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I am surprised the Azcharit has not been mentioned. I thought it was a good way of turning captured vehicles into a reliable and well protected APC.

It's a good use of old tanks, but I'm no big fan of the way soldiers mount and dismount. They can't do it without exposing themselves for a prolonged period of time, and in an urban setting surely cannot do it safely enough, so that's a "no" from me. Same goes for most versions of the Centurion-based Nagmachon.

I do like the Pilon variant though:

1566572403_nakpadon-pilon.jpg

 

And the Namer, which does a good job overall at being an APC, CEV, and soon an IFV, while saving a lot of money and time by using common components with tanks. Come to think about it, I don't really understand why the IDF would want a new family of 30-40 ton tracked vehicles in a few years. It doesn't seem to fit.

Edited by Mighty_Zuk
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IFVs are followed by tanks and they follow tanks. If terrain can support tank, it can support tank based IFV.

Anyway, how is 50t Puma any better in that aspect?

Edited by bojan
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I am surprised the Azcharit has not been mentioned. I thought it was a good way of turning captured vehicles into a reliable and well protected APC.

It's a good use of old tanks, but I'm no big fan of the way soldiers mount and dismount. They can't do it without exposing themselves for a prolonged period of time, and in an urban setting surely cannot do it safely enough, so that's a "no" from me. Same goes for most versions of the Centurion-based Nagmachon.

I do like the Pilon variant though:

1566572403_nakpadon-pilon.jpg

 

And the Namer, which does a good job overall at being an APC, CEV, and soon an IFV, while saving a lot of money and time by using common components with tanks. Come to think about it, I don't really understand why the IDF would want a new family of 30-40 ton tracked vehicles in a few years. It doesn't seem to fit.

 

I dont know why they didnt put the drivers position on the other end and drive it backwards like they did the Merkava tech demonstrator.

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IFVs are followed by tanks and they follow tanks. If terrain can support tank, it can support tank based IFV.

Anyway, how is 50t Puma any better in that aspect?

The Puma is a piece of over priced crap.

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IMO a very good and underrated vehicle was the AIFV, YPR 765, or the South Korean K 200 KIFV and Turkish Variants ACV - AIFV .

 

Cheap - M 113 derivate. Up - motorized and improved.

 

On the gun:

 

20 mm was too small, see Marder.

 

Over 35 mm seems to be too big, too expensive.

 

So 25, 30 mm seems to be the best compromise.

 

And yes, some specialized variants are fine: keep the basic vehicle SIMPLE ( 25 mm, perhaps mixed with .50 Variants ), and add Mortar Carriers, AT, AA, HE thrower ( no, not 105 mm low recoil, rather mount the Saladin or Scorpion or French 90 mm turret )

 

Numbers count, and Money is always tight.

 

Hermann

I completely agree, speaking from a Greek perspective. Greece as of 2020 has no IFV.

In the 1970s the Greek Army was first interested in procuring IFVs. It bought some 100 AMX-10P from France but for whatever reason this purchase was not followed by additional ones. In the early 1980s there was interest in a larger purchse of IFVs and the Greek Army bypassed the YPR 765. It preferred the Warrior but the Greek government (for presumably both financial and political reasons) decided to buy the Leonidas 2 vehicle (the supposed IFV version of Leonidas, itself a copy of the Austrian Saurer 4K 7FA APC) from the nationalised Steyr Hellas/ELVO, but a turret conforming to the requirements of the Greek Army (2-man, at least 25mm gun) could not be fitted on such a small vehicle. Some 500 Leonidas were bought turretless, and serve as mere APCs. ELVO collaborated with Steyr for a new IFV called "Alexandros" (the ASCOD) but dropped out of the project as it was deemed that the resulting vehicle would be too expensive for Greek finances. ELVO then proceeded to develop its own 20-ton IFV, the Kentavros, which was built in the late 1990s but never adopted. In the mid 1990s the Greek Army bought for symbolic price some 500 ex-East German BMP-1 which were never properly supported and were eventually retired. In the 2000s the Greek Army came close to purchsing some 420 second hand Marder 1A3 but the deal was never finalised, while the Greek Army budgeted a purchase of 300 modern IFV for 1.7 billion, looking towards the ASCOD and the CV-90. This was never signed and instead (for political reasons) the Greek government began negotiations for 420 BMP-3 from Russia, when the economic crisis began. Of course nothing happened and as of 2020 people lament that we didn't buy the YPR 765 back in the early 1980s. Now we are looking to options like buying 80 vanilla Bradleys parked in some American desert and we consider that an improvement over the APCs we currently operate.

