Army Thin-Skinned Over Homemade Armor


PDA






w4rma
December 26, 2003, 10:54 AM
Transportation Unit Headed for Iraq Sought Extra Protection for Non-Combat Vehicles

By David A. Lieb
Associated Press
Friday, December 26, 2003; Page A22

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Fearing roadside bombs and sniper bullets, members of the U.S. Army Reserve's 428th Transportation Company turned to a local steel fabricator to fashion extra armor for their five-ton trucks and Humvees before beginning their journey to Iraq earlier this month.

But their armor might not make it into the war, because the soldiers did not obtain Pentagon approval for their homemade protection.

The Army, which is still developing its own add-on armor kits for vehicles, does not typically allow any equipment that is not tested and approved by the Army, Maj. Gary Tallman, a Pentagon spokesman for Army weapons and technology issues, said last week.

"It's important that other units out there that are getting ready to mobilize understand that we are doing things" to protect them, Tallman said, "but there's policy you have to consider before you go out on your own and try to do something."

The possibility that soldiers could be denied extra protection because of an Army policy has outraged some of the friends and neighbors who helped the Jefferson City-based unit.

"I think it's the stupidest thing I ever heard of," said Virgil Kirkweg, owner of a Jefferson City steel company, which rushed to meet the reserve unit's armor request. "I just hope the government is not dumb enough to make them go out there without something that's going to protect them somewhat."

The 72 vehicles operated by the 428th are not designed for battle. They have thin metal floorboards and, in some cases, a canvas covering for doors. Iraqi guerrilla groups have been targeting all types of military vehicles with homemade bombs and small-caliber weapons.

E-mails from soldiers already deployed in Iraq urged the Missouri reservists to get extra armor if possible, said 1st Sgt. Tim Beydler, a member of the 428th.

The soldiers persuaded a local funeral home director who is active in community affairs to pay the $4,000 tab for 13,000 pounds of quarter-inch steel. Industrial Enterprises Inc. donated the fabricating work, also valued at about $4,000, so the steel could be fitted under vehicle floorboards and on the inside of doors.

The soldiers drove off Dec. 12 for Fort Riley, Kan., planning to fasten the specially made steel to their vehicles when they arrived in Iraq.

"We're doing what we can to protect our soldiers. That's the bottom line," Beydler said last week as news of the donated steel was being praised locally as an example of grass-roots support for the troops. "It not only boosts morale of the soldiers, but also of the soldiers' family members, who know their soldiers will be afforded some extra protection."

Fort Riley spokeswoman Deb Skidmore said the reserve unit will be allowed to take the steel to Iraq, but U.S. Central Command will decide later whether the troops will be permitted to use it.

The Army's concern, Tallman said, is that unapproved steel-plating could somehow cripple the vehicles or cause them not to perform the way they were designed. For example, a Humvee armor kit recently tested at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground was so heavy that it caused the vehicle to break, he said.

Tallman and spokesmen at several Army bases said they were unaware of any other units trying to craft their own armor before leaving for Iraq. But Tallman said the Army had discouraged several families of individual soldiers from trying to obtain their own bulletproof vests, citing the same reason for Army testing of equipment.

Kirkweg said the Missouri soldiers did not have time to wait weeks, months or years for the Army to test and approve a steel-plating project that he could complete in three days.

"We thought, this is a very important project here -- we're talking about the possibility of saving people's lives," he said. "So without hesitation we went ahead and proceeded with the thing."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30796-2003Dec25.html

If you enjoyed reading about "Army Thin-Skinned Over Homemade Armor" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
ElToro
December 26, 2003, 11:53 AM
Sounds like an episode of "Monster Garage"

i'd rather have 1/4 inch steel plate than canvas... good for them and the army allowing it... ive thought about doin that myself except i dont have the welding skills... you know, just in the doors and maybe floorboards. add to the rigidity, but kill the gas mileage. :(

Blackcloud6
December 27, 2003, 10:12 AM
The Army is right on this one, the NG unit is wrong.

There is a lot more to up-armoring vehicles than simply bolting steel to vulnerable places.

First, is the steel they used ballistic steel, RHA or High-Hard steel? It probably is not; Projectiles my end up going through these steel plates if they are mild steel.

Have the ones that they are putting on the floor been tested properly against various mine threats. These plates, if not properly installed, may well blow right up and kill the crews or deflect the blast into the crew. Lots of engineering and physics go in this type of endeavor..

Have they tested their set ups to what happens in vehicle accident such as collisions and roll-overs? The stuff may well come flying off and kill folks inside.

Have they tested to see what the extra weight and placement will do to the suspensions, transmissions, welds, joints etc? They may end up with a bunch of broken vehicles in very short order and not be able to perform their mission.

What threats are they trying to defeat? Have they done a proper threat analysis for the mission they are to perform? Does their add-on armor defeat the threat? I bet they just pulled info out of the paper and press and decided what to do. They may have a false sense of security too, as the armor may not be able to defeat the most prevalent threat.

How much load capacity have they lost in putting on this armor? How much mobility? They may not be able to perform their mission. Or worse, their vehicles may become so slow that they cannot effectively drive out of an ambush, especially in rough terrain.

Up-armoring of unarmored tactical wheeled vehicles is not easy. The reason the army does not allow units to this is for all of the above reasons. The Commander of this unit allowed for unauthorized modifications to his fleet. He may be brought to task for this.

