Combat vehicle

The modern battlefield is all about taking risk at a crucial time as the war zone is saturated with mines and high intensity explosives that can spring surprises for armored columns in the midst of a high value operation to secure foot on the ground.

The armored vehicles equipped with modern technology can avoid any mistake or casualty by denying the enemy any advantage of its trap that can harm movement of personnel and vehicles which might be susceptible to IEDs, mines and other types of explosives.

Thus, various militaries are now focusing as how to avoid battlefield casualties and at the same time move faster to occupy strategic positions before the enemy could even realize that the threat has arrived in its back yard, already.   

The armored vehicles which are light, lethal and combat proven can only withstand the needs of modern battlefield onslaught to make it explosive proof and battle winners, provided new technologies are inserted into the development of new generation of armored vehicles.     

Now, titanium armor is being incorporated into the design of existing and future US Army combat vehicles because it offers the best method of reducing vehicle weight and thus improving performance.

Titanium’s excellent specific mechanical and ballistic properties, as well as ease of fabrication, will likely make it a part of the US Army’s future combat system. Armored vehicles are slowly taking much of jobs tanks used to perform earlier.

No doubt, tanks are awesome but AFV (Armored Fighting Vehicles) are big monsters that dominate the battlefield. Their main gun can usually destroy the toughest targets and their machine guns can decimate enemy infantry formations at a more flexible way.

They can grind a target to dust. They even sound big mean and vicious. They are the King of the battlefield and Infantry are their Queen. When tanks attack they are truly fear inspiring.

The first tank was ‘born’ in World War I. Initially they were designed as mobile pillboxes, armored machine gun carriers. They have evolved a great deal since.

Tanks are not invulnerable they are just very difficult to kill. Because they are big and noisy they tend to attract a lot of enemy fire.

For this reason tank crews prefer to remain inside their tanks where they are safer but when they do this they cannot see their surroundings very well. What you cannot see is usually what kills you.

This is where Armored Personel Carriers (APCs) or Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) come into play.

Armored personel carriers are primarily designed to keep up with tanks and carry infantry safely until they are needed.

The infantry inside an APC are protected from all sort of battlefield nasty, like mortars and small arms. APC’s may mount some weapons but these are usually limited. APC’s may also be amphibious.

An IFV is designed to transport infantry and fight alongside them. IFV’s are not tanks, they are basically more heavily armed APC’s designed to fight alongside infantry. However, units composed of IFV’s and infantry are classified as Mechanized Infantry.
Tanks and IFVs are designed to work together. The infantry, supported by the IFVs keep enemy infantry off the tanks while the tanks destroy the enemy.

Infantry also provides many benefits to the tankers. Because tanks are maintenance intensive and tank crews are small, infantrymen can provide security to tank crews while they repair or maintain their vehicles.

If no infantry are available then one or more of the crew has to stand guard while the others work.

It also means the crew gets less sleep because they must have security. Exhausted tank crews have many opportunities in the battle field to make a fatal mistake.

Indeed, the term armored infantry fighting vehicle (AIFV) means an armored combat vehicle which is designed and equipped primarily to transport a combat infantry squad, which normally provides the capability for the troops to deliver fire from inside the vehicle under armored protection, and which is armed with an integral or organic cannon of at least 20 millimeters caliber and sometimes an antitank missile launcher.

Armored infantry fighting vehicles serve as the principal weapon system of armored infantry or mechanized infantry or motorized infantry formations and units of ground forces.

While tanks were employed by combatants in World War I, armored transport for foot soldiers did not become a reality until the eve of the Second World War.

Mechanized infantry

The mechanized infantry normally works as integral members of the combined arms team with armor. They travel in infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) or armored personnel carriers (APCs) that enable them to keep up with the tanks.

IFVs provide some ability to fire while on the move, but most of the squad dismounts to fight on the ground when assaulting or defending a position or clearing an area. Mechanized infantry therefore share many of the stressors of armor while having more logistical support (and logistical requirements) than other infantry.

