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ole1291

Are ICM ammunition overpowered in SB

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This blog:

https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2014/04/or-smackdown-on-dpicm.html

 

Makes an interesting argument that that DPICM is overvalued as an anti -vehicle ammunition (or in general too as its mainly rocket delivered which the author argues is an inefficient ammo logistic-wise)  and is only really better than conventional ammo when dealing with infantry in the open.

I used to think it was the contrary, DPICM being optimized against AFVs with the frag effect thrown in as an afterthought.

So what do people here think about the issue?

I must admit I was a bit surprised with the lethality of DPICM as modelled in steelbeasts, a very high proportion of hits seem to completely destroy the vehicle as opposed to just damaging it/killing a crew member which I didn't expect given their relative small size.

Also, tanks seem to be nearly as vulnerable to them as PCs, but I think I recall reading that DPICM was meant to work against light armor rather than tanks (extra thick roof armour of upgraded leos doesn't seem change things much).

Are these false notions (DPICM just as lethal agaisnt entire range of AFVs)?

Just being curious. 

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I can't speak about the logistical footprint of rocket artillery munitions. I'm a tactician first, so I try to get those aspects right. SHould we get to the point of modelling the supply train in detail, I suppose the logistical problems will emerge all by their own.

 

So, the tactical effect of DPICM. I haven't personally witnessed their use, or that of live artillery munitions anywhere but a shooting range, so my expertise is limited in that aspect. Also, our model still makes certain simplifications. I don't want to go too much into detail, but I suppose I can summarize it as follows. We looked at the number of bomblets in a rocket, the targeted area size, and calculated from that the likelihood of a certain vehicle footprint being hit in the first place. We also took the layout of vehicles into account to calculate rough likelihoods for engine, ammo, main gun, and crew damages. Certain vehicles with extra roof protection are exempted from certain component damages.

E.g. an M26 rocket delivers 644 bomblets over an area of 100x200 meters, approximately, which, assuming uniform distribution (another simplification) delivers one bomblet per approximately 31m²; a tank that is 3.5m wide and 8.90m long takes up pretty much exactly the same space. Conclusion: Every think in the targeted area will be hit once. (Of course you can apply a finer grain here, resulting in maybe just 90% of all tanks being hit, and some tanks might get hit twice if closer to the center of the strike area; do you go with an elliptic target area (accurate) or a rectangular one (simplification), and then there's of course the issue of unexploded ordnance. But even simple multiplications already give you an idea of the density of munitions that can't be too far off from reality.)

 

The next question is of course, how many fragments does a single bomblet produce, what's their spatial distribution, etc. But it's pretty clear, with 644 bomblets exploding within less than ten seconds simultaneously and even just 200 fragments per bomblet you already have to deal with more than 120,000 fragments; this is quite a challenge if you wanted a per-fragment trace in a real-time application without sacrificing too much framerate. But, we know that one bomblet covers 31m² of space; 200 fragments per bomblet mean a fragment density of 6.45 fragments per square meter. Let's say that a third of the fragments each get buried in the ground or tossed high in the sky, that still leaves 2.15 fragments per m² for anti-personnel effect. Artillerists will consider that "sufficient". Infantrists will call it a bloody nightmare, if they are lucky enough to survive. What's more, and that's the actual kicker, it's relatively evenly distributed over the whole target area.

 

Interestingly enough, bomblets were developed for anti-personnel first, historically speaking. The "dual purpose" was added only later and, I presume, after struggling for a good while to create a somewhat reliable delivery mechanism (microelectronics for the fuze, lightweight streamer tapes to orient the bomblets to fire their heat jets downwards, etc).

 

 

Of course, the M26 rocket is more or less the "best case" (depending on which end you are). There are DPICM munitions with a much higher "square meter per bomblet" ratio; the disparities are actually baffling in some cases, and I suppose they reflect a different artillery doctrine (rather than exactly one rocket per 100x200m² target area, fired with minimal overlap, maybe they are firing multiple rounds on the same target area to make up for the loss of efficiency).

