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Are IFVs A Good Idea?


LostCosmonaut
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There are some who believe that Infantry Fighting Vehicles, such as the CV90 or BMP, are an inherently flawed concept. These people contend that IFVs try to be both a tank and an armored personel carrier, and fail to effectively perform in either role. As a result, were a sustained high-intensity conflict to occur, they would fare poorly. To my uninformed eye, this argument appears to have some merit. However, I am curious to hear to opinions of those more knowledgable than myself (or heck, anyone with an opinion at all).

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Giving the infantry a little more firepower and protection can't be a bad thing. You are compromising a little on both sides, but you still end up with a vehicle that can transport some infantry and give them some sort of supporting firepower. I guess you can always put a TOW launcher on a GAVIN and call it a day.

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Posting on my phone, but I do have a link somewhere to an article arguing that the main issue with IFVs is the loss of boots. Apparently the tradeoff of extra firepower just isn't worth losing the ability to plug holes in the line or cover more area.

That said, the recommendation was to have a good mix of motorised and mechanised infantry, rather than an either/or.

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  • 8 months later...

Posting on my phone, but I do have a link somewhere to an article arguing that the main issue with IFVs is the loss of boots. Apparently the tradeoff of extra firepower just isn't worth losing the ability to plug holes in the line or cover more area.

That said, the recommendation was to have a good mix of motorised and mechanised infantry, rather than an either/or.

 

which is why the BTR series exists

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Posting on my phone, but I do have a link somewhere to an article arguing that the main issue with IFVs is the loss of boots. Apparently the tradeoff of extra firepower just isn't worth losing the ability to plug holes in the line or cover more area.

That said, the recommendation was to have a good mix of motorised and mechanised infantry, rather than an either/or.

That's because a lot of people think an AFV/APC takes the place of infantry instead of assisting them.

 

If the "combat math" is "Two platoons are needed to take the objective" you do not replace half (or more) of one platoon with two AFV's.

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Because unlike ALOT of first world militarie's they havent been preparing for the Fuelda gap fuck-down since 1945

 

They have a very small nation and a very small vareity of wars to fight, therefor they can focus on niche vehicles

 

If you plan on drivng from Minsk to the Rhine or from Siberia to Karkov your not gonna equip your army with an IFV that weighs more than a T-72 to ferry conscripts into the fray. 

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IFV work fine if they shuttle infantry to their location near the battle space and provide over watch/anti-tank capabilities from concealment.  They also work well for rapidly exploiting holes in lines, rapid counter attacks, passage of lines, and rapidly moving infantry up and down the line. The problem comes when commanders start using them as spear points rather than portable fire support platforms and battlefield shuttle buses. 

The M3 is OK in the armored cavalry role. I've always thought it was a little too big but it does the job it needs to. There are probably better options for this role, however. 

 

I recall going from the M981 which was a terrible vehicle to the M7 BFIST and having commanders of the units we are supposed to be providing fire support for moving us down off our OP and filling gaps in the line with our "extra 25mm", basically rendering our superior visual range and laser designation capabilities useless. 

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There are some who believe that Infantry Fighting Vehicles, such as the CV90 or BMP, are an inherently flawed concept. These people contend that IFVs try to be both a tank and an armored personel carrier, and fail to effectively perform in either role. As a result, were a sustained high-intensity conflict to occur, they would fare poorly. To my uninformed eye, this argument appears to have some merit. However, I am curious to hear to opinions of those more knowledgable than myself (or heck, anyone with an opinion at all).

 

If you're going to do a straight-up comparison of an infantry platoon without IFVs and one with IFVs, then obviously the one with IFVs is going to win. What complicates the issue is the cost factor - how many non-IFV platoons can you field compared to an IFV-equipped one? How much more effective is the IFV equipped one? Is the effectiveness to cost ratio reasonable? And will you still have enough boots to fulfill all the requirements in your operating theater? All of these don't really have answers yet.

