Civil wars tend to produce much DIY weaponry and even armoured vehicles, and Syria is no different. The Oryx blog recently showed some of the one-off 'designs' of the Kurds in Syria.
Quite striking next to all those slat armours and improvised rusty soft steel turrets were the skirts used to protect the tires of BTR-60 wheeled 8x8 APCs. The contraptions likely impeded steering in their specific implementation, but otherwise they may point at something important.
I suppose the emphasis on protecting the tires stems from the inability to replace busted tires. Even patching them is probably a major logistical headache.
Still, these skirts - if effective at all and I suppose they do at least defeat AK/RPK bullets - would also greatly improve the sustainment of mobility of wheeled AFVs. An AFV can keep going for a bout 80 km after having its wheels punctured due to the actually simple run flat technology but then there's a huge problem of supplying enough spare tires. Hardly any spare tires are carried in the units themselves.
Western land forces didn't seem to care much about this in the recent wars of occupation. To maintain mobility wasn't valued as highly as reducing casualties more directly, and armour was thus mostly designed to protect the men inside the vehicle, not to maintain its mobility. The threat of fragmentation and bullets was also overshadowed by blast mines and RPGs.
I suppose it would make sense to look at such skirt plates (or meshes) for the defeat of bullets and fragments for wheeled AFV types meant to be used in mobile warfare, including reconnaissance.
I understand there's often a benefit of the doubt in favour of the armed bureaucracy's competence, thus I raise you the glory of wisdom known as the Cold War's Fuchs Transportpanzer design:
|Fuchs Transportpanzer, (c) Anderle|
A mere 7.62 mm machinegun (that cannot defeat any protected vehicle) as armament, without any kind of shield, much less a turret. As if it was a soft lorry. Whatever benefit of the doubt the bureaucracy might want to claim, it was squandered by historical precedents IMO.
So maybe let's use other peoples' lessons learned and have a close look at this detail. It may be pivotal for the utility of wheeled AFVs.