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Armoured Warfare

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  • The following document may not necessarily reflect the views and doctrine of the UOTC.

Intent Statement and scope:

  • The intent of this guide is to provide a broad overview of the characteristics, tactics, and employment of armored ground vehicles in ArmA 3.
  • The scope of this guide seeks to provide generalizations that apply to most armored vehicles, and does not seek to delve into the specific nuances of each vehicle or every doctrine.

Armored Vehicles

Armored vehicles are military vehicles which utilize armored protection in order to protect their crew and passengers from enemy fire. Most vehicles feature some type of armament for both self-protection and offensive capabilities. The capabilities of armored vehicles can often be categorized into three traits; protection, mobility, and firepower. The strengths of a vehicle in these categories will determine how best the crew and commander can employ the vehicle, and exploit the enemy's weaknesses.


The tanks of the left have only base armor (steel/composite), the tanks on the right have ERA and Cage armor added.

The "armor" of vehicles traditionally refers to the physical materials used to protect the crew and critical components of the vehicle from various forms of enemy fire. This could be as simple as metal such as steel or aluminum of sufficient thickness to stop small arms fire and shrapnel. More modern vehicles utilize composite armor that increases resistance to chemical-based ammunition such as shaped-charge HEAT projectiles. Additional forms of protection may include explosive-reactive armor (ERA), or external "cage" armor. Passive protection may include jammers or infra-red floodlights to confuse the seeker on a missile. Smoke dischargers/generators or camouflage netting can prevent observation or direct line-of-sight between the enemy and the vehicle.

If you possess superior protection to the enemy, this allows your vehicle to hold key terrain and dictate the enemy's movement and force them to react to you. If the enemy posses superior protection, this means trying to engage in direct combat is not advised. You should seek to even the odds by flanking, ambushing, or avoiding them altogether.


Mobility refers to the vehicles ability to traverse various terrain or obstacles, and the speed it can do so. This is usually a balance between the power of it's engine, and the total weight of the vehicle. Armored vehicles also use either wheels or tracks. Wheels often allow the vehicle to move faster on roads and other prepared surfaces, they also make less noise. Tracks offer greater off-road mobility, and are usually required for the heaviest vehicles such as main battle tanks and heavy infantry fighting vehicles, however they usually cannot reach the same speed as wheeled vehicles on roads. Mobility is key for maneuvering on the enemy, exploiting breakthroughs, and withdrawing quickly.

Amphibious capability is another form of mobility that some vehicles possess. Vehicles equipped with this capability can cross lakes, rivers, and in some cases even the ocean surf. This allows them to avoid limitations such as bridges or fords that can funnel vehicles towards predictable routes.

If you posses superior mobility, you should use this to out flank or bypass enemies not directly in opposition to completing your objective. It also allows you to react faster across a wider area to the enemy by quickly re-positioning. If the enemy possess superior mobility, you should be prepared to appear on your flanks or behind you, and be prepared to quickly re-position in order to engage them.


Firepower concerns the weapon(s) carried and used by vehicle. These can vary greatly depending on the vehicles intended mission. Some may only carry machine-guns for basic self-defense against troops and light materiel. Others may carry automatic cannons, grenade-launchers, guided missiles, and large-caliber cannons. Each weapon has limitations on its capabilities including rate of fire, range, accuracy, targeting method, armor penetration, and amount of ammunition carried. Firepower will dictate on what terms the vehicle is best suited to engage the enemy. A tank is unsuited to fighting infantry at close range, where a machinegun-armed personnel carrier is not ideal for engaging armored vehicles at range.

If you possess superior firepower, you should use your vehicle in a way that maximizes its effectiveness while minimizing risk to you. Superior effective range can be use to engage outside the enemy's ability to return fire. High-explosive ammunition can be used to turn fortifications and buildings from an advantage to a liability for the enemy. If the enemy has superior firepower, seek to minimize his advantage by engaging close enough that your weapons are effective, using terrain or fortifications to improve your protection, or camouflage and concealment to avoid observation and detection.

