Armored personnel carriers

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MCV-80 Warrior

Armored personnel carriers ( IFV for short ) are light to medium armored vehicles with a maximum combat weight of 25–43 t. They transport the infantry into battle, give them effective fire support in combat and, due to their design, enable the tank grenadiers to fight from and from the armored personnel carrier. Armored personnel carriers usually have space for up to ten infantrymen or tank grenadiers in the transport area and are more heavily armed and armored than armored personnel carriers . Armored personnel carriers are usually tracked vehicles ; however, some armored vehicles also fall into the same category ( armored infantry fighting vehicles ).

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) defines the term “armored personnel carrier” in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) of November 1990 in Article II as follows:

“The term 'armored personnel carrier (IFV)' refers to an armored combat vehicle that is primarily designed and equipped for the transport of an infantry group, normally allows soldiers to shoot out of the vehicle protected by the armor, and with an integrated or organic cannon of at least 20 millimeters in caliber and occasionally armed with an anti-tank missile launcher. The armored personnel carriers serve as the main weapon system of armored, mechanized or motorized infantry units and units of the land forces. "

- Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, II 1 (D)


In German usage the term armored personnel carrier is common. In the English-speaking area, such vehicles are referred to as armored infantry fighting vehicles , abbreviated IFV , in the French-speaking areas as véhicule de combat d'infanterie . In Russian, the terms боевая машина пехоты - bojewaja maschina pechoty - German: infantry fighting car , abbreviated as БМП (BMP) , are common. Basically, it is an infantry combat vehicle .

In the army vehicles were covered by the definition of the armored transport vehicle, as armored personnel carriers called. The NVA the GDR also used this name, but also ranked among the vehicles that originally as a scout - and patrol vehicles were constructed and used ( BRDM-1 and BRDM-2 ). In contrast to this, the BMP-1 and BMP-2 were designated as armored personnel carriers in the NVA . In the Bundeswehr the term with the armored personnel carriers was introduced long and short .

Differentiation from other vehicles

The M6 Linebacker anti-aircraft tank was derived from the M2 / M3 family

Armored personnel carriers are to be distinguished from armored personnel carriers , which are designed and equipped for the transport of an infantry group according to the definition of the OSCE and are usually equipped with an integrated or organic weapon of less than 20 millimeters caliber.

As armored MTW-like vehicle and SPz-like vehicle armored vehicles are referred to, which has the same suspension, and a similar appearance having as an armored personnel carrier or an armored personnel carrier, but not mm with a cannon or a gun of the caliber 20 and are also equipped, and were built or modified in such a way that no infantry group can be transported with them.

According to the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 - to improve the lot of the wounded and sick in the armed forces in the field - ambulance vehicles have a special status. Therefore, armored medical personnel carriers are not considered to be armored combat vehicles or armored personnel carriers.

Existing types are listed in the Protocol on Existing Types of Conventional Arms and Equipment , which is an annex to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The protocol is updated regularly. In popular scientific literature and in common parlance, however , the term armored personnel carrier is not strictly applied. It is also difficult to classify historical vehicles whose use ended before the contract was signed and which are therefore not listed in the protocol. After 1990 the boundaries between armored personnel carriers and armored personnel carriers became blurred.

In many cases, armored personnel carriers serve as the basis for reconnaissance and command vehicles. According to the definition of the OSCE, these vehicles are armored AFV-like vehicles . Various armored personnel carriers were or are used as carriers of heavy weapon systems. If a cannon with a caliber of at least 75 mm for shooting in direct aiming is integrated or organically connected to the vehicle and its curb weight is at least 6 tons, it is a combat vehicle with heavy armament . In contrast, weapons that can attack ground targets primarily by shooting in indirect aiming are known as artillery .


landing gear

Armored personnel carriers are usually tracked vehicles; but there are also those with rubber-tyred wheels. These are usually faster than armored personnel carriers with a chain drive, but have a somewhat poorer (albeit still good) cross-country mobility. In modern armored personnel carriers, the front-mounted engine, which allows doors or ramps to be installed in the rear of the vehicle, has prevailed. This allows you to leave the vehicle safely. The fighting compartment is connected to the engine compartment. The armament is usually combined in a rotating tower or a weapon platform. The infantrymen find their place in the rear combat area. In many cases the benches are arranged in such a way that the infantrymen mounted on their feet can lead fire from their hand weapons. With three- and four-axle armored vehicles, several axles are designed as steering axles in order to achieve a small turning circle. In many cases, modern armored personnel carriers are part of a vehicle family; identical or similar assemblies and components are used in many vehicles. Armored personnel carriers generally have a high performance and reach speeds of up to 85 km / h with a range of approx. 200 - 450 km.


