Squat armored vehicles break into the water and swim towards the enemy ...
In practice, this ability has not yet come in handy anywhere. However, if you dig into stories as follows, there will be unique examples. The most famous episode that confirmed the value of floating armored vehicles, ironically, happened in the middle of the desert in the Middle East.
Only seven tanks The PT-76, supported by the BTR-50P, managed to turn the tide of the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict. An Israeli unit unexpectedly crossed the Suez Canal at its widest point, where no one expected the appearance of armored vehicles. The capture of a bridgehead on the western bank of the Suez led to the disorganization and further defeat of the entire Egyptian group in the Sinai.
There is a misconception that the weak security of domestic infantry vehicles and combat vehicles is entirely related to their ability to swim. The allegedly unjustified desire of the military to get floating armored vehicles forced the designers to sacrifice other characteristics. The result is light bulletproof armor and high vulnerability.
However, the source of the problem should be sought elsewhere.
Buoyancy is, without a doubt, a useful quality for military equipment. And when we are talking about domestic infantry fighting vehicles, the presence of buoyancy there did not affect security in any way. At least enough so that it could cause the armor to be thinned to completely indecent values.
According to the law of Archimedes, the value of the buoyant force is determined by the volume of the displaced fluid. The body can have any mass. Theoretically, you can build a floating Abrams. That's just the size of the amphibious "dreadnought" on tracks is unlikely to allow it to be used as an MBT.
For lighter armored vehicles, this task has a solution for reasonable dimensions.
Therefore, we can observe the floating "Kurganets" with a combat weight of 25 tons.
There are many other examples in the list of floating armored vehicles. BMP K21, adopted by South Korea. Finnish "Patria", Taiwanese "Yunpao", Chinese BMP "Type 04".
And the main heavyweights of this list are combat vehicles created on the basis of the unified Boomerang wheeled platform.
The party said: "We must!". Korean designers have found a solution for the 26-ton floating K21
The moment in the illustration is self-explanatory. Here, the most modern and heavy modification of the Patria AMV28 is in the lead role, whose index directly indicates the value of the combat mass
What should I look for?
All of the listed samples of armored vehicles have a mass of 25 to 30 tons. At the same time, all of them are capable of crossing water barriers with minimal training (or without training), developing a speed of up to 10 km / h afloat.
The American Bradley infantry fighting vehicle stands apart. But even this example was no exception. "Bradley" of the first modifications (22+ tons) could participate in the races using special equipment.
The conclusion follows from what is observed. Every time the designers were faced with the task of combining buoyancy with high security indicators, the designers found a solution.
Domestic BMP-1/2 turned out to be so light (13-15 tons) not because they were forced to swim.
They were deliberately lightened to the minimum possible values.
BMP-1 was conceived as a Doomsday transport and combat vehicle. Easy, cheap, mass and therefore - ubiquitous.
After half a century armored vehicles created according to the same patterns continue to form the basis of the fleet of light armored vehicles in support of the infantry. BMP-1/2/3 are used in all forms in the combat zone. And this story has no end in sight.
The main cause and source of security problems is their extremely low mass. In the 60s, there was a justification for this - a bet on a large number of infantry fighting vehicles built with expected high losses in a nuclear conflict. With this calculation, some of the armored vehicles were obliged to survive and break through to the designated lines.
Despite the mass character and relative cheapness of these vehicles, the characteristics of the BMP-1 turned out to be well balanced. It was an advanced military development, containing the best technical solutions known at that time.
Everything that happened in the following decades has no worthy explanation.
The second and third generations of infantry fighting vehicles were created within the framework of the same calculations and ideas about a mass combat vehicle - originally from the early 60s. the last century. The second generation of the BMP-2 as a whole was a repetition of the BMP-1 with a modified armament. An even more modern BMP-3, which will also soon celebrate its half-century anniversary, has continued the traditions of its ancestors. 19 tons of combat weight - significantly less than any foreign BMP.