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Now, the author of that piece does similar math, and I'm not in fundamental disagreement with anything he writes in the first third of the article, except that he's looking at mega volleys rather than the individual round - an approach that I find more confusing than helpful. The reality is not that you have 24 MLRSs firing on one contiguous area in a single concentrated salvo; likewise I'm not sure what kind of conflict he has in mind with 24 howitzers (an entire artillery battalion) firing at full rate (PzH 2000, not M109) for a full minute on the same target. The idea is that you have a launcher group of two MLRS on call for one combat battalion, and one 155mm tube artillery battery. Yes, depending on the organization there might also a regimental and divisional artillery group, and yes, the brigade or division commander could order them all to fire on the same target. Why not load up a wing of B-52s for a JDAM carpet bombing, while we're at it.

 

Where he's going astray IMO is in his vision of the use of these artillery systems. MLRS is most useful as a delivery mechanism for scatter mines, something that 155mm artillery can't do well, and as a "large area wipe-out in one single volley" type of fire mission. MLRS can simply deliver a much higher payload per rocket. That the logistical side is less efficient simply because rockets need a lot more fuel than tube artillery to reach their destination will nobody dispute. For well into the 1990s however rocket artillery also had a distinct range advantage (36km vs 20...24); base bleed munitions and GPS giudance have of course made range increases possible for tube artillery that were almost unthinkable 40 years ago ... but then again we have GMLRS-U with a nominal range of about 80km now, substituting a 250lb JDAM air strike.

The author makes the mistake of a 1:1 comparison while neglecting the different characteristics of the two system, missing the point that they are complementary to each other rather than substitutive. This is why we fight combined arms, because there is no system that can do it all. He's in "good company" however, there's a gazillion of pundits who in their own brilliance always miss this point, that no weapon system exists in isolation.

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4 hours ago, ole1291 said:

This blog:

https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2014/04/or-smackdown-on-dpicm.html

 

Makes an interesting argument that that DPICM is overvalued as an anti -vehicle ammunition (or in general too as its mainly rocket delivered which the author argues is an inefficient ammo logistic-wise)  and is only really better than conventional ammo when dealing with infantry in the open.

I used to think it was the contrary, DPICM being optimized against AFVs with the frag effect thrown in as an afterthought.

So what do people here think about the issue?

I must admit I was a bit surprised with the lethality of DPICM as modelled in steelbeasts, a very high proportion of hits seem to completely destroy the vehicle as opposed to just damaging it/killing a crew member which I didn't expect given their relative small size.

Also, tanks seem to be nearly as vulnerable to them as PCs, but I think I recall reading that DPICM was meant to work against light armor rather than tanks (extra thick roof armour of upgraded leos doesn't seem change things much).

Are these false notions (DPICM just as lethal agaisnt entire range of AFVs)?

Just being curious. 

70-100mm of penetration per bomblet would already be enough to penetrate the front armor at 90 degrees angle of a 42 tons Leopard 1A5. Perhaps the question should be the opposite: Is HE artillery shells underpowered in SB?

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33 minutes ago, stormrider_sp said:

70-100mm of penetration per bomblet would already be enough to penetrate the front armor at 90 degrees angle of a 42 tons Leopard 1A5. Perhaps the question should be the opposite: Is HE artillery shells underpowered in SB?

Interesting question.   I remember  having taken look at a document Homer? posted to download section about "Dump" artillery rounds being dangerous.   And what little testing I have done..  it seems that even a excess of rounds in small area really struggles to kill tanks. Even when penetration data on the on map artillery suggest that direct hit would be more than fatal to any tank.   ICM usually has something like...  what around  up to 100mm? When HE / Heat rounds especially big ones have up to  something like 300mm+ and beyond. 

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Earlier today I was reading about IFVs, which is a subject that interests me. Today I learned this new piece of information called STANAG 4569. I had seen that before in many other articles or books, but never had the curiosity to look into it. What's interesting about it is that we can relate its levels with real vehicles.

 

For example, a Puma IFV with full applique armor is rated at level 6, meaning it could withstand, all-around, a 155mm HE artillery shell from a minimum of 10m. On the other hand, a BMP-2, rated  about level 3, at around 60m, depending on the azimuth, might not had survived the same shell. 60 meters, that's like a dropkick from your own 10m line!

