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"Anti-tank warfare. Then and now." Topic

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15 May 2022 6:20 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Anti-tank warfare. Then and now." to "Anti-tank warfare. Then and now."Removed from Napoleonic Discussion board
  • Changed starttime from
    15 May 2022 6:11 a.m. PST
    15 May 2022 6:12 a.m. PST

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Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 6:11 a.m. PST

One of the eye opening aspects of the Ukraine war has been how power seems to have shifted to the infantry in the tank vs Infantry duel. It really seems amazing to those of who served during the Cold War.

During the First Gulf War I was an artillery FDC man. At ne point my battery was in danger of being over run by a battalion sized Iraqi tank attack, roughly 30 tanks. We had one gun firing direct fire to the north, and the other seven firing indirect to the south when we got word of the incoming attack. We formed ad hoc tank hunter teams armed with AT4s and satchel charges. Yes, those Marines intended to take on tanks with satchel charges….in the desert!

We were fortunate that a flight of four Cobras showed up at the last second, were able to fly under the oil cloud and hovered over our gun line. They expended every piece of ordinance they had, (two had TOWs and the other two had rocket pods), which blunted the attack. They were on the same radio net we were and I was told their last message to us was, "The quarterback is toast. We're going back to rearm and refuel. If they're smart they won't be here when we get back,"

Not long after that a group of hummers with TOEs pulled into our position and provided rear security.

My, how times have changed.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 10:42 a.m. PST

I'm not so sure, but maybe here where you're dealing with basically third world armies (Ukraine and Russia). Do you really think a U.S. or UK armored brigade would be having this much difficulty with infantry AT weapons? Between the battlefield intelligence net, drones, helicopter support, artillery missions available on a moment's notice, and air support I think they would overrun much of the opposition fairly quickly. Not to mention defeating M-1 Abrams and Challengers with just infantry AT weapons would be a pretty tough challenge.

Legion 415 May 2022 11:48 a.m. PST

Well with the long range of the TOW, 3750m + then and now with powerful man-packed Infantry AT weapons, e.g. Javelin NLAW, etc.. Gives the Infantry some very effective AT weapons. And yes, as a Cold War Warrior, the new Infantry AT weapons are nothing short of Sci-fi…

We always organized Squad sized AT ambushes if the situation required it. And yes demo could be part of that Squad.

In the 101 we had an entire AT Co. with Jeep mounted TOWs. I AT Co. per Bn. And in Mech Cos. there was an organic M901 ITV Section of 2. Plus a Bn M901 ITV Co. Infantry squads each had a Dragon plus LAWs etc. if need be.

Gunships with AT weapons which started during Vietnam were designed to take on the USSR/WP hordes crossing the IGB. The USAF A-10 was specifically designed for tank killing these hordes. And even Joint Air Attack Teams[JAAT] using Gunships[AH-1s then later AH-64s] & A-10s together. Was a tactic specifically designed to decimate those USSR/WP armor/mech units.

Russian poor overall lack of tactical expertise makes Ukrainian AT weapons that much more effective.

Do you really think a U.S. or UK armored brigade would be having this much difficulty with infantry AT weapons? Between the battlefield intelligence net, drones, helicopter support, artillery missions
Unless the enemy is very well trained, armed, skilled and lead. The US/UK forces will always have an edge. That is why the local forces had to go guerilla to even survive.

But even the Iraqis and Taliban did KO some US/UK, etc., AFVs. But the numbers were small. The US M1 TUSK upgrade in urban or closed terrain made it that much harder for enemy man-packed AT weapons to be effective. There was a similar upgrade to the M2 Bradley IFV.

As always is comes down to the troops and crews behind those weapons. This again is made clear with the war in Ukrainian.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 7:58 p.m. PST

Those are good points. No doubt the Russians have lost a lot of their edge since the 90s. So I'm not sure how a modern Western army would fare in the same situation. I have no doubt that this war is being heavily studied.

