Ramming vehicle for SWAT teams
In Holland in June, 1977 South Moluccan terrorists simultaneously hijacked a train and a school. Dutch Marines liberated the train at De Punt by innovative use of machine guns and F104 fighters, which were used to distract the terrorists. It is the methods used to rescue the hostages in the school children that is of interest to us, however.
Entry was gained to the building by simply ramming through a wooden wall in an APC. In the reconstruction I saw the vehicle was a Saracen APC and the vehicle was reversed through the wall.
Many SWAT teams have armoured or heavy vehicles that they can use to break down doors or walls, but the simple innovation of reversing into a ram is not one that appears to be widely practiced. Reversing has several advantages:
- Most APCs have their main doors at the rear. If a vehicle rams a wall nose first the assault team must dismount outside the building and enter through the hole made. Uneven footing caused by rubble may slow them, and if the vehicle has become stuck they will have to funnel past and be vulnerable to enemy fire. While outside the building they may also be fired upon from upper stories. If the rear of the vehicle is used to make the breach then the infantry compartment opens directly into the room behind.
- If the vehicle reverses towards the building the engine is less vulnerable to impact damage or fire from enemy weapons. The driver is also well protected, and impacts facing in the opposite direction, which is safer and less stressful. If the enemy has armour-piercing weapons they may injure some of the assault team but this will not prevent the vehicle's primary mission of breaching the wall. This can then be exploited by other units.
Some modifications may be needed:-
- Most obvious is a rear mounted camera or similar vision system.
- Some vehicles may need modifications to their gearboxes to allow sufficient speed and acceleration.
- Most conventional armoured vehicles have their thickest armour at the front. This vehicle would benefit from extra protection at the rear.
- Many SWAT vehicles do not try to break through walls but have a spar or boom that concentrates the force against a door. Such a spar could be mounted on the rear of a vehicle and constructed so that it does not hinder the use of the rear doors.
A "doors first" ramming mission offers obvious tactical advantages, but these can be increased further.
There is no reason why Stun, Bucha-effect* or Flash-bulb grenades can't be mounted on the outside of the vehicle and triggered before the assault team exits. A simple circuit would prevent these firing once the doors are open, so they will not affect the Assault team. Nozzles or discharger cups on the boom could also introduce irritant or screening agents into the room. These can be triggered either by the driver or SWAT commander on the moment of break-through to disorientate the room.
* "High intensity strobe lights which flash at near human brain wave frequency causing vertigo, disorientation, and vomiting."
Evancoe, Paul. (1994, May.-Jun.). Non-lethal Alternatives Weighed by Law Officers. National Defense, 73, (498) 28-30.