The M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank. MBTs have the strongest armor and large-bore high-velocity cannons for engaging targets thousands of meters away.

Main Battle Tank

The Main Battle Tank (MBT) is the modern evolution of the tank. While tanks were once classified by their armor and weapons into Light, Medium, and Heavy, MBTs combine modern armor, high performance engines, and large cannons to provide maximum flexibility. MBTs are well-protected, can move relatively quickly across most terrain, and posses the ability to engage nearly any vehicle they may encounter. Their size can be prohibitive in restricting terrain and urban environments, and can provide a lucrative target for purpose-built anti-tank weapons such as missiles and rockets. Their degree of protection can also limit their situational awareness and ability to engage close targets. Close cooperation with friendly infantry is often required for tanks to successfully engage the enemy in these environments.

Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The BMP-2 is a classic example of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Armed with a 30mm cannon, co-axial machinegun, and anti-tank guided missile.

The Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) evolved from the concept of both the tank and the APC. While the APC could quickly move troops through artillery and small arms fire most likely to cause casualties while closing with the enemy, they were typically ill-equipped to actually engage the enemy en-route or once at their objective. The IFV sought to remedy this by combining the mobility and troop-carrying capability of the APC with the firepower of a tank. IFVs do not posses the armor or heavy armaments most tanks posses, but can still engage most targets effectively that threaten dismounted troops. Common weapons include an auto-cannon that can fire either armor-piercing or high-explosive ammunition. It's flat trajectory an high rate-of-fire means it is ideal for destroying fortifications and strong points, even while on the move. The anti-tank guided missile is another common weapon, allowing the vehicle to effectively engage enemy armor, even main battle tanks, at comparable ranges, albeit at a lower rate of fire compared to an MBT's cannon.

Heavy IFV

The Heavy IFV is a subset of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. This is a vehicle that seeks to provide the same level or protection enjoyed by an MBT, while still retaining the ability to carry troops. This typically comes at the cost of mobility and firepower, as they are often based on the hull of MBTs without the large turret and cannon. These are meant for situations and environments where direct combat and exposure to effective enemy fire cannot be avoided, and higher protection is sought over mobility. Examples include the Israeli Namer and German Puma.

Armored Personnel Carrier

The M113 is a tracked APC, this example is armed with a M240 medium machinegun. The armor is relatively light, and can only withstand small arms and fragmentation.

The Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) is a vehicle designed to provide mobility to troops on the battlefield while protecting them from light fire and fragmentation. These vehicles typically are not designed for prolonged direct combat with the enemy, and prioritize cargo/troop capacity and mobility over firepower and protection. Many carry pintle-mounted weapons such as medium or heavy machineguns or grenade launchers, while some may have heavier weapons such as cannons inside fully enclosed turrets. Given their focus on mobility, these vehicles should be used in a manner that maximizes their mobility while minimizing their direct contact with the enemy, especially heavy weapons or armored vehicles. Effective use of an armored personnel carrier can allow troops to flank or bypass enemies that they would otherwise be required to engage.


An MRAP features high ground clearance and underside blast protection. This example also has radio jammers mounted for countering radio-controlled IEDs.

The Mine-Resistance Ambush-Protected vehicle is a vehicle designed to protect its occupants from the threats frequently encountered in low-intensity and counter-insurgency conflicts without the weight and size restrictions of APCs or IFVs. They are wheeled vehicles primarily designed to fill the role typically filled by utility or light patrol vehicles. The MRAP focuses its protection on the bottom against blasts and sides against small arms fire and fragmentation. They often have V-shaped hulls and high ground-clearancethat direct sa blast away from the vehicle, protecting its occupants. While it's engine and wheels are typically not as well protected as heavier vehicles, its focus on occupant safety means a significant blast may only result in a mobility-kill rather than a catastrophic kill that wounds or kills its occupants. Like APCs, these are frequently armed with machineguns mounted in shielded turrets or remote weapon stations. Like APCs these should not be used to actively close with and directly engage the enemy but to instead provide mobility to its occupants and protect them from likely threats encountered en-route. Anti-tank weapons and cannon fire still pose a threat and may penetrate the armor of an MRAP.