 

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Edited by stormrider_sp

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I agree, simplifications are probably better in this instances, especially if modelling these strikes more accurately would strain the FPS too much. 

Current hit probability within the kill zone seems to be a good enough approximation.

What surprised me in SB was the proportion of vehicles, tanks in particular, that are totally out of action after one hit. I would have expected more damaged tanks relative to destroyed ones.

In the linked article, bomblet penetration is listed as 70-100mm. in SB though the RHAe given for DPICM ammunition is 54mm, I don't know which figure is more accurate.

155mm M-185: M483 DPICM 21000 54 273 1970s

I understand the roof armour of a tank is not very thick, (perhaps someone can step in here with average thickness for modern western MBTs). My guess is it must be at least around 40-50mm if it is able to stop artillery air burst shrapnel ( STANAG 4569 level 6), perhaps even more in the case of the Leopardo. So the HEAT jet of any bomblet would be pretty depleted (if it penetrates at all), on a tank with segregated ammo storage, total destruction seems unlikely. 

 

I had it reversed then, ICM (anti personnel only) rounds being developed first and the 'DP'ICM being added later, thanks for clearing it up.

 

The writer in that blog focuses mostly on high intensity symmetric warfare, I guess it can be argued that even then, an entire arty battalion firing on the same target for a minute would be uncommon, but not impossible. 

During the war in Donbass, there was a few cases of large Ukrainian large mechanised units being almost completely obliterated in DPICM strikes, I would guess those necessitated those kinds of fires.

That actually makes me wonder; in SB its pretty difficult using artillery against moving formations because the player has too many assets to control at the same time but is that also true IRL? I would imagine a dedicated artillery commander could make all the required calculations, all he needs really is the enemy AFVs bearing and aproximate speed.

Also, are there any instances in SB where, when provided both ammo types are available (HE and ICM) , it would make sense to select HE? I understand HE is more useful against dug in troops but we don't really have them in SB , except  bunkers (is their greater protection actually modelled ?) 

 

I agree with you that MLRS are a useful part of combined arms (again proven recently in Ukraine, or the first Gulf war for that matter) despite its logistical problems. I don't think the writer was saying there are useless, just somewhat overrated.  

I think nobody is asking for the supply train to be modelled, it's just outside the scope of this simulation.

 

In any case thank you for the thorough reply.

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14 hours ago, stormrider_sp said:

70-100mm of penetration per bomblet would already be enough to penetrate the front armor at 90 degrees angle of a 42 tons Leopard 1A5. Perhaps the question should be the opposite: Is HE artillery shells underpowered in SB?

 

Maybe but you are choosing one of the few tanks we have in SB whose hull armor is almost as thin as that of a modern IFV, not a very representative sample.

 

Thanks for bringing up STANAG 4569, its a useful reference, and yes, it goes to show that many APC/IFVs listed as "shrapnel proof" are actually far from it.

 

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2 hours ago, ole1291 said:

 

Maybe but you are choosing one of the few tanks we have in SB whose hull armor is almost as thin as that of a modern IFV, not a very representative sample.

 

Thanks for bringing up STANAG 4569, its a useful reference, and yes, it goes to show that many APC/IFVs listed as "shrapnel proof" are actually far from it.

 

https://below-the-turret-ring.blogspot.com/2016/10/puma-ifv-armor-and-upgrade-speculations.html?m=1

 

Heres an article on it

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I'm not entirely happy with our current ICM effects on vehicles. I can still see potential for improvement, but it'll have to wait until there are, well, "benign development conditions" (half a year of no other crap landing on the doorstep for the specialist for this topic among our developers). What we did for version 4.1 was to improve on the old model by getting rid of a lot of stuff that was problematic, without finding the time to rework everything from ground up. At the end of the day we had to have something releasable by August, and that sometimes means that you have to compromise. There's always something that "isn't quite there yet", but perfectionists can't release anything, ever.

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1 hour ago, stormrider_sp said:

Thanks, very interesting.