BeLikeTrey
December 27, 2003, 11:47 AM
Of course I'm of the mind to duct tape steel plates to my back. Whatever gives me a better chance of survival. (really though, whatever improves my survivability....)

Other side of it, could it put me at more risk by a breakdown in a hot zone..
Good thread guys! This one has me on the fence and teetering back and forth.

riverdog
December 27, 2003, 12:18 PM
There is a lot more to up-armoring vehicles than simply bolting steel to vulnerable places. In this case they are replacing canvas and thin flooring with 1/4" steel. They are obviously focusing the armor to protect the personnel and shouldn't add that much weight to the gross of the truck. As for whether the steel is the appropriate type, since it's replacing canvas, I'd think that any quality steel would be an improvement. Rifle fire and RPG's could remain a problem, but would the canvas be better? A mine going off may still seriously damage the vehicle, but if the driver and walk away because of a little more steel between him and the blast, that's a good thing.

I fail to see a significant downside to additional armor.

AZTOY
December 27, 2003, 12:22 PM
I work in a radio shelter for the Army.The shelter goes on the back of humvee (M998 Truck) and the shelter is made of THIN fiberglass . :uhoh:

I understand why thay what to add more armor. I have seen the picture of shelter and humvee that have been hit.:what:

I could be in Iraq in a few month and i would like the extra armor!!!

PVT Berki

jerryd
December 27, 2003, 12:46 PM
The problem is never solved, look at what was done to the vehicles during all the wars, they were all modified by the men for the specific duty they needed, they may not be correct but they serve the purpose. We used to put sand bags on the floors and on the hood near the windshield at least gave some protection from bulets and schrapnel. Also saw some 5ton trucks that were converted to gun trucks with quad 50s on them. Leave it to the american soldier to come up with something that suits their purpose.

telomerase
December 27, 2003, 01:44 PM
They may have a false sense of security too, as the armor may not be able to defeat the most prevalent threat.

Absolutely right. The most prevalent threat is an Administration dedicated to restarting the Crusades, and a little armor isn't going to stop that.

Seriously, though, an army that was designed to actually FIGHT would expect its troops to learn about engineering and create new equipment (e.g., for Iraq; video camera-equipped stationary turrets and vehicles to replace vulnerable sentries and patrols). The US Army has quite a different purpose, and it wants its troops to remain docile sacrificial animals within the military-entertainment complex. Human casualties are necessary to make people lose their rationality (and support more multi-hundred-billion dollar Crusades); smashed robots just wouldn't do it.

AZTOY, I hope you can scrounge some extra Spectra and boron carbide somewhere... Blackcloud6 had some good points re weight, but most of the projectiles that will be heading your way are probably still 7.62 X 39.

Jeff White
December 27, 2003, 02:19 PM
Actually units in country are up-armoring their own vehicles....Here's a couple pics.....

Jeff White
December 27, 2003, 02:22 PM
and another....

Spot77
December 27, 2003, 02:32 PM
I understand Blackcloud6's points, but hey.....somebody's got to test the stuff, right? I suspect we're not giving them enough credit as to the research they've done.....I mean, I doubt they just took a 3x5 plate of steel and attached it to their Humvees with duct tape.

:neener:

WilderBill
December 27, 2003, 08:07 PM
If the army had not improvised hedge cutters from beach obsticles after D day, they might not have ever made it past the hedge rows of Normandy.
I think this is along the same line of thinking.
I know I'd want more than canvas protecting me. :eek:

G1FAL
December 27, 2003, 11:20 PM
Why dont they just do what our guys did in 'Nam, until the army gets its head out its 4th point of contact, and put sandbags on the floor of the Hummers? No, its not the best protection in the world, but its better than nothing.

Blackcloud6
December 28, 2003, 09:16 AM
As for whether the steel is the appropriate type, since it's replacing canvas, I'd think that any quality steel would be an improvement.

"Quality steel" is not necessarily armor. This steel they are putting may well not protect even against 7.62x39.

Also, with the threat being mostly IED, these steel plates may become big pieces of shrapnel.

There was a program a few years ago to quickly up armor some of the civilian 4x4s being used by the military. A simple armor door panel was put on the dodr and everyone thought it was OK. This program circumvented the notmal R&D, Operational Test and Live Fire Test regulations. Shortly after fielding, one of theses vehicles rolled over, the door panels flew about inside and killed the four people in the vehicle.

The point is, the solution needs to be properly tested prior to operational use.

The Cullen Hedge Row device is an interesting anology but it was not armor and thus in a whole different category. And, BTW, it was properly tersted by Ordnance Officers in Theater before being authorized for use.

Also, in WWII, many Shermans were "up-armored" with sandbags by the crews. Patton did not allow this and ate alive any commander who let this happen in his unit. He was right, these sandbags did nothing to protect the Sherman from German anti-tank rounds nor from the Panzerfausts. They were simply a placebo that ruined the transmissions and made the Sherman slower.

riverdog
December 28, 2003, 01:30 PM
We know that canvas won't stop a 7.62x39 -- 1/4" steel might. Although it may not help against some threats, I'm still waiting for an explanation of how it's worse than canvas.

Blackcloud6
December 28, 2003, 05:07 PM
I'm still waiting for an explanation of how it's worse than canvas.

I thought I already covered that:

overweight vehicle, dangerous in accidents, mainternance issues, while not affording any protection, etc.

Also, most shots by small arms are at the window.

Also, 1/4 in mild steel will be like cheese to the machine-gun fired 7.62x54R API.