Extremely light armored vehicles are so well "registered" in their role that the rejection of it threatens with global changes in the appearance and organization of the Armed Forces. All these are very complex decisions and unjustified costs.
In the public space, when discussing light armored vehicles, there are constant calls to “abandon useless buoyancy” and increase the security of vehicles. Only in practice, this would mean replacing the BMP-1/2/3 with combat vehicles of the Kurganets-25 and Boomerang level. In other words, the conversation turns into a fantasy.
And buoyancy has nothing to do with it at all.
Numbers and objective indicators
At the height of the Cold War, the German military industry produced 2136 units of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
The United States, with the unlimited volume of its military budget, was able to purchase about 6000 Bradley combat vehicles of all modifications for the army.
As of 1994, the Russian ground forces were armed with 25 BMP-1 and BMP-2 units.
About ten thousand more of these infantry fighting vehicles ended up in the countries of near and far abroad.
If Soviet infantry fighting vehicles had the weight of the Marder and had the same design as the Bradley, they would not have been able to appear in such unexpected numbers. We will talk about some obvious differences between domestic and foreign infantry fighting vehicles, and what impact this had on the cost of production / operation - we will talk a little lower.
Here it is worth paying attention to another point.
So many Soviet infantry fighting vehicles were produced that it was tempting to use them everywhere, for any task. Specialized and well-armed vehicles with a special set of qualities eventually turned into ordinary vehicles in the war zone. They can be found everywhere - when clearing settlements, as part of patrols and marching columns. Alone and in battle groups. Rushing along the roads, crowded everywhere on the roadsides, at crossings and roadblocks.
If on a certain day we wait for changes, and the long-awaited Kurganets-25 finally appears in combat units, I risk suggesting that the new infantry fighting vehicles will be used only for their intended purpose. For joint operations with heavy armored vehicles in the hottest sectors of the front.
The economy must be economical
Combat weight - 13,6 tons.
Under the same conditions on a dirt road, the BMP-1 consumed three times less fuel than the American Bradley BMP.
At first glance, the figure of 100 l / 100 km looks scary for modern motorists. But here we are talking about specialized armored vehicles of the second half of the twentieth century.
100 l / 100 km is a very unusual value, uncharacteristic for tracked armored vehicles.
For comparison: the "Bradley" of the first modifications according to the directory had a consumption of 0,75 miles per gallon, that is, over 300 liters per 100 km.
The presence of an automatic transmission in the Bradley cannot be the main and only explanation for its high "voracity" compared to the BMP-1. The main reason is more than 22 tons of combat weight of the American vehicle.
Lightweight and economical infantry fighting vehicles allowed the Soviet Armed Forces to get by with fewer tankers.
Simplified supply and repair.
The low weight gave significant advantages when using all types of transport and handling equipment. Any truck tractor could handle the transportation of the BMP along the highway. And for evacuation in combat conditions, the same light BREM-2, created on the basis of the BMP-1, was enough.
From the standpoint of army logistics, Soviet-style infantry fighting vehicles were simply ingenious creations of design thought. Therefore, they are still kept in service in large quantities. And they are not going to change anything.
How to fight on "cardboard" armored vehicles?
To the dismay of all those who have already prepared to lash out with criticism, the conversation will go in other tones.
First of all, it is worth noting that the BMP-1 was put into service 15 years earlier than the American Bradley. The world's first mass-produced infantry fighting vehicle. Created in accordance with the doctrine of total nuclear war.
In the frontal projection, the thickness of the BMP armor provided reasonable protection against the means that were in service with the NATO infantry in the first half of the 60s.
According to canonical ideas about the tactics of using infantry fighting vehicles, the landing should have been dismounted at a distance not closer than half a kilometer from enemy positions. At this distance, the vehicle was still invulnerable to machine-gun fire and was beyond the effective range of grenade launchers and recoilless rifles.
The main threat to the BMP was the enemy tanks. For this reason, the composition of weapons was chosen based on the fight against armored vehicles. Anti-tank missile system "Malyutka" - paired with a 73-mm gun "Thunder", which fired rocket-propelled grenades. "Thunder" served to cover the "dead zone" of the ATGM.