Due to their focus on protection against IEDs, MRAPs will often feature jammers or active countermeasures to either prevent activation of, or prematurely detonate IEDs.


Hull/Turret Down Position

The "Hull Down" and "Turret Down" positions are some of the easiest and most effective ways to use terrain to maximize protection while maintaining offensive capability. The tactic requires a berm, slight rise, or solid object the vehicle's weapon can fire over, and the ability to easily maneuver the vehicle back and forth behind it. This position exposes only the minimal amount of the vehicle's strongest armor, and allows the vehicle to move between cover and firing position with minimal effort.

The hull down position requires the hull of the vehicle behind cover or terrain, while exposing the turret/armament allowing the vehicle to still engage. The easiest way to obtain a hull down position is to bring the vehicle upwards on a slight rise or berm in the terrain, and halt once the gunner can obtain and clear line-of-sight and unmask their weapon from the top of the crest/berm.

The turret down position requires putting the hull and the majority of the turret behind cover or terrain, only exposing the periscopes/optics on the roof of the turret, or crew turned outside of their hatches, allowing observation of the area to the front without exposing the vehicle to effective enemy fire and minimizing its silhouette. The process is the same as obtaining a hull down position, but the vehicle is halted once the periscope or turned-out crewman can obtain line-of-sight over the terrain or cover.

Different positions behind the crest of a hill. The red dotted line denotes the line of sight of anything on the opposite side of the slope. Note the tank on the far left needs to move further up the slope in order to depress its gun to cover the area beyond it.
An example of a tank platoon executing alternate bounds. Note each section moves from cover to cover, one section covering the other once they reach the next firing position.
Note that the ability to use a hull-down position relies on how far the vehicle can depress it's armament. Vehicles with limited depression, such as the T-72, will need to expose more of the tank and use less-steep slopes to make up for their lack of gun depression.

Displacing Behind Cover (Jockeying)

Whenever necessary to advance forward out of cover, armored vehicles should avoid doing so directly from the position they were observing/firing from. Enemies may be lying in wait to fire when the vehicle crests a rise and exposes its vulnerable lower hull before moving down the opposite slope. One way to mitigate this is through "jockeying". The vehicle reverses until in the hide position and completely masked, then moves left or right, staying masked by terrain/cover. The vehicle then searches for low-ground to avoid exposing their underside. If no low-ground is available, the driver should still displace, then proceed at maximum speed over the crest to minimize time exposed and force any potential enemies to quickly adjust their aim.

Bounding Overwatch

Many of the tactics that work with infantry fireteams and squads also translate to vehicle sections and platoons. One of these tactics is the concept of bounding overwatch when moving through areas where contact with the enemy is likely. Using a tank platoon containing 4 tanks as an example, the platoon would split into 2 sections consisting of 2 tanks each. While one section takes up a covered firing position to provide overwatch, the other section advances to the next defensible position. This process is then repeated until the first section in back on line with or advances ahead of the second section. Using this tactic, the maneuvering element is always covered by the stationary element.

Defense in Depth

When defending against armored vehicles, the high mobility of the enemy necessitates the need to quickly react to penetrations or flanking maneuvers that can occur. A common tactic used by attackers is to concentrate the majority of forces at a single point in the defense to try and force a breach in the enemy lines. Defenders should take care to plan for alternate positions to maintain the defensive line if pushed by a numerically superior force. Communication between adjacent units is also important in order to quickly identify when and where an enemy breakthrough occurs and organize reinforcement to stop or counterattack and prevent the enemy from reaching their objective. Mobility of armored vehicles should play a role in the defense as well as in the offense.

