Cubs into Lions: the tendency for AFVs to become lighter is best regarded as not so much a process of condensing tanks but to raising the lesser combat vehicles to a state where they can punch well above their weight. This process commenced when `battlefield taxi' standard APCs were provided with some form of supporting fire capability that gradually grew into the cannon-armed IFV. The next logical stage in the evolution of the IFV is already with us. (Complete Guide)
That stage is the provision of guns that were once the remit of battle tanks, namely the 100,105,120 and 125 mm high velocity guns. Until only a few decades ago, armoured vehicles provided with such powerful ordnance had to be fairly sizeable and heavy to accommodate the considerable recoil stresses transmitted to them during firing. Recoil and recuperator mechanisms had to be correspondingly beefy for the same reasons.
That situation has changed. Low recoil mechanisms that absorb more and more recoil stresses have been around for some time. One of the first in this field was Rheinmetall with a family of 105 mm low recoil guns suitable for installation in vehicles weighing only fourteen tonnes. These guns can deliver recoil lengths of as little as 280 mm. Unfortunately for Rheinmetall, its products were for many years destined to pass no further than the testing ranges (other than a few tank retrofit programmes). Yet Rheinmetall persisted, and even extended low recoil capabilities to 120 mm guns.
It seems that the company's efforts were too far advanced and ahead of the market. The strategic and tactical scenario has now changed. Long-range air transport is a must for many armed forces, while the battlefield survival chances for smaller and lighter AFVs are now much improved. As a result, a new breed of heavily armed AFV is with us. Cubs have become lions.
One example of this transformation is the Swedish Alvis/Hagglunds CV 90 equipped with the Swiss 120 mm Compact Tank Gun.
As the original CV 90 hull is little altered to accommodate the new turret, some space remains available at the rear for three passengers in addition to the crew of four. This space would probably be occupied by extra ammunition during many combat missions - the usual combat load is 45 rounds.
Another turret that was at some time installed on the CV 90 is the Giat TML105, fully stabilised of course, which has since been equipped with a semi-autoloader.
The firepower has to be paid for in...