The floor plates will do nothing to protect the crew in an anti-tank mine explosion. The plate will probably kill them as it will fly right up at them.

I doubt that these guys really know what they are doing.

Jeff White
December 28, 2003, 06:27 PM
The approved up-armored HMMWVs are a maintenance nightmare. They have to be airconditioned because you can't put the windows down, they are underpowered and prone to overheating...They are also obscenely expensive.

Jeff

4v50 Gary
December 28, 2003, 06:41 PM
The Army is kinda sorta right. Troops have always resorted to expendient measures as Army Red Tape can result in lengthy delays before equipment upgrades reaches the GI in the field. Examples of bad armoring include coating a M-4 Sherman with concrete, extra sandbags or extra tracks as additional protection against shaped charges. They needed a screen to create "space" and dissipate the charge. Sometimes the expediency worked like the Cullin Hedgecutter device (in which case it was authorized and done on a divisonal level).

artherd
December 28, 2003, 06:51 PM
"I'm still waiting for an explanation of how it's worse than canvas."

1) it will act like a shreader in an accident, or even a very rough road at too much speed.

2) the added weight will cause your Hummer to break down in a 'hot zone.'

3) it is just more material to spall and make shrapnel, 1/4" steel is ineffective even against NON armor piercing small arms, and with a bomb, well, it's like adding a very large grenade fragmentation case. Congrats, you just made the Iraqi bombs 10x more effective.

and the biggest danger:

4) It is a placebo. The soldiers will be more complacent, and tend to hide in the vehicle. This loss in vigialance is more than likely to get them killed.


There is a reason the amry uses KEVLAR, not steel. I'm all for improvements and battlefield innovation, but this is really a step backwards to anyone who knows what they're doing. Now, strapping 50 vests all over your hummer and riviting them to each other and the vehicle, HELL YES!

Mike Irwin
December 28, 2003, 07:02 PM
If the Army had taken that sort of BS approach to development Patton would still be trying to get his troops out of Normandy's hedge row country.

Blackcloud6
December 28, 2003, 07:21 PM
The approved up-armored HMMWVs are a maintenance nightmare. They have to be airconditioned because you can't put the windows down, they are underpowered and prone to overheating

Thank you. This is what it takes to make the HMMWV somewhat survivable and this solution is fully engineered and tested.

If the Army had taken that sort of BS approach to development Patton would still be trying to get his troops out of Normandy's hedge row country.

Ugh! There's a lot more to Patton's breakout during COBRA than the Cullen Hedgerow device. And, again, this device was approved. Did the Commander of this transpo unit get approval?

riverdog
December 28, 2003, 07:57 PM
Okay, I'm convinced, canvas is better :rolleyes: Obviously there is a problem with the armor on the vehicles NOW and these guys are trying to improve their survival. If 1/4" steel isn't the answer, the folks who design armor for the logistics guys should start working overtime on a fix before the guys in the field make things worse in an attempt to survive. Kevlar's good, but it isn't cheap and armor for the Army Reserve's 428th Transportation Company's trucks is probably not in the FY budget. I doubt that these guys really know what they are doing. There are many engineers outside the Army and some of them have a clue. "Fearing roadside bombs and sniper bullets..." We really don't know what these guys fabricated but since they knew the specific threat they were working against, it's probably a bit early to say it won't work.

Blackcloud6
December 28, 2003, 09:50 PM
the folks who design armor for the logistics guys should start working overtime on a fix before the guys in the field make things worse in an attempt to survive

Believe me this problem is being worked and that is all I can say about it.

Mike Irwin
December 29, 2003, 01:42 AM
"Believe me this problem is being worked and that is all I can say about it."

Due for limited testing deployment (non combat) by fall, 2007.

Hold on guys, help's coming.

God helps those who help themselves.

The Army, on the other hand, courtmartials.

Blackcloud6
December 29, 2003, 07:41 AM
Due for limited testing deployment (non combat) by fall, 2007. Hold on guys, help's coming.

God helps those who help themselves.

The Army, on the other hand, courtmartials.

Mr. Irwin: Are you sure you understand this issue?

Blackcloud6
December 29, 2003, 07:46 AM
Now, to prove that the press is generally clueless also, the orginal article was not all that correct.

The uparmor was only a proposal and is planned to be added once in country... and after the Army and CENTCOM approves it. See:

The Fort Worth, TX, Star-Telegram, 22 December 2003

Internet Edition

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/special_packages/iraq/7551376.htm


ARMY TO CHECK OUT EXTRA ARMOR, AS BOND TRIES TO HELP TROOPS


by Kelly Wiese
Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Army officials are heading to Fort Riley to inspect extra armor that a unit of Missouri soldiers added to their vehicles prior to their planned deployment to Iraq.

Also Monday, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., asked the Pentagon to allow the Jefferson City-based Army Reserve unit to use the extra armor.

The 428th Transportation Company convinced a local steel fabricator to make extra armor for their five-ton trucks and Humvees to protect them on the battlefield. But, as The Associated Press reported last week, the extra armor lacks Pentagon approval because it hasn't been tested.

The soldiers left for Fort Riley, Kan., on Dec. 12 and planned to fasten the specially made steel to their vehicles when they reach Iraq.

Maj. Gary Tallman, a Pentagon spokesman for Army weapons and technology issues, said Monday the Army is sending testing officials to Fort Riley to check out the 13,000 pounds of one-quarter inch steel and to determine if it is safe and will not hurt the vehicles' performance.

