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Triumph of the Wheeled Battalions

November 12, 2008

Here at New Wars we have made no secret of our admiration for the new wheeled armored vehicles currently all the rave in US and foreign armies. New build vehicles such as Stryker, MRAPs, plus updated versions of the Humvee have been purchased in the ten of thousands since the dawn of the War on Terror 7 years ago while not a single new-build tank has entered the US inventory in the same time period.

Please don’t misunderstand that we consider an armored car is as powerful or even as survivable as a giant armored track giant on its on terms. But when taking account of affordablilty, ease of building, and entrance into service, plus considering the type of Third World adversaries the US most often fights,  a wheeled armored vehicles in “good enough” and perhaps better for our future wars. Apparently the Swedish government in considering the same for its future force. From Defense Update:

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) announced a request for Quotation (RFA) for the delivery of hundreds of wheeled armored personnel carriers to equip Swedish Army mechanized battalions by 2014. The new vehicles are required to replace aging tracked and wheeled APCs currently operational as armored personnel, combat support and combat service support carriers…

FMV decided that the new armored vehicles should be wheeled. Initially, 113 vehicles would be required to equip mechanized ‘medium weight’ battalions. Overall, up to 150 vehicles will be needed, to augment and replace some of the APCs currently supporting heavy armor battalions equipped with Leopard 2 and CV90 tanks.

That last sentence is quite telling to what the tank has become. Modern MBTs are so large, heavy, and expensive no industrialized nation is building them anymore, save for updates of older models. The natural tendency when faced with new threats has been for the tank to get bigger. America hopes to get around this by creating a radical and atrociously priced Future Combat System that is now reaching the $300 billion-mark in an age of budget cuts.

In other words, the US wants to bankrupt the Army’s budget on something the armored car does naturally. For one thing, even with a lack of armor, in Iraq Stryker vehicles have proven as survivable as the armored behemoths. They get around many attacks by speed, maneuverability, with their small size, becoming less of a target than the tank. Common sense application, like the missile -defeating cage armor have proved adequate protection as advanced chobham or reactive armor on tracked vehicles. I still shake my head in disgust at a recent photo from Afghanistan with an Allied Leopard tank equipped with the cage armor, as if its many tons of costly defensive steel isn’t enough!

canadian_leopard2a6

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. charbookguy permalink
    November 12, 2008 8:17 pm

    Smitty,
    Its like giving a fur coat to a polar bear. Over-compensation. naturally when the threat increases, you want to add more protection. But how much is too much and you have to return to basics. The tank force which is too costly to build and defend is in serious need of a makeover. the answer is staring us in the face, as West hints to in his post.

  2. B.Smitty permalink
    November 12, 2008 3:43 pm

    Cage armor has proven to add a useful degree of protection against a small number of older RPG hits.

    Modern ATGMs and RPGs are a different story.

    Take a look at some of the reports of Merkavas in South Lebanon taking many ATGM hits, or Challengers and Abrams in Iraq taking a dozen or more RPG hits. Just a few of those will clear off the slat and leave the armor underneath exposed.

  3. west_rhino permalink
    November 12, 2008 11:26 am

    M, recalling Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions, which were successful organizations, just how much was really armoured, tracked or halftracked in comparision to wheeled?

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