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This is a discussion on Germany within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Would have been too good if true. Although the MoD needed some time for it's rebuke so probably we are ...


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Old April 11th, 2017   #16
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Would have been too good if true. Although the MoD needed some time for it's rebuke so probably we are at least going into a similar direction as recent announcements hinted.

As for Archer an PzH2000. As Kato said, real crew requirements are nearly identical. Archer is also not all that much newer considering it's long development time.

The PzH carries nearly three times the onboard ammunition. With just 21 rounds onboard an Archer unit is presses hard to keep all kinds of rounds available for fire missions (HE, AT like SMARt, PGM like Vulcano, Smoke, Illum...). It should also be a bit more mobile in rough terrain due to it being tracked and less vulnerable due to better protection while being less mobile on roads.

I for one see trucked based systems like archer or CEASAR (although a different, less automated design) or possibly a Boxer based Donar as an additional capability and not as a 1 to 1 replacement for heavy tracked SPGs.

You also hit a problem with day to day operations when operating heavy vehicles with very few men. Things like track/wheel/general maintenance, radio watch times, perimeter security, cable laying (as important as ever!) etc.. A two men crew is really hard pressed to do all this so you essentially have to add additional APC based warm bodies to your TOE at which point you have to ask if having them directly at your gun vehicles isn't more usefull.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #17
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Would have been too good if true. Although the MoD needed some time for it's rebuke so probably we are at least going into a similar direction as recent announcements hinted.

As for Archer an PzH2000. As Kato said, real crew requirements are nearly identical. Archer is also not all that much newer considering it's long development time.

The PzH carries nearly three times the onboard ammunition. With just 21 rounds onboard an Archer unit is presses hard to keep all kinds of rounds available for fire missions (HE, AT like SMARt, PGM like Vulcano, Smoke, Illum...). It should also be a bit more mobile in rough terrain due to it being tracked and less vulnerable due to better protection while being less mobile on roads.

I for one see trucked based systems like archer or CEASAR (although a different, less automated design) or possibly a Boxer based Donar as an additional capability and not as a 1 to 1 replacement for heavy tracked SPGs.
Russia seems to agree, they're pursuing the Coalition-SV on both tracked and wheeled chassis.

Either way, my question remains. Is Germany seriously considering a future arty concept? Possibly one that can be mounted on multiple platforms. And if so, what will those units, not just the arty but the btln and regiment as a whole.

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You also hit a problem with day to day operations when operating heavy vehicles with very few men. Things like track/wheel/general maintenance, radio watch times, perimeter security, cable laying (as important as ever!) etc.. A two men crew is really hard pressed to do all this so you essentially have to add additional APC based warm bodies to your TOE at which point you have to ask if having them directly at your gun vehicles isn't more usefull.
Specialization and automation are the way of the future. It's a matter of when and how, not if. I would love to see what the TO&E for the new 2S35-based arty btlns looks like but so far there are ~2 btlns online, one doing state trials, and one doing experimental exploitation. It remains to be seen what emerges.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #18
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Automation is definitely an important aspect of every future vehicle design. I bet Germany will never again design a 5 men SPG or a 4 men MBT.

But there are also practical limits which correlate with operating heavy equipment in a warzone with all the additional tasks and requirements attached.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #19
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Automation is definitely an important aspect of every future vehicle design. I bet Germany will never again design a 5 men SPG or a 4 men MBT.

But there are also practical limits which correlate with operating heavy equipment in a warzone with all the additional tasks and requirements attached.
Wouldn't it be a case of specialization? I.e. a smaller crew of professional maintenance personnel who have little to do with tactical operations but can help with the general maintenance you've described?

EDIT: What about organically integrating UAVs into the force-orgs of arty btlns? I guess I should ask a broader question about dedicated recon assets for arty units in Germany.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #20
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EDIT: What about organically integrating UAVs into the force-orgs of arty btlns? I guess I should ask a broader question about dedicated recon assets for arty units in Germany.
The 2nd battery of each of the current artillery battalions is a reconnaissance company equipped with two COBRA counter-battery radars and two platoons with KZO drones (10 drones total in battery).
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Old April 11th, 2017   #21
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Wouldn't it be a case of specialization? I.e. a smaller crew of professional maintenance personnel who have little to do with tactical operations but can help with the general maintenance you've described?

EDIT: What about organically integrating UAVs into the force-orgs of arty btlns? I guess I should ask a broader question about dedicated recon assets for arty units in Germany.
Kato already answered the recon question.

As for dedicated maintenance personal. One already has that in the maintenance part of the 1st company and independent maintenance units. But these specialists are a waste to use fir the more menial tasks of heavy vehicle maintenance.

And these maintenance occassions not only happen to be done in technical areas of barrcks but as you know in the middle of the field.

And everytime that happens as well as everytime the is a need for additional security, watchkeepers, etc. you have to shift these extra warm bodies around. All the while artillery units operate more and more dispersed as a precaution against counterfire.