"No one said no yet to this unit," Tallman said. "What we don't know to the Army's satisfaction is if the armor will do what they intend it to do. That's why it's important that someone look at this and see if it will."

The 72 vehicles operated by the unit aren't designed for battle. They have thin metal floorboards and sometimes only a canvas door covering. The armor would be fitted under floorboards and inside doors. Iraqi insurgents have targeted military vehicles with homemade bombs and other weapons.

Those in Jefferson City who tried to help the local transportation unit get the extra protection were angry at the military's response, and now Bond, R-Mo., is trying to ensure the unit benefits from its resourcefulness.

"Our soldiers on the front lines do not have the luxury of waiting for the normal review process to determine if a modification is detrimental or beneficial," Bond said in a letter Monday to acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee.

Tallman said he had not seen Bond's letter and had no comment on it.

Fort Riley spokeswoman Deb Skidmore said the unit will be able to take the steel to Iraq, but that Central Command will decide later whether troops can use it.

Sean Smith
December 29, 2003, 09:55 AM
Seem to be alot of poorly informed, knee-jerk hysterical responses here.

dadman
December 29, 2003, 11:05 AM
Also, in WWII, many Shermans were "up-armored" with sandbags by the crews. Patton did not allow this and ate alive any commander who let this happen in his unit. He was right, these sandbags did nothing to protect the Sherman from German anti-tank rounds nor from the Panzerfausts. They were simply a placebo that ruined the transmissions and made the Sherman slower.

Blackcloud6,
Where can I go to read more about the Sherman armor mods? Was always puzzled if it actually helped at all. Seen WWII photos and military models with all manner of stuff heaped on.

Strictly focusing on the HMMV with canvas or sheetsteel doors and bullets penetration: Would it be better to to have stock unmodified doors and skin which easily allow pass through? Will a plate fragment a bullet into the interior?

IMO, plate won't help much against roadside or wallside bombs, or RPG's due to reasons given by others. May cut down on shrapnel, but the plate is only as strong as what it's attached to. Force of the blast on a plate modified door will still take out the door hinges and latch, driving door inward.

Bad situation to be in: inside a light skinned vehicle during urban GW fighting.

AmericanFreeBird
December 29, 2003, 11:42 AM
The only mistake you made was telling someone outside your unit about it.

Just do it and keep yer trap shut.

When that first 7.62x39 round splats harmlessly on your otherwise canvas truck door panel, you'll be glad you did!
:scrutiny:

Mike Irwin
December 29, 2003, 12:37 PM
"Mr. Irwin: Are you sure you understand this issue?"


Yes.

No Army "yellow stream of blessing" from General Brazzondeazz...

Let's see...

The situation is that the add on steel plating COULD make things worse.

Or, it could afford greater protection to the troops who are asked to serve in this part of the world.

Given that either is a possibility, the Army appears to be choosing the option that we know is the worst of all -- sending unarmored vehicles into an enviornment where armor is a big asset.

But given, though, that we already know that pretty much nothing stuck onto a Humvee or a truck is going to stop a roadside bomb or an RPG and save the crew, the big issue becomes one of surviving small arms fire and shrapnel.

1/4 of armored plate isn't much, but it's better than 1/10th inch of canvas or nylon.

And you're right, the hedgerow device was approved, but AFTER its worth in cutting through the hedgerows had been proven, not before.

By the time "official" approval for use of the device came through Eisenhower's command, several dozen of the devices were in use in limited combat operations.

As I understand it, the only reason that command knew about the existence of the device in the first place is because it was inadvertently seen by a REMF.

Would the Americans have eventually broken free from the hedgerows? Oh yes, without a doubt, but as Eisenhower states in his book Crusade in Europe, it would have taken weeks, or months, longer, at a significantly higher cost in men and material.

dadman
February 2, 2004, 01:03 PM
Surviving Non-Linear Combat in Iraq Gear List (http://www.geocities.com/paratroop2000/surviveiraqgearlist.htm)
"If you get issued a woodland camouflage IBA once in Iraq, use it to further harden your sides by tying it to your truck door frame with 550 cord."
Rifle-caliber Bullet-Resistant Body Armor (IBA) (http://www.geocities.com/ecotat/ibaindex.htm)
Why are the reformers failing to fix the U.S. military? (http://www.geocities.com/paratroop2000/weakcodependantarmy.htm)
Airborne Equipment Shop (http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/2116/)
Tracks, not trucks (http://www.geocities.com/equipmentshop/hmmwv.htm)

Omega_7
February 2, 2004, 01:11 PM
Read the end of the book of Daniel. It predicts the crusades, then and now.

Spark
February 2, 2004, 02:32 PM
Hahahahha someone quoted the 1st TSG - never a bigger group of posers & fakes ever seen.

1st "Tactical Studies Group" has been debunked, disproven, outed, etc multiple multiple multiple times over the years as faking their credentials, using "aliases" to see like there were more of them, etc etc etc.

Anything there should be read with a huge dose of salt.

dadman
February 2, 2004, 02:39 PM
"never a bigger group of posers & fakes ever seen"
Example(s)?

444
February 2, 2004, 03:06 PM
"But given, though, that we already know that pretty much nothing stuck onto a Humvee or a truck is going to stop a roadside bomb or an RPG and save the crew, the big issue becomes one of surviving small arms fire and shrapnel."

