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Thoughts on Modern Ground War

July 17, 2010

Oshkosh M-ATV: A mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicle.

A couple articles concerning land combat which I wanted to comment on. First there is more good news for the tank, if you consider continued support for last century armor a good thing. Here is from Aviation Week is Paul McLeary on some RAND research that I consider incomplete:

A sharp, short new report from two researchers at RAND concludes that despite all of the attention that counterinsurgency has received over the past several years, and the scorn that has been placed on heavy armor units, heavy forces—meaning tanks and infantry fighting vehicles—”are key elements of any force that will fight hybrid enemies that have a modicum of training, discipline, organization, command and control, and advanced weapons (e.g., ATGMs, MANPADS, RPGs, mines, and IEDs). Light and medium forces complement heavy forces in hybrid warfare, particularly in urban and other complex terrain, but they do not provide the survivability, lethality, or mobility inherent in heavy forces. Quite simply, heavy forces reduce operational risks and minimize friendly casualties.”

The paper by David E. Johnson and John Gordon IV, is part of a larger research project that assesses how armor has been used in recent counterinsurgency fights, and the implications this will have for “U.S. Army force mix and capabilities, as well as for the elements that support or operate with ground forces.” The duo spoke with the U.S. Marines, the Brits, the Danes, the Canadians and the Israelis for the project, and found that contrary to what one might think, counterinsurgent forces in Afghanistan actually love their tanks.

The last paragraph would seem to settle it. I mean, who else would know what they need in a live combat situation that the troops, right? Only please consider that except on some rare occasions there has been no one shooting at the tanks as happened in the 2006 Hezbollah War in Lebanon. Pointing to the use of armor in Gaza is further evidence that the post-Lebanon Israeli armor hasn’t been put to the test. The forces are still at risk, as I wrote in 2009:

In places where modern anti-tank weapons or even primitive road-side bombs are prevalent, as during the Lebanon Crisis with Hezbollah in 2006, the tanks didn’t fair too well. This is the type of enemy the US and Western countries have justified the need to pour billions of dollars into advanced armor protection since the late-Cold War. In contrast, the only places modern tanks have worked well lately, as Sieff ironically points out, is within low-threat environments such as Georgia and the Gaza Strip where the defenders were mostly unprepared for a full-scale blitzkrieg.

So we see the armor advocates (the Navy does the same with its aircraft carriers) justifying last century tactics against poor and ill-equipped, though still dedicated light forces. Yet, on the occasion armor must face modern hybrid armies equipped with advanced missiles, the tanks must become subservient to the infantry. I’d like to see this dependency become permanent, and save our cash strapped armies billions.

*****

The Israeli tanks may be practiced up for the next go-round in Lebanon, but neither has Hezbollah been sitting on their laurels. This Strategypage report details how the terrorist group has been rearming and reequipping themselves with tens of thousands of new missiles, some of them very potent:

To counter that, Hezbollah is expected to have more of the Kornet E missiles next time around. This is a Russian laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile’s warhead can penetrate 1200 mm of armor, which means that the side armor of the Israeli Merkava tank would be vulnerable. The missile weighs 8.2 kg (18 pounds) and the launcher 19 kg (42 pounds). The system was introduced in 1994 and had been sold to Syria (who apparently passed them on to Hezbollah).

The Jews are planning new tactics for use against Hezbollah, and I think they are on the right track:

The Israelis apparently plan to hit the missile storage sites quickly, with smart bombs and fast moving infantry units traveling in armored vehicles.

Does that mean wheeled armor? If so, you wonder why bother with the slow and vulnerable tanks in the first place. The beauty of the LAV is its adaptability. If you are having IED trouble, then buy some V-shaped hulls off the shelf. Problems with missiles? Slap on some reactive or cage armor, which can be applied in the field. So I see wheeled vehicles dominating this future warfare because of the need for speed, maneuvering, and large numbers against missile equipped light infantry. For these factors they are nearly as survivable as the tracked vehicle, so there is no need to bother with the logistical challenges brought on by modern supertanks.