The Type 97 infantry fighting vehicle entered service with the Chinese army in 2004. It is also referred as the ZBD-97 or ZBD-04. Industrial designation of this vehicle is WZ502. About 400 of these armored vehicles were produced for the Chinese army. Some sources suggest that this amphibious IFV might replace Type 62 and Type 63 light tanks.

For a long time, China made a number of unsuccessful attempt to design infantry fighting vehicle featuring good armor protection, firepower and mobility.

In 1980 it adopted the Type 86 IFV, which was a direct copy of the Soviet BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle. It is worth mentioning that the BMP-1 was already out-dated by that time. China considered the Type 86 IFV an intermediate vehicle, while the new indigenous IFV type will be available.

The Type 97 is a modern fighting vehicle design, utilizing indigenously designed chassis. It is a clone of the Russian BMP-3 however vehicle has a traditional layout with a front-mounted engine and troop compartment at the rear.

Thus some drawbacks of the BMP-3, such as cramped crew compartment, were eliminated. This IFV benefits from a spacious troop compartment with easy entry and exit through the rear doors.

The Type 97 is fitted with a complete Russian BMP-3 turret, which is now license-built in China. It has similar firepower comparing with the BMP-3 and in these terms outperforms most current IFVs.

Its 100-mm gun has an effective range of 4 km. This gun can fire both ordinary projectiles and anti-tank guided missiles. It is compatible with Chinese indigenously designed ATGMs, derived from the Soviet AT-10 Stabber.

Missiles are capable of penetrating up to 600 mm of armor behind ERA blocks and pose serious threat to main battle tanks. It is claimed that hit probability of the missile is at least 80 per cent.

The 30-mm cannon has an effective range of 1.5 - 2 km. The Type 97 IFV is also fitted with a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.

The 100-mm cannon is completed with an autoloader. It has a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute. Vehicle carries a total of 30 rounds for the 100-mm gun, including 22 ordinary HE-FRAG rounds and 8 anti-tank guided missiles.

Protection level of this IFV is unknown. Most likely it offers all-round protection against 14.5-mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc might withstand 20- or 25-mm rounds. Vehicle is fitted with NBC protection system. Also it may be fitted with indigenous active laser protection system.

The Type 97 IFV has a crew of three and accommodates 7 fully equipped infantrymen. Troops enter and leave the vehicle via the rear door or roof hatches. Also there are some firing ports for the troops.

This vehicle can operate at Sea State 2-3. Previous Chinese armored vehicles had limited amphibious capability and were incapable of long distance swimming. The Type 97 IFV has that capability and is also used in the amphibious assault role.

The BVP-M2 SKCZ infantry fighting vehicle was jointly developed by Czech and Slovak companies. It was first publicly revealed in 2013.

It is an upgrade of the BVP-2 IFV, which is a license-produced version of the Soviet BMP-2. The original BVP-1 and BVP-2 were produced in the former Czechoslovakia in thousands.

Currently a number of older BVP-1 and BVP-2 remain in service with both Czech Republic and Slovakia. Also the BVP-M2 is being proposed for export customers. There are plenty of older BMP-2 IFVs all around the world.

The new BVP-M2 SKCZ has been extensively redesigned. Only little has been left from the original vehicle, even though general layout remains the same. A number of drawbacks of the original BMP-2 have been eliminated.

Ergonomics for the crew and troops has also been improved. Essentially the BVP-M2 evolved into an entirely new combat vehicle.

The new Czech IFV is fitted with new remotely controlled turret. It is armed with a 30-mm cannon and coaxial 7.62-mm or 12.7-mm machine gun.

The new Czech IFV is fitted with a laser warning system and battle management system. Limited internal dimensions and cramped troop compartment were always a drawback of the Soviet BMP-1 and its derivatives.

However the BVP-M2 SKCZ has a redesigned interior with roomier troop compartment. This Czech IFV accommodates 6 or 7 dismounts plus the crew of three. Troops enter and leave the vehicle via rear doors or roof hatches.

