Home Forums Modern Producing armoured vehicles – just how difficult is it?

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    Avatar photoRules Junkie Jim

    How difficult is it for a country to manufacture its own military vehicles, from trucks to MBTs?

    I’ve been thinking about this from the perspective of my modern imagi-nations and their access to equipment. What could a small to medium sized pseudo-European country realisically build for itself? Obviously, I’d like an excuse to use whatever I can buy in 1/300th (unlicenced production of the Osorio would be nice), but these countries of mine are a mediocre lot.

    Taking a look at the last thirty years, the likes of Israel, Yugoslavia and South Africa built quite a variety of military hardware, presumably because they had the industrial and financial capacity, but other countries, less obviously industrialised, such as Switzerland and Austria, had fairly large armoured vehicle manufacturing programs.

    What is required? Could a country buy in an old production line to build, e.g. T72s or M113s, in a similar way to the Hindustan Ambassadors and Contessas were produced in India (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindustan_Ambassador and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindustan_Contessa), or is that just too ridiculous even for an imagi-nation? Taking a look at Wikipedia, Yugoslavia’s M84 had 240 factories directly involved in production and 1000 others indirectly involved. That’s a hell of a lot to roll off a few hundred tanks.

    So, I’m assuming (which zero knowledge of engineering) that tracked vehicles are much harder to produce than wheeled vehicles, it’s much easier to convert a civilian truck to a wheeled APC than it is to build one from the chassis up, and the bigger the gun, the tougher to make. Anyone with any good links or specialist knowledge that might provide an imagi-nation or two their own source of heavy weapons would be very welcome! Thanks!

    Avatar photoGaz045

    If you Google ‘afv’s for sale’ you will find a wide selection of vehicles available on the open market ( end user certificates required!).

    The investment needed to establish a production facility for afv’s would be prohibitive for most European nations……however there is a trend for cheap acquisition of used vehicles and a modernisation program…..new engines, up armour packages, new optics/sighting/ranging gear even new armaments.Building afv’s on truck chassis is a proven method, Czech Tatras are a case in point………also the US built MRAP (4 & 6 wheel International series) lots of which are also available for purchase…….the M113 is due to be replaced completely in the US inventory they will also be sold on…….

    Converting trucks into afv’s has been done in the Yugoslav wars and as low cost vehicles in the Ukraine…….have a look at ‘improvised afv’s’ on Google too………


    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    I imagine to do native production requires a pretty extensive and specialized heavy manufacturing capability that either may not exist, may not exist any longer or may not be financially viable otherwise.

    Cheaper to buy some M113 and T72, especially if you aren’t planning on actually fighting anybody.

    Avatar photoRules Junkie Jim

    Yes, I’ve been eyeing this up recently:


    Handy for a prang-free trip to the shops.

    I guess you’re right that my fantasy of self-sufficient armour-producing pseudo-European imagi-nations is a flight of fancy too far! Especially in the current economic situation, and the Cold War still furnishing cheap(ish) weapons.

    But I’m still wondering if, given a heavy industry base and financial backing, it’s all that difficult to manufacture tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles?

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    I mean, the Swedes did it. The Italians made a bunch, Chechoslovakia did. So it’s certainly possible.

    The fact that most of them stopped is likely just a cost question. If the Americans/Soviets will sell/give you a tank that’s almost always going to be cheaper than making it yourself.

    I’d be curious at looking at relative costs as technology goes up though. Just because they made a solid tank in the 30s doesn’t mean Slovakia could make an Abrams competitive tank today. The barriers may be higher now.

    Avatar photoRules Junkie Jim

    Yeah, that’s a good point. Militaries are sooo tech-heavy today that making a state-of-the-art tank is probably out of the question for all but the largest economies – though isn’t the Oplot a pretty decent tank? And the Twardy? I guess they’re “inherited” designs though.

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