Steel armor is usually used as armor, which in modern vehicles can be supplemented by composite armor as well as active and other passive elements. The basic armor is approximately 30 mm thick and is therefore stronger than that of armored personnel carriers. However, there are limits to how much armor can be increased in terms of weight and size if armored personnel carriers are to be laid by aircraft or by rail. In modern armored personnel carriers, the basic armor is therefore supplemented by additional elements depending on the threat. Security against fire with medium calibers and against the effects of artillery fragments (155 millimeters) and bomblets is sought and also achieved in newer vehicles. In recent times, special emphasis has been placed on protection against mines. Like all modern armored vehicles, armored personnel carriers also have NBC protective equipment.


Fast-firing automatic cannons with a caliber of twenty to forty millimeters are scaffolded into the vehicles as armament. In modern vehicles, smoke throw systems are available. The armament is usually installed in a rotating tower. In modern vehicles, there is a trend towards remotely controllable weapon systems. In most cases, grenade machine weapons are still scaffolded or can be installed. In general, the weapon systems are stabilized in order to enable a high probability of being hit while driving.

Although the SPz compared to the modern are battle tanks (Engl. Main Battle Tank , MBTs) much weaker armed and armored, but they can also result in heavy anti-tank missile with them that do not represent opposite battle tanks one to be underestimated threat. Arming with missiles has sometimes turned AFVs into dangerous tank destroyers, for example the American M2 Bradley destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the M1 Abrams main battle tank in the third Gulf War in spring 2003 .

The German Marder , for example, has a 20 mm on-board machine gun (BMK) MK 20 Rh 202 , a turret machine gun (TMG) MG3 (7.62 mm) and a smoke-throwing system with six throwing cups. Optionally, a guided missile (LFK) type MILAN can be attached and fired on the tower . The American M2 Bradley has a 25 mm M242 Bushmaster -MK and starter container for the TOW system .


The fight can either take place from the vehicle (via the side wall, from hatches or special fire screens) or dismounted in a purely infantry fight. These ways of fighting are referred to as mounted or dismounted combat. The number of soldiers who can leave the tank to fight the dismounted battle is called the parachute strength . Armored personnel carriers are mostly used in combination with battle tanks for the combat of combined weapons , but also serve to support infantry, especially in the fight against forces in asymmetrical warfare .


Second World War and the immediate post-war period

Sd.Kfz. 251 version 7

Even before the Second World War , concepts for mobile combat management based on mechanized forces were drawn up in various countries. During the war, the mechanized infantry developed , which was deployed based on armored personnel carriers in cooperation with armored units. Typical representatives of these personnel carriers were the American M3 and the German Sd.Kfz, known as armored personnel carriers. 250 and Sd.Kfz. 251 . The half-tracks were sufficiently fast and all-terrain to be able to follow tanks in battle. The armor protected the mounted infantrymen from handguns and shrapnel, while the armored machine guns offered them fire protection during dismounted combat. A mounted battle of the infantry was not planned. In the course of the war, other such vehicles were developed, and tank destroyers and artillery carriers that were no longer needed were converted into transport tanks.

After the end of the war, the newly established armed forces of European countries were equipped with the numerous existing vehicles. Some of these vehicles were still in use during the Korean War . After half-track vehicles had been developed and built in the 1940s, armored personnel carriers on full-track or wheeled chassis became popular in the 1950s. Initially, nothing changed in the principles of operation of these vehicles.

Armored personnel
carrier long HS 30

The Bundeswehr developed the American concept further. The armored personnel carrier was not only intended to be used to transport infantry, but was also to be developed into a combat vehicle that also enabled the armored infantry to fight . The HS 30 was developed according to these ideas. The rear fighting compartment was closed. The armor was reinforced compared to conventional transport tanks and protected against projectiles of the caliber 20 mm. The HS 30 was significantly lower than comparable western vehicles and was therefore more difficult to spot and fight on the battlefield. For the first time a machine gun was used in such a vehicle, which was also suitable for fighting helicopters, anti-tank weapons and lightly armored vehicles. However, the HS 30 did not meet all requirements. Since the engine was housed in the stern, the crew in the rear fighting compartment had to sit down over the side walls in the battle. The roof hatches had to be opened for the fire fight from the vehicle. This appeared problematic, since in a war the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons had to be assumed. In addition, the vehicle had numerous design defects, so that the vehicles were decommissioned from 1971 after a good ten years of service.

