Em­ploy­ment of Ar­mour in Fu­ture Con­flicts

Will the ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cle or a tank as it is gen­er­ally called, be able to sur­vive such an en­vi­ron­ment in the fu­ture? This ques­tion is both­er­ing mil­i­tary pro­fes­sion­als and mil­i­tary an­a­lysts be­cause threats to ar­mour are be­com­ing more and more soph

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

Will the ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cle or a tank as it is gen­er­ally called, be able to sur­vive such an en­vi­ron­ment in the fu­ture?

THE EF­FEC­TIVE­NESS OF US air power in de­stroy­ing Iraqi ar­mour that ma­noeu­vred dur­ing a sand­storm in or­der to meet the coali­tion forces is of­ten cited as the type of threat that will im­mo­bilise ar­moured forces in fu­ture wars. In the above sit­u­a­tion as the coali­tion forces closed in on Bagh­dad, Iraq’s Me­d­ina, Bagh­dad and Ham­murabi Di­vi­sions, count­ing on the cover pro­vided by the sand storm, repo­si­tioned them­selves to meet the coali­tion forces. JSTARS and long range UAVs de­tected the move­ment and guided B-1 and fighter-bombers to in­ter­cept them. Us­ing in­frared tar­get­ing de­vices that could pen­e­trate the clouds of sand, the air­craft in­flicted se­vere dam­age on Iraqi ar­mour.

Fu­ture Threats – Air-to-Ground Anti-Ar­mour Weapons

Threats to ar­mour are be­com­ing more and more so­phis­ti­cated and dan­ger­ous. For ex­am­ple Lock­heed Martin’s Wind Cor­rected Mu­ni­tions Dis­penser (WCMD) has added pre­ci­sion to im­pre­cise sub-mu­ni­tions dis­pensers or clus­ter bombs. The WCMD has added a new tail unit with pop-out fins and in­er­tial guid­ance to ex­ist­ing Tac­ti­cal Mu­ni­tions Dis­pensers. This en­ables the sys­tem to cor­rect for winds, launch tran­sients, and bal­lis­tic er­rors, thereby al­low­ing ac­cu­rate high-al­ti­tude re­leases (to within an ac­cu­racy of around 50 ft) for what were sup­posed to be low-al­ti­tude weapons. Cur­rently the WMCD can be fielded on US air­craft such as the B-1B, B-52, F-15E and F-16, F-117, A-10 and F-35. They were first used in com­bat dur­ing Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom when they demon­strated that they could glide ef­fec­tively to the right tar­get area from safer stand-off dis­tances.

In par­al­lel is the Sen­sor Fused Weapon (SFW), a 1,000 lb Tac­ti­cal Mu­ni­tions Dis­penser con­tain­ing 10 sub-mu­ni­tions each with four pro­jec­tiles. When dis­pensed these pro­jec­tiles cover a 1,460 ft x 700 ft foot­print; and any scat­tered pro­jec­tiles that fail to det­o­nate are pro­grammed to self­de­struct. SFW was proven in Iraq in 2003 when US Marines were held up at the Fal­luja Bridge. An ad­vanc­ing Iraqi col­umn was en­gaged by a for­ward air con­troller who knew that there was a B-52 aloft with SFW on board. An air drop was re­quested; noth­ing hap­pened for around four min­utes and then a third of the Iraq ar­moured col­umn sud­denly dis­ap­peared in smoke. Af­ter wit­ness­ing the im­pact of SFW on their col­leagues, the rest of the Iraq ar­mour sur­ren­dered. SFW is now op­er­a­tional on the F-16, F-15E, A-10, B-52, B-1B and B-2.

Will the ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cle (AFV) be able to sur­vive such an en­vi­ron­ment in the fu­ture? This ques­tion is both­er­ing mil­i­tary pro­fes­sion­als and mil­i­tary an­a­lysts be­cause threats to ar­mour are be­com­ing more and more so­phis­ti­cated and dan­ger­ous.

What do the Ar­mour Ex­perts Say?

