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Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank & Ultra-Light Vehicles

bobbymike

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Army Still Wants Mobile Protected Firepower From An Air-Droppable Tank

Army officials gathered at Ft. Benning, GA, last week to discuss the future of the service's maneuver forces and consistently brought up a lingering capability gap for mobile protected firepower they say must be filled by a new vehicle. The Army's desire for a new "light tank," reminiscent of the air-droppable M551 Sheridan, was tempered, however, by discussions of declining budget resources, with some officials saying the issue is indicative of the growing mismatch between those who draw up an acquisition program's requirements and those who must fund them. "I just don't see another platform vehicle getting off the ground at this point," said a Pentagon official familiar with the matter.
The possibility of a new Army vehicle also left sources on Capitol Hill scratching their heads. "It's a pretty obvious capability gap for the light divisions -- has been for years," said one congressional source. "Cost will be an issue."

The stage has been set, however, to possibly provide the 82nd Airborne with a short-term, off-the-shelf solution until a final vehicle acquisition can be made, according to Col. Ed House, a Training and Doctrine Command capabilities manager for the infantry brigade combat team, who spoke at the Ft. Benning conference. House said TRADOC recently recommended acquiring a new form of mobile protected firepower and received the support from Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell. "We're pushing that really, really hard," House said. "Great support out of the department to provide a capability to the 82nd in the short-term -- a [commercial off-the-shelf or government off-the-shelf] solution, with a long-term strategy of working the [Joint Capabilities Integration Development System] process to develop the right thing."

Army sources said potential "stop-gap" solutions would likely be some form of humvee with significant firepower, though no decisions have been made. The Army has been down this acquisition path before, contracting BAE Systems in the 1990s to develop several Armored Gun System prototypes to replace the Sheridan. The AGS was jettisoned, however, in favor of the Stryker and various Future Combat Systems platforms. While the Stryker has proved successful, an air-droppable variant has yet to be developed (though there have been experiments) and FCS was terminated in 2009 due to skyrocketing costs. Hence, the requirement for a light tank remains. The AGS was on display during the Ft. Benning conference, according to an email from Stephanie Serkhoshian, a spokeswoman for BAE, and several officials brought it up during their presentations. The need for a light combat vehicle has become especially significant as the Army contemplates what role itwill play as the Defense Department shifts its focus to the Asia Pacific region and begins backing away from long-term conflicts to emphasize smaller, scalable operations.

Maj. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the 82nd Airborne, said he and his rapidly deployable units require a vehicle that can allow them to drop into a combat zone and continue fighting even as the enemy masses forces to repel them. The Joint Light Tactical vehicle being developed by the Army and Marine Corps will be too heavy to accomplish such a mission and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles lack mobility, and neither vehicle has the required firepower, he explained. "If all we're doing is jumping in and then moving at the speed of a World War II paratrooper, we're going to lose the initiative we've gained," he said during a Sept. 11 panel at Ft. Benning. "If we instead get a force on the ground that's mobile and has firepower, well now we can retain that initiative." Nicholson said "specific platforms" were being looked at, but cautioned that the Army's declining resources in the present era of sequestration-driven budget cuts might delay any major decision for some time. Such budget considerations, however, may drive the Army to explore other options in the meantime.

"There's a requirement for something over the long-term, but I'm also interested in what can I have today?" Nicholson said. "I'm looking at our existing vehicle fleet today and how we could modify it and how we could make it available to give us that mobility." Nicholson said it was possible the Army could use thin-skinned humvees, rather than the up-armored configurations, because some environments where the 82nd Airborne would rapidly deploy, would not feature improvised explosive devices to the extent they are seen during long-term occupations like Afghanistan. "We have to make an intelligent choice on risk for what we can get in," he said. "For the up-armored stuff, can it be air-dropped? Can I afford to air-drop unarmored vehicles? There are certain sets of conditions where we would want a very light vehicle. There's other sets of conditions where it might be something a little heavier."

Meanwhile, Special Operations Command recently awarded a $562 million contract to General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems for a new Ground Mobility Vehicle. Nichols said he was familiar with the GMV, but did not want to discuss specific platforms
 

Kadija_Man

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

bobbymike said:
Army Still Wants Mobile Protected Firepower From An Air-Droppable Tank

[...]

