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The return of a light tank

Posted by Picard578 on April 25, 2018

Adapted from https://hrvatski-vojnik.hr/menu-2018-godina/item/4067-povratak-lakog-tenka.html

US Army is seeking a new light tank. Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) is a new vehicle which will significantly strenghten US Army infantry brigades. The vehicle will be component part of Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will provide direct fire support. Tank will be used in conditions where distance, terrain or time constraints prevent deployment of heavy armour, essentially fulfilling the role of Stryker MGS.

Light tank will provide infantry with ability to counter enemy armour, fortifications, and to provide freedom of maneuver. Previous concept of light tank, M551 Sheridan, was a failure because of a low-pressure gun intended to fire guided missiles, which turned out too unreliable.

New tank has to be air mobile, with at least C-17 and if possible C-130 being able to carry it. As such, it has to have mass of no more than 32 tonnes. Main armament will be gun of either 105 or 120 mm calibre, capable of destroying armoured vehicles from motion, in all weather conditions. MPF must also be able to traverse obstacles, particularly in urban terrain; as such vehicle will be tracked. Vehicles within ICBT have to be able to operate for 24 hours without refuelling, and armour has to protect against small arms fire and shrapnel. As there are no existing vehicles fulfilling the requirements, new vehicle will have to be developed.

After prototypes are tested, two final choices will enter EMD (Engineering and Manufacturing Development). Each manufacturer will deliver 12 preserial production vehicles, and production should begin in 2022. Production is planned at 26 vehicles in 2022., 28 in 2023., and 50 vehicles per year from 2024. to 2032. First operational unit should receive MPFs in 2025. Price should not be above 6,4 million USD per vehicle.

Candidates are BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). BAE Systems is going forward with modernized M8 AGS. Basic vehicle has aluminum armour and, with combat weight of 19,5 tonnes, could be parachute-deployed from aircraft, and 3 to 4 can fit into C-17. Level 2 protection against light cannons mass is 23 tonnes, and with protection against calibres up to 30 mm mass is 25,5 tonnes. General Dynamics will likely base vehicle on Griffin demonstrator, with 120 mm gun and ASCOD / Ajax chassis. SAIC vehicle is based on chassis from Singaporean NGAFV IFV and turret from Belgian CMI Defence company. NGAFV in IFV variant has mass of 29 tonnes, and remotely controlled turret with 30 mm Bushmaster cannon and 7,62 mm coaxial machine gun. Crew is 3 plus 8 infantry, with 70 kph top speed, 24,5 HP/t. MPF would have 105 mm turret Cockerill 3105 with protection up to STANAG 5 level. NGAFV with Cockerill turret would weight 32,5 tonnes.

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11 Responses to “The return of a light tank”

  1. Benjamin Sisko said

    Have not yet read entire post but, I just want to say,

    “its about damn time”!!!!

    Like

  2. josephhokayem said

    Reblogged this on josephhokayem.

    Like

  3. altandmain said

    Light tanks should never really have gone away.

    For those skeptical, remember that the goal was always to go deep into enemy territory and to take out their command structure. It is simply a necessity for maneuver warfare.

    It would be interesting to see what type of tank wins. Sadly, knowing the MICC, this could end up like the LCS.

    Like

    • tdcoish said

      Oh it will definitely end up like the LCS. I think we should all start a group betting pool. Whoever can find the magic space technology they will use wins. Personally, I think that stealth technology has got to be the favourite. Yes it’s retarded to put radar stealth on a tank, but it’s probably going to happen.

      I can almost guarantee that it will have a custom designed turbine engine. This will serve three purposes. First, it will provide a checkbox tech feature that “provides competitive advantage”. Second, it doesn’t force the US Brasshats to admit their turbine choice for the Abrams was a huge mistake. Third, designing a new turbine engine for the light tank sounds like money to me. Sounds like a lot of money indeed. Fourthly, installing a super hot turbine engine on the tank will make it an unmissable target to anything with IR vision, thus making the radar stealth shaping even more hilarious. This is why it will happen.

      In terms of the gun I’m thinking comically large caliber is at the low end of failure here. Personally, I think my views are well known with preference for the smaller 57-75mm caliber guns, or possibly even smaller, but I could happily live with something like the 105mm on the current M8. If they put a traditional gun on this thing it’s starting at 120mm and going up from there, all reason be damned. Personally, I think we’ve got an outside shot at another M60A2 Starship disaster, with some combination missile/gun system. Think about it, some jackass starts demanding that the tank start fighting other tanks, and they realize that they can’t with a 105mm cannon, so they add some anti-tank capability to the main gun.