This IFV is also fitted with new automatic transmission. It seems that the BVP-M2 lost amphibious capabilities due to increased weight. This IFV can be airlifted by C-130 tactical cargo aircraft.

The new Puma infantry fighting vehicle was jointly developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall in Germany to replace the ageing Marder 1 IFVs, that are now over 30 years old.

Five pre-production vehicles were delivered in 2004. This new infantry fighting vehicle successfully passed numerous trials.

First production Puma IFVs are planned to enter service with the German army in 2015. About 350 of these machines will be delivered. Initially it was planned to purchase 405 new IFVs. However, later this number was reduced due to funding problems.

Protection level

The Puma is the most protected IFV currently available. It has a welded armor hull with add-on modular armor. It has an option of three various protection levels to suit operational needs.

The base model has a front and flank protection against 30-mm rounds, while vehicle has an all-round protection against 14.5-mm machine gun fire.

The most protected variant can be considered as a heavy IFV. Additional armor modules can be fitted, increasing Puma’s weight to 43 tons.

Furthermore in this configuration it is even heavier than the T-72 main battle tank. It seems that the most protected variant of the Puma withstands 120-and 125-mm projectiles over the front arc.

Vehicle also withstands mine blasts equivalent to 10 kg of TNT. The Puma IFV also features an advanced threat warning system. NBC protection and automatic fire suppressions systems are fitted as standard.

Vehicle is armed with a remotely operated weapon station. It includes a dual-fed Mauser 30-mm cannon. This cannon is already used on the Austrian Ulan and Spanish Pizzaro IFVs. It has an effective range of fire of 3 km.

Puma will be armed with an ATGM launcher, however, its type is still unknown. Secondary armament consists of a 5.56-mm machine gun and a 76-mm grenade launcher for a close-range defence.

The Puma infantry fighting vehicle has a crew of three, while it can accommodate up to eight infantrymen in the rear compartment. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle via rear power-operated ramp. Vehicle is fitted with an air conditioning.

Vehicle is powered by MTU 892 turbocharged diesel engine, developing a whooping 1 073 horsepower. It is worth mentioning that some of the latest main battle tanks haven’t got that much power. This IFV is not amphibious.

Abhay vehicle

The Abhay (fearless) is a prototype of India’s indigenously developed infantry fighting vehicle. It was developed as a technology demonstrator and incorporates a number of advanced systems.

In 2012 Russia proposed to produce their BMP-3 IFV in India under license. However India refused in favor of their indigenous IFV.

Currently, new infantry fighting vehicle undergoes various tests and in the near future it might become a replacement for the India’s ageing BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs. Indian Army plans to obtain up to 2 600 new IFVs.

Turret incorporates a mix of weapons and has an indigenous fire control system. It is fitted with a 40-mm high velocity cannon. It also has a limited capability against low-flying air targets.

Abhay carries 210 rounds for the main gun, including APFSDS and HE rounds. It also has a Russian-made Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) anti-tank missile launcher located on top of the roof.

The AT-5 Spandrel has an effective range of fire in 4 km. The Abhay is also fitted with a 7.62-mm machine gun and 40-mm automatic grenade launcher.

It is believed that the Abhay has the same Kanchan composite armor, found on the Arjun main battle tanks.

This armor is broadly similar to British Cobham and offers good protection against various types of weapons, especially high-explosive anti-tank rounds. Front arc provides protection against medium-caliber cannons.

All-round protection is against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. Vehicle is also fitted with NBC protection system.

The Abhay infantry fighting vehicle has a crew of three and can accommodate seven fully-equipped soldiers in a spacious combat compartment.

This IFV is powered by a TD2V8 diesel engine, developing 550 horsepower. The Abhay has a state-of-the-art hydro-pneumatic suspension system. It seems that in the current form Abhay is not amphibious.

The BWP-2000 is a prototype Polish infantry fighting vehicle. Its development began in the early 1990s. It was intended to replace the Polish BWP-1, which is a Soviet BMP-1, produced under license. The project was eventually cancelled in the late 1990s with only two prototypes built.

