The use of body armour as we currently know it is always a trade-off. There is always the ability to completely armour a soldier to the extent where
almost no rounds can penetrate. However this means that he will not be able to function as a soldier. He won't be able to carry anything other than
the body armour due to the weight and bulk. He won't be able to move in any useful fashion. He won't be able to use his weapon effectively. In
essence he becomes a static/slow moving bullet magnet, unable to complete any mission.
Then there is the other viewpoint of having no armour. This means that the soldier will be able to carry more useable weight and be able to move at
speed over longer distances in higher heat. However it also means that he will almost certainly suffer a serious injury or death should a projectile
hit him or he be caught in a blast. Again not ideal.
Unfortunately we live in an increasingly risk-averse society. We are almost at a stage whereby any death in action is unacceptable. The problem with
this is that risk is a defining concept of combat and that deaths are always going to be a part of that
The current amount of personal protective equipment carried by the modern infantryman (both in terms of body armour and electronic devices) is such
that it has dramatically reduced his ability to perform the functions of combat. When I first became an infantry soldier the whole focus of training
and combat was manoeuvre at speed. The current load we carry has moved us to a point where movement at speed is not possible. We can't patrol in a
particularly stealthy manner, we are restricted as to the terrain we can cover and we can't patrol independently for as long because we can't carry
as much food, ammunition and water.
A normal contact these days is to be engaged by the enemy, we then fix them in position using small arms and await fast air to perform the strike
function that traditionally fell to the infantry section. This is not what we want. It incurs high financial, human and infrastructure costs. This is
almost completely down to the excessive weight carried, most notably body armour. Traditional attacks rely on speed.
Originally posted by pheonix358
Looking at warfare today we seem to have come full circle. Many troops now wear body armor that becomes difficult to penetrate. Of course the poorer
countries and the freedom fighters can not afford the armor so the battle field is once again ruled by the elite fighting forces.
I think that perhaps the AK47 has had its day. It simply does not have the power to defeat modern equivalents of the armored knights of old. Nor can
it penetrate even lightly armored vehicles.
The use of body armour does not make a soldier invincible to small arms threat, including the AK. A typical plate only covers a frontal area of less
than a square foot. Most of the body is only covered with Kevlar or other such “soft” armour. This is easily penetrated by any common assault
rifle round. The helmet is also penetrated easily by these rounds. The only areas covered by hard armour is the front and back of the torso and the
flanks in some types of armour. This leaves the rest of the torso, neck, head, legs, arms, pelvis and groin exposed.
I would suggest that we now need the equivalent of the long bow. What would happen if the other side threw away the AKs and replaced them with
a weapon that had sufficient kinetic energy to kill without having to penetrate. That would be a 50 caliber sniper rifle.
Everyone carrying a .50 sniper weapon would simply not work. The size, weight and cost of these weapons as well as the ammunition would make them
usable to only a few skilled individuals. Indeed if it were that simple, don’t you think that more financially well-off military forces would be
doing this? There is a reason that you can’t carry a .50 for every task.
Imagine if the denizens of Gaza all had 50 caliber sniper rifles. Do you think the IDF would be considering a ground offensive? It would be
even deadlier if the 50 calibers fired a single round and then vacated their position. With hundreds of freedom fighters / insurgents using these
tactics I think the situation would turn around.
The weapons would be too difficult to control and carry to be effective against a fast-moving and well trained army. In small numbers, well positioned
and deployed the .50BMG sniper rifle is a devastating weapon, but it is not fit for general duties. It is difficult to fire accurately without
considerable training. Training an individual to shoot with enough precision, as well as the field craft skills to survive undetected after the first
shot, is NOT realistic for the masses.