      Oh wait, even better. Instead of just ruining the main gun they’ll also shove some anti-tank missiles onto the top of the tank. That way the tank will still be a horrid duelist, but will also pay massive penalties in weight, speed, reliability, and one practical in the field attribute that tankers could have spotted right from the very start.

      I just realized that America has no SPAAG, so you know that’s getting shoehorned in. Of course, a true SPAAG is tremendously useful, so that’s not happening. Instead I can see them shoving some modified Stinger missiles on the top of this thing, with totally garbage sights, tracking, and fire control. Yes, this will be in addition to the anti-tank missiles that were added earlier.

      I can’t believe I went this far without mentioning electronics. I can already see them selling this thing as having real-time dynamic data sharing. There will definitely be some magical targeting technology on this piece of crap. At this point I wouldn’t even be surprised if they put a radar on the tank, just as a fuck you to the American taxpayer.

      I’m also torn as to whether or not we’ll have something like the Trophy system Israel developed. On one hand, Trophy is probably seriously overrated, so I can see them building something 10x more expensive that works 10% as often. On the other hand, I could also just see them not putting a system like this on the tank because the purpose of this tank is to fight the taxpayer, not the guys with RPG’s.

      The bureaucracy working on this project will be absolutely enormous, so multiply whatever cost you think it will take by 10, and then break some critical feature of the tank. I think we could all take bets, but somewhere between the suspension, controls, ergonomics, drivetrain, engine, hydraulics, ammunition storage, general interior design, sights, armour, recoil management, etcetera, there is going to be failure ranging from understandable to how is this possible levels. Remember, you and I might think that making a tank is largely a solved problem that can be done on the cheap, only modernized, but it’s actually something that no country has ever done before, and will justify the 1.2 billion dollar development cost and 12+M per unit cost.

      So anyway, your options for technology which will be chosen to intentionally increase the price of the project at all costs are:

      – Stealth
      – Turbine Engine
      – Missile/Gun system
      – Anti-tank missiles strapped on
      – Anti-Air missiles strapped on
      – Magic Electronics
      – Magic Targetting System (my personal favourite is a radar)
      – Trophy-esque system (that doesn’t work)
      – Creative Bureaucratic Idiocy

      My bet personally is Stealth, but there can of course be multiple scams simultaneously. Remember, they aren’t building this to have a light tank. If they wanted a light tank they would buy the M8, as Pluchet said below. If they were really serious, they would buy the M8 and also develop a modern tank, probably based on the M8. They just want to rob you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • altandmain said

        There have already been stealth tanks that have been demonstrated as concepts.
        https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/is-polands-stealthy-pl-01-the-tank-of-the-future-1554395391

        Whether or not it will work in real combat or not remains to be seen. Somehow, I have my doubts it will work out in practice.

        Agree that diesel seems like the best choice. Gas turbines did not work out in practice.

        I just realized that America has no SPAAG, so you know that’s getting shoehorned in. Of course, a true SPAAG is tremendously useful, so that’s not happening. Instead I can see them shoving some modified Stinger missiles on the top of this thing, with totally garbage sights, tracking, and fire control. Yes, this will be in addition to the anti-tank missiles that were added earlier.

        Another option for the light tank is to arm them with a recoilless rifle.

        I see the need for a common light chassis. This would form the basis for a few vehicles:

        1. Light tank
        2. Light APC
        3. SPAAG
        4. Light self-propelled artillery (could be anything from mortars to field artillery to rockets)
        5. Light engineering vehicle
        6. Armored recovery vehicle
        7. Turretless assault guns and tank destroyers (think modern day Stug)
        8. A recon vehicle
        9. Support and logistics

        These would all share the same chassis and share as many parts as possible to simplify logistics. There would be 3 basic chassis, a light tank, a medium, and a heavy tank and then wheeled vehicles. There could be heavier versions of each chassis.

        In some ways, it kind of resembles the automotive industry which uses a few common platforms and shares many parts across platforms. The vehicles are all specialized, but they can share parts to simply logistics and lower costs. It would probably look like the Toyota Production system – only for war.

        I’m also torn as to whether or not we’ll have something like the Trophy system Israel developed. On one hand, Trophy is probably seriously overrated, so I can see them building something 10x more expensive that works 10% as often. On the other hand, I could also just see them not putting a system like this on the tank because the purpose of this tank is to fight the taxpayer, not the guys with RPG’s.

        It’s probably like the naval anti-missile systems. A percentage of missiles will get through always, although there will be an arms race now between active defense system and countermeasure.