 

That said one issue I've also never really seen resolved is how an IFV-equipped unit deals with losses. What happens when an infantry squad is mostly intact but their IFV is destroyed? Do you just look for another IFV and assign them to it? What if the IFV-with-a-dead-infantry-squad is part of another company, who gets transferred to whom? And what if there is an imbalance in losses - e.g. lots of IFVs blown up but the infantry survived. How does the unit operate then? Does it limp along at foot speed, or do they jettison the infantry entirely and accept a smaller unit size that remains fully mechanized?

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At least in the US Army, we did it like this. 

 

Vehicle lost, get in another vehicle in the platoon. 

Squad lost and vehicle serviceable, squads from platoons in the  reserve company move up.

Significant vehicle losses operate as standard leg infantry and be folded into remaining sections. 

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Yeah, because people didn't study their target identification cards. 17 of 20 lost to fratricide doesn't reflect poorly on the vehicle. I believe another 12 were damaged but serviceable., 

The did score more Asad Babil kills than any other vehicles

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Yeah, because people didn't study their target identification cards. 17 of 20 lost to fratricide doesn't reflect poorly on the vehicle. I believe another 12 were damaged but serviceable.,

It won't ever be conclusive to say "the Bradley suffered higher casualties so it's a flawed design" - but I think a look at the actual design supports that. One way to tell if a design was developed poorly is to see if it replaced everything it was intended to (or perhaps just most things) or if it has needed to be complemented or supplemented much sooner than you'd expect.

There are a lot of reasons these things can happen beyond a design being poor, but they are markers for a poorly thought out design. A good example would be the M14. The rifle and its implementation was so unsatisfactory as a standard arm as soon at it began rolling off the production lines the DoD was looking for a replacement. This isn't to say the M14 isn't useful - it clearly has proven to be.

The Bradley reminds me of that. It never replaced the M113 and was supplemented in many roles by MRAPs, Strykers, and even HMMWVs. If anything, 73 Eastings seems like the perfect environment for the Bradley, as it's basically a quasi-tank with good electronics, optics, and firepower. Who cares how big it is when you're smashing into the side of the Iraqi armored divisions!

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Alright, the above was written on my phone, but it's something I'd like to elaborate on. Since I've been given the weekend off due to AMERICAN PATRIOTISM, I have decided to effortpoast it up here:

In the United States, military procurement is a difficult problem. "Military-Industrial Complex" is a term that's repeated a lot to just be "corporations and the military are both bad, bro" but very very people really understand what it means and why it's important to weapons system development and procurement. Now, I don't want to get too far down that rabbit hole, so suffice it to say that one of the consequences of the American MIC is that big programs get allocated more funding and small programs get canceled and revived repeatedly. This has some unique consequences for each, that sometimes manifest themselves in similar ways.

In the case of a big program, like the Bradley, smaller programs often get either consumed by the bigger program or starved out by it. For example, why isn't the US procuring new tactical aircraft of any number of types? It's because F-35 - an aircraft everyone knows will not be able to fulfill all tactical roles - has starved out any possible procurement of anything else, no matter how off-the-shelf it is. The program that led to the Bradley was like this, and it's one of the major reasons I do not like IFVs.
 

What about the actual products of these programs? Well, sometimes they fail (ACUs/UCP), or die stillborn (A-12), but often they mature and enter service and are actually pretty darn useful. Bradley is an example of this. It's a sort of "jack-of-all-trades" that can put armor close to the infantry, while providing awesome capabilities like built-in medevac and having shitloads of firepower with almost MBT-like fire control. It's firepower is organic in the way that an MBT's can't be, partly because it can physically haul soldiers internally, but also because the 25mm gun has far less danger space than a 120mm, while still being effective against a lot of the same targets. Likewise, the TOW was originally developed to be safe around infantry, and so the Bradley has that capability built-in and organic to the infantry. Again, in a way that an Abrams isn't, really. So in that way, the Bradley's actually a pretty useful vehicle, but there's more to it than this.

