Deep in the California desert, the U.S. Army has been practicing for World War III for decades. At the Fort Irwin National Training Center, outside Barstow California, the Army has created an expansive training ground-complete with a faux enemy army- to run American forces through an exhaustive routine of non-stop wargames.
Fort Irwin is one of the largest army bases in the United States. Over 1,000 square miles of desert, it became the home of the National Training Center (NTC) in 1979. For nearly forty years, active duty Army and National Guard forces from across the country rotate through the NTC to conduct realistic wargames.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, an active duty combat unit, acts as the permanent opposing force, or OPFOR. The American regiment's alter ego is the 60th Guards Motorized Rifle Division. Highly trained, it also operates American vehicles visually modified to look like Russian, or Russian-equipped forces. These are known as OSVs, or OPFOR Surrogate Vehicles. Often the conversion consists of little more than creatively applied fiberglass sheeting.
Here's a few OSVs, illustrating the lengths the U.S. Army will go through to get the appearance correct.
Russian T-72/T-90 Tank:
OPFOR OSV equivalent, based on an M113 armored personnel carrier:
Russian BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle:
OPFOR OSV equivalent, based on a Humvee:
Russian BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle:
OPFOR OSV equivalent, also based on a M113:
See more examples at Guns.com.
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