        I’m a bit more optimistic than you on these systems – they have intercepted the 9M133 Kornet and RPG-29 before. The best countermeasure may simply be to fire multiple ATGMs at the target at once, overwhelming the system. Another option is to use another weapon, like a recoilless rifle or a modern anti-tank gun.

        My bet personally is Stealth, but there can of course be multiple scams simultaneously. Remember, they aren’t building this to have a light tank. If they wanted a light tank they would buy the M8, as Pluchet said below. If they were really serious, they would buy the M8 and also develop a modern tank, probably based on the M8. They just want to rob you.

        I suspect that it is simply not profitable to learn the KISS principle. Not for the defense industry and not for the senior officers who want to retire to the industry.

        There’s a good chance that this whole project will end up like the Future Combat System, which turned into a total failure and was cancelled.

        An even bigger problem is that the US doctrine and culture are not oriented around a third generational warfare force. It’s a second generation force with a slow reacting OODA loop. There isn’t the doctrine of using light tanks to minimize combat engagements, using them for recon and deep penetrations. These deep penetrations are meant to engage the logistics and command units. In other words, it requires a culture of using light tanks to AVOID combat as much as possible to achieve that penetration.

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  4. Tanguy Pluchet said

    It’s a scam to get more money into the MICC’s pockets. If the US Army’s “leadership” were serious about procuring a new light tank, they’d have already bought the M8 Armored Gun System which is production ready since 1995:

    Like

    • Picard578 said

      I guess so. Well, one can hope.

      Like

    • tdcoish said

      Yeah, have to agree with you here. If it was really important to them in the slightest they would immediately buy at least some M8 Bufords to hold them over for the 2+ years it takes to develop a tank. It’s not like that would break the bank, which is exactly why it won’t happen. I can guarantee that the tank will have a host of contradictory design decisions, attempt to do everything, weirdly suck at some easy things due to incompetence, and come in at a higher cost than the Abrams. That price of less than 6.4 million dollars, yeah that’s not happening.

      Like

  5. Svarthe said

    Would have been interesting to see what a Nera armor plate solution with composite metal foam armor on top and bottom with a thin layer of Nano-metric steel in between would deliver (or are the other way around better?)
    Anyhow, what would happen in both weight savings, protection but last but not least cost increase.
    -In weight savings, they are talking about 1/3 with CMF and 1/4 with NS lesser weight compared with even HSS.
    -In protection, the flexibility seems be to amazing. Go very light and build up way under current weight limits or go with current weight specifications and get much higher protection levels.
    -Then there is the cost. NS is very expensive. Probably will CMF be that too? But operational it will save logistic cost, burden and flexibility.

    Like

    • MonMalthias said

      The point of composite metal foam is not to provide any reduction in areal density. Nor is it supposed to act as part of NERA or as a direct strike face – although the NCSU testing did use AP M2 ammo.
      The point of CMF is for energy absorption of spall and high speed fragments. In essence it is to act like a much heavier (but most likely significantly thinner) spall liner.
      Here is a paper on CMF testing as an energy absorption layer:
      http://sci-hub.tw/https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0263822315000434

      Note how they used boron carbide ceramic tiles as a strike face to deform and abrade the projectile.

      The North Carolina State University study on CMFs also used a Boron Carbide strike face: http://sci-hub.tw/https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/adem.201600776 (see page 9/13) . In essence they were doing in 2017 what people had already done earlier than 2015. Not exactly the pinnacle of innovation, here.

      In vehicular applications you would not use CMFs as part of a NERA array. The whole point of NERA is to feed armour material by bulging plates into the path of a penetrator. Using CMFs means you are feeding less material into that path, and therefore achieving less disruption. You would probably use CMF instead on the vehicle hull to absorb the shock of mines and IEDs as well as any fragments that make it past the strike face. On vehicle armour you would still need to have blocks of ceramic or NERA arrays to disrupt and deform a penetrator. Both types of armour get very heavy very quickly.

      Turret weights of MBTs easily exceed 30 tons. Often more. But the weight isn’t so much in the armour itself. Armour is light! NERA arrays and prestressed ceramic arrays boast areal densities of around 4 grams per cm^2. The weight is in the surface area of the outer turret steel. Thick armour means large amounts of volume. Large enclosed volumes demand high surface area. When your turret needs 2-5cm of armour steel on its outer surface things get very heavy.

      I find it doubtful that next generation armour will significantly reduce the fighting weight of vehicles. If anything, any efficiencies in armour weight reduction will be re-invested into thicker armour, especially as threads evolve. A next generation vehicle scheme for protected mobile firepower would likely demand highly unconventional designs that minimise armoured area in a novel way.
      https://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R3837.html

      Liked by 1 person

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