By all means, keep some tanks for these insurgency conflicts, but lets not burden the entire force with all-armor, or even mostly tank centered brigades. We can’t afford it and don’t need it. Concerning the troops here, they have previously said they love their Strykers and MRAPs, too!

*****

40 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 9:36 pm

    Hello Alex Mk.2,

    there has been talk of both the CV12 and the MTU883 being fitted to Abrams.
    The CV12 was tested by the Americans back in 1990 and the EuroPowerpack has also been tested in an Abrams:

    http://www.pennddagovt.com/pdf/PDDAGovernment_6SA509.pdf

    However,it was the CV12 which the Americans intended to install:

    “This engine is not the same LV-100 that competed originally in the Crusader program, and lost to a Perkins CV-12 diesel engine.”

    From here:

    http://www.allbusiness.com/public-administration/national-security-international/698623-1.html

    I have not seen torque curves or specific fuel consumption figures for each of these engines so I have no idea what technical advantages the CV12 has.
    Though M.T.U.’s engine is certainly more compact.

    The 1,500 horse CV12 could have been used on British tanks as well.
    It would have been interesting to have both British and American heavy forces using the same engine.
    There have also been some export sales of the CV12 for installation in other foreign built tanks so it can’t be too bad a powerpack.

    tangosix.

  2. Alex Mk.2 permalink
    July 21, 2010 8:07 pm

    T6,
    1500HP CV12? Surely a better proposal would’ve been the 1500hp MTU that was on the theoretical export CR2 and is seeing service in the Mk.4 Merkeva

    CV12 is relatively old and inefficient by modern standards and if there was ANY cash free it would be on a long list of things that should be upgraded

  3. Daniel permalink
    July 21, 2010 5:09 pm

    Tango I totally agree, additionally more fuel efficient tanks of the same or better capability would allow for deeper blitzkriegs before a logistical halt is needed.

  4. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 20, 2010 11:46 pm

    If all they had to deal with was light and cage armor, we would see a resurgence of the recoilless rifle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recoilless_rifle

  5. July 20, 2010 9:46 pm

    Hello,

    Daniel said:

    “Bottom line is you bother with the tanks because you do need them, an idea you could have that would actually make sense and not be a good way to get a bunch of people killed would be on how to lessen the logistical footprint of a tank.”

    During the invasion of Iraq in 2003 gas turbime powered Abrams were operating alongside diesel powered Chalenger IIs.
    Some reports suggested the Abrams was using six times as much fuel as the Challenger.
    I don’t know how how correct those reports were but I do know combat involves a lot of idling and low speed running.
    The gas turbine powered Abrams is going to be far less fuel efficient in those conditions than a diesel engined tank due to low speed inefficiency of turbine engines.

    Many years ago there was a plan to re-engine the Abrams with a 1,500 horsepower version of the same CV12 fitted to the Challenger II.
    It was also to be fitted to the Crusader artillery gun but when that system had to go on a diet it was ditched in favour of a turbine and the whole re-engining of the Abrams was cancelled.

    That diesel engine would have been far lighter logistically in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The Challenger’s Auxiliary Power Unit also helps to save fuel and I think they are being fitted to Abrams’ these days too.

    tangosix.

  6. Daniel permalink
    July 20, 2010 8:20 pm

    Mike, do you have any combat arms experience?

    You have some interesting ideas in the sea but dont seem to grasp land warfare very well.

    Mike said
    “Actually they already have sid, and if you count the number of armored humvees and Strykers, tens of thousands have been deployed. Reading this from Wiki you can grasp the scale of the numbers. An amazing revolution still ongoing!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRAP_(armored_vehicle)#Orders

    In the same time period, there have been zero number of tanks ordered, so I see the LAVs winning by default. Plus consider today’s tanks must carry cage and reactive defenses including their own heavy armor to survive. The LAVs just need the bolt-on stuff in the field, and it survives! Plus the Stryker MGS carries a 105mm gun so that takes care of your fire support. Why bother with the extra weight and logistic headaches of an M-1 if you don’t need it?”