I know nothing about this issue at all. I have never even sat in a Humvee. But I just finished the book, Blackhawk Down which was written by someone that was not there, and had no military experience. However, one thing that struck me while reading the book was the amount of small arms fire their Humvees could take and still keep moving. This included several direct hits with RPGs. Granted, a number of the Humvees were disabled, but every one of them was riddled with bullets and most of them kept right on going and appearently protected the crews.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Spark
February 2, 2004, 03:31 PM
Dadman - you should check out USENET and the newsgroups, particularly the ones oriented around military development, future tech, etc.

There's too much to condense right now, but it's pretty funny. Funny as in sad. As in pathetic.

Anyone who has to masquerade as some kind of "group" and puff themselves up (while still using a geocities account) should trip your bs meter.

George Hill
February 2, 2004, 03:33 PM
Of course the Army is pissed. If they units are doing this all themselves, there is no kickback and political payoffs going on.
"We are doing things..."
Sorry... sitting on your thumbs and spinning doesn't count.

Mike Irwin
February 2, 2004, 03:38 PM
444,

Any vehicle can conceivably survive a hit by pretty much any kind of round, but for some of them it comes very close to "miracle from God" kind of situation.

The chances of a Humvee surviving a hit by an RPG aren't what I'd consider to be very good.

444
February 2, 2004, 03:56 PM
Right, as I say, I don't know.
I believe one of the RPG hits was sort of depicted in the movie in a different context. In the book, the RPG hit the side of the Humvee on the drivers side door. The driver was blinded and the front seat passenger was wounded through both legs (by rifle or machine gun fire) so he couldn't move over to drive. So, the driver ran the controls while the passenger told the driver what to do. They drove down the road bouncing off buildings and into other vehicles buy made it out of the intersection where the majority of the fire was concentrated.

Obviously, there is no amount of armor you are going to put on a small wheeled vehicle that is going to give absolute protection to it's occupants and as was mentioned, it very well might prevent them from carrying out their mission. Like anything else in life, you have to compromise. This is war and people are going to die on both sides. You can try to protect them as best you can, but people will still die.

dadman
February 2, 2004, 03:57 PM
Spark,
Will check out USENET.
Forgetting about USENET and Air. Equip. Shop., what can be done to reduce US casulties? It seems a lot of KIA and WIA are the result of convoys/vehicle patrols.
I'd say for starters, a change in tactics(using a HMMV as a primary patrol vehicle when expecting trouble), and a better patrol vehicle.

armoredman
February 2, 2004, 04:03 PM
May I point out that a new RPG recently disabled and penetrated an M1 Abrams MBT. Armor needs to be upgraded.

444
February 2, 2004, 04:06 PM
"Armor needs to be upgraded"

Armor on what ? The tank ?

Surely if a weapon can disable a main battle tank no one seriously thinks they can upgrade the armor on a Humvee to protect the crew against such a weapon ?

Spark
February 2, 2004, 04:28 PM
The long and the short of it is that MOUT operations have the highest casualty rate short of outright nuclear warfare. Convoys being trapped in city environments get eaten alive because the terrain favors the attacker. Short of buttoning everyone inside of tanks, you can't avoid casualties. Those M113's everyone is drooling over suck ??? when hit by RPG's and are 10 times as maintenance intensive as the Hummers, aren't as responsive, and cost a lot more.

Short of levelling city blocks when our convoy's take fire, there isn't a practical solution. If you armor so everyone is protected from all threats, they can't respond, or you have a tremendously slow target. If you don't armor, you die in large numbers. In some ways speed = armor because a small, fast target is harder to hit than a slow lumbering one. But convoy's by their nature are slow and lumbering... you see the dilemma.

The facts remain - you put enough bang in place and you are killing anything. $10 million dollar tanks are still easily killed by $1000 rockets or $100 mines. It's part of the nature of war. You beat this counter-mobility doctrine by having good training & doctrine, immediate action drills, and massive retaliation to any attack. That's why whenever there is a stand up fight, we smoke the insurgents handily. Short of ground penetrating radar, and massive battlefield cleanup & street cleaning though, there is no way to completely eliminate the IED threat. Can't be done. Every car, every donkey cart, every bicycle, every cardboard box, every loaf of bread, every child is a potential bomb.

Jeff White
February 2, 2004, 04:47 PM
But our casualties aren't really high considering what we're doing. Every death is tragic and every soldier wounded gives up something he'll never get back, but with the intensity of our operations and the threat, our casualties have been light. Interceptor body armor, PAGST and ACH helmets and good tactics, techniques and procedures are keeping them down.

Contrary to what Mike Sparks may say on his website, you can't move everything in country in armored vehicles. The M113s he has named "Gavins" (not an official name, a marketing tool Sparks has come up with to sell his ideas) are no more RPG proof then Strykers or Bradleys.

HMMWVs aren't armored cars...they weren't designed to be and any attempt to make them into armored cars will involve a lot of trade offs.

We are in a war and war is not a bloodless computer game. I'm very sorry that we were so fortunate in a couple of recent conflicts in that they were so relatively bloodless that it created unreasonable expectations of what the Army was capable of. I can remember the days when casualty figures from Vietnam were on the nightly news. It was big news when we got below a hundred KIA a week. We're doing a lot better then it seems.

Jeff

Sean Smith
February 2, 2004, 05:13 PM
May I point out that a new RPG recently disabled and penetrated an M1 Abrams MBT. Armor needs to be upgraded.

What is your source? And where was it supposedly penetrated?

Jeff White
February 2, 2004, 05:35 PM
Sean,
Don't know how you missed it. We had a couple threads here about. This is the original story from Army Times.