The BWP-2000 IFV has a welded steel hull. Add-on passive or explosive reactive armor kit can be fitted for enhanced protection. It is worth mentioning that the Polish BWP-2000 provides higher level of protection, than most current infantry fighting vehicles.

It is claimed that it withstands up to 35-mm projectiles over the frontal arc. The roof and sides protect against 12.7-mm rounds, fired from 100 m range. All-round protection is against 7.62-mm rounds.

Polish IFV

One prototype of the BWP-2000 is fitted a fully developed and tested Italian OTO Melara T60/70A turret, armed with a fully-stabilized 60-mm quick-firing cannon and coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.

This IFV is also armed with two TOW anti-tank guided missile launchers, located on each side of the turret. A number of other turret options were proposed, armed with 23-mm, 25-mm, 35-mm and 40-mm cannons or 105-mm gun.

The BWP-2000 IFV has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. It accommodates eight fully equipped troops. Soldiers enter and exit the vehicle via a rear power-operated ramp or roof hatches.

The Polish BWP-2000 infantry fighting vehicle uses a number of automotive components from the MT-S tracked carrier, which was jointly developed by Poland, Soviet Union and East Germany in the late 1980s. Engine compartment is located at the front of the hull, on the right hand side.

Currently Poland is gradually replacing the former Soviet weapon systems with modern designs. In 2010 a new Anders IFV was revealed. Currently it is only a technology demonstrator, however it might be approved for series production in the next couple of years.

It might replace the cancelled BWP-2000, as the Polish Army still lacks a modern infantry fighting vehicle.

It was obvious, that design of this IFV had little in common with previous BMP-1 and BMP-2. A number of drawbacks related to previous IFVs were fixed. Currently the BMP-3 is in service with Russia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Greece, Indonesia, Kuwait, South Korea, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Appearance of the BMP-3 resembles a light tank. Vehicle is armed with a 100-mm gun, capable of firing 9M117 Bastion laser-guided anti-armor missiles, as well as ordinary HE- FRAG projectiles. The 9M117 missile has a maximum range of 4 km.

It penetrates 650-750 mm behind ERA, providing this IFV a considerable anti-armor capability. HE-FRAG rounds have a maximum range of up to 7 km. Vehicle is completed with an semi-automatic loader and has a maximum rate of 10 rounds per minute. A total of 40 rounds are carried.

The BMP-3 is also armed with coaxial 30-mm cannon and 7.62-mm machine gun. The 30-mm cannon fires at a rate of 330 rpm and has a maximum range of 2 km against ground targets and 4 km against low-flying helicopters.

Vehicle is also fitted with two more bow-mounted, forward firing 7.62-mm MG, operated by the dismounts. The BMP-3 is fitted with computerized fire control system with ballistic computer.

Hull and turret of this infantry fighting vehicle are welded of aluminum alloy armor. The front arc is made of composite armor and provides protection against 30-mm armor-piercing rounds.

All-round protection is likely to be against 14.5-mm armor-piercing rounds. Protection can be enhanced with add-on explosive reactive armor kit.

Furthermore the Arena active protection and Shtora countermeasures systems can be installed. Such systems are usually associated with main battle tanks. This infantry fighting vehicle is also fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire supression systems.

The BMP-3 is fitted with smoke grenade dischargers. It can also generate smoke screens by injecting fuel into exhaust.

This infantry fighting vehicle has a crew of three and can carry 7 troops. Two infantrymen are located on each side of the driver and operate bow-mounted machine guns.

The BMP-3 is powered by the UTD-29 diesel engine, developing 500 hp. Engine is mounted at the rear. This IFV has a hydropneumatic suspension, which can be adjusted to suit the type of ground being crossed. Vehicle is fully amphibious. Propulsion on water is provided by two waterjets.

Despite its formidable capabilities the BMP-3 becomes out-dated. Currently a new-generation IFV is being developed for the Russian Army.

Tracked IFV

The tracked IFV known to the British Army as the Warrior was originally known as MCV-80. It was intended to replace the old FV432 armored personnel carrier. This vehicle was developed from the 1970s onwards.