Two examples of smoke screens employed by armored vehicles that can be used to mask a withdrawal. The BMP-1 on the left uses a smoke generator to disperse smoke from it's engine exhaust. The M113 on the right uses grenade launchers to produce a screen in front of the vehicle.

Coordinating with Dismounts

Tanks not escorted by infantry will not last long in urban environments.

Whenever armor is required to be in close contact with the enemy, such as during an attack or while operating in restricting terrain such as forests or urban areas, good coordination with dismounts/infantry is key. Infantry provides protection from man-portable anti-tank weapons such as RPGs or recoiless-rifles and armor assists the infantry in reducing enemy defenses, obstacles, and strong-points. Dismounts should push ahead and to the flanks of supporting armor, keeping their direct front as clear as possible to avoid over-pressure and risk of friendly fire. Infantry should also avoid standing directly behind the vehicle, while short movements may be assisted by using the tank as mobile cover, the need for armor to quickly reverse in case of ambush or effective enemy fire means that friendly dismounts are at risk of being crushed if they loiter behind armored vehicles.

Choosing Good Terrain

Whenever able, armor should be used in terrain that maximizes its advantages while minimizing its weaknesses. Often times, commanders choose to put their armored vehicles in unfavorable terrain, usually erroneously believing it will mask their movement or their dismounts movements from the enemy until they can get into position. Forests are a classic example of poor terrain for armored vehicles. Keep in mind the three primary advantages armor brings to the fight; mobility, firepower, and protection. A forest degrades all three of these advantages.

  • Mobility is hindered by dense trees and ditches that slow and force the vehicle to change direction frequently.
  • Firepower is nullified from limited line of sight, and heavy woods can prematurely detonate rounds, harming friendly dismounts.
  • Protection is compromised, as the vulnerable sides and rear of and armored vehicle are easily reached when the enemy can hide in brush, or even maneuver on the vehicle to get in close where man-portable anti-tank weapons are effective.

Commanders should seek routes and terrain that fully allow armor to use its mobility and firepower to bypass defenders, engage targets at range, and keep its flanks and rear protected. Once one the move, armored vehicles are not likely to stay unknown to a vigilant enemy, so attempting to mitigate this by forcing them into unfavorable terrain is unlikely to even gain the advantage of surprise at the cost of others. While ATGMs and other long-range weapons are a larger threat in open terrain, these can be mitigated by proper reconnaissance. A forest is nearly impossible to properly reconnoiter ahead of a larger force.

Armor struggles to maneuver and engage the enemy when confined to dense woods.


Armored vehicles come with a wide range of weapons and ammunition for engaging a wide variety of targets. Knowing the capabilities and limitations of these weapons can mean the difference between destroying the enemy or being destroyed.


Machineguns are automatic weapons that fire rounds from intermediate (5.56mm) all the way up to heavy (.50 cal, 14.5mm). Typically these rounds do not include high-explosive fillers, but may use armor-piercing, ball, or incendiary projectiles. These are often the primary armaments of MRAPs and APCs, and secondary armaments of IFVs and MBTs.

  • Pros:
    • High rate of fire ideal for continuous suppression of infantry
    • Large amount of ammunition carried
    • Can be fired with friendly troops nearby with a lower risk of friendly fire.
  • Cons:
    • Ineffective against most armored vehicles
    • Limited range for lower-caliber guns, allowing the enemy to return fire on exposed gunners.
    • Inability to harm troops behind cover, inside solid structures, or in defilade.

Automatic Cannons/Chain Guns

Automatic cannons and chain guns fire larger rounds than machineguns, typically in the 20mm to 40mm range. The larger projectiles allow for longer range and high-explosive and armor-piercing sabot ammunition. These are the typical main armament on most modern IFVs.

