Challenging the IFV concept - Part 4

First, a clarification:
I don't think there's no use for an IFV, or there's no use for its autocannon, or the (small) squad in an IFV is entirely ineffective. Instead, I argued that if it wasn't with us, we wouldn't introduce the IFV concept based on the state of military art and technology.

The IFV (infantry fighting vehicle / Schützenpanzer) benefits from a technological lock-in.
The standard example of a technological lock-in is the QWERTY/QWERTZ keyboard. Many millions of people have learned to type quickly on such keyboards, so other (supposedly better) keyboard layouts cannot have a commercial break-through any more.
It's similar with the IFV: Millions of people have been convinced by its concept and all armies with IFVs have an established pro-IFV lobby.

Those who would trade an IFV for an (H)APC would experience a loss in some squad capabilities*, and it's against human nature to like this no matter whether it's beneficial in the greater picture or not.

IFVs are also much preferred by the arms industry; as the integration of a turret and of MBT-like sensors and other electronics yields much more turnover and thus profit per vehicle than an (H)APC would ceteris paribus.

On the other hand, the in-service IFVs are mostly developments of the 60's or 70's, a generational change is necessary anyway. It's an opportune time for shedding the IFV that's on a gold-plated road to a dead end and to add a replacement to the vehicles fleet that strengthens the infantry arm to the proportion required for a good mechanised combined arms team.


*: It's at least in some armies common to consider vehicle, vehicle crew and dismount element as a single squad.

1 comment:

  1. Not much time , just a few uncoordinated comments on all 4 parts of the series:

    Don't call it Armored Personnel Carrier, call it Protected Carrier of Stuff, make it a kind of regular wheeled truck, not BMP-shaped, not tracked. That way nobody will even try to send it into a fight. It should be a bus, maybe an indirect fire support platform, not a direct-line-of-sight fighting vehicle. But with the typical low troop density and heterogeneous expeditionary theatres these days an 'emergency' RWS machine gun (e.g. 5.56mm) against teenagers with AKs should be mounted. No need for reloads - it's not supposed to deliver sustained fire power, just a few bursts. But would need night capability. And the RWS should be aimed via ruggedized commercial VR goggles look-point, no special training required, no hardening, no nothing. If such a lightly protected vehicle encounters a major enemy force or serious fire power something went very wrong anyway and even a .50cal plus 40mm GMG combo-RWS won't help it. But as a baseline I guess every vehicle of an expeditionary force should be protected STANAG Level 3, not to worry about SVD potshots.

    Question is also, in what circumstances will combined arms formations be deployed in expeditionary scenarios? MBTs are a bitch to haul across the planet and support once in theatre. So light is the way to go, minimizing logistics footprint, which easily leads to the desire for a can-do-everything vehicle, ...

    ... but depending on the theatre character and expected enemy capability that can vary widely. Desert? Swamps? Forrests? Alpine? Urban? Organized enemy? Guerilla enemy? With access to modern guided weapons y/n? With the ability to jam comlinks y/n? etc etc.

    Each of these questions lead to a different vehicle requirement, from something a pickup can do, to a Boxer monster with a 40mm on top, or a Sturmgeschütz with sawed-off 155mm howitzer. In MOUT every steel-reinforced concrete building is a bunker and only the heaviest firepower will work.

    With perfect situational awareness one does not need armor. If enemy combatants and assets could be clearly identified and engaged at beyond visual range one wouldn't need armor. The worse the awareness the greater the need for armor.

    An interesting question would be reaction time and maneuverability of an ATGM. Enemy armored technicals should be taken out stand-off. In our If a Western expeditionary force encounters them

    Which leaves the question of major war against (near) peer enemies. Do we even still plan for that conventionally? NATO doesn't have smart ammo for more than a few days. After that a war degenerates into this uncoordinated slaughter we saw/see in North Africa, the Levante, Iraq, or it goes nuclear. (Actually the West has a dangerous shortage of tactical nuclear weapon systems, both on land and at sea). But the use of complex technical weapon systems might within a few hundred hours of a major war go down to few and far between actions against perceived key targets, the rest just 1930's style infantry war. Or does anyone really think that any conventional Western force these days could fight its way from Berlin to Moscow??

    Another thought: With robotic concepts coming closer - what about unmanned vehicles as screen for advancing armored vehicles instead of human infantry?

    Btw, I don't agree with your assumption that man/men-portable weapons are worthless. In a scenario with serious opposition a tank would have a whole number of Gefechtskontakte which will ware it down and slow it down and eventually make it a mission kill. But the issue of man/men-portable weapons is the low mobility of the guys carrying it!

    Ok, gotta run ...