Edited by rohala
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On the gun:

 

20 mm was too small, see Marder.

 

Over 35 mm seems to be too big, too expensive.

 

So 25, 30 mm seems to be the best compromise.

This is a point of great interest to me. Is the 35mm too expensive in terms of unit cost, maintenance, or .. ?

 

I would have thought the price of the ammunition would dominate the cost equation. The price of a programmable fuse remains the same (and is quite high) whether it's in a 30mm or 35mm round, and the 35mm round has roughly twice the terminal effect, giving 30mm twice the cost for a given terminal effect.

 

Is the number of rounds acquired between vehicle acquisition and vehicle retirement too low for this to be a factor?

 

Thank you for your insights, btw. Fascinating topic.

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IMO, if you want to look at the tactical effect, simulations is the way to go. In our tool, you have a virtual Marder - small caliber, but humungous amounts of it (750 rounds), a virtual Bradley, there's the CV90/30 or the ASCOD for 30mm systems with still a decent amount of ammo, and then there's the CV90/35 with 35 rounds in each feed. And KETF demands typically a five-round burst. So that's seven targets before you're out. Arguably you can take out the targets with high confidence - KETF definitely is awesome - but still, 35 rounds vs 350 (looking at the Marder), there's a significant difference in your operational flexibility. Maybe the 20mm rounds are no longer adequate for a range of targets. But then again you can do sustained suppressive fire which is valueable too if you have that option.

 

For every vehicle concept you can devise scenarios that suit them best. But there's no way to guarantee that your next conflict will conform to your optimal case.

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An APC and companion fire support vehicle makes more sense rather than trying to shoe-horn everything on every track. After all it is the gilding that is expensive and not the base vehicles. Also, there is no reason that the FSV isn't laid out differently as long as it shares powertrain, suspension and general vehicle architecture and subsystems. I'd be quite happy with something like the Russian Derivatsiya remote turret (w basket and large ammo load) with secondary missile armament.

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An APC and companion fire support vehicle makes more sense rather than trying to shoe-horn everything on every track. After all it is the gilding that is expensive and not the base vehicles. Also, there is no reason that the FSV isn't laid out differently as long as it shares powertrain, suspension and general vehicle architecture and subsystems. I'd be quite happy with something like the Russian Derivatsiya remote turret (w basket and large ammo load) with secondary missile armament.

Would not a "companion fire support vehicle" be a tank?

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No. Calling it a Tank is a poor descriptor. It is intended to operate with and directly support the infantry. Tanks can serve as fire support vehicles but they are not organic to the infantry organization. Then you have the funny men in black berets.

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I used to propose two types of vehicle - APCs combined with dedicated direct fire support vehicles. But the introduction of unmanned turrets with little or no hull intrusion has really made that concept obsolete. It's possible these days to have the cake of a decent number of troops to dismount, and eat it (an unmanned turret with decent medium caliber armament). I also think that good IFV concepts will approximate the mass of the MBTs with which they are supposed to operate in close proximity in order to provide adequate protection. I suppose that makes me a fan of the Puma concept (not necessarily the vehicle itself), or the heavy Kurganets.

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I used to propose two types of vehicle - APCs combined with dedicated direct fire support vehicles. But the introduction of unmanned turrets with little or no hull intrusion has really made that concept obsolete. It's possible these days to have the cake of a decent number of troops to dismount, and eat it (an unmanned turret with decent medium caliber armament). I also think that good IFV concepts will approximate the mass of the MBTs with which they are supposed to operate in close proximity in order to provide adequate protection.

