- Pridružio: 12 Nov 2016
- Poruke: 81
Napisano: 03 Dec 2016 22:51
By the adjudant (OR-8 NATO) Guillaume Paris, Specialist instructor at L’école de cavalerie (Saumur)
Ongoing since 2015, the civil war in Yemen haven’t been covered a lot by national (France) media.
However the combats have seen a large deployment of armored vehicles. In order to support the local government, a powerful coalition lead by the Saoudian took part in this conflict. Backed up by France, the USA and the UK, the coalition line up occidental vehicle and, most importantly use doctrine issued from the occidental “way” of urban combat.
Those doctrines seems to have been poorly applied by the coalition with weapon systems that were not always adapted.
The engagement of the coalition in urban area didn’t had the proper preparation for armored raid and, once under fire, the units panicked and retreated in poor order. The battles of Ma’rib or Aden are the perfect examples.
The rebels don’t seek to capture the abandoned vehicles.
They use them as propaganda tools then destroy them.
This in order not to increase their logistic footprint but also to make sure that those vehicles do not return to the coalition.
Those loss explain probably the recent contracts for ground armament between the USA and the Saoudian for about 1,15 billion dollars.
For the operation « Return hope » of the Arabic coalition in Yemen against the Houthis rebels, the UAE deployed between 70 and 80 Leclerc tanks since spring 2015.
This represent the first engagement in combat of the French MBT by a foreign army.
This operation deserver to learn lessons from it, be it at the operational and logistical preparation or at the tactical use of those tanks in operation and their resilience to enemy fire.
This example shall also remember us not to be blinded by our technological and doctrinal superiority against a determined foe.
An adequate operational preparation
The operational preparation of deployed unit was well anticipated.
The units intended to go to Yemen were able to train regularly on simulator or in live training before being sent to combat.
The crew could familiarize themselves with the AZUR kits, even if all tank were not equipped with it. Numerous shooting campaign also allowed them to perfect their skills and master the use of HE shells OE F1, recently obtained.
At the tactical level, the units participated to training at the Hamra and Thouban camps to acquire the basics of urban, desert and even mountain combats, this to fit the reality of the Yemenite terrain.
Various tactical use
The Leclercs units have been employed to fulfill various missions in various context.
The tanks have been distributed between two mechanized battalions inside of an armored brigade which included a mechanized battalion of BMP-3 and a battery of artillery equipped with G6.
Engaged first together for the battle of Al anab, the two armored battalions were separated for the rest of the operations, one staying in Aden and the other one going forward in the interior of the country.
Those units were first employed in urban or peri-urban area, in offensive action as soon as the beginning of the battle of Aden (March-July 2015) then on the seizing of the air base of Al-Anad. Shortly after conquering this base, the first armored battalion found itself in a defensive position and lead counter-attacks in urban and mountain area, most likely in the form of armored raids, to drive away the enemy troops that posed a threat to the base from the nearby height.
After that, the Emirati forces used the Leclerc of the second armored battalion in offensive actions in mountain area around Ma’rib or in urban area in Sabr but with mitigated results.
The tanks were also used in secondary roles like for example fire support for the infantry or in static position for the protection of command post.
The logistical support during the operation
The deployment of Leclerc MBT in Yemen beneficed of a remarkable logistic support.
The supply chain on spare parts or in equipment have been assured by air or see (the port of Aden served as a resupply port after taking Al anab) then by ground to the troops on the front line.
The Emirati logistical units opened ways of repair and resupply all the way down to the lowest echelon, which is obviously capital for the operational availability of the machines and their tactical capacity. For 3 months of combats, a battalion of tank could consume in average 200 shells of 120mm of three different kind.
The evacuation of wounded, sometimes numerous like during the combats of Ma’rib, was not neglected and participated at the good shape of the troops. Here too, aerial and ground ways of medical support were created to evacuate the wounded as fast as possible.
