Armored Personnel Carriers – known by the acronym "APC" – remain one of the safest ways for militaries to transport soldiers into combat zones.
Primary Transport Role
Although frequently compared to a tank, an Armored Personnel Carrier, or APC, is used primarily to transport soldiers into battle. With a tough armoured exterior that is similar to a tank, APCs are able to safely carry infantry personnel into combat zones – protecting them from enemy fire, explosions, and shrapnel.
Most APCs are not equipped with the weapons that are found on tanks. Many models of APCs are armed only with a machine gun. As such, the vehicles are not designed to remain in combat or take part in fire fights. Some APCs run on tracks and other versions of the vehicle operate on wheels.
History and Development
Today, militaries around the world operate their own version of an APC. The British military is widely credited with developing the first APC during World War One. Known as the "Mark V," the vehicle was essentially a modified version of a tank, outfitted with a small compartment to carry soldiers. This rudimentary APC proved so successful that the British military developed a full APC, known as the "Mark IX," by 1918 and deployed it on battlefields across Europe.
By World War Two, versions of APCs had become standard for militaries fighting in combat. Vehicles such as the American M3 and German SdKfx 251 were used to carry infantry personnel into battle. During this time, soldiers began referring to the vehicles as "battle buses."
In the 1960s, the U.S. military developed the M113 armored personnel carrier. This was a fully tracked vehicle widely used during the Vietnam Conflict. The M113 was so prevalent during fighting in Vietnam that Viet Cong soldiers referred to the APC as the "Green Dragon." In addition to transporting troops into combat, the M113 was used to crash through the jungle and trample enemy camps. Variants of the M113 APC are still used today by the U.S. military. Some of the vehicles are outfitted with 50 caliber machine guns and anti-tank missiles.
Modern and Evolving Role
Some current APCs are amphibious, meaning they can travel in water as well as on land. While APCs are still used primarily for transportation, they can be outfitted with a variety of weapons that include mortars, flamethrowers, smoke screens, even nuclear weapons.
Armored Personnel Carriers have also been adopted and used by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and in countries such as England, Germany and Australia. Law enforcement agencies use the vehicles primarily to transport police into armed standoffs, hostage takings, and other high pressure situations.