Nicholson said it was possible the Army could use thin-skinned humvees, rather than the up-armored configurations, because some environments where the 82nd Airborne would rapidly deploy, would not feature improvised explosive devices to the extent they are seen during long-term occupations like Afghanistan.
There appears to be a contradiction between the title and what is being proposed as a solution.

I would have suggested something with at least some armour, if for no other reason than to survive the possible use of mortars by enemy forces. I wonder why the US military is so reluctant to look overseas. Many countries have manufactured light armoured vehicles which would fulfil the requirement. The German Wiesel immediately springs to mind.
 

Triton

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

What happened to the United Defense (now BAE Systems) "Thunderbolt" based on the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford?
 

Kadija_Man

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

I don't think that's "air-droppable".
 

cluttonfred

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

The problem here is not the "wasn't made here" mentality, it's the Pentagon's seeming inability to ever follow the KISS approach.

A modern equivalent of the M551 Sheridan using as many off the shelf components and systems as possible in a new hull would just not be that hard. Since it would have to keep up with wheeled vehicles, it might even be wheeled itself. With composites and reactive armor it would be better protected than a Sheridan. The Sheridan missile-firing-gun is unnecessary--there are plenty of small and large missiles to provide both precision and anti-tank capability when neededed and plenty of small-caliber autocannons for area effect. About the only thing missing is a lightweight infantry support cannon for when you don't need precison, just firepower. My vote would be for a new non-recoilless, rimless case firing standard Carl Gustav 84 mm warheads from a longer barrel for a little more range without the backblast.

But they Pentagon will want the military equivalent of a Winnebago not an ATV.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

They have been going after this for years...
 

bobbymike

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

To me this is a perfect application for a CKEM or LOSAT arms vehicle. You could keep it lightly armored by trading distance the missiles could fly over a gun.

Or how about a two man vehicle that could carry a dozen or more Javelins, think of a mini MLRS.
 

Triton

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
 

Triton

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

I wonder if the Obrom PL-01 might be what the United States Army is looking for? It was created with the participation of BAE Systems the owner of what was United Defense/FMC.

"Obrom PL-01 Concept Direct Fire Support Vehicle"
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,20291.0.html
 

TomS

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Probably too heavy. A C-17 can airdrop a single load of 60,000 lbs. Less the platform and parachutes, that leaves about 24 tons for the vehicle.
 

Kadija_Man

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Triton said:
Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?

The problems of making a vehicle with MBT level armour and MBT armament air-droppable are insurmountable IMHO. The US Army needs to admit that and accept that what they want is an SPAT vehicle (armed with ATGM) which is lightly armoured for their initial insertion and if they want MBTs, they then have to make their first objective an air strip (or build one) so that MBTs are then flown in. The problem is IMHO not so much what vehicle is chosen but what role it's going to fulfill. A clear strategic upper-level directive is required which states exactly what airborne forces are for, what they are expected to do and how they are going to achieve it. From such a directive everything else can flow. Instead there is this on and off again fight to build an impossible vehicle.

Now, if they consulted Sparky, I'm sure all their problems could be solved... ;D
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Kadija_Man said:
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?
None of that is remotely true. The US Army had more than accepted that there was a role for the M8 AGS in the Army and was planning on equipping a number of AGS battalions and even an entire ACR with it. The M8 AGS was set for initial production in FY97 when OSD demanded the Army cut 20,000 soldiers to achieve major savings. Army’s response was to keep the soldiers and achieve the same dollar value cuts via programs and R&D. M8 AGS production provided much of that money so was cut.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Kadija_Man said:
Triton said:
Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?
no, not at all.

Do you have any sources for this? I never heard any of this before.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

TaiidanTomcat said:
They have been going after this for years...
That's what I was just thinking :eek:
To be frank, I don't really think the Army knows what it wants!!
Here we go again!
I wounder how much this programs going to cost before it's cancelled or end up the weight and sophistication of a M1 Abrams :'(

Regards
Pioneer
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

The Army knows exactly what it wants. It just doesn't know what the Secretary of Defense is going to let them spend 2-5 years from now. The US Army didn't cancel AGS, Crusader, FCS, etc. The US OSD cancelled them.
 

cluttonfred

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

There are a number of IFVs that come close, how about a shortened CV90 hull and running gear with a crew of three and an unmanned turret? And will there be an air-droppable APC or IFV to go with it?
 