Jeff

http://www.armytimes.com/archivepaper.php?f=0-ARMYPAPER-2334405.php
Issue Date: November 03, 2003

Pencil-thin, but able to stop a tank
Army officials puzzle over what pierced an M1A1 in Iraq

By John Roos
Special to the Times

Shortly before dawn on Aug. 28, an M1A1 Abrams tank on routine patrol in Baghdad, Iraq, “was hit by something” that crippled the 69-ton behemoth.

Army officials still are puzzling over what that “something” was.

According to an unclassified Army report, the mystery projectile punched through the vehicle’s skirt and drilled a pencil-sized hole through the hull. The hole was so small that “my little finger will not go into it,” the report’s author noted.

The something continued into the crew compartment, where it passed through the gunner’s seatback, grazed the kidney area of the gunner’s flak jacket and finally came to rest after boring a hole 1½ to 2 inches deep in the hull on the far side of the tank.

As it passed through the interior, it hit enough critical components to knock the tank out of action. That made the tank one of only two Abrams disabled by enemy fire during the Iraq war and one of only a handful of “mobility kills” since they first rumbled onto the scene 20 years ago. The other Abrams knocked out this year in Iraq was hit by an RPG-7, a rocket-propelled grenade.

Experts believe that whatever knocked out the tank in August was not an RPG-7, but most likely something new — and that worries tank drivers.

Mystery and anxiety

Terry Hughes is a technical representative from Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., who examined the tank in Baghdad and wrote the report.

In the sort of excited language seldom included in official Army documents, he said, “The unit is very anxious to have this ‘SOMETHING’ identified. It seems clear that a penetrator of a yellow molten metal is what caused the damage, but what weapon fires such a round and precisely what sort of round is it? The bad guys are using something unknown and the guys facing it want very much to know what it is and how they can defend themselves.”

Nevertheless, the Abrams continues its record of providing extraordinary crew protection. The four-man crew suffered minor injuries in the attack. The tank commander received “minor shrapnel wounds to the legs and arms and the gunner got some in his arm” as a result of the attack, according to the report.

Whatever penetrated the tank created enough heat inside the hull to activate the vehicle’s Halon firefighting gear, which probably prevented more serious injuries to the crew.

The soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division, who were targets of the attack weren’t the only ones wondering what damaged their tank.

Hughes also was puzzled. “Can someone tell us?” he wrote. “If not, can we get an expert on foreign munitions over here to examine this vehicle before repairs are begun? Please respond quickly.”

His report went to the office of the combat systems program manager at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Mich. A command spokesman said he could provide no information about the incident.

“The information is sensitive,” he said. “It looks like [members of the program manager’s office] are not going to release any information right now.”

While it’s impossible to determine what caused the damage without actually examining the tank, some conclusions can be drawn from photos that accompanied the incident report. Those photos show a pencil-size penetration hole through the tank body, but very little sign of the distinctive damage — called spalling — that typically occurs on the inside surface after a hollow- or shaped-charge warhead from an anti-tank weapon burns its way through armor.

Spalling results when an armor penetrator pushes a stream of molten metal ahead of it as it bores through an armored vehicle’s protective skin.

“It’s a real strange impact,” said a source who has worked both as a tank designer and as an anti-tank weapons engineer. “This is a new one. … It almost definitely is a hollow-charge warhead of some sort, but probably not an RPG-7” anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade.

The well-known RPG-7 has been the scourge of lightly armored vehicles since its introduction more than 40 years ago. Its hollow-charge warhead easily could punch through an M1’s skirt and the relatively thin armor of its armpit joint, the area above the tracks and beneath the deck on which the turret sits, just where the mystery round hit the tank.

An RPG-7 can penetrate about 12 inches of steel — a thickness far greater than the armor that was penetrated on the tank in Baghdad. But the limited spalling evident in the photos accompanying the incident report all but rules out the RPG-7 as the culprit, experts say.

Limited spalling is a telltale characteristic of Western-manufactured weapons designed to defeat armor with a cohesive jet stream of molten metal. In contrast, RPG-7s typically produce a fragmented jet spray.

The incident is so sensitive that most experts in the field would talk only on the condition that they not be identified.

One armor expert at Fort Knox, Ky., suggested the tank may have been hit by an updated RPG. About 15 years ago, Russian scientists created tandem-warhead anti-tank grenades designed to defeat reactive armor. The new round, a PG-7VR, can be fired from an RPG-7V launcher and might have left the unusual signature on the tank.

In addition, the Russians developed an improved weapon, the RPG-22. These and perhaps even newer variants were used against American forces in Afghanistan. It is believed U.S. troops seized some that were returned to the United States for testing, but scant details about their effects and “fingerprints” are available.

Still another possibility is a retrofitted warhead for the RPG system being developed by a Swiss manufacturer.

At this time, it appears most likely that an RPG-22 or some other improved variant of the Russian-designed weapon damaged the M1 tank, sources concluded. The damage certainly was caused by some sort of shaped-charge or hollow-charge warhead, and the cohesive nature of the destructive jet suggests a more effective weapon than a fragmented-jet RPG-7.

A spokesman for General Dynamics Land Systems, which manufactures the Abrams, said company engineers agree some type of RPG probably caused the damage. After checking with them, the spokesman delivered the manufacturer’s verdict: The tank was hit by “a ‘golden’ RPG” — an extremely lucky shot.

In the end, a civilian weapons expert said, “I hope it was a lucky shot and we are not part of someone’s test program. Being a live target is no fun.”

