Rebel tanks

Rebel tanks
Rebel tanks

For counter-guerrilla operations, special armored vehicles are needed


After the end of World War II, rebellion became the most common type of hostilities on the planet. This phenomenon was comprehended and described by the outstanding military theorist of the Russian diaspora Yevgeny Messner back in the 60s of the last century, but until the beginning of the new, XXI century, the armies of the leading states of the world continued to prepare for large-scale battles of the 1941-1945 pattern. And therefore, they were equipped with military equipment, primarily armored vehicles, intended mainly for large-scale combined-arms operations. But the troops involved in counter-partisan and counter-terrorist missions had to participate in completely different battles using this technique. Vietnam for the United States and Afghanistan for the USSR seem to have clearly demonstrated that armies need fundamentally new armored vehicles. However, they began to enter service with, for example, American units and subunits only during the second campaign in Iraq. Unfortunately, Russian military personnel do not have vehicles with an increased level of mine protection at all.

According to statistics, the losses incurred by the US army as a result of mine explosions and ambush attacks during the Second World War and the Korean War did not exceed five percent. In Vietnam, this figure has increased more than six times (up to 33%). And in 2007, when the program of mass purchases of vehicles with an increased level of mine protection (MRAP) was launched, 63% of American soldiers and officers killed during the fighting in Iraq

died as a result of explosions on improvised explosive devices.


Meanwhile, the first attack on a US Army transport convoy in Iraq occurred on the third day of the war, on March 23, 2003. Then, on the outskirts of An Nasiriyah, the Iraqis attacked a convoy of 18 vehicles from the 507th repair company. These were 5-ton M923 transport trucks and their modifications: an M931 truck tractor, an M936 technical vehicle, a fuel tanker, a HEMTT tractor pulling a faulty M931, and three HMMWVs. None of the cars had body armor. In addition, the attacked Americans had only one piece of heavy weapons at their disposal - a 12.7-mm machine gun, which refused when attempting to open fire from it. That is, the repairmen could only fight back with personal weapons - M16 automatic rifles and M249 light machine guns. Such negligence in organizing the escort of this convoy was costly: during the battle, out of 33 servicemen traveling as part of the convoy, 11 were killed, 9 were injured, and 7 were captured.

A standard retaliatory move followed. In August, the 253rd Transport Company built six armed gantruck trucks. Their design turned out to be traditional, tested back in Vietnam: a box of steel sheets about 10 mm thick and sandbags (in a dry climate, this is a more or less acceptable solution). Armament - 12, 7-mm machine gun in the cockpit hatch, another machine gun of the same or 40-mm automatic grenade launcher MK19 - in the back. The crew of the car consisted of five military volunteers of the 253rd company.

During the Vietnam War, faced with the need to defend transport convoys, the Americans began to arm conventional trucks with machine guns, reinforcing the sides with improvised protection. At first they were just sandbags, then - sheets of armor steel, sometimes in the form of spaced armor. And the most "cool" means of fighting the ambushes of the Viet Cong can be considered the body of the M113 armored personnel carrier installed in the body.

The Americans had to follow exactly the same path in the initial period of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since the construction of gantrucks in transport units was carried out from standard vehicles, that is, they, like in Vietnam, have to be torn away from the performance of regular tasks for the supply of troops, less valuable copies were used. In the photographs you can see gantrucks built on the basis of dump trucks and even truck tractors. Quite a lot of gantrucks were created on the chassis of unarmored versions of the HMMWV.

However, if the armed trucks were able to more or less successfully counteract the militants who fired at the transport convoy from an ambush, then their crews were practically not protected from being blown up by an improvised explosive device. Therefore, by 2007, a massive program for the purchase of vehicles with an increased level of mine protection (MRAP) was launched.

MRAPs, designed for patrolling, escorting transport convoys and transferring personnel in a guerrilla war, have become one of the most sought-after models of armored vehicles for the US Armed Forces since 1945. In just three years, in the interests of the army, navy, marine corps and special operations forces, about 17.5 thousand such armored combat vehicles were purchased for over $ 26 billion. For comparison, the most massive American main battle tank, the M60, was produced in the amount of 15 thousand copies (and exported to more than 20 countries). M1 Abrams tanks produced about 9 thousand. Currently, the US Army has 10 thousand M113 and M2 Bradley armored personnel carriers (in fairness, it is worth noting that more than 80 thousand copies of the M113 have been manufactured since 1960).



However, the true homeland of vehicles with enhanced mine protection is Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) - an already half-forgotten state in Africa, where power belonged to the descendants of European colonialists. There was a fierce partisan war going on there for many years. This small country with limited human resources willy-nilly had to take care of the lives of its own soldiers.

Initially, in Rhodesia, they tried to increase the resistance of Lend Rover SUVs to explosions using artisanal methods, but it quickly became clear that reworking the standard car was a road to a dead end. It is necessary to create a special AFV using serial components and assemblies. Methods for reducing the damaging effect of anti-tank mines and improvised land mines were generally clear. Here are the main features of an armored personnel carrier device with enhanced mine protection:

- V-shaped bottom of the armored hull, its maximum possible rise above the road - these measures made it possible to reduce the impact and divert the energy of the blast wave from the hull;

- the maximum possible distance from the armored hull of massive structural units, which, when detonated, themselves become striking elements: engine, transmission, suspension;

- full or partial use of the chassis of serial commercial trucks, which reduces the total cost of machines and the cost of their operation.