As for the M-1 and Challenger being different to the T-72s and others being used by the Russians. The Javelin is, I believe, a top attack weapon. If an effective counter measure isn't found for the Javelin it could mean tanks will be relegated to a very secondary role. I don't think it would be possible to make a tank with armor thick enough on its top to defend against such an attack.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 8:05 p.m. PST

I remember gaming back in the day with all those options. And yes, the newer stuff really is like Sci-fi. A basically untrained army was given off the shelf missiles and have been extraordinarily effective with them.

We were planning on throwing demo charges at tracks, using AT4s, and we all knew the LAAW, (I had forgotten we had them), was as useful as spitballs for stopping tanks.

Legion 416 May 2022 8:57 a.m. PST

tanks will be relegated to a very secondary role.
I think using combined arms tactics and modifying some ops at the tactical level, etc. The MBT will still be part of the combined arms Tm. The poor Russian performance shouldn't be taken as the way to fight. Or reflect good field craft, SOPs, etc. As I have said so many times here. They don't fight combined arms, their troops are poorly trained, poorly motivated, poorly lead and supported.

However, IMO with the Javelin, you will still see the standard cycle – measure – countermeasure – counter/counter measure … repeat. However, the Javelin will still be an effective weapon with troops/crews that are well trained & lead. Just the opposite of the Russians.

the newer stuff really is like Sci-fi.

Our Dragons and LAWs lacked the range, and we planned on using demo charges too. With LAWs & Demo you are best to hit the tracks and get a mobility kill. Maybe the crew would panic and try to abandon it and/or surrender.

You could try to throw a satchel charge/demo on the rear deck of the tank or near the turret ring. But size of the charge may or may not do any damage. And larger demo charges are heavier. Making it even harder to get "up close & personal" with the AFV you want to take out.

We were just getting the AT-4 a little before I ETS'd.

The Dragon, you could get a kill from the flank or rear. But again it only had a 1000m range. Later version after I was gone it's range was 1500m. But nothing like the Javelin.

Heedless Horseman16 May 2022 11:52 a.m. PST

Tactics is all about combined forces. Tanks support infantry… and infantry support tanks. Arty/Air to back up. if available.
A tank unit attacking infantry… with some AT weaponry… or just rifles/ MGs, if not buttoned dowm… is going to have high losses.
Read WW2.
As for APCs, etc. charging into combat in a contested environment…well…
MBTs are designed to combat other MBT threats… at long range. They are not the 'support' vehicles from WW2. They 'CAN' be used to support infantry… but from a distance.
From vids…Russians just seem to 'throw them in'…

Legion 416 May 2022 5:39 p.m. PST

Yes as I have said, the Russians don't use Combined Arms very well … or if at all currently. Of course we learned this at both Infantry Officer Basic & Adv Courses, Combined Arms School, etc. As a Rifle Plt Ldr them later Mech Co. Cdr we trained to fight combined arms.

Use Cover & Concealment, terrain masking.

Supporting fires from organic & attached units as well as calling in mortars, FA, CAS[including Gunships] and even Naval Fire Support[if available].

Fire & maneuver …

Seems the Russians need to go back to school. Those that are not dead …☠

Thresher0116 May 2022 6:12 p.m. PST

From what I am reading of Eastern Ukraine, there is little to no cover, unless you count tall grass and weeds in that category.

Supposedly, flat, open plains for a lot of it.

When did the Improved Dragons with the longer range get introduced?

Zephyr116 May 2022 9:08 p.m. PST

'Fire & maneuver …'

And a lot of recon by fire…

Legion 417 May 2022 10:11 a.m. PST

Supposedly, flat, open plains for a lot of it.
A lot of farmers' fields currently without crops.

When did the Improved Dragons with the longer range get introduced?
I ETS'd in '90 so it was sometime after that. The
link says –
Only the United States Marine Corps bought this variant, beginning in 1991,[21] while the Army opted to wait for Javelin to enter service.
Did not know that. Good move … in the long run.

From the link –

In service
1975–1990s (US Army)
1975–2001 (US Marine Corps)
1979–present (other countries)


And a lot of recon by fire…
As needed … unless as in Iraq & A'stan CD becomes a factor.

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