Ar­mour ex­perts feel that there is a dan­ger in over­play­ing the threat to the AFV at present. The cur­rent anal­y­sis does not take into ac­count the op­po­nents cre­ative think­ing and the fact that “a strong de­sire is the mother of all in­ven­tions”. Ex­pe­ri­ence with tech­nol­ogy also warns us against adopt­ing any sim­ple equa­tion of mil­i­tary su­pe­ri­or­ity based on su­pe­rior sen­sors and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Tech­nol­ogy will, sooner or later, pro­vide counters to the types of sen­sors be­ing used cur­rently. Some an­a­lysts point out that un­manned sen­sors can be blinded by lasers, while ar­tillery and mul­ti­ple rocket bat­ter­ies used for deep at­tack can them­selves be at­tacked by tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles and pre­ci­sion mu­ni­tions. At­tack he­li­copters can be coun­tered by well laid air de­fence am­bushes and by air de­fence weapons suit­ably grouped with all arms com­bat groups. The en­emy air power can be coun­tered by our own air power by achiev­ing air dom­i­nance in the con­cerned area of op­er­a­tions.

The older AFVs are be­ing up­graded with bet­ter mo­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion and thus greater sur­viv­abil­ity is now be­ing de­signed In any case no mat­ter how good the sen­sor to shooter tech­nol­ogy is, the abil­ity of AFVs grouped to­gether with mech­a­nised in­fantry and other com­bat el­e­ments to seize and hold ground, to deny its use to the en­emy and to se­cure it for use by own troops is cur­rently in­dis­pens­able. More­over ma­noeu­vre to dis­lo­cate the en­emy, to get be­hind him, to de­mor­alise him so as to im­pose our will on him will con­tinue to be an im­por­tant role for ar­mour. In­di­rect fire­power (from ground or air) alone will not be able to achieve this ef­fect de­spite the ad­vent of pre­ci­sion mu­ni­tions. Troops on the ground with AFVs lend power and mus­cle to an op­er­a­tional mis­sion which can­not be ful­filled by stand-off en­gage­ments alone. Even a mil­i­tar­ily pow­er­ful na­tion like the US has learnt this les­son the hard way in Afghanistan and Iraq where op­er­a­tions con­tin­ued for many years af­ter the ini­tial mil­i­tary cam­paign was won vir­tu­ally against no op­po­si­tion.

Pa­ram­e­ters Af­fect­ing Em­ploy­ment

There is a need to dis­cuss and de­bate the is­sue of em­ploy­ment of ar­mour in the fu­ture, in con­cep­tual terms, in the In­dian con­text, so as to en­able pro­fes­sion­als to as­sess their em­ploy­ment in view of the chal­lenges posed by fu­ture bat­tle­field de­vel­op­ments which in turn in­flu­ence the in­tro­duc­tion of new tech­nolo­gies to de­sign the new AFVs.

In or­der to ex­am­ine the ef­fec­tive­ness and em­ploy­ment of ar­mour in fu­ture con­flicts it will also be pru­dent, in the first in­stance, to un­der­stand the ba­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics of an AFV. Cur­rently, in open ter­rain (plains and deserts) ar­mour pre­dom­i­nant com­bat forces are em­ployed to lead the ad­vance of of­fen­sive for­ma­tions, to cut off en­emy lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, to link up with air­borne or he­li­copter borne op­er­a­tions or spe­cial forces in­serted in the depth ar­eas of en­emy de­fences, or to oc­cupy key ter­rain in en­emy held area in or­der to dis­lo­cate the en­emy, phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally, and de­stroy him at a time and place of own choos­ing. Presently there is no method by which an all arms force can sur­prise, paral­yse and cause dis­lo­ca­tion on the ground with­out the use of ar­mour (tanks). Mere use of greater fire­power against strong en­emy de­fences will not suf­fice.

The lat­est AFVs have in­te­grated fire con­trol sys­tems. Such sys­tems have a bal­lis­tic com­puter and a laser range-finder. They have ra­dio equip­ment ca­pa­ble of dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and of re­ceiv­ing/ trans­mit­ting GPS data. Tanks are fit­ted with dig­i­tal com­put­ers which are con­nected into C4I2 (com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and com­put­ers, in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance) bat­tle­field net­works. These tanks in­te­grate known in­for­ma­tion on en­emy tar­gets and friendly units to greatly im­prove the tank com­man­der’s sit­u­a­tional aware­ness. In ad­di­tion to eas­ing the reporting bur­den, these sys­tems also al­low for or­ders to be given com­plete with graph­ics and over­lays, via the net­work. The trend is that each tank is be­com­ing a so­phis­ti­cated and in­de­pen­dent fight­ing ma­chine ca­pa­ble of un­leash­ing far greater and more ac­cu­rate fire­power.