On the side of the BMP were its low mass and high mobility. Which, coupled with a squat silhouette, made such a car an even more difficult target and a dangerous adversary.
The BMP-1 was created for specific conditions and tactics of use, which revealed all the advantages of this machine. From the harmonious concept, only the layout with the active placement of the landing was knocked out.
In the previous article, this point did not find understanding among the public. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify what is at stake. Photos from NATO exercises, where the heads of panzergrenadiers with machine guns at the ready stick out of the hatches of the Marders, have little to do with what the designers of the BMP-1 conceived. Soviet motorized rifles were supposed to fire directly from their regular places through the loopholes in the sides.
It is difficult to say how this could be used in practice, taking into account all the above circumstances and the “cardboard” sides of the BMP.
As for buoyancy. With those values of the combat weight and internal volume of the hull, designed to accommodate a crew and troops of 7 people, the ability to stay afloat for this machine was no longer a hard condition, but a given physical laws.
With the development of surveillance equipment, fire adjustments and the saturation of the battlefield with heavy infantry weapons, the concept of the BMP-1 ceased to meet the times. The troops could not be landed a kilometer away in an open field - they could be quickly destroyed. In turn, the car itself was not designed to deliver paratroopers to the "most inferno". On close approaches, it is vulnerable to all types of weapons, with the exception of hand-held rifles. weapons.
Even less such vehicles were prepared for assault operations in populated areas. The new armament of the BMP-2 and BMP-3 does not remove the issue of security from the agenda.
Attention to the protection of only one frontal projection does not contribute to protection against fragments of artillery shells arriving from any direction. Fragments of a 152-mm high-explosive scatter at a speed of over a kilometer per second. At short distances (tens of meters), they surpass the bullets of heavy machine guns in terms of penetrating power.
By the end of the last century, the combat zone began to be shot through by artillery and MLRS to a depth of tens of kilometers. Cars can be covered by fire at any time, at the crossing or on the march as part of a column. To avoid unjustified losses, armored vehicles require high-quality armor.
Technique for wars past and future
As examples of real-life BMP models testify, an increase in combat weight to a value of 25 tons or more does not lead to an immediate loss of buoyancy. But the most important thing appears. Such mass indicators for infantry fighting vehicles mean the presence of anti-ballistic armor in all projections. This provides protection against most threats in the combat zone - which, in the case of the BMP-1/2/3, would mean the loss of a combat vehicle.
The abandonment of buoyancy opens up further prospects for increased protection. The German BMP "Marder" half a century ago had a combat weight of about 30 tons. The latest modifications of the Bradley have grown fat to 34 tons. The Swedish "Stritsfordon-90" overcame the milestone of 35 tons.
Looking at others, one should not dismiss the idea of floating armored vehicles with disdain. No one knows how and when it might come in handy in a war zone.
Still, one should be aware that any attempt to use floating technology has numerous limitations. Being lighter than water is only half the battle.
The ability of the machine to go into the water or enter the unprepared shore is determined by the slope of this shore, as well as the bearing properties of the soil (sand, silt, rocky bottom). The threat is the situation when the wheels / tracks have not yet properly engaged with the ground - and the jet has already stopped working. Research on this topic argues that the problem of choosing places suitable for safe entry / exit from the water makes the idea of \uXNUMXb\uXNUMXbfloating armored vehicles unsuitable for real conditions.
The easiest way to do this task is with the light BMP-1/2. In addition, infantry fighting vehicles, unlike armored personnel carriers, do not have a water cannon - movement afloat is provided by rewinding the tracks. The caterpillar drive also provides better traction on slippery bottoms. However, these positive aspects do not atone for the negative impact of extremely light armor.
What qualities or their combination will be put at the forefront when creating a promising Russian infantry fighting vehicle? The answer to this question is already the floating 25-ton Kurganets and the 30-ton floating VPK-7829 Boomerang.