Kadija_Man

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

TaiidanTomcat said:
Kadija_Man said:
Triton said:
Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?
no, not at all.

Do you have any sources for this? I never heard any of this before.
Only distant memory from reading Janes and elsewhere at the time. The excuses used to drop the vehicle program were IIRC that it didn't mount a 120mm gun and so therefore could not fight MBTs. Which you think would have been obvious from the start when they decided to put a 105mm gun on it.
 

TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Kadija_Man said:
TaiidanTomcat said:
Kadija_Man said:
Triton said:
Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?
no, not at all.

Do you have any sources for this? I never heard any of this before.
Only distant memory from reading Janes and elsewhere at the time. The excuses used to drop the vehicle program were IIRC that it didn't mount a 120mm gun and so therefore could not fight MBTs. Which you think would have been obvious from the start when they decided to put a 105mm gun on it.
I don't think thats true.
 

bobbymike

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

TaiidanTomcat said:
Kadija_Man said:
TaiidanTomcat said:
Kadija_Man said:
Triton said:
Yes, the XM8 was air-droppable. I don't know the reasons why the XM8 Ridgeway/Buford was cancelled.
It was dropped because the "tank mafia" pointed out that because it was both lightly armoured and had only a 105mm gun, it wasn't an MBT and therefore could not take on MBTs. The resulting contraversy proved too hot for the military, after having spent so much money on it that with the "tank mafia" in control, it was dropped. Does this sound familiar?
no, not at all.

Do you have any sources for this? I never heard any of this before.
Only distant memory from reading Janes and elsewhere at the time. The excuses used to drop the vehicle program were IIRC that it didn't mount a 120mm gun and so therefore could not fight MBTs. Which you think would have been obvious from the start when they decided to put a 105mm gun on it.
I don't think thats true.
Which also doesn't make sense as the Stryker AGS is 105MM.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

US Army Floats Requirements For Three Light Vehicles (DefenseNews)

WASHINGTON — The US Army is looking to develop a family of three lightweight, highly mobile ground vehicles for a light infantry brigade as it conducts a joint forcible entry mission.

If the service proceeds, it would field an air-droppable light tank called the mobile protected firepower (MPF), and ultra-lightweight combat vehicle (ULCV) and a light reconnaissance vehicle (LRV). The two latter vehicles would be sling-loadable by rotary wing to replace the Humvee.

A competition for a Humvee replacement could reassemble the competitors for the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) light vehicle awarded to General Dynamics, and which also featured bids by industry heavyweights Oshkosh and Navistar, analysts said.

The vehicles align with Army efforts in recent years to become more expeditionary.
[snip]
[Groans]
 

TomS

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank


Again?


OK, the ULCV makes a certain degree of sense, and shouldn't be too hard to do. Basically, it sounds like a long-wheelbase Land Rover with troop seats and extra gas tanks.


The MPF doesn't include enough details to judge. Could be feasible if they only want air-drop or air-landing from a C-17.

The LRV is the one that gives me the biggest headache. Medium-caliber gun, splinter protection, and a crew of 6 (probably 3 vehicle crew, 3 dismounted scouts) isn't too terrible -- so far it sounds a lot like a LAV-25. Sling-loading under a CH-47 is doable -- the LAV-25 slings under the comparable CH-53 OK. But internal carriage? No way. I just don't see how that's possible without at minimum taking off any turret you're planning for that medium-caliber armament.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

OK, here's the briefing that everyone seems to be writing from.


From the pictures, LRV seems like an armored HMMWV successor, maybe related that Ultra Light Vehicle they've been looking at. Not seeing the medium-caliber gun they say is part of the spec. Have they broadened the definition of "medium-caliber" to include 40mm AGLs?
 

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yasotay

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

What the Army really has wanted all these years is not to have to go to airports to get more combat power than paratroopers on the ground. They are back at it again because of the profusion of guided weapons flooding the planet. If you can hit an aircraft carrier with a missile from far away, you can hit an airport too. Most of the airports are now surrounded by urban terrain. Try to find the dude with a anti-material rifle tucked off the approach/departure end of a runway. Airports are the best documented pieces of terrain, next to a Sea Port, in any country. You don't need fancy data systems to line up a MRL as a welcoming commitee. Year after year the Army gets told by the folks who are charged to be an OPFOR that going to the most predictable places in any country makes it to easy for the defender.
Remeber what the Soviets had to deal with in Afghanistan when high end MANPAD arrived? How many videos have you seen of Syrian aircraft getting hit by ATGM on a runway? Recall that the main airports in Israel got shut down to US traffic after one rocket managed to get within 10Km.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

http://defensetech.org/2014/10/13/polaris-dagor-could-meet-armys-ultra-light-vehicle-need/
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Grey Havoc said:
http://defensetech.org/2014/10/13/polaris-dagor-could-meet-armys-ultra-light-vehicle-need/
That Dagor looks more like a Hummer replacement than anything else.