The ver­sa­tilil­ity and unique­ness of this weapon sys­tem, through in­no­va­tive em­ploy­ment, can achieve a lethal ef­fect on the bat­tle­field called “shock ac­tion” which can help in at­tain­ing strate­gic ob­jec­tives most eco­nom­i­cally. This re­sults from a com­bi­na­tion of mo­bil­ity, ar­mour pro­tec­tion, ac­cu­rate and di­rect fire­power and ex­cel­lent com­mu­nica- tions, which con­sti­tute the ba­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics of an AFV. This qual­ity of ar­mour also ful­fills an im­por­tant tenet of Op­er­a­tional Art called “Op­er­a­tional Shock”, a term adopted from Rus­sian word “Udar”. Ma­noeu­vre the­ory seeks to de­feat en­emy with­out de­stroy­ing all his forces. “Op­er­a­tional Shock” is the Soviet term for a state of dis­in­te­gra­tion of re­solve which re­sults from de­priv­ing com­man­ders the abil­ity to sense their en­vi­ron­ment or ex­er­cise con­trol over their tac­ti­cal el­e­ments or both. Both phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive means are used to achieve it and ar­mour is in­dis­pens­able in the land bat­tle in this re­gard.

A new bat­tle­field en­vi­ron­ment is emerg­ing due to the ad­vent of stand-off, mul­ti­spec­tral sen­sors with real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tions that give sit­u­a­tional aware­ness so that tar­gets can be ac­quired, pri­ori­tised and de­stroyed, by day or by night, in all weath­ers, through­out the bat­tle­field, with stand off weapon sys­tems fir­ing pre­ci­sion at­tack mu­ni­tions. This threat ex­tends through­out the area of op­er­a­tions. Hence it is be­ing pointed out by an­a­lysts that in­di­rect and stand-off en­gage­ments from air­craft, un­manned com­bat aerial ve­hi­cles (UCAVs) and long range ar­tillery can re­lieve ar­mour from the role of de­stroy­ing en­emy com­bat el­e­ments at close quar­ters. More­over due to the high threat posed by the above sys­tems ar­moured forces may find it dif­fi­cult to close in with their in­tended ob­jec­tives with­out neu­tral­is­ing the op­po­nents deep at­tack sys­tems.

In view of the above ra­tio­nale many ex­perts on tank de­signs are pre­dict­ing that the prime char­ac­ter­is­tic of fu­ture AFVs may well be “sur­viv­abil­ity” to be able to tran­sit through the bat­tle zone un­scathed. Thus the fo­cus cur­rently is on ar­mour pro­tec­tion and stealth.

Ar­mour Pro­tec­tion

Ar­mour pro­tec­tion has been sub­stan­tially im­proved in the re­cent years. Tanks, ear­lier made of steel plates, are now pro­tected by more com­plex com­pos­ite ar­mour, a sand­wich of var­i­ous al­loys and ceram­ics. Com­pos­ite and hy­brid ar­mour sys­tems have been adopted for tanks by im­prov­ing their pro­tec­tion against ki­netic and shaped-charge threats. Ar­mour suites in­clude Bri­tain’s Chob­ham, Ger­many’s Mod­u­lar Ex­pand­able Ar­mour Sys­tems (Mexas), de­vel­oped by IBD and hy­brid ar­mour from Is­raeli Mil­i­tary In­dus­tries (IMI) which is utilised in the Merkava tank and var­i­ous Ar­moured Per­son­nel Car­ri­ers (APCs).

IMI’s “bal­lis­tic plus counter road side” pro­tec­tion de­feats var­i­ous types of ad­vanced road­side bombs. This “add on” ar­mour uses mod­ules com­bin­ing ce­ramic and com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and weighs ap­prox­i­mately 68 kgs (150 lb) per sq me­tre. Ceram­ics and Nano ma­te­ri­als have the ca­pa­bil­ity to cre­ate com­pos­ites with stop­ping power and dura­bil­ity un­matched by cur­rent ar­mour suites. An Is­raeli com­pany, Ap Nano, has tested one of the most shock re­sis­tant com­po­si­tions known. It is mod­elled af­ter a metal­lic based Nano-ma­te­rial called IF Nanosphere. This ma­te­rial is five times stronger than steel and at least twice as strong as any im­pact re­sis­tant ma­te­rial. In tri­als they have with­stood shocks of 250 tonnes per sq cm. Progress has also been made with in­sen­si­tive reac-

tive ar­mour (IRA) which utilises in­sen­si­tive ex­plo­sives. IRA tiles re­act as reg­u­lar ex­plo­sive re­ac­tive ar­mour when hit by a shaped charge but less vi­o­lently re­duc­ing col­lat­eral dam­age.

