IFVs, ESVs or CEVs, are an important element of combat operations. Despite this, it is my belief that the mature form of this concept has yet to become common.
The CFE Treaty defined an APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) as an infantry squad carrying vehicle with a gun of less than 20mm, and an Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) as having a cannon of 20mm or greater calibre. While this is a legal, rather than a technical, definition, it provides a useful rule of thumb.
In the following article, “APC” is used for an armoured transport for at least a fire-team, of any branch, except were specifically stated otherwise.
Some unsuccessful experiments with transporting infantry in tanks were made in World War One. The nature of armoured vehicles of this time were such that travel was so uncomfortable and nauseating, troops could not fight afterwards.
Arguably the first successful armoured transports were the armoured half-tracks used during the Second World War. The machine guns of World War One seem to have been the threat foremost in the designers’ minds. The open-topped configuration usually used seems to indicate that artillery and mortars were seen as less of a concern.
Post-war vehicles added overhead cover but were still lightly armoured, the primary design criteria seeming to have been their ability to operate in the expected NBC environment of World War Three. The full implications of the Bazooka Age were not appreciated in many quarters.
Some vehicles, like the M113 and BMP-1, have been important steps up the learning curve. Lightly armoured vehicles like the M113 and MT-BL serve in a host of useful support roles.
There have been some mistakes, too: flawed side-branches of the evolving family tree, such as the Stryker and its overweight, poorly-armoured ilk.
Now, after many decades of combat operations, we have ample evidence of what the primary threats that a vehicle will face are. Foremost of these are RPGs and mines/IEDs, with ATGWs and fragments also concerns. Attacks on vehicles often occur outside the expected combat area.
It should be obvious that personnel carriers need to be better protected. In fact, they and other front-line vehicles need a level of survivability more on par with that of tanks.
Protection is obviously a priority for an armoured transport. Operations in the Bazooka Age require all around protection, observation and firepower.
As well as active protection systems, it should have a good level of more conventional armour.
A good level of armour means mass, which indicates a tracked vehicle will be needed to reduce ground pressure and increase mobility. The superior rough ground capability that tracks provide will prove useful negotiating rubble and other obstructions during urban operations. Tracked propulsion offers a greater choice of potential routes, but in many parts of the world choices of route are limited, so protection against attack remains a priority.
Some steps have been made in the right direction already. Combat experience confirmed that the greater vulnerability of many lightly-armoured APCs/IFVs was a problem when they were used to support more heavily-armoured vehicles.
Many of the world’s current combat vehicles had been designed for World War Two-type operations without a full appreciation of how the descendants of the bazooka and panzerfaust would re-shape tactics.
Both the Russians and the Israelis have created “Tank Personnel Carriers (TPC)” from obsolete T-55s. The conversion of tank hulls into personnel carriers actually dates back to the Commonwealth “Kangaroos” used during World War Two. Predictably, purpose-built, heavy-APCs/IFVs have now been created, the Israeli Namer being claimed to be the best-protected combat vehicle in the world, with a level of armour superior to the Merkava IV tank.
The concept that infantry that manoeuvre with tanks need more protection has gained some acceptance. What is harder to get across is that infantry that operate without tank support also need high levels of protection.
As Richard E. Simpkin notes:“...Mechanized and quasi-guerrilla forces are essentially complementary. The one uses good ground, the other bad. The delay, disruption and weakening achieved by either one are prerequisites for the other to get into business.”
Put another way, mechanized/mounted/manoeuvre forces are most effective in open country; dismounted/quasi-guerrilla/infantry forces are more effective in close country.
In many armies there is an assumption that any better armoured transport vehicles should be part of a tank force, while other branches should use lightly-armoured or even unarmoured transports.
As I have discussed elsewhere, this is a logical nonsense. Forces without tanks are, if anything, more likely to be attacked while in transit. The primary role of a guerrilla is harassment, and a fundamental principle of warfare is to engage when or where an enemy is unprepared.
All infantry forces are likely to face attacks when they are in transit. All forces that move by ground vehicle must be provided with vehicles that have adequate protection.
A successful manoeuvre force will eventually near its ultimate objective and very often this is likely to be in an urban area. Elsewhere I have suggested that an armoured company include its own organic contingent of dismounts, which I prefer to designate “armoured pioneers” rather than as some variety of “infantry”, since the later term seems to cause confusion in some armies.
