Expeditionary operations of these days are characterized by an effort of an efficient mobility. In practice, it is ensured especially by different kinds of wheeled armoured vehicles, among which armoured cars are used more and more often.
Effective renewed means
Term “armoured car” has practically disappeared from the military language during the previous half a century. Even that it is an objective reality for the long rime already. In practice, it represents a combination of standard car, truck or terrain car undercarriage and armoured body. These can not be mixed up with different kinds of newly designed wheeled armoured vehicles, including an undercarriage, or with wheeled armoured personnel carriers. Essential difference between the mentioned vehicle categories is evidently in development and consequently also in logistic costs. Armoured cars first appeared before the World War One already. Weaponry generally included machine-guns on carriages or in some cases also in turrets. Combination of high weight, low-power engines, chassis with rear axle drive and narrow tyres, minimized possibility in terrain. Armoured cars approved well within huge operations on battlefronts. They were used for reconnaissance and especially for Police operations in cities. They essentially affected the result of the civil War in Russia, during which they were part of hitting forces of the Red Army together with armoured trains. During the inter-war era, they asserted especially within the Civil War in Spain. As a novelty, discreetly armoured cars used by Mafia appeared during the American Prohibition. Also Police and other persons in danger started using similar cars. The armouring was usually not visible and in many cases also convertible cars were armoured. Banks and other institutions also started to use armoured cars to transport money and valuable consignments. In the inter-war era, the Czechoslovakian Army had disposed of several types of armoured cars. TATRA OA-30 with 6x4 chassis of command car TATRA T-72 was designed very modern. These cars were operating at the end of 1930 ´s against German terrorist groups in Sudetenland. During the World War Two, there were produced practically only two types of armoured cars. Canadian GM-15 on undercarriage of the car C-15 and Soviet BA-64 using chassis of terrain car GAZ-67. In the post-war era, there had been accepted especially police and anti-terrorist use. British Police used armoured cars Humber PIG on undercarriage of a car Humber 6601 and later armoured versions of terrain cars Land Rover in Northern Ireland. Within the Wars in Vietnam and Palestine, there had been frequently used different types of armoured trucks. The mentioned vehicles could be considered as technological predecessors of current types.
Armoured cars in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Main roles of current armoured cars are reconnaissance, guarding, special operations, transport escort, material and passenger transport. Advantage of this vehicle category is a high level of strategic and tactical mobility enabled by small dimensions and weight. This enables to transport the middle category using airplanes and helicopters. The best use of armoured cars is within a low intensity conflicts or Police operations. They have limited potentialities within standard military conflicts and most of them are not sailing serviceable. Armoured cars could be differentiated according to their users to civil and military ones, even that in many cases particular functions fade into each other. Civil personal types are used for passenger and valuable consignment transports. Undercarriages of personal cars, trucks and terrain cars are essential. In most cases they have so called discreet armouring, which is not apparent at first sight. This considerably ensures surprisal moment detrimental for aggressor. Modern versions have wheel rims with stop-hoops and their body bottoms are thickened to improve resistance against mines and body explosive systems. Typical example of such modern type is terrain Toyota, converted by a Czech company SVOS and successfully operated in Iraq. Further examples are armoured trucks representing single category. Pioneers in the Czech Republic were again the company SVOS and well-known car factory TATRA Kopřivnice. Their first armoured cabin for TATRA 815 came so soon that the Army did not have an utilization for it in the 1990´s. Development continues by other versions represented for example at Eurosatory 2006. Armoured terrain cars, specified also as protected, are most wide-spread. In practice, we could specify three basic development courses. The first one includes armoured terrain cars equipped with different versions of additional armouring. They could have a convertible or fixed-top body. They usually have a shape similar to standard terrain cars. Different kinds of materials could be used for armouring, concretely metals, plastics and ceramic. The second group includes cars with quite a new armoured body using undercarriages of terrain cars. Typical examples are Eagle 1 and 2 by a company MOWAG, Cobra by a company Otokar or Truck Angle Shot by a company Granite. The last group includes armoured cars on an undercarriage of light terrain trucks. They could fulfill their roles from guarding within a conflict area up to a transport of valuable consignments. The most favorable undercarriage for their construction is well-approved Mercedes Unimog. Typical example of such construction is again a car of the Czech company SVOS produced in several versions.
Towards requirements of soldiers and policemen in today’s battlefields
Today’s armoured cars are response to requirements of these days. Large classic combat operations fade away, or they are very short. But number of asymmetric and other peace-making, stabilization or humanitarian operations increases. Eventually they come after an opposite army destruction. Regarding the growing menace of civilized countries by attacks of well armed terrorists, there increases a necessity for a use of armoured cars by Police Forces. For example USA, where Police Forces use various armoured vehicles in every big city. Main activity of today’s Armed Forces has a patrol police character in principle. The opponent uses hand arms and mines, eventually booby-explosives. To cover movements and combat actions, the opponent uses especially wider agglomerations populated by friendly community. Use of tanks, infantry combat vehicles, caterpillar and big wheeled (8x8) armoured personnel carriers is mostly uneconomical and these vehicles are mostly too heavy for bridges in place of an operation. Compared to armoured cars, they have stronger armoured protection and mostly also ample fire power, but represent bigger target. Most attacks against them come from above from buildings, against armoured body roofs, which are always weak. Their eventual destruction during fight in a city represents significant economical as well as moral loss. Combat practice in Iraq and Afghanistan approved a combat value of light armoured vehicles, especially armoured cars. Most often used terrain cars are now Land Rover, Hummer, Mercedes G and Toyota. Basic weaponry of their armoured versions includes machine-gun or automatic grenade launcher mounted in the space of roof trapdoor of the armoured body. The second possibility are generally automated turrets with same weaponry. Standard equipment includes smoke grenade launchers, which could be loaded also with a high explosive ammunition. It is important to ensure a protection of body bottom against mines and bombs and wheel rims with stop-hoops. Basic of a new armoured car by the Czech company SVOS Přelouč is British terrain car Land Rover Defender 110 HARD TOP Military. It is modern and highly flexible construction. Ballistic protection (up to 2nd level) pack includes windshield, doors and side, roof and bottom armour. Bottom armouring has two versions with different resistance levels. Ballistic protection elements could be mounted or dismounted onto modified chassis as necessary. Armament includes machine-gun mounted in running circle in the roof. The rear end of the roof armour could be dismounted and so the machine-gun could be mounted onto the frame construction. Conceptually unique armoured car by the company SVOS is being introduced into the armament of the ACR and used in Afghanistan.