Clara ar­mour from Ger­man com­pa­nies Ver­sei­dag In­du­tex and Dy­na­mite No­bel be­haves like re­ac­tive ar­mour. It is how­ever con­tained in a light­weight, metal free mod­ule made of lay­ers of sheet ex­plo­sive and com­pos­ites. It en­gages shaped charge plasma jet of a pro­jec­tile but cre­ates no frag­ments. When com­bined with Ver­sei­dag’s Ul­trax com­pos­ite base ar­mour, it pro­tects against RPG at­tacks, as well as ki­netic en­ergy threats. A form of Chob­ham ar­mour is en­cased in de­pleted ura­nium on the M1A1 Abrams MBT of the US Army. The Is­raeli Merkava tank takes the de­sign of pro­tec­tion sys­tems to an ex­treme, us­ing the en­gine and fuel tanks as sec­ondary ar­mour. In­dia’s MBT Ar­jun also uses com­pos­ite ar­mour called “Kan­chan Ar­mour” de­vel­oped by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) of In­dia.

IBD has un­veiled its new ad­vanced mod­u­lar ar­mour pro­tec­tion (AMAP) com­pos­ite ar­mor con­cept as a fol­low-on to their com­bat proven mod­u­lar ex­pand­able ar­mour sys­tem (MEXAS) pro­tec­tion. AMAP, utilises ul­tra-fine pow­ders made from nano-par­ti­cle ceram­ics to cre­ate thin­ner, lighter but tougher ce­ramic mod­ules. AMAP is al­ready utilised for a num­ber of new ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing the pro­tec­tion kits for the Ital­ian Army’s MLV, the Nor­we­gian CV-9030 and Swedish CV-9040 ar­moured ve­hi­cles.

Pas­sive coun­ter­mea­sures, like the Rus­sian Sh­tora sys­tem, at­tempts to jam the guid­ance sys­tems of in­com­ing guided mis­siles. Ex­plo­sive re­ac­tive ar­mour, or ERA, is an­other ma­jor type of pro­tec­tion against high ex­plo­sive anti-tank weapons, in which sec­tions of ar­mour ex­plode to dis­si­pate the fo­cused ex­plo­sive force of a shaped charge war­head fired by an anti-tank weapon or a tank. Re­ac­tive ar­mour is at­tached to the out­side of an MBT in small, re­place­able bricks. Ac­tive pro­tec­tion sys­tems (APS) go one step fur­ther than re­ac­tive ar­mour. An APS uses radar or other sens­ing tech­nol­ogy to au­to­mat­i­cally re­act to in­com­ing pro­jec­tiles. When the sys­tem de­tects hos­tile fire, it cal­cu­lates a fir­ing res­o­lu­tion and di­rects an ex­plo­sive-launched counter-pro­jec­tile to in­ter­cept or dis­rupt the in­com­ing fire a few me­tres from the tar­get.

Fu­ture Em­ploy­ment

Open Ter­rain

Many pro­fes­sion­als who have a fetish for at­tri­tional as­pects of war­fare gen­er­ally fail to ap­pre­ci­ate the unique qual­i­ties of AFVs which en­dow a com­man­der with the abil­ity to win bat­tles against many odds but AFVs can­not func­tion in isolation. Any sys­tem whether it op­er­ates on land, sea or air must be in­te­grated with other sys­tems within a ser­vice and with the weapon sys­tems of the other two ser­vices in or­der to achieve op­er­a­tional syn­ergy against an op­po­nent in the fu­ture. Fail­ure to re­alise this im­por­tant wider con­text will re­sult in sub-op­ti­mi­sa­tion of our fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

