Learn­ing from the US Ex­pe­ri­ence

Pro­tected mo­bil­ity will be a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in ca­pac­ity build­ing both for de­fence and home­land se­cu­rity. A holis­tic ap­praisal and an ef­fec­tive roadmap are re­quired to pro­vide this ca­pa­bil­ity to fight­ing el­e­ments of our se­cu­rity sec­tor. Spe­cial ve­hi­cles

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch

THE RE­QUIRE­MENT OF AR­MOURED mo­bil­ity con­fined to con­ven­tional war in yesteryears has mul­ti­plied enor­mously be­cause of ac­ti­va­tion of the sub-con­ven­tional spec­trum; ter­ror­ism, guer­rilla war­fare, low-in­ten­sity con­flict, fourth gen­er­a­tion war­fare and the like. In the In­dian con­text, we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all th­ese forms of con­flict over the past few decades with fluc­tu­at­ing in­ten­sity. How­ever, such in­ten­sity has risen con­sid­er­ably with in­crease in lev­els of ter­ror­ism in re­cent years amid an ar­ray of weaponry and so­phis­ti­cated ex­plo­sives avail­able to ter­ror­ists/ in­sur­gents/guer­ril­las, pe­ri­odic blow­ing up of Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Force (CAPF) ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing mine pro­tec­tion ve­hi­cles (MPVs).

Nomen­cla­tures abound in this cat­e­gory of ve­hi­cles like light strike ve­hi­cles (LSVs), ar­moured in­fantry ve­hi­cles (AIVs), in­fantry car­ry­ing ve­hi­cles (ICVs) ar­moured se­cu­rity ve­hi­cles (ASVs), all ter­rain ve­hi­cles (ATV) and the like, though the In­dian Army has not had a spe­cial ve­hi­cle in ser­vice for ef­fec­tive use at the tac­ti­cal level in di­verse ter­rain other than the BMP which is re­ferred to as the ICV. Ac­ti­va­tion of the sub-con­ven­tional spec­trum of con­flict and in­creased threat of ter­ror­ism has hiked the global de­mand for such ve­hi­cles in bil­lions of dol­lars. The In­dian Army too has been on a hunt for LSVs.

User Re­quire­ments

What should the user look for in this cat­e­gory of ve­hi­cles can be gener­i­cally summed up as pro­tec­tion against small arms fire, pro­tec­tion from splin­ters, mines and im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices, max­i­mum pos­si­ble de­flec­tion from anti-tank weapons, fire­power, cross coun­try mo­bil­ity in di­verse ter­rain, large radii of ac­tion, car­riage ca­pa­bil­ity to suit in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments, low noise, low sig­na­tures, pli­a­bil­ity on di­verse sur­faces (land and water as pos­si­ble), light weight, air/heli­copter porta­bil­ity, easy main­te­nance, self-seal­ing tires and the like. Con­sid­er­able global re­search and devel­op­ment for ush­er­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion is through ex­ploit­ing tech­nol­ogy. Take the case of BAE Sys­tems, there are two ex­am­ples: first, on­go­ing re­search and devel­op­ment (R&D) to de­tect faults in mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles and pre­empt it by tak­ing re­me­dial ac­tion through an In­te­grated Ve­hi­cle Health Man­age­ment (IVHM) that will mon­i­tor en­gine and ve­hi­cle struc­ture via built in sen­sors and will iden­tify faults us­ing math­e­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing in or­der to es­tab­lish a di­ag­no­sis, who will take rel­e­vant ac­tion to rec­tify the fault; sec­ond, an ‘in­vis­i­bil­ity cloak’ that al­lows a ve­hi­cle to blend into its sur­round­ings. Adap­tiv, the patented tech­nol­ogy, is based on sheets of hexag­o­nal ‘pix­els’ that can change the tem­per­a­ture very rapidly. On­board cam­eras pick up the back­ground scenery and dis­play that in­frared im­age on the ve­hi­cle, al­low­ing even a mov­ing tank to match its sur­round­ings. Al­ter­na­tively, it can mimic an­other ve­hi­cle or dis­play iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags, re­duc­ing the risk of frat­ri­cide.