So you have a big program puttering along, starving out anything that might compete for funds - which usually causes the big program to get bigger and more bloated as the capabilities the smaller programs would have addressed become requirements attached to the big program. Even though this program may eventually bear fruit and produce a product that adds a significant amount of capability (as I suspect will be the case with F-35), there are some consequences to this type of procurement. One is that you lose capability in ways that are easy to ignore until you have to scramble to fill those gaps. The Bradley, for example, while a useful vehicle did not do all it was supposed to do. It didn't replace the M113 (which is now a pretty old design - though blessedly it's a box on tracks so this doesn't matter so much as it might), and it left the Army with fewer armor programs than they should have had, resulting later in a flurry of new vehicles and variants that were fielded during the Iraq War, notably the Stryker family.

 

The IFV is a concept that begs for this sort of program bloat (though to be fair that can happen without the help of a particular concept). Are IFVs a bad idea? They're not bad vehicles, but the "idea" of an IFV does not seem to actually reflect how these useful vehicles are used in practice. So I would clarify that I am not opposed to the idea of making multipurpose tracked vehicles with internal volume for troops and a gun on top, but in the US implementation it is also supposed to perform a host of other roles (chiefly reconnaissance) that it isn't well-suited for.

The Russians, on the other hand, see the IFV as more of a dedicated fire-support vehicle, and have continued development of other ancillary vehicle types that in the US were basically strangled out by Bradley.

 

So there. That's how I feel about the Bradley and IFVs.

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The BMP and Bradley pretty much fill the same tactical roles. I am still a big fan of the BTR, having had the experience training with Russians and riding around in one. 

The armored reconnaissance mission is something the M3 is not very well suited for, having served in a number of cavalry squadrons as the FO, they sucked. The scouts did better dismounted or in M1036. The M7 was better than the m981 but was almost always misused by the attached command and was not as good as the new M1200.  

 

The M113 has really be relegated to rear duty. Ambulances, engineer vehicles, mortar carriers, smoke generators, base security, and command variants. I know they got put into service in Iraq in their original roles due because armored hmmmv are stupid and MRAP hadn't the numbers. 

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The BMP and Bradley pretty much fill the same tactical roles. I am still a big fan of the BTR, having had the experience training with Russians and riding around in one. 

The armored reconnaissance mission is something the M3 is not very well suited for, having served in a number of cavalry squadrons as the FO, they sucked. The scouts did better dismounted or in M1036. The M7 was better than the m981 but was almost always misused by the attached command and was not as good as the new M1200.  

 

The M113 has really be relegated to rear duty. Ambulances, engineer vehicles, mortar carriers, smoke generators, base security, and command variants. I know they got put into service in Iraq in their original roles due because armored hmmmv are stupid and MRAP hadn't the numbers. 

 

Yeah, pretty much agree with all of this. As infantry support vehicles, IFVs are fine, I guess. I'm not qualified to scrutinize them beyond that.

For recon, the M3 is obviously poorly suited.

I wasn't sticking up for the M113, actually I've heard they sucked, but the Bradley is too expensive and complex to replace them. Period. You need something that's more like an actual M113 replacement (which the Bradley was originally supposed to be!).

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TBH, with current tech, I'd prolly go with a battle taxi that was armored against up to 14.5mm with an ERA package, and  a remote turret with a 25-40mm cannon and a couple of ATGMs of your choice strapped to the top.  Make the turret as self contained as possible so as to not intrude on internal volume for carrying troops.

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M113 aren't terrible. The A3 are pretty quick and many of the original issues with them had been addressed by this variant. I mean, if you want a basic infantry shuttle bus that provides a reasonable amount of protection against small arms and artillery, it is OK. If you need something that is resistant to mines or shoulder fired AT weapons, you should look elsewhere. It also isn't something you want to be spearheading any assaults. 

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In a high intensity conflict, would you want your tanks to be supported by the infantry transported in IFV-type vehicles or is there a superior alternative? Armor seems to have a track record of outrunning the infantry, so keeping the infantry mobile seems to be pretty important. Having infantry dismount from a battle taxi and needing that taxi to retreat backwards from the fray would take up valuable time and could take additional firepower away from the front. Having an IFV stay at the frontline and give your army more guns seems to be attractive. 

 

Am I armchair enough yet? 

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