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US Army NTC: VISMOD (some serious modeling...)

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  • Member since
    November 2005
US Army NTC: VISMOD (some serious modeling...)
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 8, 2002 11:04 AM
VISMOD - Short for Visual Modification.

The National Training Center - Ft. Irwin, CA - the home of NTC.

If you want to see some serious modeling on a large scale, this is the place. The NTC is the home of the 60th Guard Motorized Rifle Division, which is actually the 11th ACR. Their job is to train incoming units by taking on the role of the OPFOR (Opposing Forces). The OPFOR takes on the tactics and equipment based on (in the past) a Soviet Motorized Rifle Division.

To create a sense of realism, the Army had to take vehicles in it's currrent inventory and add VISMOD kits. The VISMOD kits consisted of metal frames supporting fiberglass panels. The panels were assembled/molded to represent the outside of various Soviet vehicles. While not a perfect representation, it was quite effective. Some visual aspects had to be sacrificed for functional and safety requirements. These kits were added to a couple hundred vehicles. Mostly aging M551 Sheridans, HMMWV's, and modified M113's.

Here is some information on the various assortment of vehicles which are currently being used by the OPFOR. A few of these are the real deal, while many of them are current US Army vehicles, with VISMOD kits added to visually represent some of the threats that a real unit would face in today's world.

T-80 VISMOD M551 Sheridan.

BMP-1 VISMOD M551 Sheridan.

The OSV is an M113A3 chassis outfitted with a modified M2 Bradley turret. The vehicle has a visually modified exterior that gives it the appearance of a Boyevaya Mashina Pyekhoty-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
The cost to operate and support an OSV is approximately 50 percent less when compared to the M551 Sheridan. Based on the high training operational tempo at the NTC, which is approximately 3,000 miles per year per vehicle over the course of 10 rotations, this will generate a high cost savings for the Army in the years to come.
-- excerpt from the linked site.


BTW...They even had a couple of UH-1's which were had VISMOD kits added to represent Soviet HIND D helicopters.

Additional 2/11 ACR Photographs (OPFOR)
Armor In Action: NTC
History of the Opposing Force at NTC -- Red Thrust Star, Oct 1994

I was stationed there from 1991-1995, as a member of Bayonet Recon (2/11 ACR Scout Platoon), part of the reconnaissance element for the OPFOR. Our vehicle numbers were the 610 series. Cool [8D]
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 8, 2002 8:56 PM
I visited fort irwin in july of 1987.Also called the dust bowl by some locals we met.I saw some of the coolest stuff there.I even saw a nasa m-113 from the china lake wepon test center there .Also I would like to say it was the hotest place on earth...
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, December 9, 2002 11:22 AM
I was in the 1-34 AR Scout Platoon out of Ft. Filey during your time at NTC. I'm sure our paths have crossed.
NTC is a great place to train and to check out Soviet equipment.
Scouts Out!
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 3:50 AM
The "Dust Bowl"...hehe... Wink [;)]

During the time I was there, they've made some improvements down there. However, even then it seemed like a pretty harsh place to have to stay in. We used to drive past there and sometimes "taunt" the rotating units. In fact, there would be times our early morning company runs would take us down past the Dust Bowl - those were always fun. Big Smile [:D]

As far as the heat - there were days it would get over 120 degrees. However it wasn't too bad since it was a dry heat. The only bad part was having to work on the Sheridans - the outside of the vehicles would get awfully warm. Much less the insides.

Pat, I'm sure we did cross paths at some point. Smile [:)]
As scouts, regardless of which side, those rotations kept us busy. If the mission was three days, we'd be out there all three days trying to remain undetected by each other. The offensive missions were the most fun - infiltrating through enemy lines at 3am. I don't know how we managed sometimes, between the Bradleys and the M1's and their thermals - but we did! One reason we managed so well was our knowledge of the terrain. We went places that many thought were impassable. In fact, there were quite a few times when people would be driving along a trail and would drive right past us and never see us. Usually they were so focused on the area in front and the low ground, never once looking at the higher ground (where we were) which they probably thought was impossible to park a HMMVW or a Sheridan. Wink [;)]

One thing I learned from that place is how tough and rugged those vehicles are. We pushed our vehicles to their limits. Going places where I would have never imagined vehicles could have went. I have a lot of admiration for the people who "blazed" some of those trails. There were some trails on some of the hills/mountains where the crew would disembark (for safety), except for the driver, in case the vehicle rolled over. Also, keep in mind, we did most of driving at night, driving miles over rough terrain for anywhere from 2-8 hours wearing NVG's.

Scouts Out!! Cool [8D]
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, December 13, 2002 1:46 AM
Nice article Bayonet Recon, brings back memories of my days with the Opfor.

Hooah !

Tank Commander
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, December 14, 2002 10:22 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by markiii

Nice article Bayonet Recon, brings back memories of my days with the Opfor.

Hooah !

Tank Commander

Thanks. Big Smile [:D]

When were you out there? Back in the 1/52-Infantry & 1/63-Armor days or after they became 11th ACR? I arrived a couple of years before it became 11th ACR. Every now and then when I revisit the NTC site and read up on what's happening out there, it's amazing how much has changed. I'd love to revisit that place some day for old time's sake and just to see all the improvements.

BTW, did you ever experience any of the earthquakes out there? We knew that we were in the middle of some major fault lines.

I remember this one time we were in the motor pool standing in front of one of the Sheridans. There were two guys inside the turret when one hit. One of the guys inside yelled out, "Stop rocking the vehicle." All of us standing outside started laughing. Tongue [:P] Besides, it would have taken quite a few people to rock the vehicle. Smile [:)]

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