    First off the LAV does not win by default, there haven’t been any new M1 s ordered because we have thousands of them and they are rarely destroyed, we stood up multiple stryker brigades recently necessitating thousands of strykers, notice no heavy BCTs pulled any tanks for strykers unless they converted into a Stryker BCT.

    The LAV does not “just need” slat armour to survive that shows a total ignorance of the different levels of protections of a TANK and a LIGHT ARMOURED vehicle, you cannot break a defended position like the ones that habitually pop up in the hybrid warfare we are talking about with a vehicle that is designed as a better way to transport troops than a 5 ton truck. The term Combined Arms refers to the Combination of different arms tanks are an integral part of that. Bottom line is you bother with the tanks because you do need them, an idea you could have that would actually make sense and not be a good way to get a bunch of people killed would be on how to lessen the logistical footprint of a tank. Your basically saying we should get rid of rifles to not have to deal with ammunition, think of the logistical benefits of swords Mike,

    Currently the US army has a good mix of Heavy BCTs, the forces that are the main effort in the begging stages of the conflict i.e. desert storm, OIF, the forces that breach defensive lines and rapidly break through and take import objectives

    Stryker or medium brigades which are more strategically mobile yet less survivable. they offer a different set of advantages and disadvantages

    And light BCTs which offer a further reduced logistical foot print and have many abilities that Heavy BCTs and Stryker BCTs do not but also lack the benefits of the vehicles those BCTs posses.

    The origin of the Up armoured Humvee was as an armoured liaison vehicle for the then Mech and armoured Divisions. It turned out to work pretty well as a light protected patrol vehicle and the JLTV is building on that idea.

  7. July 20, 2010 7:53 pm

    Hello Graham Strouse,

    I regard it as something of a tragedy that the Israelis get the credit for creatively using tank hulls and the Southern Africans get the credit for deep vee hulled wheeled vehicles.

    Both were pioneered by British forces much earlier.
    Tanks were used as infantry carriers in the First World War and then there were the famous Kangaroo tanks in the Second World War,not to mention mine protected trucks used in Cyprus many decades ago.

    It appears that others are making good use of ideas which British forces had long since forgotten.

    tangosix.

  8. Alex Mk.2 permalink
    July 20, 2010 7:02 pm

    OK, the problem isn’t that MBTs are any less needed than they were at any period post break-up(to be honest they’re not any less needed than before the breakup either but just not needed in the same numbers), it’s just that over vehicles are needed just a little bit more and in a time of low budgets there has to be a compromise and that’s what we’re beginning to see (any transition of US forces takes a great deal more time due to the vastness of it)

    It’s ironic that the ‘revisionists’ always claim that the forces are out of shape and that *this*, *this* and *this* are all old school thinking and are irrelevant in the modern environment are the same people that continue to tell us we’re preparing to fight the last war rather than the next whilst using the last war as an example. There are lessons to be learnt and re-structuring of forces is needed granted but nothing even half as drastic as is often proposed, what would be the point of learning lessons from current conflicts if you forget the ones you learnt 25 years ago? No-one can predict with any real degree of accuracy the specifics of the next conflict, another COIN conflict? Back to North Korea? Into Iran?

  9. Graham Strouse permalink
    July 20, 2010 1:23 pm

    Israel & Russia seem to be leading the field in the creative use of MBT hulls. Israel got the ball rolling in the ’80s when the first fleets of modified T-54/55 Achzarits came out. Now they have the Merkava-based Namera as well. Getting rid of the big cannon, adding MORE armor & replacing the big gun with more machine guns & RWS & a sizeable troop contingent is a very effective COIN strategy. The tank construction & armor makes for a very difficult kill & the multiple automatic weapon systems are very useful for supporting the landed troops, who bring the mobility & the heavy handheld weapons.

    Russia seems to focus on T-72 based HIFV tank support vehicles & fire support vehicles with thermobaric MLRS batteries–the Russians have never been shy about collateral damage.

    Either way, I think it’s not the heavy armor or tracks which are becoming less useful. It’s the 105-125 mm cannon which is not so useful as in most modern conflicts.