In­dia is likely to face more com­plex threats and chal­lenges in the fu­ture than ever be­fore and the cir­cum­stances are also likely to be dif­fer­ent and this is where the mil­i­tary dilemma arises – where, when, for what pur­pose and how will fu­ture wars be fought? In the ab­sence of con­crete in­for­ma­tion the an­swer lies in build­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and skills which can en­dow us with the po­ten­tial of achiev­ing ef­fects that we wish to im­pose on the op­po­nent on fu­ture bat­tle­fields. Suit­ably de­signed AFVs, as a part of the com­bined arms for­ma­tions, will con­tinue to play a dom­i­nant role in in­te­grated air-land op­er­a­tions by virtue of their sur­viv­abil­ity, speed and shock ef­fect even in the fu­ture, in ter­rain which favours their em­ploy­ment. In this re­gard it may be noted that apart from the plains, river­ine ter­rain

In­dia is likely to face more com­plex threats and chal­lenges in the fu­ture than ever be­fore and the cir­cum­stances are also likely to be dif­fer­ent and this is where the mil­i­tary dilemma arises – where, when, for what pur­pose and how will fu­ture wars be fought?

in the North­east and desert ter­rain, even in the moun­tain­ous re­gions of our north­ern and western borders there is some scope for em­ploy­ing AFVs in­no­va­tively and skill­fully both along the line of con­trol (LoC) against Pak­istan and the line of ac­tual con­trol (LAC) against China. Em­ploy­ment of AFVs as part of com­bined arms com­bat teams and groups here could re­sult in ob­tain­ing ad­van­tages which are dis­pro­por­tion­ately higher as com­pared to the ef­fort em­ployed. This re­quires out of the box think­ing.

The next im­por­tant is­sue with re­gard to em­ploy­ment of ar­mour is that of new tech­nol­ogy. There is no doubt that tech­nol­ogy will play a pre-dom­i­nant role in de­sign­ing the con­duct of wars and should be com­bined with in­no­va­tive Op­er­a­tional Art, to win fu­ture wars. In­dia is fac­ing an en­tirely new tech­nol­ogy era and needs to in­te­grate new tech­nolo­gies as warfight­ing sys­tems for which the re­quire­ment is to first de­cide upon a new joint warfight­ing doc­trine and then evolve weapons and other sys­tems to suit the for­mer. Large sized hold­ing and strike for­ma­tions of the In­dian Army, whose roles are a prod­uct of an en­vi­ron­ment which is fad­ing away, will have to give way to smaller, more ag­ile, more re­spon­sive and rapidly de­ploy­able for­ma­tions in which ar­mour will play a very sig­nif­i­cant role. Em­ploy­ment of fully in­te­grated bri­gade and di­vi­sional sized task forces in the fu­ture would re­quire, in­tro­duc­tion of three key tech­nolo­gies which are: ISR (in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance) sys­tem that will keep track of en­emy and own forces move­ments through ad­vanced sen­sors and plat­forms like air­craft, UAVs, and satel­lites as­sisted by global po­si­tion­ing sys­tems (GPS) for an up to date sit­u­a­tional aware­ness; an in­te­grated C4I2 Sys­tem to view the en­tire bat­tle space as one com­pos­ite whole so as to deal with tar­gets in a co­or­di­nated and co­her­ent man­ner; and long-range pre­ci­sion fire­power by the most ap­pro­pri­ate means (ground/air/ naval) or a com­bi­na­tion thereof. In­te­gra­tion of the fire power re­sources of the three ser­vices will en­sure op­ti­mum ef­fect on the tar­get while the choice is left to the in­te­grated force com­man­der to use the most ap­pro­pri­ate and the most ef­fec­tive weapons. In­dia lacks such tech­nol­ogy and such ca­pa­bil­ity cur­rently. In­dia has to ac­quire and de­velop these tech­nolo­gies with as­sis­tance from its strate­gic part­ners. She would do well to in­vest in these tech­nolo­gies at the ear­li­est so that we are ready for fu­ture wars when we are re­quired to fight them.