Irrespective of mode of transport, it is essential to grasp that all infantry and armoured pioneers are a dismounted combat system. Vehicles cannot search buildings or look under bushes. Possibly in the future there will be drones that can perform some of these roles, but foot soldiers are not going to disappear any time soon.
Useful though the armoured pioneers will doubtlessly be, an operation in a large urban area will require a much larger contingent of dismounted infantry and engineers than the armoured pioneers in an armoured battalion can provide. Richard Simpkin was an advocate of an armoured force containing a balance of tanks and “in-house infantry”(armoured pioneers), but also maintained “I am equally convinced that such a force in turn requires to be balanced by an equal and separate force of dismounted infantry”.
Therefore an armoured taskforce will need to include an attachment of infantry. These infantry will need sufficient mobility to keep up with the tanks travelling to the objective, and sufficient protection to survive their transit through the threats of “tank country”. Rather than these infantry supporting the tanks, the tanks and armoured pioneers are creating a path for the infantry to reach their objective.
Armoured pioneers have supporting tanks as their primary role, and are thus primarily a force for high-intensity warfare.
Other forms of infantry, however, have a role across the entire spectrum of conflict, and for many of these roles they will need adequately protected transport.
What does the above mean in terms of hardware? Part of this has already been discussed in this article.
While dismounts are most effective dismounted, situations will arise when it will be necessary to engage an enemy while mounted on the vehicle.
A time-proven useful feature for any troop-carrier vehicle is a large roof-hatch over the troop compartment.
There will be situations when SLMs, ATGWs or MANPADS need to be fired from the vehicle. A large roof hatch allows such weapons to be brought into action with relative ease.
The roof-opening also serves as a “mobile-foxhole”, allowing for all-around observation and fire. Some Israeli M113s featured projections (merlons?) that provided some cover for troops using the hatch.
The roof hatch will serve other functions, such as launching reconnaissance drones or loitering munitions. It may be possible to operate a platoon/commando mortar from the roof-hatch.
The large turrets fitted to some APCs may prevent the inclusion of a usefully sized roof-hatch. This design approach should be avoided.
Early models of IFV/MICV often featured firing ports so the infantry could use weapons while mounted. Firing ports fell from vogue in favour of thicker armour protection. If troops need to fire from the vehicle a roof hatch often proves more versatile. Only thinly armoured vehicles are commonly seen with firing ports.
Firing ports do allow occupants to engage threats that may be within the dead zone of roof-mounted weapons. Such situations are likely to occur when fighting in built-up areas.
Vision blocks or periscopes for the troop compartment may prove useful.
For brevity, this and the following sections only consider two variants of APC/IFV:
• One is the vehicle-type that I have termed a “Armoured Pioneer Fighting Vehicle” (APFV). APFVs provide close-support for tanks. Ideally there would be one APFV and dismount squad for each tank/Thunderback and they would all be organic to the same unit, used to training and fighting together. The job description of the armoured pioneers and their vehicle might broadly be described as to “keep the armoured unit moving”.
• The second type of vehicle has eloquently been called a “battle-taxi”. The primary role of this vehicle is to move infantry (or other personnel) from one location to another. Like a taxi, the APC may not “belong” to the troops riding in it, and the crew may be from another unit or branch, as with the proposed carrier attachment battalion (CAB).
For the armoured pioneers, it will clearly be useful if their carrier (APFV) is based on the same family of vehicles as the tanks they operate beside. The maintenance and logistic problems of maintaining several types of vehicle is one of the excuses some armies have made for not forming tank units with organic armoured pioneer/infantry.
If using the same family of vehicles for the tanks and carriers is not practical, the vehicles should share as many components in common as practical.
Facing similar threats to the tanks, APFV will have a comparable level of protection (AF-HE/RPG/F+) to the vehicles they support.
Units intended for homeland defence are likely to have well-protected medium vehicles, while expeditionary units may field lighter tanks and APFVs.
The battle-taxi carriers used by the infantry are likely to closely resemble those of the armoured pioneers, and commonality of components is obviously prudent.