  10. B.Smitty permalink
    July 20, 2010 11:45 am

    Mike B said “Why bother with the extra weight and logistic headaches of an M-1 if you don’t need it?

    Mike, I think you are missing the conceptual difference between MBT protection and LAV protection.

    LAVs, even with slat, are not designed to go toe-to-toe with enemies armed with significant anti-armor weapons. You just can’t use them that way without sustaining appalling casualties. Armor on LAVs is meant to counter low-end threats up to and including the occasional RPG-7 shot.

    MBTs are designed to go toe-to-toe with well-equipped enemies. They can withstand multiple hits (across the frontal arc) from even heavy anti-armor weapons.

    In this situation, a LAV-equipped unit will have to dismount before they encounter the enemy and advance on foot. LAVs will have to stay well back – out of range of anti-armor weapons. In many cases they won’t be able to support their dismounts with direct-fire. This will leave the infantry without the firepower overmatch of vehicle-mounted weapons.

    Unfortunately, you don’t always know where the enemy is. In OIF, most engagements were “movements to contact”, meaning there was no warning of an enemy presence before shots started flying. The units out front need to be able to survive the initial hits and keep fighting. LAVs can’t do that. MBTs can.

    Slat armor for MBTs is valuable in complex, urban environments because the enemy has more opportunities to attack their flanks and rear, rather than the well-protected frontal armor. Hopefully this is the exception rather than the rule, especially if the MBT is part of a combined arms team.

  11. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 20, 2010 10:52 am

    Mike,

    Armored HUMVEES and MRAPs are a stop-gap measures. They are not a realistic battlefield vehicle against an enemy equipped with anything larger than small arms and IEDs.

    This transformation to light armor looks great on paper or a PowerPoint slide. The problem is when you have to go against an enemy that didn’t get the memo on transformation and is still fielding tanks!

  12. B.Smitty permalink
    July 20, 2010 8:10 am

    Mike said “Why bother with the extra weight and logistic headaches of an M-1 if you don’t need it?”

    Because you DO need it!

  13. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 20, 2010 6:14 am

    Sid wrote “Because, the reality is, the numbers you envision will never materialize.”

    Actually they already have sid, and if you count the number of armored humvees and Strykers, tens of thousands have been deployed. Reading this from Wiki you can grasp the scale of the numbers. An amazing revolution still ongoing!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRAP_(armored_vehicle)#Orders

    In the same time period, there have been zero number of tanks ordered, so I see the LAVs winning by default. Plus consider today’s tanks must carry cage and reactive defenses including their own heavy armor to survive. The LAVs just need the bolt-on stuff in the field, and it survives! Plus the Stryker MGS carries a 105mm gun so that takes care of your fire support. Why bother with the extra weight and logistic headaches of an M-1 if you don’t need it?

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 11:44 pm

    Scott B said, “
    100mm 2A70, HE (3UOF17) :
    * length, complete round : 610 mm
    * mass, complete round : 18.2 kg
    * mass, shell : 15.6 kg
    * explosive charge : 1.7 kg (Hexagen)
    105mm M101/102…, HE (M1) :
    * length, complete round : 788 mm
    * mass, complete round : 18.5 kg
    * mass, shell : 14.5 kg
    * explosive charge : 2.3 kg (Comp. B)

    So about 7 inches longer and a bit heavier. Probably significantly higher recoil given the higher MV. I imagine a 105mm light-weight sabot would out-penetrate any auto-cannon with ease. A HESH could have thinner walls than a 105mm tank gun due to the lower MV and thus more HE.

  15. Scott B. permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:32 pm

    Smitty said : “I bet the 105mm M101 isn’t that much larger than the 100mm round used by the BMP-3. You could also adapt LAHAT, if desired.”

    1) Apparently, the Russians have been offering an improved HE round for their 2A70 100mm gun since 2000, the 3UOF19 :

    100mm 2A70, HE (3UOF19) :
    * length, complete round : 610 mm (?)
    * mass, complete round : 15.9 kg
    * mass, shell : 13.4 kg
    * explosive charge : 2.24 kg (Hexagen ?)

