2009/05/09

Vehicle diversity in a battalion

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Have a look at this STAN (~ TOE) of a (the) German Jägerbataillon (292), a light infantry unit.
It's possibly a little bit outdated, but that's irrelevant. Let's use this graphic TOE example as a representative for many of today's battalions.


I counted no less than 13 vehicle types (different versions of one vehicle counting as one).
13 vehicle types in a single battalion. That reminds me of the inventory of the Wehrmacht when it invaded Russia with a hotchpotch of German, French, Dutch, Belgian, British and other military AND civilian vehicles in 1941. The ensuing logistics (spare parts) nightmare was unbelievable and seriously degraded the mobility and readiness of the motorized units after the first weeks.

Only two of the 13 vehicle types (two MAN gl trucks) have some significant parts commonality as far as I know. I'm not sure about two medium truck types - maybe they have a good parts commonality as well.
Motorcycles consume different fuel (gasoline) than the other vehicles.

I am confident that a comprehensive vehicle procurement planning could very much reduce this harmful diversity.

Example:

diesel motorcycle (or ATV)
half ton 4wd vehicle
3 ton 4wd vehicle
5 ton 6wd vehicle (including crane version)
10 ton 8wd vehicle
wheeled APC

I'm no fan of the Wiesel for general light infantry use, so I ditched that one without replacement.
A few forklifts would be used, but not as road-mobile vehicles but attached as kind of parasitic vehicle on 10 ton trucks as it's often done by commercial truckers.

The mere reduction of types isn't the only cure for the complicating diversity. We can create families.

The half ton vehicle and the forklift could have a some common parts (engine, for example).

The 2 ton and 5 ton trucks can be a vehicle family with 80% parts commonality as evidenced by the proven (and old) French ACMAT VLRA family that ranges from 1.5 ton to 5.5 tons. The German Unimog family ranges today from 3.4 tons to 5 tons - an older 2.25 ton Unimog generation vehicle is in the STAN (and the 3.4 ton vehicle is about as big as normal 2 ton trucks).
Same engine, same gearbox, same tires, same cab - huge commonality of wearing parts in general. Make sure that you've got a good truck family and you'll benefit a lot by the commonality.


The heavy truck (like 10 ton 8wd) can use the same engine, gearbox, tires as the APC and have a good overall commonality with it. The use of light/medium truck chassis for the cheap production of APCs shows the potential. Again, much less diversity and no duplicated spare parts needs.

So we would need only four different vehicle families / sets of spare parts.
Add the Wiesel and the single tracked recovery tank if considered necessary.

This was just about a battalion, a force of less than 900 personnel. The lack of standardization becomes even more apparent at brigade level.
(Especially so in the Jägerbataillon 292's brigade, as it is one of the in my opinion stupid bi-national units).

A reduction of vehicle diversity by half would be a significant improvement for the maintenance of the truck fleet.

We shouldn't forget the troubles that earlier generations had on sustained campaigns with their inappropriate vehicle diversity.

Sven Ortmann
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6 comments:

  1. And the procurement of several new types of armored vehicles (Dingo, Grizzly, Fennek, Boxer, Duro, Serval, Enok, Eagle IV did I forget any?) doesn't point to any change for the better. Let alone the mess with that UAV business...

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  2. You forgot Mungo, Puma, about half a dozen armoured Wolf versions and the Wiesel 2 mortar project.

    The AFV procurement chaos is a different story. It's better than having bought none, but the lack of a real strategy is obvious. Adding the GFF strategy for wheeled armoured vehicles on top only adds to the diversity.

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  3. At least the Duro and the Eagle IV share some parts - which I think was one of the reasons why the Eagle was selected over the Iveco LMV

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  4. I totally agree with you on the "logistic mess" part of your story.

    But why do you think bi-national units are stupid?

    I think as a political symbol you simply need to live with some practical shortcomings. In my view the political gain in this case is worth it.
    Of course you could see it otherwise, though.

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  5. It's stupid because the cohesion (and logistics) of such a bi-national units are inevitably inferior to a national unit.

    I would instead have two brigades - one on each side of the border but with common training grounds - very close to each other. Frequent training together is enough for a valuable transfer of know-how and innovations.

    I don't rate the political gain highly; some top politicians probably don't even know about these units.

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  6. Hey Sven,

    I realize this isn't the right place to ask this, but do you know how big the fuel tank is on the Boxer?

    It has an advertised range of around twice that of its competitors. I was wondering how much gas it takes such a large vehicle to go that far.

    Thanks in advance.

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