I wonder if the U.S. needs to take a page from French (gasp!) and South African (gasp, gasp!) experience and go with a modern equivalent of the Panhard AML 90/Eland MkVII? Six metric tons, great speed on and off road, powerful 90mm gun, 5.12 m long (including gun) x 2.01 m wide by 2.50 m high = sized to fit a 20' ISO shipping container!



Something like that with unmanned turrets on a common chassis for direct fire/indirect fire/command/personnel carrier variants with modern sensors and communications, slat armor that folds for air transport and maybe active anti-RPG/missile defense sounds like a winner to me!
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

cluttonfred said:
I wonder if the U.S. needs to take a page from French (gasp!) and South African (gasp, gasp!) experience and go with a modern equivalent of the Panhard AML 90/Eland MkVII? Six metric tons, great speed on and off road, powerful 90mm gun, 5.12 m long (including gun) x 2.01 m wide by 2.50 m high = sized to fit a 20' ISO shipping container!

Something like that with unmanned turrets on a common chassis for direct fire/indirect fire/command/personnel carrier variants with modern sensors and communications, slat armor that folds for air transport and maybe active anti-RPG/missile defense sounds like a winner to me!
Like the CRAB perhaps?
 

cluttonfred

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Neat, I had not seen the before and it is not far off from what I had in mind. The Panhard site describes the level of armor protection of the CRAB as STANAG Level 3 (7.62 NATO AP ammo) and blast 2b/3a (6 kg mine under center, 8 kg under wheel). I would imagine the Pentagon would want at least Level 4 all around (14.5mm heavy MG AP and 10 kg mine anywhere), but that should still be possible within the weight of an Eland. I don't know, however, how big a load you can actually air drop on a pallet out of a C-130. Anyone?
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Well, they could LVAD the XM-8 with its baseline Level I armor. That weighed 19 tons, give or take a bit.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

It would be beyond epic if the Russians entered the competition with the BMD-4 and the Sprut assault gun (and then won)

Back in reality, the logical solution is to buy off the shelf or resurrect perfectly serviceable older designs (XM8). Is the Panhard air droppable?

The Army solution will be to look for a transformational support fires paradigm which will give Paratroop forces overmatch against any foe they encounter in combat operations. This Airmobile Support System will combine beyond state of the art gun technology with cutting edge lightweight armor that protects the crew from enemy: Tank fires, ATGM, IED, Mine, Cluster Munition, and Chemical and Nuclear attack.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

DrRansom said:
It would be beyond epic if the Russians entered the competition with the BMD-4 and the Sprut assault gun (and then won)
In case this has not been made clear in the solicitation, the Army wants a good vehicle.
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Unless they adopt something with a larger payload than the C-130, what ever "tank" they choose will be severely limited as to what it can weigh (and hence it's protection).
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank


I know it's from the 'irrefutable' Wiki - but this topic did remind me of the fact that the Tetrarch was transported by Glider for D-day.
Not air-droppable as such, but definitely easily air transportable, more so when you consider the available aircraft/transport of the era.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_Tank_Mk_VII_Tetrarch


plus of course, the British had the much later Scorpion light tank.......


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FV101_Scorpion
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Once again what's wrong with a re-vamped Rapid Deployment Force Light Tank by AAI Corporation?
 

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Re: Army Wants 'Air Droppable' Light Tank

Well, it uses a gun that was never fully developed and would probably have to be redone from scratch now (more likely, they woudl insist no a 105mm gun for commonality). Plus, I have some serious doubts about armor protection, especially vs mines and IEDs. To handle the uparmoring necessary for a modern combat environment, you'd have to rethink the suspension and the engine -- 320 HP isn't going to be enough, for sure.


So basically, a brand new design. Which is what is being asked for now, and probably can't be afforded.

So basically, a clean-sheet design.
 
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