    2) The Russian 2A70 100mm gun can also shoot ATGMs like the 3UBK10-3, 3UBK23-3,…

    3) And last but not least, KBP, the manufacturer of the allmighty “BAKHCHA” FIGHTING COMPARTMENT proclaims it can be used on boats and ships !!! (I have a feeling Mike B. is gonna LOVE that one).

    So, frankly, why settle for a lesser evil ? ;-)

  16. sid permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:32 pm

    You can take a wheeled vehicle, build it in many tens of thousands, adapt it to a particular battlefield. So, looking at the LAVs overall, they beat the tank hands down, which can’t be procured off the shelf, or in large numbers.

    Yeah…the Japanese expected to always be able to swarm with large numbers too.

    We see how that worked out.

    “tens of thousands” ain’t gonna happen.

    And here we yet again see you -incorrectly- describing survivability attributes as “heavy”, “expensive, and “exquisite”.

    Because, the reality is, the numbers you envision will never materialize. Your “off the shelf” vehicles will provide a commander with more scenes like this than he will be able to “afford”,/b>

    At leat some folks are seeing the benefits of Survivability Engineering for land vehicles in a more correct context.

  17. Scott B. permalink
    July 19, 2010 7:52 pm

    Smitty said : “IIRC, the HE round for the Mk.3 is rather light. OTOH it has decent sabot and HEAT rounds.

    How about a 105mm howitzer? Many nations use them so munitions are already in stock. I bet the 105mm M101 isn’t that much larger than the 100mm round used by the BMP-3. You could also adapt LAHAT, if desired.”

    90mm Mk3, HE-T :
    * length, complete round : 630 mm
    * mass, complete round : 8.6 kg
    * mass, shell : 5.1 kg
    * explosive charge : 1.06 kg (TNT)

    90mm Mk3, HESH-T :
    * length, complete round : 590 mm
    * mass, complete round : 7.5 kg
    * mass, shell : 4.25 kg
    * explosive charge : 1.23 kg (A3)

    100mm 2A70, HE (3UOF17) :
    * length, complete round : 610 mm
    * mass, complete round : 18.2 kg
    * mass, shell : 15.6 kg
    * explosive charge : 1.7 kg (Hexagen)

    105mm M101/102…, HE (M1) :
    * length, complete round : 788 mm
    * mass, complete round : 18.5 kg
    * mass, shell : 14.5 kg
    * explosive charge : 2.3 kg (Comp. B)

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:03 pm

    oops. Hate when I forget to close tags. :(

  19. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:01 pm

    Alex Mk.2 wrote, “As much as I firmly believe that 120/105mm guns aren’t suited to fire support I think that 57mm would be a move in the wrong direction instead of a medium-calibre low-velocity weapon such as 90mm Cockerill Mk.3 or 76mm L23A1 (very old weapons but illustrate my train of thought well).”

    IIRC, the HE round for the Mk.3 is rather light. OTOH it has decent sabot and HEAT rounds.

    How about a 105mm howitzer? Many nations use them so munitions are already in stock. I bet the 105mm M101 isn’t that much larger than the 100mm round used by the BMP-3. You could also adapt LAHAT, if desired.

  20. July 19, 2010 5:11 pm

    Now I have had a chance to read them it seems I am not as bonkers as I first thought…….

  21. July 19, 2010 5:04 pm

    Thanks Scott for the links.

  22. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 19, 2010 1:37 pm

    Mike B wrote:

    “By all means, keep some tanks for these insurgency conflicts, but lets not burden the entire force with “all-armor, or even mostly tank centered brigades”. We can’t afford it and don’t need it.”

    ****

    Mike,

    I’m definitely not an expert on the US Army, but I’ve read that it is already moving to an objective structure of 45 brigade combat teams (BCTs) – with a split of 18 Heavy (40%), 21 Infantry (47%), and 6 Stryker (13%). Heavy BCTs are the only ones with tanks.

