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INFANTRY FIGHTING VEHICLES
he use of Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) by today’s armed
forces is increasing rapidly. Land forces are moving away from
the heavy battle tanks that dominated combat vehicles for the
past half century, and towards lighter, more agile armed tracked
and wheeled vehicles. These have the ability to increase the
survivability of infantry troops while providing high fire power and force
flexibility along with fast-deploy capabilities.
Within the Asia-Pacific region there are a number of ongoing programmes
underway to meet the emerging IFV requirements of various armed forces.
While a certain amount of this will be filled with European and US
foreign technology imports, the region is quickly becoming a hot spot for
indigenous production - with more than one country likely to become a
major player in the defence export market in the next decade.
DOWN UNDER DEVELOPMENTS
Australia has a number of promising projects underway as part of its
programme to meet the future close combat requirements identified by the
government. The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) is in the
process of augmenting the country’s land force assets in order to create a
more survivable, capable and interoperable range of combat options. Through
this, the DMO hopes to reduce operating costs, address deployment and
mobility issues, and streamline the systems operated in what has become a
highly complicated network of products with limited interoperability.
In many ways, Australia’s armoured vehicle requirements are unique,
with any prospective vehicles needing to be able to operate in some of
the most extreme conditions on earth. Maintaining a range of tracked and
wheeled mobility capabilities is a central requirement of the Australian
Army’s capabilities; and overcoming the issues associated with the high
temperatures and rugged environments is an ongoing issue for foreign
The three projects that concern the acquisition or upgrade of IFVs are
the Land 106, Land 112, and Land 116. The Land 106 project concerns the
Army’s ageing fleet of M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), 350
of which are being upgraded under the contract. A total of 7 variants are
being produced, with enhancements including increased protection via the
addition of external armour kits, internal spall liners, and hull reinforcement
to improve mine protection; improved mobility, the introduction of
heat mitigation measures, new electrical and fuel systems and new land
navigation system. Firepower is being enhanced through the addition of an
Australian designed and built electrical turret, hosting a .50 calibre weapon;
suspension and road wheels are also being upgraded. Although fraught
with delays caused by problems encountered in extending the hulls of the
vehicles, the programme is expected to be completed this year.
Under the Land 116 Bushranger project, Bushmaster mine-resistant
wheeled vehicles replaced the remaining M113 fleet that were to be retired
rather than upgraded; giving Australian mechanised formations depth in
fielding both wheeled and off-road vehicles.
EMERGENCE OF NON-TRADITIONAL
TECHNOLOGIES Claire Apthorp / London
Several nations are carrying out
comprehensive upgrades of their land forces,
creating a multi-billion dollar market for IFVs.
The Thales Bushmaster mine-resistant wheeled vehicle
has replaced the majority of the M113 fleet (Thales)
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