In­dian Scene

Lashed with sub-con­ven­tional war and ter­ror­ism, the In­dian Army has been look­ing for a suit­able LSV for some time and is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing some in­clud­ing the Mahin­dra Axe and Tata Mo­tors LSV. Di­verse ter­rain like plains, desert sand dunes and soft sand patches, wa­ter­logged ar­eas, marshes, moun­tains and ex­treme cold of high al­ti­tude and forested ar­eas need to be ne­go­ti­ated. Air porta­bil­ity by air­craft and medium-lift he­li­copters is re­quired to in­crease the reach and lethal­ity of spe­cial op­er­a­tions. The scope in In­dia is vast con­sid­er­ing the mo­bil­ity and ar­moured pro­tec­tion re­quire­ments in this cat­e­gory of Para­mil­i­tary Forces (PMF), Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces and po­lice units that are bat­tling in­sur­gency and ter­ror­ists. To add to this is the con­sid­er­able scope in the tourism sec­tor; desert and jun­gle sa­faris, dune bug­gies for fun and frolic deserts, travers­ing dif­fi­cult ar­eas, cross coun­try rac­ing, para-sail­ing and the like. To cap­i­talise on this mar­ket, var­i­ous models are al­ready avail­able in In­dia. Ashok Ley­land De­fence Sys­tems is also en­gaged in the devel­op­ment of a range of tac­ti­cal and ar­moured ve­hi­cles with mil­i­tary pay­loads rang­ing from 1.5 to 20 tonnes, on the Colt, Stal­lion and Su­per Stal­lion plat­forms. The prod­uct range in­cludes light spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cles (LSV), light bul­let proof ve­hi­cles (LBPV), light ar­tillery machines (LAM), mine pro­tected ve­hi­cles (MPV), field ar­tillery trac­tors (FAT), multi-bar­rel rocket launch­ers (MBRL) and other spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tions ve­hi­cles.

The US Ex­pe­ri­ence

Over the years, the US be­sides go­ing in for im­prove­ments in all user re­quire­ments, has en­sured stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of the in­ven­tory to fa­cil­i­tate main­tain­abil­ity of the large fleet of this cat­e­gory of ve­hi­cles. There are, how­ever, ex­cep­tion in the case of Spe­cial Forces form­ing part of the US Spe­cial Op­er­a­tion Com­mand, who right­fully have what suits their spe­cial re­quire­ments, an ex­am­ple be­ing the 4x4 and 6x6 Polaris ATVs.

How the US Army han­dles re­quire­ment of ve­hi­cles in this cat­e­gory can be stud­ied from the ar­moured se­cu­rity ve­hi­cles (ASVs) op­er­ated by them in­clud­ing in large num­bers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tex­tron Marine and Land Sys­tems has been a main sup­plier to the US Army.

The ASV pro­tects the troops through em­ploy­ment of mul­ti­ple lay­ers of ar­mour, de­fend­ing against small arms fire, ar­tillery pro­jec­tile frag­ments, IEDs and land mines. It is equipped with a M2 .50 cal­i­bre ma­chine gun, a MK 19 40mm grenade launcher, dual-mounted weapons sta­tion, M248 SAW cou­pled with M36 day/night sight and 360-de­gree vi­sion. With speeds of over 100 kmph, 45 cm ground clear­ance and 3,360 pound pay­load, it can ne­go­ti­ate a 60 de­grees slope and medium ford­ing. It has a 700 km range, can op­er­ate for 2,410 hours and has a cen­tral tire in­fla­tion sys­tem (CTIS). The bal­lis­tic pro­tec­tion has an in­te­gral threat­spe­cific so­lu­tion; pro­tec­tion be­ing scal­able—pay­load ca­pac­ity al­lows tai­lor­ing and fu­ture growth. In­te­grated laser range finder en­sures first round hit ca­pa­bil­ity while pre­ci­sion power con­trols and sta­bil­i­sa­tion re­duces tar­get ac­qui­si­tion time and shoot-on-the­move ca­pa­bil­ity. It is a ver­sa­tile plat­form that can de­liver ex­cep­tional mo­bil­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity, en­abling se­cu­rity forces to un­der­take a wide range of com­bat mis­sions.

The M117 ver­sion ASV, named Guardian, pro­vides the mil­i­tary and po­lice with a light ar­moured ve­hi­cle that pro­vides sus­tain­abil­ity in hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment, sub­stan­tially in­creases lethal­ity, mo­bil­ity and sur­viv­abil­ity, the main func­tion be­ing con­voy pro­tec­tion. With a crew of three and one pas­sen­ger, it has in­ter­com with CVC hel­mets, ar­ma­ment sys­tem MK 19 40mm and M2 .50 cal­i­bre plus NBC pro­tec­tion.