Additionally with very small crews you have no way of coping with crew attrition be it due to illness, accidents and casualties. Most current SPGs, MBTs and IFVs can be operated by reduced crews. Vehicles with really small crews cannot.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #22
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The 2nd battery of each of the current artillery battalions is a reconnaissance company equipped with two COBRA counter-battery radars and two platoons with KZO drones (10 drones total in battery).
Interesting. But surely the counter-battery radars and UAVs are not just used at the btln level or organically with the second battery. If the 1st battery is detached in support of an infantry unit, then it might want UAVs as well. Why not make a recon pltn a btln level asset that detaches UAVs and counter-battery radars in support of relevant batteries? Also, are there 2 or 3 batteries in a Germany arty btn?
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Old April 11th, 2017   #23
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As for dedicated maintenance personal. One already has that in the maintenance part of the 1st company and independent maintenance units. But these specialists are a waste to use fir the more menial tasks of heavy vehicle maintenance.

And these maintenance occassions not only happen to be done in technical areas of barrcks but as you know in the middle of the field.

And everytime that happens as well as everytime the is a need for additional security, watchkeepers, etc. you have to shift these extra warm bodies around. All the while artillery units operate more and more dispersed as a precaution against counterfire.
All of these are valid points which brings me to wonder how they will achieve the inevitable level of automation.

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Additionally with very small crews you have no way of coping with crew attrition be it due to illness, accidents and casualties. Most current SPGs, MBTs and IFVs can be operated by reduced crews. Vehicles with really small crews cannot.
Presumably this last one will be resolved by getting to the point where multiple vehicles can be remotely operated by a single operator. UVZ has stated that the T-14 specifically can be remotely ordered to back out of combat, if the crew is dead. Again, I'm guessing, but with some understanding, that we will get to the point where a given arty battery can be operated by one human with AI taking care of individual vehicles, and the human operator controlling the battery as a whole. There is definitely work in progress right now on entire units made up of small unmanned ground vehicles, for example instead of a machinegun squad with 2 medium machineguns and 7 marines, you have 2 small unmanned platforms with a medium machinegun each, on a stabilized platform, operated remotely. Basically your point about redundancy stands (redundancy is good), however the redundancy doesn't have to be human.
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Old April 11th, 2017   #24
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That is right. But that would also lead to whole batteries of artillery standing around practically unguarded. One would need additional guard units to protect them in their ready areas (sic).

And with sole operators one basically reduced the redundancy of the human factor (which is by itself reduced by automation but is still there at crucial points). How many of these operators which control whole batteries do you keep in reserve so that one guy missing doesn't render half a bn of artillery unusable? Armed bureaucracies all around the world probably would tend to making it a position for one guy with basically no redundancy at all in order to save even more on manpower...
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Old April 11th, 2017   #25
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That is right. But that would also lead to whole batteries of artillery standing around practically unguarded. One would need additional guard units to protect them in their ready areas (sic).

And with sole operators one basically reduced the redundancy of the human factor (which is by itself reduced by automation but is still there at crucial points). How many of these operators which control whole batteries do you keep in reserve so that one guy missing doesn't render half a bn of artillery unusable? Armed bureaucracies all around the world probably would tend to making it a position for one guy with basically no redundancy at all in order to save even more on manpower...
Presumably your protection would also be in the form of UGVs. The RVSN is already integrating unmanned UGVs organically into the force-org of security units. In fact it seems that security of a position is one of the areas where UGVs work best. Israel uses them to patrol their borders.

Finally it seems to me that there are two forms of security. Through physical presence and through situational awareness. And we're moving steadily from the former to the latter.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-F7KmWA3ijf...a8af0593bb.jpg

EDIT: The first one above is near an SLBM sub base, the second is self-explanatory.

http://gubrud.net/wp-content/uploads.../mrk-topol.jpg

EDIT2: Here's a western counter-part with considerably better electro-optics. Iirc this is the MAARS.

http://gubrud.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/maars.jpg
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Old April 12th, 2017   #26
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I agree that smaller UGVs will supplement dismounts in various roles.

But one also needs to carry these little beasts around in order to follow the mechanized forces with small crews while the UGVs themselves need constant resources and maintenance support.

And they need to have a very clever AI as I wouldn't want to hand my bivouac area to every enemy EW guy on a plate by having them on remote control.

Dispersed but autonomous operating SPGs get their targeting Data by short encripted bursts which reduces the chance of getting fixed by enemy signal sniffers. Lots of remote control and constant active network systems can lead to nasty surprises by enemy artillery or NLOS fire.
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Old April 13th, 2017   #27
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I think this discussion well illustrates the problem with extensive automated and autonomous systems. There is a need for significant numbers of technicians to keep the show going. It is unrealistic to expect drones and terrestrial robots to replace humans. Rather, those systems just change what humans do in the fight as older forms of mechanisation did. IE: humans went from using their muscles to becoming machine operators and now the emphasis is shifting to humans becoming repairers of fighting machines.

Back to a point StingrayOz made regarding the apparent agility of Russian and Ukrainian forces. Now, they are still using heavy equipment such as MBTs. Yet they seem to be using battalion sized combined arms battle groups in a fluid and open battle field. They must have good quantities of fuel and ammo being carted around with these battle groups to get that mobility. After all, it isn't the weight of vehicles (except on bridges) that reduces 'agility', it is the need to maintain contact with the supply chain that slows things down.