John Roos is editor of Armed Forces Journal.

Jeff White
February 2, 2004, 05:40 PM
The old RPG isn't quite as outdated as it seems.

http://www.armytimes.com/archivepaper.php?f=0-ARMYPAPER-1867893.php



Issue Date: May 26, 2003

Abrams may get anti-RPG retrofit

By Sean D. Naylor
Times staff writer

The biggest Iraqi threat to U.S. armored vehicles was not Saddam Hussein’s fleet of Soviet-made T-72 tanks, which failed to damage a single U.S. Abrams tank or Bradley fighting vehicle during Operation Iraqi Freedom, but rather the ubiquitous rocket-propelled grenade.

As a result, officials at the Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Mich., are considering modifications to the Abrams to give it greater protection from RPGs in an urban fight.

“The preponderance of damage to our tanks and Bradleys was done by RPGs,” said Maj. Jeff Voigt, assistant project manager for the M-1A1 tank. Voigt visited Iraq to research and write TACOM’s official battle damage assessment report on all the Army tanks and Bradleys that suffered combat damage.

Overall, though, considering that the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) — to which almost all the Army’s armored vehicles that fought in Iraq belonged — was in combat for 21 consecutive days, the number of its damaged combat vehicles was very low.

The numbers seem to bear out the claim made by 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Buford Blount III to the Pentagon press corps May 15. “We’re very, very pleased with the performance of our equipment,” he said. “It clearly showed that the heavy force has a place in an urban fight.”

Only 23 Army M-1A1 Abrams tanks and M-2/M-3 Bradley fighting vehicles were “penetrated or perforated” by fire during the war, Voigt said. “The numbers were actually quite small.”

No Abrams tank crewman was killed or wounded by enemy (or friendly) fire in the war, Voigt said. In the more thinly armored Bradleys, only four soldiers were wounded and none killed. In one of the few instances in which Iraqi armored vehicles scored any hits on U.S. vehicles, three of four tanks in a platoon of 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, were hit by 30 mm fire from one or more BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles. “Those really didn’t bother the tanks,” Voigt said. “They created a few dimples on the front of the tanks.”

Most of the damaged vehicles were not knocked out, Voigt added. “The vast majority of those are still out there with the 3rd ID fighting,” he said. “They’ve got a hole of some sort in them, but otherwise they’re still fighting. There were just a couple of them that were mobility-kills by enemy fire.”

Fifteen of the 23 damaged tanks and Bradleys were hit by RPGs, he said. Nine of the 15 were tanks, and six were Bradleys. Two of the Bradleys were hit by three RPG rounds each, and one tank was hit by two RPG rounds.

In only one case did RPG-wielding Iraqi fighters score a mobility kill against an Abrams, meaning that they managed to immobilize the tank but not destroy it, Voigt said.

He was keen to dispel one rumor. Contrary to reports, he found no evidence that the Iraqis fired any Russian Kornet missiles at U.S. armored vehicles. Weapons that did damage Abrams and Bradleys included 57 mm anti-aircraft cannons mounted on tank hulls and, in at least one case, a medium-caliber automatic weapons system such as a 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun.

In the former instance, a 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment Bradley “was penetrated in the troop compartment by what the troops were saying was a T-72, but based on the ballistics and what we think actually hit it was probably an anti-aircraft round,” Voigt said.

In the latter case, the machine-gun rounds ignited some oil or petroleum products packed in the bustle rack, or storage area outside a tank’s turret, of an Abrams on the western edge of Baghdad, Voigt said. The fire spread to the external auxiliary power unit, then to the engine.

Asked if a lesson learned from that incident was not to store petroleum products in the bustle rack, Voigt answered, “Probably.”

“That’s something to take away,” he said. “Now the question is where else do you put it? That’s something the Army has to wrestle with.”

The RPG shots that damaged the Abrams tanks were aimed at their sides, Voigt said. No Iraqi rounds penetrated the Abrams’ engine or rear grill, he added.

The pattern of penetration is causing some at TACOM to consider improving the Abrams’ armor side-skirts. The Abrams was designed in the 1970s to confront Soviet tanks on the plains of Germany. Designers at the time thought the greatest threat to the tank would come from enemy tank rounds and missiles aimed at the Abrams’ front. That’s where the designers concentrated the thickest layers of the Abrams’ secret armor package, which since has been upgraded.

“We have the heavy armor up front, we don’t have the heavy armor panels in the sides, and that’s where the RPGs were penetrating,” Voigt said.

But he said it was too early to conclude what changes, if any, need to be made. “We’re going to re-evaluate the side armor, because in a city environment a lot of the RPGs are hitting us on the flanks, as opposed to on the front,” he said.

However, he said, any addition to the armor would also increase the weight of the tank, which already tips the scales at 70 tons.

“Do we build a special package that we apply when we go into a city, or do we put this on permanently? Or did the tank do well enough — the fact that we only had two mobility hits — that we want to just keep fighting it the way it is?”

bogie
February 2, 2004, 06:33 PM
A while back a news program aired a show on a Baghdad ER...

Most of the wounds were to extremities, and most were shrapnel from improvised explosive devices. I'd guess that anything that would slow it/stop it would be a good thing. If an RPB hits your hummer, you're gonna be in a world of hurt regardless. If some doof pops a pipe bomb while you're driving past, I'd guess that most of it would be stopped by the quarter inch...

dustind
February 2, 2004, 07:25 PM
I only got part of the way through the thread but two things stuck out so far. One, a socialist is arguing against government regulation, :neener: and two, 13000 LBS divided by 72 vehicles is only 180 pounds each. 180 pounds is not even noticeable in a truck. That is only one person, or a tank of gas worth of weight. Having helped build off road vehicles I doubt armoring a few spots would be hard or risky.

