<XMP><BODY></xmp>Heavy Wheeled APC Folly

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Added 18-7-17
Updated 1-9-17

Heavyweight Wheeled APCs - This Season’s Must Not Have!

Most armies have some form of wheeled armoured personnel carrier (WAPC) in their inventory. A number of armies are in the process of adopting or have recently adopted new designs.

The most widely used family of WAPCs are the BTR-60, its variants and its descendants. These were designed to be “cheap and cheerful” armoured transports. They are relatively lightweight and simple vehicles. Their internal capacity makes them popular as command vehicles or to mount other specialized equipment. Large and lightly armoured, the eight-wheeled BTRs have often performed poorly when used as assault vehicles. No one claimed that the BTRs were the equal of tracks. If cheaper BTRs were fully the equal of more expensive tracked vehicles, why bother acquiring the latter in the first place?

The BTR-60/70/80 are very different from the new designs of eight or even ten-wheeled WAPCs. The newer WAPCs are neither light nor cheap! The US Army went through a phase of mislabelling the Stryker as an “armoured car” or calling it a “medium vehicle”. With weights exceeding 19 tons, such vehicles can justifiably be designated heavy-WAPCs (H-WAPC).

The controversial process behind the US Army’s adoption of the Stryker has been detailed elsewhere. The service record of the Stryker has been a litany of “too little” or “too much”:

This article gives a good account of the numerous reasons why the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division would not use Strykers in Afghanistan. For a supposed multi-role vehicle there seem to be very few missions the Stryker is actually suited for! It has been suggested that the Stryker is likely to perform better once potential enemies build better road systems!

The shortcomings of the Stryker are widely known. It is therefore hard to fathom why so many other armies seem so eager to replicate Shinseki’s folly. Many of the H-WAPC designs offered are even heavier than the Stryker, exceeding 25 tons. The criticisms of the Stryker listed above are likely to also apply to other models of H-WAPCs.

Most readers will be aware that military testing is often a prolonged process. There is a common assumption that if the Army/ Marines/ Special Forces etc use something it must be the best choice for the job. Understandably many will assume such trials are based on science, logic and empirical methodology. Each piece of equipment was selected only after all the available options have been scientifically tested and the best performing is adopted. This is simply not true! That such trails by different agents often produce different solutions to the same requirement is an indication that this assumption is flawed. Although they are often written like scientific documents some trials have been exercises in attempting to find evidence to support a decision already made. Many military items are in fact inferior to equivalent civilian items. Some military men cannot move their imagination beyond trying to fight the last war. Others want to plan for the war they want to fight, not the war they are likely to fight. Most manufacturers create what will sell, not what the fighting man needs. That is an unpleasant but hard to accept fact of life. Military decisions (unfortunately) are not made by science: they are influenced by advertising and fashion just as much as in the rest of the world.

Typically my articles on the Scrapboard offer an alternate idea, a suggestion or recommendation. When it comes to the current fashion for adopting expensive, heavy wheeled APCs, I’ve got nothing. It is a worrying trend that endangers many soldiers. It makes no sense at all!

By the Author of the Scrapboard :

Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat Second Edition with additional content.
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