An Armoured CAV unit gets much of it's operational mobility from carrying enough supplies so that the formation doesn't need to wait on logistic support before moving off. Is this what the Russian's are doing with these nimble armoured battle groups? If not, what are their logistic arrangements?
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Old April 13th, 2017   #28
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I think this discussion well illustrates the problem with extensive automated and autonomous systems. There is a need for significant numbers of technicians to keep the show going. It is unrealistic to expect drones and terrestrial robots to replace humans. Rather, those systems just change what humans do in the fight as older forms of mechanisation did. IE: humans went from using their muscles to becoming machine operators and now the emphasis is shifting to humans becoming repairers of fighting machines.
There's a definite pattern in reducing the number of bodies necessary though. Humans are not going to disappear any time soon, and I think you're right when you say that the focus of human participation will change, though how is a little more complex.

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Back to a point StingrayOz made regarding the apparent agility of Russian and Ukrainian forces. Now, they are still using heavy equipment such as MBTs. Yet they seem to be using battalion sized combined arms battle groups in a fluid and open battle field. They must have good quantities of fuel and ammo being carted around with these battle groups to get that mobility. After all, it isn't the weight of vehicles (except on bridges) that reduces 'agility', it is the need to maintain contact with the supply chain that slows things down.
You lump Russia and Ukraine together here. I would consider the two separately. And given the state of the Ukrainian military, I'm not sure "agility" applies. The current conflict in the east is a positional war with artillery playing first fiddle. All of Ukrainian attempts to play maneuver ended in dramatic, crushing, defeats at Russia's hands. That having been said, I don't think Russia has invented anything new. Much of what Russia is doing today has been adapted from American and European combat experiences over the past 3 decades. Much of it is also based on Soviet theory work on future armored warfare, and the role of smaller more mobile units.

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An Armoured CAV unit gets much of it's operational mobility from carrying enough supplies so that the formation doesn't need to wait on logistic support before moving off. Is this what the Russian's are doing with these nimble armoured battle groups? If not, what are their logistic arrangements?
It's hard to say. So far Russia hasn't used these formations in any operations that lasted longer then a few days. The entire war in Georgia was over in 5 days. Russian operations in Ukraine lasted longer, but individual combat operations were all short and high intensity/high tempo. Truth is Russia hasn't had a major war to test these concepts in, and iron out the details.

But this is rather off topic. If this is a discussion you wish to continue, there's a thread for Russian Land Forces topics.
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Old April 14th, 2017   #29
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Also, are there 2 or 3 batteries in a Germany arty btn?
Currently German artillery battalions consist of

1./ - Staff/Support
2./ - Recce (2 COBRA, 2 KZO pl)
3./ - Rocket Artillery (8 MARS 2)
4./ - Howitzers (8 PzH2000 + 4 JFST teams + BÜR or ABRA)
5./ - Howitzers (8 PzH2000 + 4 JFST teams + BÜR or ABRA)
6./ - Reserve

Above for 325th, 295th and 131st. 345th (battalion colocated with the artillery school) additionally has a third howitzer firing company that is planned to be equipped with the 120mm Wiesel-based mortar combat system as a secondary layout for the battery (they'll keep their PzHs).

COBRA and UAVs are battalion assets for wide-area use beyond the scope of individual batteries; KZO is built and operationally used for surveillance of a 100-120 km radius area, with multiple drones in the air covering that area 24/7. KZO is intended for deep reconnaissance, positive target identification and target environment analysis of targets that popped up on either COBRA or SMA (acoustics), as well as battle damage assessment.

The firing batteries have - as organic assets - ground surveillance radars that cover their firing zones and 8 Fenneks for recce and target designation (which unlike other Fenneks don't carry their own UAVs btw).

The rocket artillery is something of a stepchild in the above structure; that's partially due to its limitations in usage though. Effectively they should be used in applications beyond the scope of the howitzer batteries, i.e. firing GMLRS Unitary at tactic-strategic targets after assessment by KZO or laying AT minefields at distance.

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If the 1st battery is detached in support of an infantry unit, then it might want UAVs as well. Why not make a recon pltn a btln level asset that detaches UAVs and counter-battery radars in support of relevant batteries?
A battery-based "compound artillery system" would be formed for deployments below battalion level, in which assets (pl-size) of 1./ and 2./ are reattached to a firing battery to provide it with the necessary layout for independent operations. In any larger operations control of these assets remains with the battalion though.
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Old April 16th, 2017   #30
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...Germany trashing its economy doesn't make it safer, nor does spending 2% GDP ineffectively. The fact there doesn't seem to be a plan of effective action to get to points like 1.25%, 1.5% etc makes me feel that Germany as a political entity doesn't believe this is a genuine strategic change.
Increasing spending to 1.5% might cover shortages of ammunition, insufficient training budget to keep to what's officially required, etc. Newly planned naval expansion will also require a spending increase. IIRC disposals of tanks have been stopped, implying a need for spending more than previously planned. Etc.

I don't think anyone's going "How can we spend all this money?". It's more a question of "At least we'll now be able to pay for the things we need".
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