Of note to the particular subject was this paragraph:

The Puma turret can be fitted with additional armor to provide protection against medium calibre ammunition, larger fragments of artillery rounds and large artillery bomblets with EFP or shaped charge warhead. Except for a smaller curved section behind the gun (which moves when the gun is elevating), the add-on armor for the roof consists of "Igelpanzerung" (hedgehog armor), which utilizes many rubber-spikes to damage the shaped charge warheads of artillery bomblets. 

That "Igelpanzerung" was also mentioned on the 'defence and freedom' blog. Looks like designers are indeed looking at ways to mitigate the effects of DPICM.

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24 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

I'm not entirely happy with our current ICM effects on vehicles. I can still see potential for improvement, but it'll have to wait until there are, well, "benign development conditions" (half a year of no other crap landing on the doorstep for the specialist for this topic among our developers). What we did for version 4.1 was to improve on the old model by getting rid of a lot of stuff that was problematic, without finding the time to rework everything from ground up. At the end of the day we had to have something releasable by August, and that sometimes means that you have to compromise. There's always something that "isn't quite there yet", but perfectionists can't release anything, ever.

I totally understand that. 

Reason I brought the subject up is I also tend to use SB as... how to put it, an "outcome predictor" (up to a point), a learning tool, with regards to the effects some weapons modelled within the simulation.

In this case, I just wanted to check how close to actual reality ICM effects were modelled. Thanks for clearing it up.

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I find, with advancing enemy formations, the best approach with a 155 battery is to use one or two tubes set to fire three rounds a minute to create a 400 metre "wall" of DPICM in front of the enemy formation that causes them to pile up against it for ten minutes. Then I create a 400 x 400 metre mission behind a wall to initiate after one to two minutes, depending on enemy formation size and speed, with the remaining tubes, but only have them fire two or at most three rounds a piece because anything that can will try to get out of the box rapidly, so more than that is a waste. The piled up vehicles also make great targets for other systems. Rinse and repeat further along the enemy advance route (if established with reasonable confidence). I do find "Little and often" works well for DPICM. 

 

I find the M107 155mm HE and generic tube HE to be highly ineffective against personnel. I know it's an old 1950s projectile with relatively limited fragmentation effects, but it's possible to try to take out a single, very well located, enemy infantryman with a huge concentration of these projectiles targeted into a 50 metre box centred on them with no ill effects. When you go over the AAR in "real world, events" mode, you see 155 bursts practically on top of them or within three or four metres - I would have thought blast alone would have disabled them in such circumstances. I admit I don't understand the intricacies of SB's damage model and I'm not going to go away and test it - it's just the impression I get.

 

I know the British Army has gotten rid of its surface launched scatterable mines. I'm assuming our AT-2 MLRS rockets were either discarded through policy change or when time-expired and we didn't purchase more, but if anyone knows for sure I'd like to know. Likewise does Germany still have the MLRS AT-2 or other scatterable mines in service?

 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the SB development team for the many hours of enjoyment this sad loner had over the holiday period. It's so easy to get completely absorbed in SB and it continues to amaze and delight me on an almost daily basis over three years on. 

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Can't say much about the blast effect (or lack thereof) in your M107 experiment. It's important to realize that we show the pK50 radius, which implies that some people actually survive it; also, our model considers the direction of the wavefront (so if you're standing upright/running, your chances of survival are better in case of airburst explosions some 8m above you than by going prone (and stationary). Not that I would volunteer to prove that point just to win an internet debate...

Our model follows the more or less well described functions and parameters found in standard literature. Not saying that everything's perfect but I'd be hard pressed to identify mode than a single factor that introduces a big error into the system (and if it is a big error, it applies to nearly all HE munitions uniformly).

 

As far as AT-2 mines are concerned, during the 1980s and 1990s the Bundeswehr held in stock about 70% of NATO's anti-tank mining capacity combined (!). I'm sure, as stockpiled munitions expired their shelf lives, they were removed from inventories. How much replacement has been going on, I can't say. A careful analysis of the Bundeswehr's annual budgets since 1995 might be revealing, but I'm not going to do the leg work here. Maybe SIPRI has figures.