By virtue of their unique char­ac­ter­is­tics, AFVs will re­main the pivot around which bat­tle groups are formed and ar­ranged on ground. The fo­cus of fu­ture tank de­sign­ers may shift to pro­tec­tion and sur­viv­abil­ity as com­pared to fire­power and mo­bil­ity and this may be achieved through a com­bi­na­tion of tech­nolo­gies. While sig­na­ture re­duc­tion to avoid de­tec­tion is one pos­si­ble area to ex­plore, once de­tected the AFV will have to be equipped with ac­tive and pas­sive means, in­clud­ing the de­struc­tion of the threat, to avoid ac­qui­si­tion. If ac­quired, the AFV would have to have a higher de­gree of re­spon­sive­ness by re­sort­ing to hard and soft kill mech­a­nisms built into the ve­hic­u­lar sys­tem. There is also a school of thought which ad­vo­cates sur­viv­abil­ity of an AFV be­ing achieved through a col­lec­tive sys­tem rather than be­ing plat­form based, which could be ac­ti­vated as per re­quire­ment. This could in­clude un­manned plat­forms for high risk func­tions such as re­con­nais­sance. In con­clu­sion it can be stated that the AFVs will en­dure the changes in the na­ture of fu­ture wars how­ever they must not be seen in isolation as stand-alone weapon sys­tems but as a part of an all arms group en­abling and sus­tain­ing de­ci­sive ma­noeu­vre and high in­ten­sity bat­tle at close quar­ters through su­pe­rior sur­viv­abil­ity against pre­ci­sion at­tacks and dumb mu­ni­tions.

Ur­ban Op­er­a­tions

There has been rapid and ex­ten­sive ur­ban­i­sa­tion at a global level. Forty-eight per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lived in ur­ban ar­eas in 2003. It is pro­jected to ex­ceed the 50 per cent mark by 2007 and ex­pected to rise to 61 per cent by 2030. In the In­dian con­text the so-called semi-desert and desert ter­rain, with a grow­ing net­work of canals and ir­ri­ga­tion chan­nels, is fast be­com­ing ur­banised with pop­u­la­tion cen­tres close to the bor­der which are be­com­ing big­ger and big­ger ev­ery year with a good net­work of roads and mo­torable tracks. Thus the ge­og­ra­phy of desert and semi desert is un­der­go­ing a change which will im­pact upon the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in such ar­eas.

It is in­ter­est­ing to read that in a re­view of ar­moured forces in Oper­a­tion Iraq Free­dom, four rea­sons were given for highly suc­cess­ful ar­moured op­er­a­tions in ur­ban sec­tors (built up area op­er­a­tions): Firstly, tanks are highly re­sis­tant to fire - In Iraq, the Bri­tish claimed that one Chal­lenger MBT near Basra ab­sorbed 15 RPG hits with­out suf­fer­ing pen­e­tra­tion. Amer­i­can tanks and IFVs re­peat­edly sus­tained vol­leys of RPG and IED hits that dis­mounted soldiers and other light skinned ve­hi­cles would not have sus­tained. Sec­ondly, tanks and IFVs are the log­i­cal choice for leading the ad­vance. Ar­moured ve­hi­cles are es­sen­tial be­cause sit­u­a­tional aware­ness (SA) re­gard­ing en­emy forces is gen­er­ally poor be­low the bri­gade level. In in­sur­gent ar­eas it is not pos­si­ble to main­tain full real-time in­tel­li­gence on the in­sur­gent forces. There is the added com­plex­ity of the in­sur­gency in­ter-min­gling with the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. Hence tanks are the weapons of choice for “ad­vance to con­tact”. It is ob­served that an in­verse re­la­tion­ship be­tween force pro­tec­tion and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness ex­ists. Where SA is poor, strong ar­mour pro­tec­tion is needed and tanks are ideal for this pur­pose. More­over tanks are ca­pa­ble of un­leash­ing ac­cu­rate and high vol­ume of fire­power to kill an op­po­nent hid­den in the built- up area. Thirdly, un­like ar­tillery and air­craft which re­quire a longer re­sponse time to en­gage the en­emy, tanks and in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles can re­spond im­me­di­ately to en­emy fire. Lastly, in ur­ban op­er­a­tions tanks can adopt a va­ri­ety of tac­tics and mis­sion ori­ented groups to ef­fec­tively deal with chang­ing con­di­tions. Purely dis­mounted in­fantry or even in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles can­not match fire­power, shock ef­fect, tracked mo­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion of tanks.

Ur­ban Mod­i­fi­ca­tion Kits

Ur­ban mod­i­fi­ca­tion kits can be de­vel­oped to adapt ex­ist­ing tank for ur­ban op­er­a­tions. In­no­va­tions in pro­tec­tion, clas­si­fied as ac­tive pro­tec­tion sys­tems (APS) can be fit­ted onto ex­ist­ing tanks and in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles. One such sys­tem is the Is­raeli Tro­phy APS, which was specif­i­cally de­signed for safe oper­a­tion in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment, where ar­moured ve­hi­cles work in close prox­im­ity to dis­mounted in­fantry. This sys­tem is able to de­tect and launch di­rected and fo­cused coun­ter­mea­sures to in­ter­cept the in­com­ing threat with low col­lat­eral dam­age, and rel­a­tively low risk to nearby troops.