Larger production runs lower unit cost, so there are economic and development savings to using the same basic vehicle for tanks, thunderbacks, APFV, heavy battle-taxis, command vehicles, air-defence and related support variants such as recovery and bridging.
Battle-taxis may be fielded in both well-armoured and lighter forms. The threat of ambush using IEDs or RPGs favours the use of well-armoured, heavier battle-taxis where practical.
The lighter form of battle-taxi might be based on the proposed Uta vehicle. A very large number of M113s are still in service globally, and the design has proven service record. It is logical that any future light tracked vehicle be an evolutionary design based on the M113-series and its components. The main improvements that needs to be addressed is mine-resistance and hybrid-electric propulsion.
Level of protection, armament, equipment, mobility and mass are all interconnected.
The components of a manoeuvre force should have a good level of operational and tactical/battlefield mobility. Vehicles must not be too heavy to use most of the bridge and road systems available in their operational area.
When in combat, they should be capable of rapidly sprinting between areas of cover. When moving out of cover to fire, they should spend the minimum time exposed as they acquire, attack and retreat to safety. “Firing exposure time” is a product of low-speed acceleration both forward and in reverse.
For a manoeuvre force primarily intended for homeland defence in a developed nation, APFVs, battle-taxis and most of the vehicles they support or move with should probably have a mass of 38 tonnes or less.
Vehicles for expeditionary and airborne forces will need to be lighter to maximize their strategic mobility.
Both homeland defence and expeditionary forces will use light variants of APC for various support roles and reconnaissance.
In this article an infantry fighting vehicle is proposed with hull-mounted machine guns and automatic grenade-launchers, and a main turret with an autocannon and 60mm gun-mortar with a quartet of ATGMs.
Cost, mass and space restrictions will probably prevent all these capabilities and features ever appearing in any infantry-carrying vehicle that actually gets adopted for service.
Dismounts are most useful dismounted, and it might be argued that this design with multiple crewed turrets might tend to discourage this.
A troop compartment roof-hatch of a carrier should include on each side the provision for mounting an elbow mount for a light or medium machine gun to serve as an ACAV-style “wing-gun” complete with gun-shields.
These wing-guns will be useful when there is a likelihood of ambush or attacks from several quadrants.
The machine gunners should be supported by comrades using grenade-launchers as auxiliary weapons.
Provision to fit a “tail-gun” should also be considered. The roof-hatch of some M113s had a mounting point on the underside. When the hatch was open, the fitting could be used to mount an M60 machine gun.
An argument may be made that carriers primarily tasked with infantry transport should only mount defensive armament, but this does raise the question: “defence against what?”
Battle-taxis would also be expected to fire in support of their dismounted personnel, whether during a planned attack or in response to an ambush. In such a situation an enemy may be entrenched and not particularly vulnerable to direct-fire.
A trend seen in many Eastern European AFV upgrades is to supplement the MG and/or cannon armament with an automatic grenade-launcher mounted on the turret. This provides an individual vehicle with the capability to engage a threat with both high-angle and direct fire. APCs with the modification first began to appear on BMPs and BTRs during Russia’s operations in Afghanistan.
Technologies such as programmable air-burst ammunition may give vehicle-mounted autocannon of 30mm or greater calibre a useful capability against targets in cover, making the provision of a separate automatic grenade-launcher unnecessary.
Modern attack helicopters probably need more gun than a machine gun, but how much? Will attack helicopters even come into cannon range?
The provision of an autocannon has become a defining characteristic of an IFV.
The 30x176mm Bushmaster II has become a common armament for many vehicles. Many Russian/CIS vehicles now mount a variant of the 30x165mm 2A42 or 2A72.
Heavily armoured carriers such as the medium APFV will probably mount an autocannon such as the 35/50mm Bushmaster III. The recoil force of a 35/50mm is two thirds that of the Israeli 60mm HVMS, around 6,000 kg. The HVMS has been successfully mounted on an M113 with a 1.5 metre diameter turret ring. Since a 35/50mm cannon is only 40% the mass of the 60mm HVMS, it may be practical for the former to form the armament on lighter models of APFV and battle-taxi.
The desire for larger calibre weapons must be weighed against actual practical utility, however.