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2 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Can't say much about the blast effect (or lack thereof) in your M107 experiment. It's important to realize that we show the pK50 radius, which implies that some people actually survive it; also, our model considers the direction of the wavefront (so if you're standing upright/running, your chances of survival are better in case of airburst explosions some 8m above you than by going prone (and stationary). Not that I would volunteer to prove that point just to win an internet debate...

Our model follows the more or less well described functions and parameters found in standard literature. Not saying that everything's perfect but I'd be hard pressed to identify mode than a single factor that introduces a big error into the system (and if it is a big error, it applies to nearly all HE munitions uniformly).

 

As far as AT-2 mines are concerned, during the 1980s and 1990s the Bundeswehr held in stock about 70% of NATO's anti-tank mining capacity combined (!). I'm sure, as stockpiled munitions expired their shelf lives, they were removed from inventories. How much replacement has been going on, I can't say. A careful analysis of the Bundeswehr's annual budgets since 1995 might be revealing, but I'm not going to do the leg work here. Maybe SIPRI has figures.

Is there any difference between off-map and on-map HE artillery? I have the impression that on-map artillery is more effective.

 

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If I am not mistaken, I believe both on map and off map now are essentially the same in that a HE projectile is now used - the difference being that off map artillery drops the round straight down, as opposed to the actual angle for the on map artillery. In the past we just spawned the explosion for off map artillery, so now on/off map artillery should be relatively similar now besides angle of impact.

 

That said, I find it strange that some months ago the community was up in arms about HE killing tanks (in support forum), to which we devoted an extensive amount of time 'fixing it' - improving the math/variables. There are still grumblings about it (mostly because its just different than it used to be - people generally don't like change when it comes to vulnerabilities since they base their entire opinion of vehicles and their own effectiveness around that), but now we are discussing that HE is not deadly enough against tanks?  Everyone seems to have a different gut feeling here, but I think our over pressure-kill effects are now about as best as they can be, given what we know. Perhaps the fragment generation/penetration might deserve a discussion, but not over pressure again (the dog chasing its tail).  

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notwithstanding the effects on tanks, it's the impotence against soft targets that is rather noticeable. 

 

just a couple days before this thread popped, without any exaggeration i tested a scenario where several rounds of enemy tube artillery landed two or three meters within civilians standing intermingled with my technicals out in the open not behind armor- and no effects on any of them after several rounds landed within the mix. 

 

 

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The German AT-2 scatterable mines had fuses that could be triggered by people. This led to them being banned in the AP mine ban Treaty.

There are a couple demilitarised husks left in museums, all others have been destroyed.

 

Three relevant links about HE effect on AFV are listed here:

https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-says-dumb-artillery-rounds-cant.html

 

regarding effect of angle of descent for prox fused HE frag effect:

http://nigelef.tripod.com/wt_of_fire.htm

specifically

http://nigelef.tripod.com/efects_areas.gif

The graphic depicts a specific HE shell. The velocity of the shell affects the pattern, and so might (presumably to a lesser degree) the type of explosive in the shell (and its expansion velocity, thus fragment velocity).

The shell wall's design (large or small fragments?) matters as well, since smaller fragments lose speed quicker than big ones, and speed determines the shape of the pattern.

A more ductile steel leads to bigger fragments, as does a larger prefragmentation pattern on the inside if it's present.

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Posted (edited)
On 12/31/2019 at 6:45 AM, ole1291 said:

I understand the roof armour of a tank is not very thick, (perhaps someone can step in here with average thickness for modern western MBTs). My guess is it must be at least around 40-50mm if it is able to stop artillery air burst shrapnel ( STANAG 4569 level 6), perhaps even more in the case of the Leopardo. So the HEAT jet of any bomblet would be pretty depleted (if it penetrates at all), on a tank with segregated ammo storage, total destruction seems unlikely. 

 

well, the roof armour thickness is not uniform. usually the front slope of the roof is thicker than the center and rear, and hull.

The T-72 roof armour is around 60mm cast steel, with 25mm lead/fiberglass liner. 

