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DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 37 | NOV 2017
to repair an armoured vehicle quickly after a mine blast incident
is just as important in asymmetric operations as in conventional
RETURNING TO THE FIGHT
It is sometimes said that amateurs talk tactics and professionals
talk logistics. In his book, The Psychology of Military Incompetence,
Norman Dixon characterises war as two sides pouring their
resources into a funnel. The loser is the side that runs out of
resources first. But here’s the rub. The side that runs out of
resources first is not just determined by who has more resources
at the start, it is also determined by how quickly each side expends
them. So success in war depends partly on the ability to conserve
resources. These include resources used for battle damage repair
of armoured vehicles.
Some numbers illustrate this point. In asymmetric warfare, the
logistics as well as the tactics are asymmetric. In round numbers,
a modern armoured vehicle might cost $10 million, while a bomb
to destroy it might cost $1,000. Moreover, that $1,000 bomb can
be ordered, built and delivered in a few weeks. A $10 million
armoured vehicle requires months if not years to order, build and
deliver. This is logistics asymmetry. It is easy to see how quickly
the side with the modern armoured vehicle can lose even when
the other side has a fraction of the resources.
It might not be obvious but if the protection of the occupants
is the only protection requirement for an armoured vehicle,
one consequence can be unnecessary equipment casualties.
This lesson has been hard won by many armies in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The absence of battle damage repair in standards
and program requirements since the end of the Cold War has
arguably resulted in significantly higher operating costs in
theatre. More than a few armies have learnt this lesson the hard
Without quoting specific examples, here is a typical scenario for
armies that operated armoured vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A modern, expensive armoured vehicle is involved in an
improvised explosive device (IED) attack. All of the occupants
survive with some minor injuries. But the vehicle is significantly
damaged. The hull and mounting locations for things such as
appliqué armour and suspension stations are deformed. The
vehicle cannot be repaired in theatre so it is returned to the home
This is not just expensive. It is time consuming. Even if there are
parts, tools and people available immediately, that vehicle is often
out of action for more than six months.
Some armies have been pressing for a better solution and
several armoured vehicle designers have responded. Two
examples stand out. Coincidentally, they originate from the
companies v ying for Land 400 Phase 2. Both solutions apply the
concept of modularity.
The first example is the Boxer from Rheinmetall. This vehicle
was originally developed by a German-British-French consortium
under the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle program although it later
morphed into a German-Dutch consortium. Boxer comprises two
modules – a drive module and a mission module. This enables
rapid battle damage repair if either module is damaged.
A much better example is the RG41 developed by BAE Systems
in South Africa (now Denel). One of its higher design priorities
was to reduce the time required for battle damage repair. The
designers clearly thought two modules weren’t enough so the
vehicle comprises no less than five modules or segments. When
one or more of these segments is damaged in an attack, they can
be replaced in theatre rather than sending the whole vehicle home
This is a radical response to a modern dilemma. Armoured
vehicles are becoming ever more capable, ever more expensive
and ever more time consuming to repair. There seems little point
owning a multi-million dollar armoured vehicle if a thousand
dollar bomb can send it away for six months. DTR
ABOVE: The STANAG 4569 standard rightly prioritises the
protection of the occupants of armoured vehicles, over the vehicle
itself. Image: Polish MoD
FORCE PROTECTION IS OUR MISSION.
Protecting Australian lives. Delivering Australian jobs.
BOXER CRV delivers the Commonwealth’s requirements for Land 400 Phase 2.
Our plan to create a sovereign industrial capability for Australian military vehicles will
underpin a 50-year strategic partnership between Army, government and industry.
Fight. Survive. Win
A0234e0817_Boxer CRV_210x297.indd 1
IT MIGHT NOT BE OBVIOUS
BUT IF THE PROTECTION
OF THE OCCUPANTS IS
THE ONLY PROTECTION
REQUIREMENT FOR AN
ARMOURED VEHICLE, ONE
CONSEQUENCE CAN BE
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