The Leclerc in combat
The Leclerc were exposed to difficult combat conditions and to an accurate enemy fire.
The machine suffered from the sand and the rocks of their zone of operation.
The dust raised by the machine, but most importantly the sand reduced the performance of the armements.
HMG of 12,7mm and 7,62mm suffered frequent missfire due to unexpected jamming.
The nature of the terrain also caused a recrudescence of failure of electro-fans supposed to keep the dust away from the engine due to an accumulation of sand and dust around the rear portion of the tank during it’s movements.
Finnaly the pads on the tracks suffered a rapid degradation due to the rocky terrain of the Yemen height, forcing some vehicles to roll directly on the track which also lead to a prematury wear and the degradation of some elements of the rolling train like barbotins.
The enemy fire was applied on Leclerc pragmatically.
Optics of the commander and gunner have been systematically the target of collective weapons or precision rifles.
The roof armament has also been targeted in order to make it unusable (Cable of ignition cut or perforation of the weapon itself).
Some tanks suffered fire from heavy collective weapons on the rear section in order to destroy the engine but without success.
The Leclerc have also been the victims of anti-tank mines and IED which put a hard stress on the rollers of three tanks.
All damaged tanks were repaired with success.
However one Leclerc had been definitively neutralized by a direct fire of an ATGM.
The hollow charge went through the frontal section of the tank on the section of the driver compartment killing him and wounding the commander on the legs.
The type of missile isn’t know but looking at the photography and following the video posted by the rebels on combats around Ma’rib we can reasonably think that it wasn’t a Kornet but rather an AT5 or AT5N Konkurs/Konkurs M.
The tank could have been repaired because not technical element necessary to the weapon system was damaged.
It also remind us that no tank is indestructible.
The Saoudians lost at least 9 M1A2 to anti-tank fire.
Studying the use of an aditionnal protection comparable to the LEDS system or reactive armor like the Russian system Relikt could be used to mitigate the lack of protection on some parts of the tank.
Finally the Houthis rebels used an intense electronical warfare against the communication system. Radio of French origin in the tanks were affected by jamming, intrusion or interception.
Dopuna: 03 Dec 2016 22:55
The Leclerc had a more than satisfying availability thanks to a good Emirati logistical chain.
The vehicles handled the enemy fire well and no loss was definitive.
But the only tank hit, frontally, by an anti-tank weapon was perforated and neutralized.
Those the results of the Leclerc in Yemen is paradoxical, they fully satisfied the Emirati army on the operational level but in the same time showed defects in the protection of the crew.
Following the combats on this theater of operation will allow us to better know the capacity of the Leclerc when engaged.
On all the current zone of conflict, the urban area cannot be avoided.
Armored vehicles showed themselves a critical asset in inter arms combat, the only one capable to size the victory in this kind of environment.
But those AFV will have to evolve to better face the threats of urban areas.
This is what was done with the valorization program of the Leclerc which should remedy to a good part of the identified weakness.
Following the Yemen experiences we can gather some direction of amelioration for our tanks:
For the structural armor (hull), the use of nano-cristallized material would be a good idea, like it is on the Japanese Type 10. Since this technology is prohibitively expense, it would better to integrate them in the new armor package on the Leclerc.
As for soft kill protection, the Kit Balistique de Contre Mesure was relevant for the Leclerc.
It blended both Laser alert warning and wide spectrum jammer.
The optical detector (DOP) JD3 present on the Chinese ZTZ 99 is an interesting idea, even more since we know that this is a French technology which was originally used in the sniper alley in Sarajevo.
As a reminder, this system detect enemy laser in various directions and send them back a more powerfull pulse “frying” the laser receptor.
As for hard kill, the delay accumulated by our army is important. On shelve purchase could be a good idea, like the US army with the Israeli Iron fist. Germany developed the AMAP-ADS (Known as Shark in France) which should enter service in Singapore.
Dopuna: 03 Dec 2016 22:55
nesto o ucinku leclerca u jemenu