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IFV v APC

This is a discussion on IFV v APC within the Army & Security Forces forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hi, was bored on the weekend and watched an interesting doco on Discovery on the "Top 10 Infantry Fighting Vehicles". ...


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Old October 1st, 2007   #1
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IFV v APC

Hi, was bored on the weekend and watched an interesting doco on Discovery on the "Top 10 Infantry Fighting Vehicles". However, instead of the IFV in the conventional sense, the producers mixed APC alongside IFVs. Therefore Bradleys and Warriors were placed 2nd and 3rd, while the good old M113 APC was ranked as the number 1 IFV. What I'd like to know is that is there a strict definition of what is a APC and what is an IFV. Based on my understanding, they are both support vehicles in that they can bring additional infantry and fire power in a battlefield alongside MBTs. APCs are there primarily to bring in the troops (8-10) and is relatively light in terms of armour and firepower (.50 cal in the original M113) whereas the IFV has more firepower and more armour but only limited carrying capcity (3-6) as a result, with the Russian BMP1 as the first example of such vehicles. Can others help me out??
Thanks
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Old October 1st, 2007   #2
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Hi, was bored on the weekend and watched an interesting doco on Discovery on the "Top 10 Infantry Fighting Vehicles". However, instead of the IFV in the conventional sense, the producers mixed APC alongside IFVs. Therefore Bradleys and Warriors were placed 2nd and 3rd, while the good old M113 APC was ranked as the number 1 IFV. What I'd like to know is that is there a strict definition of what is a APC and what is an IFV. Based on my understanding, they are both support vehicles in that they can bring additional infantry and fire power in a battlefield alongside MBTs. APCs are there primarily to bring in the troops (8-10) and is relatively light in terms of armour and firepower (.50 cal in the original M113) whereas the IFV has more firepower and more armour but only limited carrying capcity (3-6) as a result, with the Russian BMP1 as the first example of such vehicles. Can others help me out??
Thanks
For APC - transport is primary function. All others secondary at best. They are not intendend for fight on battlefield.
For IFV - both transport and fire support are primary functions. They have a place on battlefield.
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Old October 1st, 2007   #3
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The CFE Treaty as far as I know had the only "official" definition ever. The treaty text and protocols for it can be found here, for example.

That definition was copied to UN usage, so it should be pretty much considered universal.

According to that definition:
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The term "armoured personnel carrier" means an armoured combat vehicle which is designed and equipped to transport a combat infantry squad and which, as a rule, is armed with an integral or organic weapon of less than 20 millimeters calibre.
The "Armoured IFV" definition below should be seen synonymous to "IFV":
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The term "armoured infantry fighting vehicle" means an armoured combat vehicle which is designed and equipped primarily to transport a combat infantry squad, which normally provides the capability for the troops to deliver fire from inside the vehicle under armoured protection, and which is armed with an integral or organic cannon of at least 20 millimeters calibre and sometimes an antitank missile launcher. Armoured infantry fighting vehicles serve as the principal weapon system of armoured infantry or mechanized infantry or motorized infantry formations and units of ground forces.
"Armoured Combat Vehicle" in those two definition is defined as:
Quote:
The term "armoured combat vehicle" means a self-propelled vehicle with armoured protection and cross-country capability.
(excluding Battle Tanks, which are defined earlier)

So, officially, the only difference is the armament: If it's below 20mm, it's a APC, if it's 20mm and above, it's a IFV.

Number of passengers doesn't count, armour level doesn't count, capability to keep up with tanks doesn't count.

The "Protocol on Existing Types of Conventional Armaments and Equipment" within the CFE Treaty framework (can be found at above link) is also interesting as it presents a list of vehicles sorted into these categories (for all NATO and Warsaw Pacts weapon systems active in 1990).

With regard to that docu, the protocol clearly sets the M113 in the "APC" category, including all basic models of it. However, for example, the NM-135, a Norwegian M113 version mounting a 20mm turret, falls into the "IFV" category in the same protocol.

edit:
Btw, by these definitions, the BMP-1 of course wouldn't have been the first IFV. Post-WW2, the first such vehicle would probably have been something like the Hotchkiss TT6 or the AMX-VCI M-56, both in the mid-50s and armed with 20mm guns.

Last edited by kato; October 1st, 2007 at 08:30 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2007   #4
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Thanks Kato, the 20mm rule is certainly interesting. Do you know of the year in which they were defined? Personally, I have difficulty in accepting that mounting a 20mm cannon on a M113 changes its classification from an APC to an IFV, as the M113 was designed as an APC from the start, as opposed to purpose build IFV such as the Warrior and BMP. I hope this isn't an academic discussion, but maybe such definitions need to be updates to keep up with advances in military technology and innovation?
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Old October 1st, 2007   #5
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Thanks Kato, the 20mm rule is certainly interesting. Do you know of the year in which they were defined?
November 19, 1990 was the original signing

Remember that at that point (and for more than another decade...) the "standard" IFVs of NATO (used with a "IFV doctrine") had 20-25mm guns. I mean the Bradley, Marder, and AMX-10P.
The Warrior (with its 30mm gun) was "brand-new", with deliveries only starting 3 years earlier. And the BMP-2 on the Soviet side was also just introduced a few years earlier itself, and was basically just a well-improved BMP-1.

