Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Recon vehicles. No one can agree on what's needed.

AJAX Scout vehicle

Scimitar Scout Vehicle.
The Ajax is the new Brit Army Scout Vehicle.  Its a big brute and weighs as much as a T-72 MBT.  But that's not the crazy thing.  What has heads spinning is that its replaced the Scimitar, a light weight quick little thing that came in at 8 tons fully loaded.

Which begs the question.  What are the requirements for a survivable AND viable (meaning that the vehicle can accomplish the mission, preferably without getting detected and destroyed...although vehicle destruction is an unfortunate type of intel gathering!).

As is my habit, I immediately turned to the LAV Battalions in the USMC and the LAV-25.  My opinion, but I don't think we've ever fully rationalized their mission. They've been jerked between being Light Infantry/Motorized to being Recon units.  Personally I view them as Light Motorized Infantry to exploit any break thru and to screen our forces....in other words, Marine Corps Cavalry...of course we'd never call them that so they're stuck in doctrine limbo.  They vehicles aren't really equipped for the recon role either.  In the Corps for better or worse, we're really stuck using aviation assets as scouts/recon.

Above you see the Fennek.  It is a recon vehicle that operates in the "classic" sense of the word. The vehicle is equipped with either a 50 cal or 40mm grenade launch in addition to a mast that holds thermal imagers, daylight camera and laser range finders.  Its amphibious and has OUTSTANDING mobility.  The Fennek is headed more towards my way of thinking with recon vehicles but misses in several key areas.  Its sensors are better than most but still not good enough.  Additionally it lacks the ability to "fight for info" that I believe is necessary on future conventional battlefields.

Above is the Canadian Coyote.  My opinion, but this is the ultimate configuration for a recon vehicle.  From wikipedia...
The Mast and Remote variants have a sophisticated suite of electronic surveillance equipment including radar, video, and infrared surveillance night vision devices. The mast variant has this equipment mounted on a 10-metre telescoping mast that can be extended to raise the surveillance suite out from behind cover. The remote variant of the Coyote has its surveillance suite mounted on two short tripods, which crew can deploy remotely using a 200-metre spool of cable.
Not only does this vehicle excel in the passive scouting role but can also hook and jab IF necessary.

So why would the Canadians get this right when everyone else is doing it wrong?  I think it has to do more with a flawed Western doctrine that considers aviation the ultimate information gatherer.  We've seen this type thinking in other areas too.  What was the most impressive part of the Russian activity in Syria.  If you're thinking the aerial attacks or the artillery strikes then you're wrong.  If the logistical feat of resupplying the Syrian Army is your next thought then strike two.

What impressed was the diversity of ground based intel/jamming assets that they deployed.

Putting all our eggs in the aviation basket when it comes to these first tier battlefield needs might prove to be a mistake.

Sidenote:  This was just a quick and dirty.  I'm sure there are other vehicles that deserve consideration, so just post a pic in the comments and we'll jawbone about them.

Sidenote 1:  I DO NOT understand the fascination with equipping recon vehicles with anti-tank missile systems.  The idea of engaging in missile versus gun fight against MBTs is not what I want these vehicles doing.  Better instead to have good comms so you can call in an air or arty strike on spotted enemy armor.  Tank vs converted IFV or purpose built recon vehicle will always result in the Tank winning.  No need to even tempt the crews.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.