Current helicopter-missile systems can engage vehicles from greater than five kilometres range when terrain and visibility permit, putting the helicopter well out of effective range of most cannon that an IFV might mount. It may be argued that the presence of the cannon on an IFV (or other vehicle type) forces the helicopter to keep its distance and therefore gives the vehicle greater time to employ countermeasures. When helicopters have to engage at shorter ranges, the provision of autocannon armament may be significant. Effective range of light cannon against helicopters is 2,000 to 2,500 metres, regardless of cannon weight or calibre. Accuracy, rather than power, is the limiting factor. At this range an LW30 weapon is just as effective as heavier choices.
Another role commonly proposed for the IFV’s cannon was to give it capability against lightly armoured vehicles such as other IFVs and APCs.
Currently we are seeing the adoption of slightly larger calibre (but much heavier) cannon in anticipation of slightly better armoured IFVs. Piecemeal increases in cannon power fall into the trap of designing “like against like.”
We already are seeing APC with tank levels of protection. Most of the vehicles that will be encountered on a battlefield will be tanks or have tank-levels of protection.
As more heavily armoured IFVs gain acceptance, the anti-vehicle applications of a cannon on an IFV may become less significant. Any poorly protected vehicles encountered are likely to be equally vulnerable to machine gun fire.
While its anti-vehicle and anti-aircraft potential is somewhat diminished, the autocannon remains useful for firing on entrenchments and against enemies within civilian buildings. Penetration of brick can be expected to be similar or better than that of a 40mm HEDP grenade. Cannon fire may be used to create access points in walls for infantry, although podded rockets or SLMs deployed by infantry may be more effective.
The cannon also provides useful firepower during low-intensity and counter-insurgency conflicts and other situations where troops may be deployed without tank support.
The changing roles for the autocannon suggest that an IFV may be optimally armed with a lighter weapon such as an air-burst capable 30x113Bmm M230/XM914 or ASP-30.
One of the roles of an APFV is to protect tanks and other vehicles from enemy infantry and anti-tank teams. A cannon may prove too potent in some such situations, with machine guns used in preference to reduce the chance of damaging friendly vehicles.
Air-burst mode for cannon and mortar shells may be a partial solution.
Machine guns are likely to be the primary weapons of APFVs and considerable quantities of MG ammunition should be carried.
At least one manufacture is currently offering remote weapon stations (RWS) mounting an M230/XM914 cannon with a machine gun and ATGM or SHORAD missiles.
A proposal from the Losik/Brilev article I do like is to arm a vehicle turret with both an autocannon and a 60mm gun-mortar.
An APFV with a 35/50mm or LW30-ABM autocannon and a 60mm gun-mortar would be an effective support platform for both its dismounts and the tanks it accompanies. HE, illumination and smoke rounds from the mortar may be used to disrupt enemy defences and anti-tank positions. The canister load for the gun-mortar may be used to “back-scratch” other vehicles.
1.5 metre diameter turrets mounting cannon, machine guns and 60mm gun-mortars are already in use on some models of armoured car.
The battle-taxi could mount the same armament as the APFV, but for reasons of economy, it is more likely that the majority will just mount machine guns and an air-burst cannon. An LW30-ABM cannon would be well suited for arming a battle-taxi, exceeding the performance of heavy machine guns, automatic grenade-launchers and smaller calibre cannon.
The capability for the vehicle to launch ATGWs must the weighed against cost, added complexity and likelihood of use. My current thoughts on arming battle-taxis and APFVs with ATGWs are recorded in more detail elsewhere. Mounting points for ATGWs may also mount rocket pods.
Guided weapon attacks from ground-vehicles will mainly be from platforms such as Thunderbacks, and the loitering munitions and LR-AGTM operated by the artillery.
New designs of personnel carrier or turret will not routinely mount such ATGWs, but should include the provision to fit a mount for infantry-ATGW systems when required. This option will probably be more common for vehicles in expeditionary forces and those that face a considerable tank threat or lack their own tank support.
Infantry-ATGW missiles carried in the vehicle may either be launched by the vehicle or from dismounted positions, keeping the carrier out of sight.
