Logistics for quick continental deployments: Heavy AFV transport


This is a drawing for a 60 ton flat-bed  trailer. There are bigger (80 ton, for example) and smaller ones - the carrying capacity is largely proportional to the count of axles. Such trailers can be widened from about 2,550 mm to about 3,750 mm, so a Leopard 2 (width 3,760 mm) should be transportable with a legal waiver  at the latest (or with detached skirts). It could be transported on long range administrative marches on motorways with such civilian trailers if the gravity force is being distributed well onto the axles by a stiff bed or additional pallets.

We don't need to look up official registries to know that we have a couple thousand such trailers in Germany, do we?

I remember from my time in uniform that the Bundeswehr actually has a couple contracts with civilian companies 'just in case'; for recovery of aircraft which left the runway and are stuck in grass, for hauling material et cetera. I do not assume that there are many big contingency contracts with shipping companies nor am I aware of legislation empowering the police to commandeer such vehicles in the event of crisis (Krisenfall).

Both might actually be a good idea, since this could enable the Bundeswehr to quickly deploy brigades with several days worth of ammunition on the European continent. And by "quickly" I think of a week till Romania at most. This is possible technically, so it's left to legislation, planning and training efforts to enable this in practice.

It wouldn't be very important whether a vehicle weights 30 tons or 60 tons if such preparations were in place; any talk of "medium" (25-40 ton) armoured fighting vehicles for strategic deployability would be nonsense.

The Bundeswehr has lived for decades with the need to deter with military power at home, and since has lived with the need to follow stupid military adventures with small (up to brigade-sized) contingents in distant places. Now it should -belatedly- turn its attention towards rapid deployments in force on the home continent.
This can be had cheaply; there's no need to purchase a dedicated and quite expensive tank transporter for every tank in the inventory. A SLT 2 "Mammut" costs a million € apiece*, and this is really only necessary in small quantities for recovery purposes (transport of immobilized tanks to field repair workshops).

Heavy AFVs can be deployed by rail or ship as well, but the latter is negligible in the context of Germany and I consider the former to be unreliable. Rail traffic could be disrupted easily by agents (cutting railroad signal cables et cetera) and possibly even by the fashionable 'cyber warfare' or in most extreme cases by air attack. All of these disruptions would be under control with security and repair efforts after a few weeks, but the point of a rapid deployment is to be rapid, which excludes modes of transportation that might be bugged for weeks.

Rapidity of a well-trained road march deployment of German brigades to the area of Warsaw: 

Less than two days for political decisionmaking lag
+ less than one day to call up all personnel and ready the material
+ less than one day to additionally assemble all required trucks
+ slightly less than one day for administrative dispersed road march to Warsaw area (~1,200 km)
+ few hours to unload, zero and otherwise prepare equipment
+ few hours march and deployment in area of operations
+ about one day reserve because of 'friction'
Sum: less than a week

A rapid deployment capability may be much more crucial than fancy gadgets for vehicles and troops. A Polish army trusting the German army's capability to arrive battle-ready within days could weaken the security of Poland's Eastern border and prepare for a rush into the Baltic itself to help stall (better: deter) a coup de main attempt, for example.


*: It would probably cost about 700,000 € a copy if hundreds were purchased.

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