A series of pre-production prototypes built in the early 1980s. Production by GKN Defence commenced during 1986. The Warrior has been in British Army service since 1988, seeing combat in the Gulf in 1991 and during Iraq war. Production of this armored vehicle ceased in 1995.

The original order was for over 1 000 units but Army reorganizations reduced that to 789 of all types sufficient to equip seven Mechanized Infantry battalions. The British Army plans to operate these armored fighting vehicles until 2035.

The base model is the Warrior Section Vehicle armed with non-stabilized 30-mm Rarden cannon and coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun in a two-man turret. The main gun fires armor-piercing and HE-FRAG rounds. It is capable of destroying enemy armored personnel carriers at ranges of up to 1 500 m. It can also engage low-flying helicopters.

The Warrior IFV has an all-welded aluminum armor hull and laminated steel armor turret. It provides all-round protection against 14.5-mm armor-piercing rounds.

Font arc is likely to withstand 25-mm armor-piercing rounds. During military conflicts vehicles are fitted with extra passive armor panels for protection against RPG rounds.

But these are not normally carried during peacetime operations. This armored fighting vehicle is also fitted with NBC protection system.

The seven troops carried enter through a door in the hull rear. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle via rear doors.

The Warrior IFV is powered by a Perkins CV8 TCA turbocharged diesel engine, developing 550 hp. Engine is located at the front. It is mated to an Allison 4-speed automatic transmission.

Engine and transmission are built in one module and can be replaced in field conditions within 40 minutes. Warrior is fast for its class of vehicles.

With a maximum road speed of 75 km/h it can keep up with Challenger 2 MBTs over the toughest terrain. Warriors may be fitted with dozer blades or light mine-clearing ploughs.

The British Army also operates a Warrior Mechanized Artillery Observation Vehicle (MAOV) on which the only turret armament is a 7.62-mm machine gun and a dummy cannon barrel.

There are two repair and recovery vehicles, the Warrior Mechanized Recovery Vehicle (MCVR) and Mechanized Combat Repair Vehicle (MCVR), both armed with a single 7.62-mm machine gun and equipped for their roles with winches, cranes and other equipment.

A Warrior Command Vehicle is produced in four sub-variants (one for the artillery), all outwardly identical to the Section Vehicle. There is also Warrior carrying ATGW teams, originally armed with MILAN and eventually Javelin.

In 1972 the US Army requested design proposal to meet a requirement for a mechanized infantry fighting vehicle. It was developed in response to the Soviet BMP-1 IFV.

A complex series of design submissions and changing specifications followed until a Fighting Vehicle System appeared, comprising two vehicles, an IFV which became M2 Bradley and Cavalry Fighting Vehicle which became the M3.

It was designed as a better armored replacement for the ageing M113 armored personnel carrier. Deliveries of the M2 Bradley commenced in 1981 and have continued since with totals over 4 600 vehicles. Some 400 M2 IFVs have been exported to Saudi Arabia.

The M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle has a welded aluminum armor hull. Front arc has a spaced laminated aluminum and steel armor. Initial production variant provided protection against 14.5-mm armor-piercing rounds.

Front arc of the latest models provide protection against 30-mm armor-piercing rounds. Also vehicle is fitted with explosive reactive armor and withstands hits from RPG rounds.

Bottom was reinforced with steel plates for improved protection against mines. The M2 Bradley is also fitted with NBC protection system.

Vehicle is armed with a two-man turret, fitted with a 25-mm dual-fed Bushmaster chain gun. At the time of its introduction the Bradley was the first IFV with a fully-stabilized main gun.

The gun fires armor-piercing and HE-FRAG rounds. Also there are two TOW anti-tank guided missile launchers. There is also a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.

The Bradley IFV accommodates 6 dismounts. Infantrymen enter and leave the vehicle via the rear doors. Early models had firing ports with dedicated 5.56-mm assault rifles attached. These were later removed to avoid compromising the side armor protection.