The ASV is avail­able in many ver­sions, in­clud­ing the M1117 Guardia and the M1200 Ar­moured Knight. The ICV ver­sion too has three lev­els of pro­tec­tion, one piece door op­tion, crew of two with eight pas­sen­gers, gun­ner pro­tec­tion kit mount­ing crew served weapon, 700 km range on 50 gal­lons of diesel and Har­ris ra­dio with wire­less in­ter­com for dis­mounts. The MSV has been com­bat-proven in Iraq and Afghanistan (in­clud­ing in moun­tain­ous re­gion of Afghanistan) in pro­tect­ing sol­diers, con­voy es­corts, check points, cor­don and search, com­bat raid and re­con­nais­sance/sur­veil­lance pa­trols, for-

Lashed with sub­con­ven­tional war and ter­ror­ism, the In­dian Army has been look­ing for a suit­able LSV for some time and is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing some in­clud­ing the Mahin­dra Axe and Tata Mo­tors LSV

ward op­er­a­tion base se­cu­rity, ur­ban ex­trac­tion un­der ar­mour pro­tec­tion, quick re­ac­tion force and fire sup­port, plus pro­vid­ing tac­ti­cal su­per­vi­sion for civil­ian and po­lice op­er­a­tions:

In ad­di­tion to the above, the US forces in Afghanistan are also op­er­at­ing the Oshkosh MRP-ATV (trans­ports five sol­diers).

Lessons from US Ex­pe­ri­ence

The lessons we can learn from the US ex­pe­ri­ence are as fol­lows: A holis­tic ap­praisal of op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments can help us ar­rive on a com­mon­al­ity ma­trix that will have tremen­dous ad­van­tage rather than go­ing in for pro­cure­ments piece­meal and land­ing up with a va­ri­ety of LCVs with lit­tle com­mon­al­ity. The com­mon­al­ity ma­trix that we should look at should aim at the high­est pos­si­ble per­cent­age of com­mon spare parts and com­po­nents with ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary sys­tems. Com­mon­al­ity with ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary sys­tems should in­clude en­gine, trans­mis­sion, dif­fer­en­tials, wheel ends, wheels and tires, cen­tral tire in­fla­tion, tur­ret, tur­ret com­po­nents, etc and in case of the ASV, this com­mon­al­ity ma­trix is as high as 60 per cent. The de­sign must be mod­u­lar for main­tain­abil­ity in terms of min­i­mum time for re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing power pack, re­moval and re­place­ment of tur­ret, re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing axle, and re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing trans­fer case. In the case of the ASV, re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing power pack takes three hours, re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing the tur­ret takes two hours, re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing axle takes five hours and re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing trans­fer case takes three hours. Pro­tec­tion must be scal­able with mod­u­lar bal­lis­tic pro­tec­tion sys­tem to cater to all types of con­flict sit­u­a­tions and var­ied op­er­a­tional sce­nar­ios. Sim­i­larly, weapon mount­ing and fire­power can be scal­able—in­creas­ing or re­duc­ing the lev­els to match the op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments. It will also re­duce costs of indi­geni­sa­tion with hun­dreds of LCVs re­quir­ing com­mon ma­te­rial for pro­duc­tion. This in turn will also fa­cil­i­tate pro­duc­tion in­clud­ing cen­tral­is­ing ma­chin­ing, tool­ing, weld­ing, etc that will in turn, op­ti­mise pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity.

Ca­pac­ity Build­ing

Faced with prospects of in­creas­ing vi­o­lence on ac­count of in­sur­gen­cies and ter­ror­ism, asym­met­ri­cally hos­tile neigh­bours and dis­turbed in­ter­nal sit­u­a­tion, the bat­tling se­cu­rity forces need to be pro­vided with ad­e­quate ar­moured mo­bil­ity with req­ui­site fire­power. In­dia is just about wak­ing up to this re­quire­ment which un­til now has been lim­ited to mainly the mine pro­tec­tion ve­hi­cles be­sides some ve­hi­cles with lim­ited pro­tec­tion with po­lice. We need to take a call on our re­quire­ment, learn lessons from mil­i­taries of devel­oped na­tions and then go for pro­cure­ments, fol­lowed by cen­tralised indi­geni­sa­tion to meet na­tional re­quire­ments. Pro­tected mo­bil­ity will be a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in ca­pac­ity build­ing both for de­fence and home­land se­cu­rity. A holis­tic ap­praisal and an ef­fec­tive roadmap are re­quired to pro­vide this ca­pa­bil­ity to fight­ing el­e­ments of our se­cu­rity sec­tor. Spe­cial ve­hi­cles are an es­sen­tial part of the mo­bil­ity that needs to be ad­dressed.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: SP Guide Pubns

Tata Mo­tors’ light ar­moured ve­hi­cle

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