Armor: American IFV Defeats Russian Tanks


June 19, 2024: In early 2023 Ukraine received 186 25-ton M2 IFVs (Infantry fighting vehicles). Each M2 turret was armed with a 25mm autocannon and two TOW ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) launchers as well as a coaxial (with the autocannon) 7.62mm machine-gun. M2 crews consist of a driver, gunner and vehicle commander. There is space in the rear to carry six infantry or additional machine-gun ammunition and TOW missiles. M2s usually carry additional TOW missiles which with their carrying case weigh 29.5 kg. M2s can carry over a dozen encased TOW reloads in the rear of the vehicle. TOW missiles are wire guided and have a max range of 3,700 meters. Average speed of the missile is 187 meters a second, meaning that it takes 19 seconds to hit a target at maximum range. The wire guidance means their guidance system cannot be jammed. While basically an anti-tank weapon, TOW missiles are also effective against structures or troops in the open. The rate of fire for TOWS is slow because crews must manually reload the TOW launchers.

Ukraine has received over 1,500 TOW missiles so far and some are used from tripod mounts that enable Ukrainian users to set up the tripod mounted TOW in an ambush position and wait for a Russian tank to get close enough to fire on. The launchers come with a night vision sight, which enables the crew to monitor the area for any enemy movement.

The night vision sensors enable the M2, which are faster and more mobile than tanks, to hunt Russian tanks at night. If an M2 can get behind a tank, a Tow missile hitting the rear of the tank will destroy the engine and encourage the three man crew to abandon their vehicle.

M2s are equipped with heat sensing night vision sensors for the driver and gunner. The night vision enabled M2s to seek out and ambush Russian tanks or infantry at night. TOWs have proven very effective in combat. Their night vision equipment enabled them to operate effectively at night and ambush Russian vehicles or infantry seeking to move under cover of darkness. The Russians appear to have ignored the fact that most of the armored vehicles Ukraine receives from NATO countries have night vision capability. This severely restricts Russian mobility at night because, if a tank moves, the heat of its engines will be detected and the quieter and more mobile M2 can stalk a Russian tank until the M2 is in position to use its TOWs.

The M2s are more mobile than a tank and their 25mm autocannon is more effective against infantry and light armored vehicles than the main gun of a tank. Moreover, tanks only carry a few dozen shells for their 125mm main gun compared to 600 or more 25mm shells and a dozen or more TOW reloads on an M2. Ukrainian forces use their M2s frequently and a quarter of them have been lost in combat. M2 armor can protect against 12.7mm machine-gun bullets but not against large (25mm or more) caliber autocannon shells. Hits from tank shells are fatal. M2s survive, especially at night, by using their night vision equipment to spot Russian tanks first and avoid detection by maneuver into position to fire a TOW missile at the side or rear of the tank.




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