    Only 40% of BCTs will even include tanks. And what is more, the two maneuver battalions in each Heavy BCT will be combined arms battalions, with two infantry companies and two armor companies each. So of the 40% of BCTs which are classified as Heavy are themselves only half tanks.

    This also means that about 20% of maneuver battalions in the Army will be armor — although it’s actually closer to 18% because the Stryker Brigades have 3 battalions each.

    So is this whole article a non-issue? In the long run there are no such animal as “all-armor or even mostly tank centered brigades” in the US Army. Are you advocating a force structure in which even less than 1 in 5 maneuver battalions is a tank battalion?

    I would also add that I don’t think would advocate sending tanks onto the modern battlefield without infantry support. Combined arms doctrine has worked pretty well since about the Second World War: tanks + infantry + artillery + air support.

    Matt

  23. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 12:20 pm

    Neither wins “hands down”. Each has strengths and weaknesses. The key is having the right set of clubs in the bag for all likely possibilities. MRAPs are needed in large numbers in some cases, tanks in others. There is no “one size fits all”.

    We can only build MRAPs by the tens of thousands because they are relatively inexpensive and there is a political imperative to minimize casualties. Stryker’s aren’t inexpensive. Neither are tanks. Fortunately we don’t need to build new thanks right now, we have a large stock sitting in depots from the post-Cold War draw-down.

  24. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 19, 2010 11:33 am

    “MRAPs…will be largely sidelined in a high-intensity conflict.”

    Note the flexibility though. You can take a wheeled vehicle, build it in many tens of thousands, adapt it to a particular battlefield. So, looking at the LAVs overall, they beat the tank hands down, which can’t be procured off the shelf, or in large numbers.

    Tanks are still pretty good, just not needed in large numbers, and basing your entire force on lessons for COIN warfare, you bankrupt yourself. So we must be careful how we structure our forces based on the lessons of Small Wars. I’M NOT SAYING THEY’RE AREN’T LESSONS HERE, just we must be careful.

    The Navy does the same thing with their exquisite warships, which are so useful in low tech war, where no one is shooting them, then say we must have these for high intensity wars also. But such vessels are at risk unless they are preceded by low end vessels. Its the same principle on land, with the infantry and their vehicles being the “escorts” for the tank.

    Neither are tanks safe in a high intensity environment, except with infantry support. The LAVs carry their own infantry.

  25. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:47 am

    Well said Juramentado.

    In addition, personnel carriers need to be viable across the spectrum of expect conflicts, not just COIN. We’re buying thousands of MRAPs now, but they will be largely sidelined in a high-intensity conflict.

  26. Juramentado permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:05 am

    The dilemma with COIN in SWA – If you armor up to the point where your troops are so safe that nothing short of a catastrophic encounter with a 210mm converted EFP can damage them, then they’ll never be able to get down the narrow streets and alleys where the insurgency lives and thrives.

    There has to be a calculus of risk – the main points behind designing a new personnel carrier in low-intensity warfare includes: armor, protection factor, weight, speed, stealth (aural signature), carrying capacity, onboard weapons and fuel economy. Any good design is going to have to compromise on some of those aspects in order to get the troops in close contact with the opposition. The question is; what to compromise, and how much? While the success of any COIN strategy should not rest on the selection of any given piece of equipment, it may prove to be a decisive use of the *right* equipment that could swing the tide of the conflict.

  27. B.Smitty permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:11 am

    Scott B said, “Light AFV guns and the WFLIP and FRES Scout projects

    It’s especially instructive to look at the SIZE of the 57mm and 60mm rounds compared to the 35mm and below crowd.

    IMHO, 57mm/60mm are neither fish nor fowl. They’re overkill for dealing with IFVs and other light armor, but can’t kill tanks from the front. They don’t have a large enough HE round to punch holes in reinforced concrete but the rounds are so large vehicles can’t carry that many.

  28. Scott B. permalink
    July 19, 2010 7:08 am

    x said : “I am not on about putting the 57mm into an existing vehicle; I am just shooting the breeze.”