Tanks and IFVs can also be fit­ted with RF-jam­ming de­vices. One such de­vice is War­lock, which is de­signed to send out a broad-spec­trum sig­nal that will pre­ma­turely det­o­nate, de­lay or pre­vent det­o­na­tion of the trig­ger/fir­ing mech­a­nism of IEDs. These de­vices have been found to be fairly ef­fec­tive in Iraq and Is­rael.

Panoramic video cam­era sys­tems can also be mounted on ve­hi­cles. 360-de­gree omni-direc­tional panoramic cam­eras, be­ing tested on French Le­clerc “Azur” MBTs, en­able the driver to drive in re­verse with­out additional guid­ance. Au­to­matic mo­tion de­tec­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties are also built into these video sys­tems, de­tect­ing and alert­ing the crew to po­ten­tial threats as they emerge.

Unique mod­i­fi­ca­tion kits have also been added to the Is­raeli Merkava Mk3 and Mk4 MBTs, whereby a fir­ing hatch and ob­ser­va­tion win­dow is fit­ted in the rear ac­cess door, for a sniper or sharp­shooter to cover the rear from within the tank. Selected mod­els have their tur­rets re­placed with ar­moured boxes with bul­let-proof glass. This mod­i­fi­ca­tion al­lows ve­hi­cle com­man­ders to roll into hos­tile neigh­bour­hoods and yet have 360-de­gree vis­i­bil­ity with­out ex­pos­ing them­selves to en­emy fire.

Bat­tle­field Man­age­ment Sys­tem

The bat­tle­field man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS) can dra­mat­i­cally im­prove the sit­u­a­tional aware­ness of tank and in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles crew’s es­pe­cially when op­er­at­ing closed down i.e. when hatches are closed. BMS also re­duces the pos­si­bil­ity of fra­t­ri­cide and al­lows for more ef­fi­cient com­mand and con­trol. Such sys­tems are al­ready in place in mod­ern ar­mies of the world.

In the In­dian Army, the BMS (planned at bat­tal­ion/reg­i­ment and be­low level for all arms and ser­vices of the Army) will com­prise of a tac­ti­cal hand-held com­puter with in­di­vid­ual soldiers and tac­ti­cal com­put­ers at bat­tle group head­quar­ters and com­bat ve­hi­cles. Com­put­ers will be in­te­grated em­ploy­ing ap­pli­ca­tion and data­base servers con­nected on a data en­abled com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work. The sys­tem will en­able gen­er­a­tion of com­mon op­er­a­tional pic­ture by in­te­grat­ing in­puts from all rel­e­vant sources within a bat­tle group by in­te­grated use of GIS and GPS. The BMS will be a highly mo­bile sys­tem which is able to net­work it­self by in­te­gra­tion of com­po­nents and pro­vide a high data rate. How­ever cur­rently in the In­dian con­text this is only a con­cept. It will take many years be­fore it trans­lates into a ca­pa­bil­ity.


His­tor­i­cally the death knell of ar­mour has been sounded from time to time with the dis­cov­ery of new types of anti-tank weapons, how­ever ar­mour has al­ways adapted it­self to meet the new threats through de­sign changes, in­no­va­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions and tac­ti­cal re­forms. This trend is con­tin­u­ing and now em­ploy­ment in even ur­ban op­er­a­tions, with ur­ban mod­i­fi­ca­tion kits, have shown pos­i­tive re­sults. Trends in­di­cate that the like­li­hood of ur­ban op­er­a­tions is in­creas­ing in the fu­ture. Ev­i­dence has shown that, with sim­ple mod­i­fi­ca­tions, ar­moured forces can still ex­cel in ur­ban op­er­a­tions, as part of a com­bined arms team that in­cludes in­fantry, en­gi­neers, ar­tillery, sig­nals, air sup­port, civil af­fairs (CA) and psy­cho­log­i­cal op­er­a­tions (PSY­OPS).

In our case the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Mech­a­nised Forces should take an in­sti­tu­tional look at the fu­ture em­ploy­ment of tanks and in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles to de­cide on the de­sign as­pects of fu­ture tanks and ICVs.

Swedish CV90 fight­ing ve­hi­cle

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