After the victory of the black majority in Rhodesia, South Africa took over the development of vehicles with enhanced mine protection, forced to wage a prolonged border war. A peculiar stage in the process of implementing the MRAP concept was the appearance in 1978 of the Buffel machine, into the design of which the entire Rhodesian and South African experience in the creation and use of blast-resistant armored personnel carriers was very organically entered. The next step can be considered the development in 1995 of the Mamba machine. Its more advanced version of the RG-31 Nyala is used in 8 countries around the world, and 1,385 RG-31 vehicles entered service with the US Marine Corps. Further development of the AFV of this series - RG-33 Pentagon ordered in the amount of 1735 copies.

In the American Armed Forces, at present, depending on the mass and dimensions, there are three categories of machines of the MRAP type. Category I AFVs are the most compact. They are intended for patrolling in urban environments.Category II - heavier vehicles suitable for escorting convoys, transporting personnel, transporting the wounded, and using them as engineering vehicles. A relatively small category III is represented by Buffalo armored personnel carriers, specially designed for mine clearance. They are equipped with a 9-meter manipulator for remote disposal of explosive devices.

In the US Armed Forces, the most common types of MRAP AFVs are International MaxxPro and Cougar machines. MaxxPro was ordered by the US Armed Forces in the amount of 6444 units, Cougar in various modifications - 2510.

The Cougar is available in two-axle and three-axle versions. In addition to a crew of two, the Cougar 4x4 can carry 6 people, in the 6x6 version - 10. The vehicle was developed in South Africa and is manufactured in the USA by Force Protection Inc (hull) and Spartan Motors (chassis). The Cougar features a monocoque body, a Caterpillar engine, Allison A / C and Marmon-Herrington continuous axles. She is armed with a remotely controlled turret with a 12.7 mm machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. Standard armor protects people inside from shelling with 7.62x51 mm NATO cartridges from a distance of 5-10 meters and when detonating a charge equivalent to 13.5 kg of TNT under one of the wheels and 6.7 kg under the body. Additionally, it is possible to mount active armor and lattice screens for protection from anti-tank grenade launchers.

International MaxxPro also comes in two versions, both with a capacity of 6-8 people. In terms of dimensions and the number of axles, the machines are exactly the same, the only difference is in the engine. It's just that MaxxPro has a 330 hp motor. with., and the MaxxPro Plus diesel produces 375 liters. with. Accordingly, the carrying capacity of the basic version is 1.6 tons, while MaxxPro Plus has 3.8 tons. Considering that both armored cars can carry the same number of paratroopers (4-6 people), the increase in power from MaxxPro Plus allows either to achieve greater mobility of the vehicle, or to enhance its security by attaching additional elements. MaxxPro is built according to the traditional scheme: the armored capsule is installed on the chassis of a commercial truck with a conventional ladder frame and continuous axles with leaf spring suspension.

The use of machines of the MRAP type allowed a sharp, almost 90 percent reduction in losses from blasting. According to the official data of the US Department of Defense, in Iraq in May 2008, 11 military personnel were killed as a result of explosions of landmines on the roads, while in May 2007, 92 American soldiers were killed in the same conditions. However, the headache for Pentagon officials did not diminish. It turned out that the decisions that proved to be quite reasonable in Iraq do not work well in Afghanistan, where the activity of the American army has recently shifted.


Unlike Iraq, where MRAPs traveled on roads and desert terrain, in Afghanistan they had to operate in mountains, in narrow gorges and in almost complete off-road conditions. Here, heavy vehicles with a high center of gravity, which means they are prone to overturning, are not able to go fast. Consequently, the risk of being hit in the event of an ambush increases. In addition, Afghan guerrillas have developed their own tactics to combat MRAP, which was not slow to affect the statistics of losses.

The first step to overcome this situation was the creation of a somewhat lightweight version of MRAP. In September 2008, Navistar received an order to design and build a more compact, lighter and more mobile version of the MaxxPro, specifically designed for Afghanistan. The new machine was named MaxxPro Dash. It is 20 cm shorter than the base version and almost two tons lighter. The crew remained the same: driver, commander and gunner, and the landing was reduced to four people. Good mobility is provided by a 375 hp engine. with. The contract for the creation and production of 822 MaxxPro Dash AFVs cost $ 752 million and was completed by February 2009.

However, the release of MaxxPro Dash turned out to be nothing more than a half-measure, designed as quickly as possible to construct a sample suitable for operations in Afghan conditions. Not stopping there, the Pentagon announced a competition for the development of second generation MRAP armored vehicles.The winner in June 2009 was Oshkosh with the M-ATV.

This AFV, providing the same level of protection for the crew and troops as the first generation MRAP, is more compact and adapted for movement over rough terrain. The M-ATV has a curb weight of 11.3 tons (MaxxPro Dash weighs almost 15 tons, and MaxxPro Plus weighs more than 17.6 tons), is equipped with a Caterpillar C7 engine with a capacity of 370 hp. with. and automatic transmission, independent suspension of the TAK-4 type (a unique development of the Oshkosh company).

The centralized tire inflation system allows the machine to remain mobile in the event of tire damage. According to the developers, the M-ATV is able to keep moving for at least a kilometer in case of combat damage to the engine lubrication and cooling systems. The M-ATV can accommodate 5 people including the driver and gunner. It is equipped with a universal turret, on which various types of machine guns, a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher or a TOW ATGM can be mounted. Depending on the situation, the fire is conducted either manually or remotely.

To reduce logistics costs, the Pentagon chose the M-ATV as the only type of AFV with an increased level of mine protection of the second generation, since the motley fleet of the first MRAP gave rise to certain difficulties in repair and operation. As of February 2010, the total volume of orders for the M-ATV exceeded 8 thousand units.

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