    You might find this article worth a quick read :

    Light AFV guns and the WFLIP and FRES Scout projects

    The Israeli 60mm HVMS is briefly described here :

    HVMS 60

  29. July 19, 2010 4:39 am

    One more thing……

    I am not on about putting the 57mm into an existing vehicle; I am just shooting the breeze.

  30. July 19, 2010 4:37 am

    Alex Mk.2 said interesting things about automatic cannons.

    I hear what you are saying and I agree. There are various intelligent munition systems available for other cannons such as Bofors 40mm and the Bushmaster 30mm. And these systems are effective against both soft targets (ATGM teams etc.) and intermediate hard targets (typical urban cinder/concrete block construction.) I further agree with what you say about large calibre low pressure weapons. I just see the 57mm as a compromise offering greater mass at higher velocity over 40mm and more scope for development (APDS perhaps) yet in around that is smaller than 120/105mm tank rounds.

  31. Alex Mk.2 permalink
    July 19, 2010 1:48 am

    Distiller – RE Rifled guns:
    A problem Chally 2 has with the L30 is that the rifling wears away unevenly so towards the end of the barrels life it’s a highly inaccurate weapon leaving any advantages questionable… this said I think the decision to replace L30 with Rheinmetall L55 is due to the availability, L30 stocks are running hopelessly low and have been long since out of production

    Taking into account that JGSDF are a self-defence only force there’s nothing wrong with a smoothbore cannon over a rifle

    x – RE Bofors 57mm:
    As much as I firmly believe that 120/105mm guns aren’t suited to fire support I think that 57mm would be a move in the wrong direction instead of a medium-calibre low-velocity weapon such as 90mm Cockerill Mk.3 or 76mm L23A1 (very old weapons but illustrate my train of thought well). aside from that the sheer size of 57mm rounds compromise the number of rounds that can be carried which immediately rules out the possibility of it replacing the 25-40mm MICV weapons

  32. Jed permalink
    July 18, 2010 9:32 pm

    oooh Mike, come on, really….. “Only please consider that except on some rare occasions there has been no one shooting at the tanks as happened in the 2006 Hezbollah War in Lebanon”

    So, what about the UK experience in Iraq ? Straight from the Wikipedia page for the Challenger 2 main battle tank:

    “In one encounter within the urban area a Challenger 2 came under attack from irregular forces with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The driver’s sight was damaged and while attempting to back away under the commander’s directions, the other sights were damaged and the tank threw its tracks entering a ditch. It was hit directly by eight rocket propelled grenades from close range and a MILAN anti-tank missile, and was under heavy small arms fire for hours. The crew survived remaining safe within the tank until the tank was recovered for repairs, the worst damage being to the sighting system. It was back in operation six hours later after the repairs. One Challenger 2 operating near Basra survived being hit by 70 RPGs in another incident”

    Now I will admit, you might just get away with painting these and other incidents in Iraq, and there are many more involving US Army and USMC M1A1’s as “rare occasions” !!!

    We have been here before, Mike, its about the right tool for the right job, wheels sometimes, tracks others. But when wheels get so heavy that they can’t use 80% of the worlds bridges, I wonder if you may as well just be using tracks……..

  33. Distiller permalink
    July 18, 2010 3:32 am

    Agree on the Type 10 – absolutely interesting vehicle. The future of tanks.

    What I would consider is a rifled gun, instead of the anti-tank smoothbores, to more efficiently shot HE grenades. Tank-vs-tank combat is highly inlikely these days.

  34. Daniel permalink
    July 18, 2010 3:24 am

    So your idea to counter heavy armour’s vulnerability to ATGMs which may disable the vehicle and might kill some of the crew is to use less armoured vehicles which will be guaranteed catastrophic kills?

    I dont think your off the shelf double V hull for the stryker has hit the shelf yet either…

    So the crux of your argument is that tanks and heavy IFVs are not invulnerable and therefore obsolete and should be replaced with thinner skinned vehicles and horse archers?

    How much is the SGLI for the 11 PAX on a stryker plus cost of vehicle plus cost of training 11 PAX plus all equipment vs an Abrams that simply needs some time in the motor pool?

