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.
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.
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.
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Enjoy the festive season!