Infantry vehicles can vary from general transport assets such as trucks, to specially
designed light armored fighting vehicles (LAFVs). The intensity of combat on the modern
battlefield requires infantry vehicles that are mobile, survivable, and lethal. Many ground forces have programs underway to field infantry LAFVs for modern requirements. Because of
budgetary constraints, many ground forces continue using infantry vehicles which might be
considered obsolete, but which are well suited for their environment and military role. A number of forces have aggressive upgrade programs for older systems.
Infantry LAFVs are generally classed as armored personnel carriers (APCs) or infantry
fighting vehicles (IFVs). The lighter, less protected and less lethal system is the APC. It is
intended to carry soldiers to the close combat zone, then dismount them for their commitment to
the fight. An IFV is designed to fight with soldiers onboard, to carry the soldiers forward without dismounting them if possible, and to support them with direct fires if they do dismount. The plethora of upgrade options available is permitting both APCs and IFVs to become more mobile, survivable, and lethal. Thus there are APCs with IFV survivability or IFV lethality, or with both -- which transforms them into IFVs. There are also IFVs with vulnerabilities which ill-suit them for their mission requirement. On the modern battlefield, lack of a capability (swim, night sights, etc.) is in fact a vulnerability.
Armies have been looking at ways to balance the need for increased protection with
limitations that additional armor brings, such as the need to be amphibious. One solution is to
accept a lack of swim capability for a segment of up-armored IFVs, coupled with a distribution of (less armored) amphibious vehicles within the force. Other armies are looking at limited addition of applique armor or active protection systems. Several companies have developed light
explosive reactive armor (ERA), which can be used on LAFVs. However, this is a less likely
upgrade, because exploding armor fragments are a hazard to dismounted soldiers.
In the past, higher combat power and cost of tanks justified the wide disparity in firepower between tanks and IFVs. However, modern IFVs, when fully manned and equipped, may have
equal or higher combat power and similar cost. Therefore, lethality improvements previously
afforded to tanks are being added to selected IFVs. A wide variety of lethality upgrades are
available for LAFVs. These include larger main weapons and antitank guided missile (ATGM)
launchers, and improved fire control systems (FCS), especially night sights. The simplest but
sometimes most costly upgrade is improved ammunition.
Improved secondary armaments for aerial targets permit the main weapon to focus more
on heavy targets. Thus, several countries are adding remote day sights and night sights and
improved ammunition for machineguns (MGs). Others are adding automatic grenade launchers to
supplement MG fires. The aerial threat to AFVs has prompted ground forces to address that threat. One response is proliferation of air defense assets, such as shoulder-fired SAMs. A more direct response which is difficult to counter, is cost-effective, and has long-term benefits for force effectiveness, is to better equip the vehicles for counterair fires. Some infantry vehicles have been fitted with high-angle-of-fire turrets (e.g., BTR-80) and antiaircraft sights (BMP-3). Improved fire control technology has led to more exotic ammunition solutions. The BMP-3 gun-launched ATGM has a higher velocity for use against helicopters. Another new development is ballistic computer-based electronically-fuzed frag-HE rounds, including forward- and side-firing rounds, which can defeat rotary-wing aircraft and ground-based antiarmor positions at stand-off range. Infantry vehicles offer the most economical armored vehicle chassis for development of
combat support and service support vehicles, including air defense vehicles, artillery, C 4 ,
The modern battlefield is becoming increasingly mobile and lethal. The challenge for
reconnaissance systems is to acquire the enemy, transmit intelligence, and survive for the next
mission. Therefore, ground forces use specialized reconnaissance vehicles. Most will employ a
mix of systems, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, dismounted reconnaissance patrols, aerial reconnaissance, and reconnaissance vehicles. The spectrum of reconnaissance vehicles currently ranges from older systems ill-suited for modern requirements, to survivable, mobile, and lethal systems, equipped with complex sensor arrays and communications suites.
A number of forces fielded combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs) designed for
operations at or beyond the FLOT, not to initiate combat but to survive if engaged. They may
operate in combat reconnaissance patrols with heavily armed vehicles such as tanks and IFVs.
Many offer sensors no better than those on other armored vehicles, and use optics for a variety of combat support missions, such as fire support. Examples of these are the British Saladin Armored Car and the Austrian Pandur armored reconnaissance Fire Support Vehicle. Main guns on these vehicles can range up to 105 mm (South African Rooikat). A growing trend is for CRVs with
added sensors (such as the Russian BRM-3K). It is a versatile vehicle configured for maneuver
reconnaissance with thermal sights and a 30-mm gun, but is also useful for setting up a stationary surveillance position with its Tall Mike radar. As a command (-K type) vehicle, it employs a mix of radios to transmit intelligence across several nets in a combined arms force.
A recent trend is the fielding of vehicles with sophisticated multi-sensor arrays specially
designed to operate behind or near the FLOT and provide continuous data to combined arms
forces. An example is the Czech Snezka, which will be featured in an update. Vehicles designed
to support specific branches are included with those branches (such as PRP-3/4 for artillery).
A class of vehicles widely proliferated for light patrol duties is the armored scout car.
With wheels rather than tracks, light armor, and guns generally of 7.62 - 20 mm, they offer low
cost but are vulnerable to a wide variety of weapons. Examples include the British Ferret and
Armoured combat vehicles
Infantry Fighting Vehicles:
Armament Combat Vehicles:
Sources and Methods
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Saturday, June 19, 1999 6:37:33 AM