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Sometimes Tracked Vehicles Get Stuck Too!

Library image of a Challenger 2 main battle tank bogged in when crossing soft ground during a NATO eFP mission training exercise in Estonia ~ it was stuck so fast in peat it needed to be recovered by another tank [© Bob Morrison]

Sometimes it makes me chuckle when keyboard warriors debate on wheels versus tracks as sometimes tracked vehicles get stuck too, writes Bob Morrison.


There is potential UK requirement for a new self-propelled artillery system to replace the Royal Artillery’s now 30 year old L131 (AS-90) 155mm self-propelled howitzer and the subject of which system, wheeled or tracked, should be procured is causing some ‘armchair generals’ to put their keyboards into overdrive.

Even a light 4×4 with good off-road ability, like this Danish Geländewagen photographed several years ago in Poland, can get stuck crossing soft ground if the driver misreads the terrain [©BM]

A few of those professing to be experts (‘ex’ = has-been and ‘spurt’ = drip under pressure) on t’internet, including the odd individuals with a soupçon of military service in the distant past who are paid lobbyists for defence suppliers, seem unwilling to accept that neither a solely wheeled nor tracked solution is actually what is needed because both methods of delivering a heavy howitzer to the gun line have distinct disadvantages. Conversely, both wheeled and tracked solutions offer certain advantages (mostly speed and range versus better all-terrain ability) that the other does not so, possibly two different vehicle types are what the British Army really needs; assuming, of course, that the Treasury is given little say in the decision. Alternatively, possibly a modular solution with two base transporters and an interchangeable artillery module, as in Wheeled Boxer plus Tracked Boxer, might be worth considering; however whether or not such a compromise (they say the camel started life as a horse designed by a defence procurement committee) could result in cost savings while offering the same capabilities as a ‘different horses for different courses’ solution is debatable.

There is a very good reason why wheeled recovery vehicles, like this British Army MAN SV, exist in the inventory ~ the clue is in the name [©BM]
Tracked vehicle formations need to be accompanied by similar ability recovery vehicles ~ these two seen on Op CABRIT in Estonia are based on Challenger and Warrior [©BM]
Wheeled artillery systems, like these Polish DITA self-propelled howitzers on a long range road move through Lithuania, offer much greater speed and range than tracked equivalents [©BM]
Tracked artillery systems, like this British AS-90 deployed on Op CABRIT in 2019, offer better off-road ability than wheels but usually need a tank transporter for long distance moves [©BM]

Well that’s my inconsequential tuppence-worth. I’m not an expert but, unlike some twittering keyboard warriors, I do occasionally get out in the field to watch the military forces of several nations on exercises and deployments… and I’ve also got stuck off-tarmac in more vehicle and terrain types (from Arctic to Desert to High Veldt, with everything in-between) than I usually admit to.

~ $ ~

Enjoy the festive season!


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