Page 58 - Australian Defence Magazine September 2018
P. 58

“Without a ‘right sized’ fleet the ADF’s tank capability will face even greater challenges as it continues to age.”
• The tank is unique; no other capabil- ity in the ADF provides the advan- tages it does in close combat.
• Tanks provide a matchless combi- nation of firepower, mobility, pro- tection and connectivity to the Aus- tralian soldier.
• Tanks increase the likelihood of
mission success and decrease the
likelihood of Australian casualties.
• The tank is deployable domestical-
ly, regionally and globally.
• Tanks are a key part of the Combined
Arms team and Joint Land Force. Australian soldiers have fought with tanks from France to Afghanistan
mobility and carrying capacity, they may feature far less armour to shield them from direct fire, sacrificing some protec- tion. This limits how and where they can transport and accompany infantry. An evolution beyond the APC is the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). IFV are tracked AFV designed to transport infantry into battle and fight with them in close combat.
IFV designs may trade some carrying ca- pacity for greater firepower and protection and achieve mobility akin to the tank. Like tanks IFV seek to quickly close with the enemy, however do so to dismount their in- fantry virtually on top of an objective. This maintains the tempo of the assault, narrows the window in which enemy weapons can be employed against unprotected infantry and positions the IFV to provide fire support. IFVs are generally equipped with a medium cannon and machine guns to provide sup- pressing fires to fix an enemy force in place. An IFVs auto-cannon is optimised to pro-
vide rapid suppression to protect in- fantry and tanks by countering enemy heavy weapons such as machine guns and anti-armour systems.
Importantly, tanks, IFVs and the infantry which they carry into bat- tle, fight as a team. The destructive firepower of the tank, complements the suppressive firepower of the IFV. The infantry provide intimate protection to both vehicle systems
in close combat, where firepower and pro- tection advantages may be negated, and capture terrain from the enemy.
While IFV fight with tanks and infan- try in a symbiotic relationship, IFV are not tanks and should not be misconstrued as a replacement for them. The IFV, tank and CRV are to the Army what landing ships, frigates and submarines are to a navy and transport, fighter and reconnaissance air- craft are to air forces. These each perform different, but complementary, roles.
• Cavalry find the enemy and exploit their weaknesses.
• Infantry Fighting Vehicles fix the enemy and Infantry capture terrain.
• Tanks destroy the enemy.
Second, a common misperception is
that the tank has poor mobility within Australia’s region and is not deployable. This is not true and as others have pre- viously written ‘the idea that tanks are difficult or impossible to deploy is, in short, a myth.’
The ill-informed often argue that weight limits the tank’s tactical mobility, prevent- ing it from operating effectively on soft, boggy terrain and heavily vegetated areas. Others suggest that the M1 has poor stra- tegic mobility e.g. it is so heavy that it can- not be deployed to and sustained within a conflict zone. However, mobility is charac- terised by more than weight and a cursory analysis of these key factors illustrates the hollowness of these statements.
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