As an organic part of an armoured platoon, the APFV will be expected to contribute to the anti-tank fight, but the exact form this contribution should take is open to debate. Cannon and gun-mortar fire will have limited effect on enemy tanks and heavy-IFVs. Should the vehicle be providing covering fire to the platoon’s dismounted teams, or launching heavy missiles? If teams are not yet dismounted, would the vehicle be better used moving dismounted ATGW teams to where they are most effective.
Other variants of carrier may be lighter armed. For example, cargo variants intended to carry stores or crew-served weapons and equipment for the heavy infantry company may just mount HMGs and/or AGLs.
One strategy that will help create more-compact combat vehicles is acceptance that an infantry carrier does not have to accommodate a complete squad.
There is some merit in allocating no more than six dismounts or a half-squad to each vehicle. This increases passenger comfort, and leaves more room for extra supplies and equipment.
If a squad uses at least two vehicles to travel, a stuck vehicle has immediate assistance.
The larger the capacity of a vehicle, the more complicated boarding and debussing seems to become.
If a vehicle is disabled, there is room on another vehicle for its crew and passengers to squeeze in.
Ambushing multiple vehicles is more problematic than attacking a single one.
This said, some current vehicles such as the HMMWV and most of its proposed replacements are too small.
An infantry carrier should have a cargo capacity of around two tons. With weapons, equipment, ammunition, food and water, each infantryman must constitute at least 200-250 lbs of load.
From the infantry carrier would be derived a variety of useful variants. This includes reconnaissance vehicles, tanks, mortar-carriers, air-defence, drone-carriers, C-RAM, cargo, tankers, engineer, recovery, flatbeds and others.
While the HMMWV is too small and underpowered for use as an infantry carrier, it is used for other roles that it is too big for.
This article gives a good account of the HMMWV’s weaknesses as a reconnaissance platform.
Vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers and Hiluxes can more cost-effectively perform many of the non-combat roles that HMMWVs are used for. In this article I suggest that a Toyota “mimic” vehicle may prove a useful supplement to more overtly military tracked reconnaissance vehicles.
As an aside, I will mention an interesting design proposed by Richard E. Simpkin in Jane’s Military Review, second year of issue, 1982-3, p.144.
This design had the vehicle crew compartment sealed off from the troop compartment. The section leader had two observation positions.
The “clean” position was with the vehicle crew. If the section leader had to dismount and became contaminated, there was a duplicate observation position and hatch for him in the troop compartment. The troop compartment had a slide out liner of of boronated polyethylene for easy decontamination or reconfiguration of role.
This is probably overly complicated for a standard carrier, but such a configuration might be worth consideration if a dedicated CBRN vehicle was planned.
It is unlikely that each infantry company will have a contingent of heavy-APCs. This is financially improbable, and in fact not desirable. This is where the “patch concept”, and specifically the Carrier Attachment Battalion (CAB), show their merit.
If a force needs protected transport, a CAB is attached and moves the platoons around as required. This makes infantry battalions more versatile and allows the army to operate a smaller number of higher quality vehicles.
The CAB provides the vehicle crews and the associated support staff and infrastructure.
The increased level of protection better armoured vehicles provide offers some interesting tactical options.
One of these might be termed “Assault Under Barrage”.
A well-armoured, tracked armoured transport (“assault wagon?”) is unlikely to be affected by close-proximity detonations of 155mm howitzer or heavy mortar shells.
A force of infantry or armoured pioneers in such vehicles could move to within 30 metres or closer of an enemy position under bombardment, safe from RPGs and other anti-tank fires due to their suppression by the artillery.
The assaulting force would also be protected from some of the direct-fire weapons that supporting units might be using against the enemy position.
Vehicle autocannon and gun-mortars with air-burst ammunition will be more effective against entrenched troops than more traditional weapons.
South Africa and Rhodesia were some of the only “western” militaries to take measures against the threat of mines/IEDs.
As the number of unnecessary casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan rose, the combatants began to purchase South African vehicles or produce their own versions.
Many of these MRAPs are large, heavy wheeled platforms designed to carry a squad or more. Such vehicles have problems moving over some types of terrain.
Experience over the last few decades suggests that “less is more”. Limiting a vehicle’s capacity to eight seats or less has a number of advantages.
• The reduction in mass and lower ground pressure gives the vehicle a more useful poor-road and cross-country performance.