Tower of the BMP-1 with a 73 mm cannon, machine gun and anti-tank guided missile

In the Soviet Union , too, the concept of a combat vehicle for the infantry was dealt with. As a result of various developments, the BMP-1 was taken over into the armament of the Soviet Army in 1966 . Designed for similar requirements as the HS 30, however, it featured numerous innovations. The mounted infantrymen were able to observe the battlefield from the closed vehicle via corner mirrors and lead the fire fight with their rifles through lockable hatches. Since the engine was housed in the front of the vehicle, they could leave the vehicle through two large doors in the rear. The ability to fight tanks was also novel. With the recoilless 73 mm smoothbore cannon 2A28 developed from the SPG-9 , it was possible to fire shaped charge grenades that penetrated armor with a thickness of 280 to 350 mm. This was more than the strength of the frontal armor on the main battle tanks used by NATO in the early 1970s. In addition, the cannon could also be used to fire fragmentation shells for fighting soft and semi-hard targets. A PK machine gun mounted parallel to the axis of the cannon was available for fire support in close proximity . The most outstanding news, however, was the possibility of using anti-tank guided missiles. From the above the cannon mounted launchers the missile could 9M14 of antitank guided missiles complex 9K11 Maljutka be fired, the armor up to a thickness of 400 mm by beat. The armor provided frontal protection against bullets of the caliber 23 millimeters from a distance of 500 m, and all round protection against bullets of the caliber 7.62 mm. The vehicle had a hermetically sealed combat compartment and protected the crew from radioactive, chemically and biologically (bacteriologically) contaminated outside air for a limited time. With the BMP-1, the Soviet Army and the allied armed forces had a mobile, comparatively heavily armored vehicle at their disposal, the firepower of which significantly exceeded that of the western transport tanks at the time and was capable of fighting tanks. With the introduction of 20 × 139 mm ammunition at the end of the 1970s by NATO, the armor of the BMP was no longer sufficient. These bullets were able to penetrate the armor of the BMP-1 at a distance of 800 to 1000 m. In practice, the Yom Kippur War had already shown that the armor could be penetrated by 12.7 mm projectiles. The smooth-barreled cannon had also proven to be problematic. The combat set of fragmentation explosive shells carried on board was too small for effective fire support; in combat against armored targets, the shaped charge grenades were, due to their design, very susceptible to wind, which greatly reduced the probability of hits at greater distances. In the BMP-2 it was therefore replaced by the 30 mm automatic cannon 2A42 , which enables effective fire support thanks to its high cadence and also enables combat against air targets thanks to its large vertical range. The main weapon for fighting tanks was anti-tank guided missiles. The 9M14 in the BMP-1P was replaced by the 9M111 of the 9K111 Fagot anti-tank missile complex , and in the BMP-2 by the 9M114 cocoon of the 9K113 bankruptcy complex . Despite all the shortcomings, the BMP-1 and BMP-2 were trend-setting designs for the development of armored personnel carriers.

Gun system of the M2A2 Bradley

The development of a modern armored personnel carrier also began in the USA at the beginning of the 1960s. However, the development was permanently delayed by high requirements, but also by technical problems and budget cuts. The XM701 (also known as MICV-65), which was built in five prototypes as part of the Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle program in 1965, was not further developed because it was too large for transport in both the Lockheed C-130 and the Lockheed C-141 was too heavy. The XM765 presented in 1967 by the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) was also rejected by the US Army , but was at least the basis for the Advanced Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which was successful in export . In 1972 the Ordnance Division of FMC finally received the order to develop a new armored personnel carrier. The M2 / M3 Bradley emerged from the XM723 project . From the beginning, the development of an armored personnel carrier and a reconnaissance tank was planned, which should be technically largely identical. Conceptually, the vehicle was based closely on the BMP. Here, too, the armament consisted of anti-tank guided missiles, a machine cannon and a machine gun. As with the BMP, the crew could observe the battlefield from the rear of the fighting compartment and conduct the fire fight from the vehicle. However, the 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon is significantly more powerful than its Soviet counterpart. When it comes to armor, a new constructive approach was broken with composite armor. The basic armor consists of aluminum alloys and offers less protection compared to steel armor of the same thickness. The side of the M2 / M3 is therefore protected by additional spaced armor made of armored steel, the turret also consists of an aluminum structure with riveted steel plates. In other versions, the armor was reinforced again.