  • Pros:
    • Effective against a wide range of targets including troops, fortifications, vehicles, light armor, and low-flying helicopters.
    • High rate of fire.
    • Multiple ammunition types, often times able to be switched on-the-fly by the gunner without completely unloading and loading a different belt.
    • Longer range machineguns, small arms, and most non-guided anti-tank weapons.
    • Flat trajectory makes aiming and firing on the move easier, even without advanced fire control.
  • Cons:
    • Accuracy suffers at longer ranges and higher rates of fire.
    • Can not penetrate the armor of Heavy IFVs and MBTs.
    • Armor-piercing ammunition becomes less effective at longer ranges.
    • Reloading an empty belt of ammunition can take a significant amount of time.

Grenade Launchers

Grenade launchers are automatic weapons that fire grenades, usually in the 40mm range. These grenades are lower-velocity than automatic cannons, but carry more explosive filler. Often times found on APCs or as the secondary armament on some IFVs.

  • Pros:
    • High explosive filler and rate of fire is very lethal against troops and light vehicles.
    • Lobbed trajectory can hit targets in defilade or ditches.
    • Equal or greater range to most machineguns and small arms.
    • Can saturate a large area very quickly given accurate aim.
  • Cons:
    • No armor-piercing ammunition.
    • Long reload time, and small amount of ammunition per reload.
    • Low-velocity requires skilled aiming at longer ranges.
    • High potential to cause friendly fire if friendly troops are nearby.

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles are missiles that are capable of guidance, either by the operator or by onboard sensors, after launch. They are typically the longest-range weapon available to armored vehicles. They almost universally carry a large shaped-charge (HEAT) designed to penetrate the thickest armor of even MBTs (though some variants are also designed for anti-infantry and anti-structure use). They are often found as a secondary armament on IFVs, and as an ammunition for cannons found on MBTs.

  • Pros:
    • Long range, can be fired from kilometers away given clear line-of-sight to the target.
    • Post-launch guidance, can be guided onto moving targets or a different target mid-flight.
    • High penetration unaffected by range, HEAT warheads rely on chemical energy not kinetic energy for penetration, they are equally effective at any range.
    • Top-attack, some missiles feature top-attack or overfly profiles that allow them to attack the weaker top armor of vehicles.
  • Cons:
    • Depending on guidance, may be jammed, obscured by smoke if detected mid-flight.
    • External launchers typically require significant time to reload, making follow up shots difficult.
    • SACLOS and MCLOS missiles must have operator-input all the way to impact, exposing the firing vehicle for the duration of flight.
    • Difficult to engage targets at close range,or while on the move especially against moving targets.
    • Modern composite armor and ERA is more resistant to HEAT warheads.

Low Velocity Cannons

Low velocity cannons allow larger-caliber ammunition (73mm to 105mm) to be used in a lighter cannon, thereby allowing them to be mounted on smaller, lighter vehicles. These are typically found on older IFVs, although some newer vehicles have use them in conjunction with other weapons. These typically use HE and HEAT ammunition, as the low velocity precludes the use of kinetic-energy projectiles such as SABOT.

  • Pros:
    • Large caliber rounds can deliver large HE and HEAT warheads, allowing them to defeat a wider range of targets.
    • Lower recoil and smaller propelling charges allows for higher rate of fire and more ammunition carried compared to high-velocity cannons.
    • Lobbed trajectory can be effective against targets in defilade.
    • Modern cannons allow the use of ATGMs in addition to ballistic ammunition.
    • Less risk of overpressure to friendly troops in front of vehicle.
  • Cons:
    • Trajectory makes aiming difficult at long range for vehicles without advanced fire control.
    • Lower rate of fire than automatic cannons, allowing enemies the opportunity to return fire.
    • Difficult to fire on the move without advanced fire control.

High Velocity Cannons

High velocity cannons refer to large caliber cannons 100mm to 125mm ) that fire at high velocity to maintain accuracy out to longer distances. These are typically the main armament of MBTs. They carry a wide range of ammunition, and can feature either manual or automatic loading. These are typically paired with laser rangefinders and advanced fire control to enable them to quickly engage targets at thousands of meters, even while on the move over rough terrain.

