Armored vehicle weaknesses

7-3. Armored vehicles usually have their heaviest armor in front, because they are designed mainly for offensive operations against other armored vehicles (Figure 7-2). All vehicles are vulnerable to repeated hits on their flanks and rear, though the flank offers the largest possible target. Firers should always aim center of mass to increase the probability of a hit. The older the vehicle model, the less protection it has against shoulder-launched munitions. Newer versions may use bolt-on (appliqué) armor to improve their survivability. Some vehicles are equipped with reactive armor, which consists of metal plates and plastic explosives. Reactive armor usually covers the forward-facing portions and sides of the vehicle and can defeat shaped-charge weapons such as the M72-series LAW and the M136 AT4. When reactive armor detonates, it disperses metal fragments to 200 meters. The M72-series LAW and the M136 AT4 cause only a small entry hole in an armored vehicle target, though some fragmentation or spall may occur.

Figure 7-2. Armored vehicle weak points.

7-4. Natural or man-made obstacles can be used to force the armored vehicle to slow, stop, or change direction. This pause enables the firer to achieve a first-round hit. If he does not achieve a catastrophic kill on the first round, he or another firer must be ready to engage the target vehicle immediately with another round.

7-5. An enemy armored vehicle without close protection (dismounted infantry) in woods, urban, or other restrictive terrain is vulnerable to close attack. A close attack is most likely to originate from well-armed infantry-type teams organized into armor-killer teams. (Non-infantry units may also be required to perform this mission). Skilled firers from these teams should engage the suspension or engine compartment of vehicles that have appliqué or reactive armor. When an armored vehicle is buttoned up—all hatches are closed and personnel are inside the vehicle—the armored vehicle crew cannot see well enough to protect itself from close attacks or attacks from the flanks or rear. The personnel inside cannot see anything within 10 meters of the vehicle, and they cannot shoot at anything (using their main guns) within 20 meters. The gray area in Figure 7-3 (page 7-4) shows the most favorable direction of attack when the turret is facing to the front; the white area shows the vehicle's principal direction of fire and observation when the turret is facing to the front. Volley fires (paragraph 7-11) can greatly degrade the additional protection that appliqué and reactive armors provide to the target vehicle.

Figure 7-3. Limited visibility of armored vehicles.

7-6. Armored vehicle kills are classified according to the level of damage achieved (Table 7-1).

Table 7-1. Armored vehicle kills.

TYPE OF KILL

PART OF VEHICLE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED

CAPABILITY AFTER KILL

Mobility Kill

Suspension (track, wheels, or road wheels) or power train (engine or transmission) has been damaged.

Vehicle cannot move, but it can still return fire.

Firepower Kill

Main armament has been disabled.

Vehicle can still move, so it can get away.

Catastrophic Kill

Ammunition or fuel storage section has been hit by more than one round.

Vehicle completely destroyed.

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