I think if you bolted a large piece of armor under the floor boards, not over, and used some kevlar or ballistic nylon to catch fragments, you could survive any small mine. Anything strong enough to go through armor, or push the plate through the floor and kevlar / nylon would kill you anyway. I would also consider polycarbonate (i.e. lexon) for armor plating. I think it is bullet proof, they may want to check that part out before installing it. :D It is lighter than steel, and could also replace the windshields. (knocking windows out to escape would be impossible though)

In my nonexpert opinion I would never trust a HMMWV even against pistol fire due to all the angles that rounds can hit, but I would at least consider some armor options.

striker3
February 2, 2004, 08:36 PM
The HMMWVs in somalia were up armored weapons platforms, they were not the thin skinned vehicles seeing so much action in Iraq right now. And if you remember from the book, the only reason that the crews survived were that they had the ballistic windows rolled down, this extra layer stopped most of the rounds that cut through the ballistic steel...


When in combat, we usually take off the canvas doors because they are an impediment if we need to get out of the vehicle in a hurry, or even just getting our weapons up to aim.

As for PVT Berki, my vehicle also has a radio shelter mounted on it. I don't know if the Army's is lighter, but the Marine's shelter is heavy! Our vehicle has horrible acceleration, and with any incline, our top speed is 20 mph. Don't over armor your truck, it will only harm you if you find yourself in a running fight.

All that I know is that I am deploying soon, and though I want all the protection that I can get, I want protection that I KNOW will work. I KNOW that sandbags have proven effective, even in the case of explosives. I also KNOW that if you do not have the right steel, attached properly, an IED will turn your vehicle into a big claymore. That, I would not enjoy one bit.

Stay safe,
SGT Elias

444
February 2, 2004, 08:40 PM
"...the only reason that the crews survived were that they had the ballistic windows rolled down..."

Right, I forgot about that. They specifically mentioned it was because they had the windows rolled down.

Jeff White
February 2, 2004, 09:01 PM
The HMMWVs in Somalia weren't the same uparmored HMMWVs that they are buying now. They were the standard weapons carrier model. Bullet resistant glass and a kevlar liner in the unibody. They were designed to provide limited survivabilty against shell fragments. they were never designed to provide protection against small arms fire or any type of anti-armor weapon.

The bullet resistant glass in the HMMWVs is easliy penetrated by 7.62x51. M193 and M855 usually don't penetrate completely. I have never shot any of the glass with 7.62x39 (I don't have a weapon that fires it))

The current uparmored HMMWVs were born out of the AARs for that conflict. The windows don't roll down on these and they have to be airconditioned. This adds an additional load to the engine along with the extra weight.

Sandbags on the floor are some protection against mines and IEDs and that technique has been used for years.

Jeff

Jeeper
February 2, 2004, 09:37 PM
I dont doubt that the military is working on it but I dont think that helps the people being killed daily. Who knows how great the military solution will be. I mean the military did give us that phenominal waste of money called the Bradley.

This is a tough call. I agree that crappy fabrication will be a placebo and possibly dangerous. I also see that it has been done in many wars and often lead to new innovative ideas. Tough one.

dadman
February 3, 2004, 12:18 AM
Spark wrote:
In some ways speed = armor because a small, fast target is harder to hit than a slow lumbering one. But convoy's by their nature are slow and lumbering... you see the dilemma.
The slow and lumbering convoy also comes to a standstill(I think) when one or more vehicles gets hit. I suppose the convoy does a 'circle the wagons' to aid the one(s) hit.
Thin or thick skin, they're sitting for a few minutes.

Jeff White
February 3, 2004, 12:37 AM
dadman said;

The slow and lumbering convoy also comes to a standstill(I think) when one or more vehicles gets hit. I suppose the convoy does a 'circle the wagons' to aid the one(s) hit.
Thin or thick skin, they're sitting for a few minutes.

Not if they are following doctrine they don't. Procedure for an unblocked ambush is to continue moving out of the kill zone. The only reason the convoy should stop is if it's a blocked ambush and they can't continue to move out of the kill zone, in which case they herringbone off the road, dismount and attack the roadblock.

Jeff

dadman
February 4, 2004, 02:27 AM
Jeff White said:
Not if they are following doctrine they don't. Procedure for an unblocked ambush is to continue moving out of the kill zone. The only reason the convoy should stop is if it's a blocked ambush and they can't continue to move out of the kill zone, in which case they herringbone off the road, dismount and attack the roadblock.

Narrow street or wide avenue, if one or more vehicles is disabled, not moveable, and with WIA and KIA, do any or all stop at all or do they beat feat quickly out of the kill zone and assist later?
Does actual practice differ from doctrine?
I don't know. Never been there/done that.

Spark
February 4, 2004, 10:59 AM
If a vehicle is disabled, it's left in place. Proper convoy planning includes security plans for choke points - and not sending your convoy through areas where it's all a "choke point."

When all is said or done, if they are ambushed and are taking fire on a major street, someone else's car is getting pushed out of the way or run over. Property is easier to replace than lives.

If you enjoyed reading about "Army Thin-Skinned Over Homemade Armor" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!