  • Pros:
    • Effective against nearly all ground targets on the battlefield.
    • Longest range, second only to guided missiles.
    • Wide range of ammunition to engage different types of targets.
    • More effective at close range than ATGMs.
  • Cons:
    • Large ammunition size means limited ammunition carried (usually 30-40 rounds)
    • Switching ammunition types can be time-consuming.
    • Reload time can make quickly engaging targets in close quarters difficult.
    • Large size and limited turret space can limit amount of elevation and depression, preventing engagement of targets above or below the vehicle.
    • Over-pressure from muzzle poses significant threat to dismounts in front of vehicle.
    • Kinetic projectiles such as APFSDS can become less effective at longer ranges against heavy armor.

Ammunition Types

There are numerous types of ammunition that can be fired by the armored vehicles, below is a list of the common types, and their effects.

Name Acronym Weapon Description Effective Against
High-Explosive HE, HE-Frag Cannon, Grenade, Rocket Explosive charge that produces blast effect and shrapnel, usually on impact. Some advanced rounds may use airburst-fuzing to increase lethality against troops in defilade or in trenches. Troops, Structures, Light Vehicles, Aircraft
Armor-Piercing AP, APC, APCBC Machinegun, Cannon Full-caliber hardened projectile designed to penetrate further than normal ball ammunition. Armor penetration degrades at longer range. Light Armor, Troops behind cover, Armored Aircraft
Ball Machinegun Normal ammunition used in machineguns, usually using a lead-core projectile. Troops, Light Vehicles, Unarmored Aircraft
Incendiary I Machinegun, Cannon Ammunition with a pyrotechnic filler that can ignite fuel, ammo, or other combustible materials. Light vehicles, Aircraft
Tracer T Machinegun, Cannon Ammunition with a small pyrotechnic charge on the base. Designed to allow the gunner to see the round in flight to adjust.

Usually mixed in with other ammunition types, or part other projectiles (AP-T, HE-T, etc...)

Does not change the terminal effects of the round applied to.
High Explosive Anti-Tank HEAT, HEAT-FS, MPAT Cannon, Grenade, Rocket, Missile Ammunition with a shaped-charge warhead designed to use explosive power to penetrate armor. Does not rely on kinetic energy and is equally effective at any range, so long as the target is hit. Some missiles use an overfly profile that guides the missile over the target and fires the HEAT charge downwards into the roof of the vehicle. Light/Heavy Armor (Larger rounds more effective)
High-Explosive Squash-Head HESH Cannon Ammunition with a plastic-explosive filled projectile that adheres to armor and detonates. Will either penetrate or blow spalling off the interior side of the armor, wounding crew and damaging interior components. Light/Heavy Armor, Fortifications
Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot APDS Cannon Ammunition that uses a sub-caliber projectile to reduce drag and maintain higher velocity at range. Does not contain any explosive filler, relies entirely on kinetic energy to achieve armor penetration. Performs better against modern composite armor than equivalent HEAT ammo. Effectiveness degrades with range. Relies on projectile hitting crew or critical vehicle components to achieve effects. Light/Heavy Armor
Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot APFSDS Cannon Similar to APDS but with aerodynamic fins to increase projectile accuracy at extreme ranges. Standard armor-piercing round for most Main Battle Tank cannons. Light/Heavy Armor
Thermobaric Cannon, Rocket, Missile Uses fuel-air explosive to produce greater blast effect than standard high-explosive. Relies more on blast than fragmentation to cause casualties. Troops inside structures/fortifications, Light Vehicles
Cannister Cannon Ammunition that carries numerous sub-caliber projectiles (such as tungsten balls) that spread outwards from the muzzle like a shotgun. Effective in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle. Troops, Light Fortifications, Light Vehicles.
Smoke/WP WP Cannon, Grenade Ammunition that creates a cloud of smoke upon impact. Many armored vehicles have arrays of single-shot grenade launchers that carries this ammo and can be used to quickly screen the vehicle. Used for screening/obscuring.

See Also