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Personally, I have difficulty in accepting that mounting a 20mm cannon on a M113 changes its classification from an APC to an IFV, as the M113 was designed as an APC from the start, as opposed to purpose build IFV such as the Warrior and BMP. I hope this isn't an academic discussion, but maybe such definitions need to be updates to keep up with advances in military technology and innovation?
Well, that depends on what the role of a IFV and a APC entails really.
Within doctrine, the APC doesn't "fight". Its armament is self-defense only, and it generally isn't a platform from which the infantry squad fights - it only serves to transport it into action.
The IFV however provides an actual combat capability - a fire support platform operating with the infantry in combat, and a vehicle that at least somewhat has the ability to fight its way into the mission area (which, no, is not something a APC would ever do).

With me still there?

Now, with regard to armament - you don't mount a bigger gun on a vehicle just because it's bigger/better of course. The NM-135, unlike the original M113, is designed to fight as a IFV. Its operational use is as a IFV as described above.

Now, the 20mm caliber was chosen as the "divisor" because it's the point at which the armament becomes "non-defensive". With a .50cal HMG (or a 14.5mm), you can't really shoot up enemy armoured vehicles, or lend effective penetrating fire to your infantry. Meaning with a vehicle equipped with a HMG you cannot perform the above mission to "fight with the infantry". You can defend yourself, but you can't actively, offensively fight.

With a 20mm gun (and maybe the also mentioned ATGM launcher), you're at the point where you can actually do that. 20mm APDS provides good behind-protection effects in typical infantry combat terrains, and - let's not forget that - 20mm is also "officially" the point where you're allowed to use HE/shrapnel ammunition on the enemy.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #6
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November 19, 1990 was the original signing


With a 20mm gun (and maybe the also mentioned ATGM launcher), you're at the point where you can actually do that. 20mm APDS provides good behind-protection effects in typical infantry combat terrains, and - let's not forget that - 20mm is also "officially" the point where you're allowed to use HE/shrapnel ammunition on the enemy.
Really, it was much simplier than you think. The definition was given for arms threaty purpose. By that time all IFV's possesed 20+ mm weapon, and all APC just heavy MG's. Now, this "20mm" rule is not true anymore.
The only good definition is by primary function - i.e. if said vehicle is intended to operate on battlefield.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #7
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By that time all IFV's possesed 20+ mm weapon, and all APC just heavy MG's. Now, this "20mm" rule is not true anymore.
Name one APC (intended to operate as such on the battlefield) with a 20mm gun.
I dare you
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #8
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Name one APC (intended to operate as such on the battlefield) with a 20mm gun.
I dare you
Ex. BTR-80A. APC with 30mm gun. It IS APC by primary function. Various M113 modernizations with 20+mm AC also fall in that category.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #9
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Ex. BTR-80A. APC with 30mm gun. It IS APC by primary function. Various M113 modernizations with 20+mm AC also fall in that category.
The BTR-80A isn't used in the same function as the standard BTR-80. It's used as a IFV, that is doctrinally as a low-end alternative to BMP-2 as a IFV.

There are the following M113 variants with 20mm guns that i'm aware of:
MICV : IFV (several variants), e.g. NM-135 succeeded by CV9030N
AIFV : IFV (several variants), e.g. YPR765 succeeded by CV9035NL
IAFV V3 : IFV
M163 : SPAAG
M732 : SPAAG
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #10
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The BTR-80A isn't used in the same function as the standard BTR-80. It's used as a IFV, that is doctrinally as a low-end alternative to BMP-2 as a IFV.

There are the following M113 variants with 20mm guns that i'm aware of:
MICV : IFV (several variants), e.g. NM-135 succeeded by CV9030N
AIFV : IFV (several variants), e.g. YPR765 succeeded by CV9035NL
IAFV V3 : IFV
M163 : SPAAG
M732 : SPAAG
BTR-80A is APC by all means. Look at its armor. Noone in the right mind would send it on frontline. M113 - same. Note, you can slap 75mm gun on a bus - it will NOT make said bus an IFV.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #11
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BTR-80A is APC by all means. Look at its armor. Noone in the right mind would send it on frontline. M113 - same. Note, you can slap 75mm gun on a bus - it will NOT make said bus an IFV.
"Frontline" is always a relative term. Germany uses the Wiesel in direct infantry support, and its armour is even less than that of a M113. France's AMX-10P IFV had about the same armour level (and weight) as a M113.