• A more compact protected mobility vehicle is more useful in urban environments.
• Smaller size allows a thicker level of armour to be fitted for a given mass penalty.
• Appliqué armour permits the same platform to be configured as either a protected transport or a lighter, long-range patrol vehicle.
There are some missions where a wheeled vehicle is perceived as being preferable. These include internal security, quick reaction and rapid response forces and many situations where travel is predominantly on roads or firm ground.
Usually described as “HMMWV replacements”, Light Protected Mobility Vehicles (LPMV) have the potential to replace overly large, lightly-armoured heavy-WAPCs such as the Stryker. Two or three LPMVs for a squad are a tactically more flexible and agile choice.
In the past, wheeled combat vehicles have often been modified soft-skin vehicles. The death-toll from the use of HMMWVs in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly shows the shortcomings of this approach.
The more recent designs of these vehicles incorporate mine-resistant features. Vulnerability to RPGs and similar weapons remains a concern.
The British MRV-P requirement specifies operation “on all parts of the battlefield except for the direct fire zone”.
In future conflicts, expecting a clearly defined direct fire zone seems optimistic!
PMVs should be seen as transports rather than as fighting vehicles.
In my article on light auxiliary vehicles I suggest that the majority of HMMWV roles may be filled by a pickup/shelter-carrier variant and a van-configuration variant.
Interestingly, the Oshkosh L-ATV/JLTV variants seem to be based on a two-door and a four-door pickup configuration. The proposed ambulance variant could form the basis of a van-variant. The Thales Hawkei is a two-door pickup or a four-door personnel transport with a cargo-bed.
Australia plans to replace about one third of its Land Rovers with Hawkei.
Doors facilitate the practice of dismounting to scout.
The purpose of an armoured personnel carrier is to move its occupants safely from A to B. If the vehicle cannot effectively traverse the intervening terrain, or it offers no protection against the attacks likely to be made on it, it is not fit for purpose.
Hence in the sections above I have advocated tracked, well-armoured vehicles for military roles.
There is, potentially, a place in a nation’s inventory for relatively inexpensive light, wheeled APCs. What is NOT needed are expensive, bulky, heavy, lightly protected vehicles such as the Stryker.
A light(ish) wheeled armoured transport may have some military applications. It may be argued that if RPGs and mines are such an unlikely threat that tracked well-armoured APCs are not needed, then conventional trucks or buses might be used for transport instead.
The main application for such a wheeled armoured vehicle, however, is for internal security (IS) and law enforcement operations. The role of such a vehicle complements and intermeshes with that of LPMVs. These vehicles may be larger models of MRAP, useful when capacity is a priority over off-road mobility.
An IS vehicle should be constructed from readily available military and commercial components. The AV Dragoon 300, for example, included components of the M113 and M809 and M939 five-ton trucks.
For this intended role, a conventional appearance as seen with vehicles such as the Humber Pig will be preferable to something that is more overtly tank- or armoured car-like.
Operation will mainly be on roads, so windscreens and good visibility for driving are a design priorities.
Those who dismiss IS vehicles as “armoured plated trucks” miss the fact that in some situations this is exactly what is needed! This statement also suggests that a logistic version of an IS vehicle might prove very useful.
A roof-mounted turret has limited applications for an IS vehicle. The width, length and height of the roof creates a considerable dead zone around a vehicle, which is easily infiltrated in the urban environments such a vehicle is likely to be used in.
A more useful fitting may be a roof-mounted observation tower or cupola. This would be provided with protected windows and various surveillance, recording and illumination systems. Firing ports in the structure would permit the launching of gas grenades and other non-lethal munitions. Some designs allow a marksman and their weapon to be concealed in discrete readiness.
Firing ports in the vehicle sides and doors may have more application for defence than a turret if they are provided with adequate vision devices and armoured windows. Weapons compatible with firing port use must be available within the vehicle.
Size of the vehicle needs careful consideration. For roles such as riot-duty, manpower is a priority over firepower. The vehicle must have sufficient power that it can push aside barricades. It may not be so light that a mob can overturn it. However, we do not want a vehicle that is too big to manoeuvre in narrow streets where it might be needed.
In another article, I have proposed designs for dedicated road security and escort vehicles.
