Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wheels II.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français

Continuing with the topic of French wheeled armor from a web site forum in the proverbial nutshell but much more than the proverbial nutshell that question asked with answer:  

"Why does the French military prefer wheeled armoured vehicles over tracked?"

Q: "Why does the French military prefer wheeled armoured vehicles over tracked"

Q: "Considering most conventional armies rely on tracked APC/IFV and reconnaissance vehicles, why is it that France uses wheeled equivalents?"

A: "Lower cost and less maintenance. Wheels are cheaper than tracks and they last longer. They can also "self deploy" using existing road infrastructure where tracked vehicles would need to be transported on tractor trailers. The only downside is mobility in certain terrain (mud) and maximum weight capacity."

A: "There are actually two reasons - economic and historical."

A: "As for the economic rationale . . . The best answer can be seen in lists of logistical equipment in US and British armies and the Army 2020 reform in Britain. One of the reasons for choosing a model where there's just one heavy brigade being rotated between three is cost but also limitations on logistical equipment necessary to move heavy tracked vehicles from one point to another. For every Challenger tank, Scout SV and upgraded Warrior there must be one heavy equipment transporter. So that's two vehicles for the sake of having one. British Army currently has problems with fielding enough vehicles to carry a full brigade around. Britain has less than 200 HETs  [heavy equipment transporter] (the US has over 2500!) which means that they can carry a battalion of tanks, a scout battalion and an armoured infantry battalion...and that's it. Britain is an island nation so it doesn't have to rely on land forces so much but in any other case it would be a serious issue. France avoided the problem by relying on wheels and has to worry only about LeClerc MBTs and their older self-propelled artillery and some specialist vehicles. That not only makes it easier for the army to mobilize properly as France is a large country (one of the largest in Europe - twice the size of Germany for example) but also to move them from one place to another."

"As for mobility it is greatly overstated with regards to standard tracked vehicles now that modern 8x8 came into use - with individual hydraulic suspension, modern transmission etc. Unless you are dealing with rasputitsa there is no significant advantage a 20t tracked vehicle has over a 20 t wheeled modern 8x8.But then even tracked vehicles have it rough. The problem boils down to friction coefficient (tracks are larger area than wheels) and pressure. Notice that for really rough terrain even tracked vehicles have special design - compare a regular tracked APC and the articulated Bv206/210 with wide tracks. The only real advantage is mass. A wheeled vehicle is rapidly losing its mobility as it approaches the 30 tonne range. Currently France has managed to squeeze 32t from their newer VBCIs and Boxer APC has a maximum weight of 32t. But anything more than that and the vehicle becomes really unwieldy. Tracks can carry twice the mass so as armour becomes more relevant you will see tracked vehicles used more and more. When it isn't an absolute priority you will see wheeled vehicles."

"But there's the historical reason - "most countries" meaning WP and NATO armies have acquired large numbers of tracked vehicles when wheeled technology wasn't well developed and widespread."

"So the real reason why France seems to have over reliance on wheeled vehicles mostly comes from the fact that they had to replace their outdated AMX-10P APCs as France never built heavy tanks and IFVs. So when they had to replace their old vehicles they had a tough choice - either go for the heavy IFV or continue their current doctrine and go for 8x8. They chose to former"


* French wheeled armor not a total replacement for the Main Battle Tank. The main mission of wheeled armor reconnaissance, scouting, screening.

* Rasputitsa their period in Russia where the severe rains of the spring [?] and fall make dirt roads impassible.


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