The British FV 432 , introduced in 1963, is actually a tank transport vehicle and was originally only armed with a 7.62 mm MG. In the AFV 432 RARDEN version , however, it was equipped with the 30 mm cannon of the same name . However, only a few vehicles of this version were built for the Berlin Brigade . Only the Warrior , introduced in 1985, met the requirements of a modern armored personnel carrier. Conceptually, it came very much closer to American or Soviet armored personnel carriers, but the use of anti-tank guided missiles was dispensed with. Since British operational principles do not provide for a mounted battle of the infantry, hatches for rifle weapons were dispensed with. These are fundamentally problematic in modern vehicles because they make it difficult to attach additional armor elements. In modern constructions and increases in combat value, these are therefore increasingly being dispensed with or their number is being limited.


Other armored personnel carriers developed in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the AMX-10P, the VCC-80 , the Marder AFV or the MOWAG Tornado , were designed according to the principles that have now been established. However, armored personnel carriers had meanwhile developed into complex and therefore expensive weapon systems, so that even larger armed forces could not fully equip their mechanized infantry with these combat vehicles. Transport tanks were still used alongside them. For smaller states, the development and production of such vehicles proved to be practically impossible. Therefore, attempts were made to equip conventional transport tanks with more powerful armament. Even if the armor protection of such vehicles did not meet high requirements, effective fire support was possible. Examples are the Norwegian NM-135, the Australian M113AS or the Italian VCC-1 and VCC-2 (which, however, have been classified as armored personnel carriers by the OSCE).

The BMP-3, developed in the 1980s, is characterized by comparatively strong armor and a weapon system consisting of a 100 mm cannon, a 30 mm machine cannon, three machine guns and a smoke thrower system. The 100 mm cannon can also be used to fire anti-tank guided missiles. Since the engine was arranged in the stern, the infantrymen had to dismount over the side walls again. However, this line of development was not pursued in other countries.

Protocol of the CFE contract

The protocol on existing types of conventional weapons and equipment lists the following armored infantry fighting vehicles:

Federal Republic of Germany
United Kingdom
United States
  • NM-135

Development after 1990

SPZ Puma of the Bundeswehr

From the 1990s, the fight against asymmetrically fighting opponents increased in importance. In contrast, the importance of the fight against armored and mechanized forces receded. As a result, the number of armored units and thus also the number of armored personnel carriers was drastically reduced in many armed forces.

The types existing at the beginning of the 1990s were continued to be used and adapted to the requirements through constant modernization. In general, the focus here is on improving ballistic protection, especially against mines. Only a small number of new full-track vehicles were developed. The SPz Puma is characterized by modular armor, high mobility, modern fire control and targeting equipment and the armament with a 30 mm automatic cannon and the Spike- L anti-tank guided missile . This vehicle also follows conceptually introduced ideas, but makes use of the possibilities of modern technology. However, this results in a very high price and also a very high weight, which complicates air transport. The project started in 1996 and the first ten vehicles were delivered in 2012. Due to the change in the range of tasks of the Bundeswehr, it only procures 350 vehicles.

Another newly developed armored personnel carrier closely based on the BMP is the Chinese ZBD97 . The Combat Vehicle 90 also follows a conventional design - development began back in the 1980s, but with a 40 mm automatic cannon in the Swedish armed forces, it has a large-caliber main armament for Western designs.

Armored personnel carriers on wheeled chassis represent a relatively new line of development. Such vehicles have sufficient cross-country mobility, but compared to full-track vehicles, procurement and operating costs are significantly lower. The possibility of developing reconnaissance and armored personnel carriers as well as personnel carriers, transport vehicles, anti-aircraft armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery guns on the basis of a platform usually also reduces costs. Protection, weapon systems, sensors and other equipment do not differ in principle from armored personnel carriers with a tracked chassis.


The following types of armored personnel carriers are currently in use or are about to be introduced:

  • People's Republic of China
  • Italy
    • Dardo
    • Freccia (armored personnel carrier variant of the Centauro , project designation Centauro VBC )
  • Japan
  • Austria
    • Ulan (Pizarro in Spain)
  • South Africa
    • Ratel (6x6 armored vehicles - also armored transport vehicles)

See also

Commons : Armored personnel carrier  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
  2. a b Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, II 1 (D)
  3. a b Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, II 1 (S)
  4. ^ Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, II 1 F
  5. on the BMP-1 see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 392ff (English)
  6. on the BMP-2 see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 390ff (English)
  7. see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 435 (English)
  8. on the M2 see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 439ff (English)
  9. on the M2 see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 435ff (English)
  10. see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 415ff (English)
  11. see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987, p. 413ff (English)
  12. In the list, the designations used in the protocol are used for reasons of comparability; for the sake of clarity, the vehicles have been grouped by developer / manufacturer
  13. see Scandinavian Armor, NM-135 (English)
  14. see Janes Armor and Artillery 1986–1987 , p. 377ff (English)