Armor: It's What's Inside That Counts

Archives

November 17, 2008: If you look at the history of armored vehicle design over the last 70 years, you'll note that victory tends to come to the side with the better crews, not the superior vehicle designs. For a long time, this played little role in the design of new armored vehicles. But now it is becoming a crucial factor.

We are living in a watershed era as far as armored vehicle design is concerned. The vehicles that entered service at the end (1991) of the Cold War are still with us. Little new is in the works. Older designs, especially wheeled armored vehicles, are coming back into fashion. The U.S. Army Stryker is a variant of the LAV vehicle the U.S. Marine Corps acquired two decades earlier. Europeans have been building and selling (worldwide) such vehicles since the end of World War II.

There is plenty of talk and speculation about radical new tank designs, but nothing has really been done. Part of the delay is financial. The end of the Cold War led to a sharp drop in military spending, especially the funding of armored vehicle design and development. Then there is the flood of new technologies, many of which have been difficult to combine into a convincing new vehicle design.

In short, the big tanks, and high tech infantry fighting vehicles of today are difficult to replace. The current vehicles get the job done, and proposed new designs offer high risk (of battlefield failure) and low probability of successfully replacing what is already available.

Meanwhile, we have a nagging problem with superior people always beating superior technology. There are many examples. Early in World War II, the Germans had inferior tanks, yet they won spectacular victories using better trained and led crews, in 1940 and 41. Then comes 1944, when the U.S. was fighting the Germans in France. There, superior American crews, using inferior tanks, defeated the German tanks. In the 1956 and '67 Arab-Israeli wars, the Arabs had superior tanks, and more of them, but were quickly defeated by superior Israeli crews. At the very end of the Cold War, in Kuwait, the world saw what superior tanks, and crews, could do.

Thus the future of armored warfare would appear to depend more on crew, than vehicle, quality. Given the current lack of radical new tank designs, and budgets to move them through development, crew quality has become the new decisive weapon for armored forces.

 


Article Archive

Armor: Current 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close