 

This.

 

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A MBT weight IFV with a supporting MBT is just a heavy (Class 50+)version what I described, no? It's good if you can afford to procure and support this but this is not the case for most militaries.

 

If you look at IFV like the Kurganets-25, there is a large protected volume needed for dismounts. Without dismounts you can substantially reduce the protected volume which in turn means more usable payload and protection for the same overall weight. You also then have a lower silhouette and centre of gravity. You also get better weight distribution with the powerpack to balance out the bow armour with the main payload amidships.

 

This is essentially the arrangement that the VDV is using.

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"What" payload do you propose?

A manned turret with a large caliber cannon? That's an MBT, and they exist already. Israelis for a long time tried to make do exclusively with the APC/MBT combo. I would consider their experiences a "mixed bag", especially in the light of the ongoing Namera IFV development.

 

If your payload is a turret with medium caliber autocannon and possibly an ATGM launcher - well, you can have that these days on top of the APC, without the costs associated with a second vehicle platform. And if you use the same vehicle platform for parts commonality etc., you forfeit the gains that you seem to see somewhere (I don't). The benefits of a smaller vehicle silhouette are diminishing with modern sensors and computerized fire control systems. In the age of slow full caliber KE rounds when the BMP-1 was invented it was a valid concept to sacrifice a lot in favor of increasing your chances of not getting hit. Now everybody has laser rangefinders, high quality thermal cameras, lock-on guided missiles, target-seeking top attack munitions. The number of cases where you can successfully dodge a bullet because you're small is shrinking.

 

If your concept is supposed to make sense to me, it requires that you explain it a bit more.

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The case for a specialised fire support vehicle (and I am not really pushing the concept, only noting that it is not absurd) is that the non-penetrating turrets with considerable firepower are not cheap, and they cannot carry very much ammunition. And so the increase in capability is not as cost effective as if the same armament was placed on some vehicle without dismounts taking up a lot of internal volume. This applies more so as the cannon becomes larger.

The modest way to do this is to eg. move from 4 * 8 man squads in IVF to 3 * 12 in APC optimised for troop carrying capacity, and the fourth vehicle being a fire support vehicle.

Instead of eg. 4 * 30mm cannons you could then have 3 * some light armament (eg. 12.7 + AGL) on the APC, and one 57 mm (with plenty of ammunition) + ATGM on the fire support vehicle.

If you have existing mech inf platoons with older APC, you only need to add the FSV to the platoon to move to the new standard. Then even those units stuck with obsolete vehicles get some organic AT and possibly also AA capabilities without one needing to do a full replacement or deep modernisation.

If money is not a limiting factor, then sure, give everything at least a 30mm and a sophisticated FCS.

Edited by KV7
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If your payload is a turret with medium caliber autocannon and possibly an ATGM launcher - well, you can have that these days on top of the APC, without the costs associated with a second vehicle platform. And if you use the same vehicle platform for parts commonality etc., you forfeit the gains that you seem to see somewhere (I don't).

 

I think where Simon is going, and if so I think it's an interesting idea, is that if complex items (e.g., engine, transmission, fire control system) are shared then it is not a big deal (for development, procurement, or sustainment) to have different hull forms for different missions. Increasingly over time, more and more of the development, procurement, and then maintenance costs for vehicles are concentrated in a few very complex components; standardize those and that's where your cost savings come from, not from standardizing steel hulls.

 

It's an imperfect analogy but think of the M113 vs. M113C&R: development of the C&R version was quick and easy (private venture IIRC), production was easy because it reused M113 components, and training/maintenance was easy because everything the troops actually interacted with was just like the M113.

 

This same argument actually popped up in some of the studies that lead to, but were then ignored for, the F-35 program saying that the majority of savings were gained by standardizing engines and avionics and that, if you standardized those things, then the cost of completely different airframes for different missions wasn't that large from a life-cycle cost perspective.

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I'm not saying that it's completely absurd but the system costs are higher than procurement. You need twice as many drivers to begin with, which eats into the personnel costs. Twice as much maintenance capacity. Twice as much airlift/sealift/rail capacity. Twice as long columns for a battalion on a road march.