Since such a necessary capability is a low priority on most military shopping lists, we may see the IS vehicle used for this role too. Such a role will probably require heavier armament. Features such as a large roof-hatch and provision for wing-guns will need to be incorporated in the design.
The well-protected vehicles described above will not suitable for all roles.
They are likely to be too massive to be easily moved by helicopters or light transport planes, suggesting air-mechanized helicopter and paratroop forces will need a lighter but necessarily less-capable armoured vehicle.
Rather than versatile, multi-role platforms, weight limitations may require a family of more specialized vehicles.
The basic vehicle will probably be a lightly armed APC or cargo track, complimented by a better-armed IFV mounting autocannon, missiles and mortar. The latter vehicle will perform in a light tank role as a reconnaissance and fire-support component of a force. Ideally this variant would have room for a small dismount scout element, but if not, dismounts can travel in an accompanying APC-variant.
Other cargo tracks provide additional ATGW, SAM and mortar support. This may be how the Russian VDV BMD-4M and BTR-D/MD are intended to operate together.
Such lighter vehicles will be more vulnerable, but possibly this can be offset by the nature of operations they are intended for.
If amphibious, such lighter armoured vehicles may serve a useful reconnaissance role in heavier formations. They may also be useful for civilian organizations that operate in adverse conditions.
Where practical, the light-track vehicles will share components with the more heavily armoured carriers.
Helicopter transported forces may need to adopt other solutions to increase ground mobility.
An alternative (or complimentary) approach, already seen in some armies, is the adoption of compact, unarmoured, amphibious vehicles such as the Supacat, Gecko and Chinese 8x8.
Air-mobile forces are an obvious choice to operate in close and “vehicle-proof” terrain, possibly conducting Simpkin’s “quasi-guerilla net-operations”.
The requirement to perform this role will have an influence on the scale of vehicle issue.
In the Osprey publication “World War Two Combat Reconnaissance Tactics (Elite 156)” there is a passage: “[British] Recce units advanced under one of three protocols: 'move in green' - when enemy were unlikely to be encountered; 'in amber' - when contact was possible and speed was reduced; and 'in red' - when contact was likely, speed was greatly reduced, and close reconnaissance of possible enemy positions was conducted.”
The preferred system for “red” or “amber” scenarios is obviously with dismounted troops and heavy carriers, with support.
For green and amber conditions, heavy carriers may not always be available.
In the future, we may see increasing use of “mufti vehicles”.
If a sufficiently armoured military vehicle cannot be used then an alternative is to use a camouflaged one that blends into the other civilian traffic using a road: protection by mimesis.
A military force should acquire an assortment of local vehicles of differing makes, models, sizes and colours.
Unlike an APC, a mufti vehicle is crewed by the unit using it and generally not occupied when that unit is dismounted. For some operations they may be treated as disposable.
An apparently civilian vehicle can often infiltrate an objective far more easily than a military one.
A civilian car packed with sensors can sweep an area for IEDs yet be ignored as a target over more military-looking vehicles.
Infantry patrols or other specialists can be covertly placed in an area without the attention helicopters or other military vehicles attract.
A mufti vehicle is not a fighting vehicle. Its role is to move its occupants and possibly to lay down smoke long enough for the troops to deploy.
Variants that can control drones, act as command/C4I vehicles, provide EW support or launch guided weapons are possible.
In another article I have discussed military vehicles designed to look like civilian vehicles.
Many decades ago, I was writing about possible military vehicles.
I noted that a light APC that externally resembled a panel truck or transit van might prove useful. Such a vehicle might have many useful applications for law enforcement or Operations Other Than War (OOTW).
I would not be surprised to discover there are companies that can fit armour and related features to commercial vans. There may indeed be some on the streets of your town right now.
A militarized transit van would have roles other than personnel transport. If the movies are to be believed, they are common choices for surveillance operations. They can also serve as command and control centres, for SIGINT, and for electronic warfare support to tactical units.
A roof hatch(es) would be useful for many roles, although given its height the large dead zone will leave many potential threats too close to fire on. This is a vehicle that would find firing ports a practical addition.
Technologies such as vertical launch missile systems may even give them an artillery and air-defence role.
By the Author of the Scrapboard :
Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence
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