  35. July 17, 2010 7:32 pm

    The only reason the troops like the Stryker because it beats the really dumb idea of running patrols in a small arms rich/RPG rich environ with a Humvee. A method that got a lot of people killed for no reason.

  36. B.Smitty permalink
    July 17, 2010 6:16 pm

    Mike said, “Does that mean wheeled armor?

    No, it means these.

    http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/armored_personnel_carriers/namera/Namera.htm

  37. July 17, 2010 5:22 pm

    I am making too many typos tonight……

    a) I think current MRAPs are a blind alley; heavier and heavier means fewer and fewer routes which means it is easier for the opposition (such as Taliban) to use IEDs.

  38. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:49 pm

    Mike,

    I have to agree with Hokie/Matt’s comments in his Post Script. Your wording was poorly chosen.

    Now, back on topic. The Japanese SDF has a new, light-weight Main Battle Tank. It’s the Type 10 MBT. With a 120 mm gun and 1,200 horsepower propulsion plant, it only weights 40 tons. Supposedly, it can go 70 km/h in reverse (that’s about 45 mph).

    Kyle Mizokami provides a video of its performance at Japan Security Watch:

    YouTube Fridays: Tank Drifting

    http://japansw.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/youtube-fridays-tank-drifting/

    Then our friends over at MP.net also have a thread about the Type 10 MBT – with a different video. The roostertails of dirt flung around as one tank runs in reverse are indicative of its power and speed. Then, its almost instant stopping ability is really interesting.

    Japan’s Type 10 MBT Debuts at JGSDF Fuji School

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?182708-Japan-s-Type-10-MBT-Debuts-at-JGSDF-Fuji-School

  39. July 17, 2010 3:42 pm

    Lets see……..

    a) I think current MRAPs are a blind alley; heavier and heavier means fewer and fewer routes which mean it is easier I like the Serb Lazar. And I like the idea of using discrete tracks; see http://www.mattracks.com/ for a taste of what I am on about. All the benefits of wheels and tracks. Improved mobility. Plus lower ground pressure may help too.

    b) I have gone off the idea of Stryker MGS; well using 105mm gun. I think the Bofors Mk3 57mm is a much better bet. Out ranges the 105mm. Measured response where collateral damage could be a problem. Smart air burst munitions. I think the system could form the basis of a modern infantry tank. Or a simple air portable/towable system.

    c) Why aren’t we seeing RWS mounted on masts to support FIBUA operations? Why aren’t reconnaissance units given camera systems mounted on hydraulic arms (like those fitted on construction equipment) to look over the walls of those high mud walled compounds. When NATO moves in force the Taliban can’t stop them which would allow this equipment to be deployed. These systems could be deployed on all sides of a Afghanistan village. I think static cameras have some advantages over UAV systems. But not a replacement. They complement each other.

    d) Perhaps a smaller mount system could be deployed on 6X6 ATVs.
    d1) ATVs can be fitted with discrete tracks.

    PS: Yes Mike please Israeli and Jew aren’t synonymous. Israel is one of the most secular countries in the West. ;)

  40. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:06 pm

    Mike,

    I don’t think even the most Rumsfeldian transformation wonks in DOD would consider getting rid of main battle tanks! I do have to give you an “A” for innovation. But the statement that LAVs and Strykers are nearly as survivable as main battle tanks is simply too preposterous to address.

    The troops love their Strykers and LAVs — in the context of COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan. But would they love them as much if they had to pit them against an enemy possessing heavy armor? Hardly, since they are infantry support vehicles.

    I’d also point out that heavy armor operating in urban terrain was one of the key factors in US force taking Baghdad in 2003 – and retaking Fallujah in 2004. I’d be interested to see if RAND’s document addresses how the USMC if they valued their heavy armor in that operation, or if they would’ve been willing to go in with LAVs alone.

    Matt

    PS – I’d really suggest not referring the state of Israel as “the Jews”. Israel is neither entirely Jewish, nor does it actions represent those of the worldwide Jewish diaspora.

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