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Ex-Belgian AIFVs Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles Reportedly in Use by Ukrainian Army

A video published on February 20, 2024, by the "Ukrainian Front" on their social media account has revealed the deployment of ex-Belgian Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles (AIFVs) within the Ukrainian armed forces. This revelation points to a new facet of military support that Ukraine is receiving amidst its ongoing conflict, though not through official government channels.
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The video showed Ukrainian soldiers using an Ex-Belgian AIFV armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle. (Picture source ScreenShot video Social Network)

The footage underscores the absence of a formal agreement or public announcement regarding the delivery of such military hardware from Belgium to Ukraine. It suggests that these AIFVs may have been procured through private companies which acquired them as surplus from the Belgian army when these units were decommissioned.

This development follows previous instances where the Ukrainian military has been bolstered by stocks of combat vehicles previously owned by the Belgian army, including M109A4 155mm self-propelled tracked howitzers and Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tanks. These acquisitions have been crucial for Ukraine as it seeks to enhance its defensive and offensive capabilities amidst the ongoing conflict.

The utilization of ex-Belgian AIFVs by the Ukrainian army highlights a growing trend of military support through non-traditional means, including the involvement of private companies in the procurement process. This approach allows for a more rapid response to urgent military needs, bypassing the slower governmental procurement processes and international military aid negotiations.

The Belgian AIFV, or Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, is a significant evolution of the American M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, tailored to meet the specific needs of the Belgian military. This development came about in the late 1970s, during a period when NATO allies were keen on enhancing their armored capabilities in response to the evolving military landscape of the Cold War. FMC Corporation, now part of BAE Systems, undertook the development of the AIFV to provide a more versatile and combat-capable vehicle than the M113 APC.

One of the key motivations behind the development of the AIFV was the need for a vehicle that could not only transport troops safely to the frontline but also provide substantial fire support once there. This requirement led to significant enhancements over the original M113 design, including improved armor protection, mobility, and firepower.

The AIFV is characterized by its amphibious capabilities, allowing it to conduct operations in waterlogged and riverine environments. This feature was particularly important for operations in Europe's diverse terrains. The vehicle is propelled in water by its tracks, enabling it to cross rivers and lakes to support amphibious assaults or conduct operations across water obstacles.

The main armament of the Belgian AIFV varies depending on the specific variant, but typically it is equipped with a 25mm cannon mounted in a fully enclosed turret, providing a substantial upgrade in firepower over the M113's more rudimentary armament options. This cannon allows the AIFV to engage light armored vehicles, fortifications, and infantry with high effectiveness. Additionally, it is often fitted with a 7.62mm machine gun co-axially mounted with the main cannon, and some variants include anti-tank guided missile systems, further enhancing its combat capabilities.

Beyond its primary weaponry, the AIFV's design focuses on crew and passenger protection, with upgraded armor compared to the M113. This includes protection against small arms fire and shell splinters, making it safer for the infantry it carries into battle. The vehicle typically accommodates a crew of three—driver, commander, and gunner—and can transport up to eight infantrymen, who can dismount from the rear of the vehicle to engage the enemy.

Throughout its service life, the Belgian AIFV has proven to be a flexible and reliable vehicle, adaptable to various combat roles ranging from infantry support to reconnaissance. Its deployment across multiple international theatres underscores its effectiveness and the significant role it has played in modern military operations.

Ex Belgian AIFVs Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles Reportedly in Use by Ukrainian Army 925 002
Belgian army AIFV Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle. (Picture source Army Recognition Group)

Defense News February 2024

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