If you have one organic fire support vehicle for every APC, either you cut the number of dismounts per platoon in half, or you end up with highly unwieldy numbers of vehicles for a single platoon leader to direct. The next best compromise is to have, instead of 4 IFVs dismounting 24...28 troops, a five-vehicle platoon dismounting 3 x 9 = 27 troops but then only two fire support vehicles (=supporting direct firepower cut in half); also, it's impossible to cram nine 97% percentile males (because you tend to have the beefier ones since they need to lug a lot of gear around) into an armored box, and to expect it to have MBT levels of protection (which was one of Simon's arguments; if we can't give them the high armor protection, that's an argument for a standard vehicle with just six dismounts and a remotely operated turret, e.g. Puma concept).

 

Or you settle for a 2 x 3 vehicle concept, but leading a six-vehicle platoon is already a challenge as bounding overwatch is something where you can't do a functional split of APCs and fire support vehicles.

 

So, maybe we give the APCs an anti-tank missile launcher each, so that they too can do at least some overwatch. But then we're already watering down the original concept. Then the platoon leader needs to keep in mind which callsign has which capability. Doable, but there will be slip-ups when you look at it realistically. People are tired all the time, war is stressful. Mistakes will be made. A mech platoon leader's job is among the most complex and demanding that modern armies have to offer, and you're proposing to add one more complexity dimension.

If you'd let committees run unchecked, they would insist that every APC must also carry a rubber dinghy, just in case that they run into a surprise river that muist be crossed. I'm a friend of lateral, out-of-the-box thinking. But I also acknowledge that the box is there for a number of reasons, and I'm not even a mech expert. While "we always did it like this" is no valid argument, there's always those critical aspects that you don't know about, and that is a valid argument. Reality is complex. If there are ways to simplify the job of a mech platoon leader, we should seize those opportunities. Adding one more vehicle class to a platoon isn't helping in that respect.

 

 

I'm with you in that if you have same engine (family), same (or similar enough) transmission, roadwheels, tracks, torsion bars, electric and hydraulic subsystems etc., that a different shape of the hull isn't a big cost driver. But I also think that a different hull shape no longer offers considerable survivability advantages than in days of yore. So then the quesion is, what are the critical advantages of a dedicated fire support vehicle that outweigh the considerable drawbacks. "Not much more expensive in procurement" is a pretty weak point.

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I think that 30mm+MG+2 x ATGM remote controlled station for standard APCs + fire support vehicle on same chassis, (say 1 or 2 command IFVs + 3 x 4 IFVs + 4 FSV platoon). would have quite of benefits of having organic larger caliber direct HE firepower and not introducing significant complications.

Those FSVs could also carry partial dismount teams - either ATGM teams or whatever else is needed.

Armament would be BMP-3 like, low velocity reasonably high caliber HE thrower (105mm, based on 105mm howitzer? no AT capability needed at all), 30mm AC, MG. Change from BMP-3 style would be that ATGMs should be external, not tube launched.

Nothing beats 100-105mm HE for fire support except even larger HE. ACs complement that, but can not replace it.

Edited by bojan
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Turning 1 vehicle into 2 is very similar to past conclusions of the supercarrier vs light carrier debate. You get the same capability at only double the price. Quite a bargain, right? Well, only if you got all your calculations wrong.

 

No matter how much a vehicle is "gilded", it's going to be cheaper than buying 2 of that vehicle with split components.

 

If you really wanna save, you gotta somehow give half the expensive components to each vehicle, and same with the cheap stuff. So what's it going to be? Half an engine to every vehicle, or only one gets an engine and the other becomes a bunker? One gets the armor and the other doesn't? One gets optics and other doesn't? That's not saving. That's a money drain.

 

You basically want to double the expenses to get a 10% discount on every 2nd vehicle?