Besides, the AIFV/MICV/IAFV are not armored to the same level as the original M113, but far heavier. The original XM701 AIFV for the US Army (not introduced, but exported in similar form as the various AIFVs) weighed nearly twice as much as the M113.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #12
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"Frontline" is always a relative term. Germany uses the Wiesel in direct infantry support, and its armour is even less than that of a M113. France's AMX-10P IFV had about the same armour level (and weight) as a M113.

Besides, the AIFV/MICV/IAFV are not armored to the same level as the original M113, but far heavier. The original XM701 AIFV for the US Army (not introduced, but exported in similar form as the various AIFVs) weighed nearly twice as much as the M113.
USA sometimes used its HUMVEE on the frontline... doesnt mean it is intendend in that role.
So, lets put it stright: you point is what EVERY vehicle with 20+mm gun is IFV? And EVERY vehicle with less than 20mm gun - APC?
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #13
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USA sometimes used its HUMVEE on the frontline... doesnt mean it is intendend in that role.
So, lets put it stright: you point is what EVERY vehicle with 20+mm gun is IFV? And EVERY vehicle with less than 20mm gun - APC?
My point is that every infantry-carrying vehicle with less than a 20mm gun is only used in a doctrinal APC role (transport/self-defense only), while infantry-carrying vehicles with 20+mm guns are used in a doctrinal IFV role (actively fighting/infantry fighting from it).

It's really a egg-or-chicken-first situation. The armament is mounted in order to provide appropriate firepower in a certain role, and vehicles are used in a certain role because they have the armament for this role. See what i'm getting at?
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #14
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My point is that every infantry-carrying vehicle with less than a 20mm gun is only used in a doctrinal APC role (transport/self-defense only), while infantry-carrying vehicles with 20+mm guns are used in a doctrinal IFV role (actively fighting/infantry fighting from it).

It's really a egg-or-chicken-first situation. The armament is mounted in order to provide appropriate firepower in a certain role, and vehicles are used in a certain role because they have the armament for this role. See what i'm getting at?
No, your point is wrong. BTR-80A is still APC - i repeat, NOONE want it to fullfill same role as BMP. Same could be said about M113 upgrades. Of course, in EMERGENCY case BTR-80A will provide better firesupport and will live longer on battlefield. However, this doesnt mean what in NORMAL case it will go with tanks / infantry / IFV's.

There is a strong trend worldwide to equip EVERY 10+t vehicle with heavy weapon - i.e. 30+ cannons and ATGM's. This, however, doesnt meant what APC is history. No. It is just standards for IFV/APC was shifted.

Example: Average WW2 tank had less firepower, mobilty, protection, weight than modern IFV like PUMA or BMP-3. This DOESNT make PUMA a tank. It is still IFV. 70 years are gone - and now to call something a "tank" you need completely different properties than in WW2 time.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #15
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70 years are gone - and now to call something a "tank" you need completely different properties than in WW2 time.
Umm, no. You don't. A tank is defined by its role, not its armament. The Scimitar, or the Stormer are still (light) tanks in today's definition. And that's despite "only" carrying a clip-loaded 30mm quickfire gun similar to pre-WW2 tanks.
There is a distinct (pretty good) definition for a "battle tank" (min 16.5 tons, 360-traversable gun over 75mm, primary role as tank), but that's not the definition of a "tank" itself. That has stayed the same since pre-WW2 times.

Similarly, a IFV is defined by its role. Its armament, armor, whatever is secondary, but it allows a straight reverse definition by applying a "potential role" based on those values. See ... well, about any of my previous posts.

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Of course, in EMERGENCY case BTR-80A will provide better firesupport
An APC is not intended to deliver fire support at all. In case you're wondering, the BTR-80A was defined as a IFV under CFE as of 1997 in the updated protocol on existing types.

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There is a strong trend worldwide to equip EVERY 10+t vehicle with heavy weapon - i.e. 30+ cannons and ATGM's.
Holy shit, no there's not. This is a trend that's pretty much only followed by manufacturers in ex-Soviet states (Russia, Ukraine primarily) who call their resulting IFVs "Armored Personnel Carriers".

If you look at "recent" (post-Cold-War) systems by other manufacturers, you'll find that in pretty much all cases APCs will meet the CFE definition.
As examples look around the German GTK Boxer, Canadian Bison ISC, Chinese ZSD89, Finnish Patria AMV in the APC configs (e.g. in the Polish Army as Rosomak-1), the Pandur II in the APC config, the Fiat Type 6614, the Swedish Bv-206... hell, even the Israeli Achzarit, or the Namer.

And yes, all these vehicles could mount heavier weapons, and sometimes are introduced in such variants too - but then they are explicitly called Armoured (Infantry) Fighting Vehicles, not Armoured Personnel Carriers.
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