Edited by dejawolf

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Posted (edited)
On 1/3/2020 at 9:00 PM, ChrisWerb said:

I find, with advancing enemy formations, the best approach with a 155 battery is to use one or two tubes set to fire three rounds a minute to create a 400 metre "wall" of DPICM in front of the enemy formation that causes them to pile up against it for ten minutes. Then I create a 400 x 400 metre mission behind a wall to initiate after one to two minutes, depending on enemy formation size and speed, with the remaining tubes, but only have them fire two or at most three rounds a piece because anything that can will try to get out of the box rapidly, so more than that is a waste. The piled up vehicles also make great targets for other systems. Rinse and repeat further along the enemy advance route (if established with reasonable confidence). I do find "Little and often" works well for DPICM. 

 

 

I am sure that works, but it seems a little gamey. Doubt it could be replicated in real life.

I'm pretty sure an armored formation on a road march could be successfully engaged with an ICM strike, and I think this was done in Ukraine. But I am less sure if that is possible with armored formations once combat deployed in open fields.

 

 

Edited by ole1291

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On 1/4/2020 at 3:58 PM, dejawolf said:

 

well, the roof armour thickness is not uniform. usually the front slope of the roof is thicker than the center and rear, and hull.

The T-72 roof armour is around 60mm cast steel, with 25mm lead/fiberglass liner. 

Thanks for the info.

Would you say that is enough to stop or severely deplete a DPICM bomblet EFP? I guess with regards a T-72, if penetration occurs, there is a real chance of the jet igniting the ammo carousel under the turret but would catastrophic damage also be likely for an M1 or Leo2?  

 

 

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On 1/4/2020 at 3:00 AM, JSF said:

The German AT-2 scatterable mines had fuses that could be triggered by people. This led to them being banned in the AP mine ban Treaty.

There are a couple demilitarised husks left in museums, all others have been destroyed.

 

Three relevant links about HE effect on AFV are listed here:

https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-says-dumb-artillery-rounds-cant.html

 

regarding effect of angle of descent for prox fused HE frag effect:

http://nigelef.tripod.com/wt_of_fire.htm

specifically

http://nigelef.tripod.com/efects_areas.gif

The graphic depicts a specific HE shell. The velocity of the shell affects the pattern, and so might (presumably to a lesser degree) the type of explosive in the shell (and its expansion velocity, thus fragment velocity).

The shell wall's design (large or small fragments?) matters as well, since smaller fragments lose speed quicker than big ones, and speed determines the shape of the pattern.

A more ductile steel leads to bigger fragments, as does a larger prefragmentation pattern on the inside if it's present.

Some corrections:

AT-mines used for MARS II weapons system are still in storage and are maintained.

 

And no, as they have a time-limited fuse and if triggered by a human they are not designed to maim, they do not fall under the ban of anti-personal mines.

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1 hour ago, ole1291 said:

I am sure that works, but it seems a little gamey. Doubt it could be replicated in real life.

I'm pretty sure an armored formation on a road march could be successfully engaged with an ICM strike, and I think this was done in Ukraine. But I am less sure if that is possible with armored formations once combat deployed in open fields.

 

 

That has been done in Desert Storm.

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OK, I can post test results if you wish, but the "problem" is that the generic off map unitary HE is much less lethal than even M107 fired from on map M109A3s.  What I did was take a flat terrain map (to avoid terrain screening effects), deploy 100 generic OPFOR (I put out three platoons, 10 per section then changed two of the unit HQs to missile teams and one to an FO team to get the round 100), bunched closely together and fired four tube 6 round per tube missions into 100 metre squares centred on their position (using an Apache with hold fire order as FO).  The M109s were between 12 and 16km from the target. I love a problem with an easy workaround - just use on map arty :)

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3 hours ago, ole1291 said:

I am sure that works, but it seems a little gamey. Doubt it could be replicated in real life.

I'm pretty sure an armored formation on a road march could be successfully engaged with an ICM strike, and I think this was done in Ukraine. But I am less sure if that is possible with armored formations once combat deployed in open fields.

 

 

Yes, in SB it works well in German terrain where you have the enemy coming up valleys under AI/programmed command. It would obviously work less well in open terrain against a reasonably sentient human opponent.

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