 

As was explained here numerous times, back in the middle of the cold war, sticking expensive stuff on AFVs was counter-productive many times as it reduced the cost effectiveness. Technological developments have reversed the curve and now any expensive addition that introduces some new capability, increases cost effectiveness. That's why chasing revolutionary tech and/or additions (not necessarily immature tech btw), is far more common with all manufacturers today than it was 50-60 years ago, and happens at an ever increasing pace.

 

 

Does an APC need good sights for its own situational awareness? Yeah it does. And buying individually cheaper sights may not be tactically wise nor generally cheaper (more support contracts, more storage cost, more training costs and maintenance costs blah blah blah). They're the super expensive part of the turret.

 

Does an APC need some minimal firepower? Yeah, like a 0.5" cal but it will still need an FCS to get proper results, so might as well just add the fire solution of a 30mm. ATGM is no biggie as many cheap RCWS already mount ATGMs.

The gun itself is no complex piece of tech, and with an abundance of manufacturers you should be able to get a good price on a gun plus loading system.

 

So what do you still lack? You have the panoramic sight, an FCS, the gun. What you lack is the gunner's sight and armor around the whole thing (though really not necessary). Is it really worth buying a whole new multi million dollar AFV and training a multi million dollar crew, to save on a camera and some basic steel armor?

Edited by Mighty_Zuk
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I'm not saying that it's completely absurd but the system costs are higher than procurement. You need twice as many drivers to begin with, which eats into the personnel costs. Twice as much maintenance capacity. Twice as much airlift/sealift/rail capacity. Twice as long columns for a battalion on a road march.

 

 

Turning 1 vehicle into 2 is very similar to past conclusions of the supercarrier vs light carrier debate. You get the same capability at only double the price. Quite a bargain, right? Well, only if you got all your calculations wrong.

 

I don't mean to imply replacing one IFV with one APC and one FSV and I would guess Simon didn't either.

  • You can imagine a fire support vehicle as primarily an HE thrower for infantry support, as Bojan already outlined and, as he also mentioned, you could even have FSVs with smaller infantry load outs, e.g., the Centauro 105mm can accommodate four troops in place of the hull stored ammunition.
  • You can also imagine something more along the Begleitpanzer lines, with a 57-75mm rapid fire gun and missiles.

 

Ref the first path, APC have a long history of roughly one more heavily armed, usually HE oriented vehicle, per platoon going back to the German use of the 75/24 on platoon leader's vehicles to the US with, IIRC, a similar arrangement using 106mm armed M113 ACAV versions in Vietnam. Even modern IFVs arguably need to work with tanks to get serious HE support. You wind up with the equivalent of one FSV per platoon or one FSV platoon per company (which might be what Bojan's suggesting above; I'm not sure from the wording).

 

Ref the second path, a Begleitpanzer is less efficient for HE infantry support, but adds a significant anti-helicopter gun capability and has a very good capability against all APC/IFV short of a Namer class vehicle. Since the original Begleitpanzer, fire control has advance to the point where it might not only mount larger ATGM but also situationally swap ATGM out for smaller SAMs, thus adding a significant AA capability, or even laser guided rockets for a heavy HE throwing capability (think a laser guided version of the old Sherman Tulip, with a 60lb warhead). Again, this approach would be along the lines of one vehicle per platoon, or a platoon of FSV per company.

 

So yes, it's additional vehicles, with additional costs, additional drivers and so on, but not twice as many / twice as much and the same arguments of additional drivers/costs/road-space could be made against the mortar carriers and AA vehicles and a variety of other variants already present in IFV equipped units.

Edited by CaptLuke
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My FSVs would carry no dismounts since they are really intended to serve as a base of fire for the platoon. How many you have in a platoon would entirely depend on your operational doctrine which would inform your organization.

 

Some are getting hung up on nomenclature. An APC in this context is the boxy layout with more protected volume designed to carry dismounts and their stuff. Whether it has a pintle MG or a remote weapon station is a function of funding and purpose. Self same is true of armor and defensive aids but as you keep pushing it to do the direct support role, you are driving up your weight and cost for firepower and protection. For me, the FSV does that job in a more optimized manner and it allows the APCs to be more infantry centric, providing them with mobility, logistics and protected movement to where they can to their infantry thing.

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