An infantry fighting vehicle (IFV, also known as (mechanized) infantry combat vehicle, (M)ICV) is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to carry infantry into battle and provide fire support for them.
IFVs are similar to armoured personnel carriers (APCs), designed to transport a section or squad of infantry (generally between five and ten men) and their equipment. They are differentiated from APCs - which are purely transport vehicles, armed only for self defence - because they are designed to give direct fire support to the dismounted infantry and so usually have significantly enhanced armament. IFVs also often have improved armour and firing ports (allowing the infantry to fire personal weapons while mounted).
They are typically armed with an autocannon of 20 to 40mm caliber, 7.62mm machine guns and possibly with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and/or surface-to-air missiles. IFVs are usually tracked, but some wheeled vehicles fall into this category, too. IFVs are generally much less heavily armed and armoured than main battle tanks, but they sometimes carry missiles, such as the NATO TOW missile and Soviet Bastion which offer a significant threat to tanks.
The first mass produced IFV was the West German Schützenpanzer 12-3 which served in the Bundeswehr from 1958 until the early 1980s. The SPz 12-3 mounted a 20 mm autocannon in a small turret and carried a half-squad of five armored infantrymen.
Western powers were surprised when the Soviet Union paraded the first purpose-designed IFV, the BMP-1, in 1967. The BMP possessed a very low profile and was armed with both a 73mm smoothbore gun and an AT-3 Sagger ATGM. Its steeply-sloped front armour offered full protection against NATO's standard .50 calibre machine gun and partial protection against 20 millimetre Oerlikon cannon both in a 60 degree frontal arc, while its 73 mm gun and ATGM were a threat to NATO APCs and even MBTs.
Since then, all major military powers have developed or adopted IFVs. Examples include the German Marder and Puma, the Chinese ZBD-97, the Soviet/Russian BMP-3, the Indian Abhay IFV, the Yugoslavian BVP M-80, the Canadian LAV III, the British Warrior, the American M2 Bradley, the Spanish Pizarro/ASCOD, the Italian Dardo, the South African Ratel, the French AMX-10P, the Swedish Combat Vehicle 90 and the Dutch YPR-765 AIFV.
Full article ▸