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

marauder2048

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Er Russians in Saudi Arabia in 1991 I thought the Iraqis were coming to challenge the Sheridans ps what are obscurants?
Sorry. Confused scenarios but the point stands; ATGMs vs. obscurants/smoke generators, smoke grenades.

As for my conversations, I guess working for the British Government and they being military and all I should just go ask some bloke posting on a blog.
In the absence of any actual modeling, wargaming or exercises I suppose you have to rely on what they told you.
 

shin_getter

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As for VDV forced entry, there is this:

The TLDR from the book: politics result in a huge VDV that'd get destroyed if it attempted its "planned" action.

Given that the Soviet military industrial complex managed to collapse the country without opponents even conducting any action at all, imo most decisions made around that circle ought to be viewed with suspicion in terms of actually serving the interest of the state.
 

marauder2048

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Oh good. Rigorous campaign modeling and analysis from a polysci major.

The notion that the Soviets couldn't penetrate NATO airspace in the 80's is just ridiculous; the sheer number of
surface-to-surface fires alone they had allocated for carving out SEAD'ed corridors is staggering.

I can't find any actual evidence for his claim that the BMD was withdrawn from Afghanistan.
Sure, the BMD-1 started to phase out but the BMD-2 shows up in Afghanistan in 1985.
They were also never a very numerous component of the Soviet armor force in Afghanistan.
 
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marauder2048

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Army’s MPF program begins crucial Soldier evaluation phase​

By Ashley John December 11, 2020

Detroit Arsenal, Mich. (Friday, Dec. 11, 2020) – Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne
will soon get the chance to do something no U.S. infantry Soldier has done
in 26 years – employ a dedicated mobile, direct fire vehicle platform against
hardened positions, dismounted personnel and light armored vehicles.

The experience comes to them as the first of several pre-production Mobile
Protected Firepower (MPF) ground combat platforms are being delivered to
Fort Bragg, N.C. to be used in the Soldier Vehicle Assessment (SVA).

“We are incredibly excited to see the MPF platform entering into this phase,”
said Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the program executive officer for Ground Combat
Systems. “MPF represents an innovative and aggressive approach to system
acquisition. The beginning of our SVA in January illustrates how hard the
teams are working to keep the major events of this program on schedule.”

Currently the Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) do not have a
combat vehicle assigned that is capable of providing mobile, protected, direct,
offensive fire capability. To fill that capability gap the Army is using an innovative
and competitive Acquisition approach to provide IBCTs with their own organic
lethality platforms to ensure overmatch against peer and near peer threat.

The MPF solution is an integration of existing mature technologies and components
that avoids development which would lengthen the program schedule.
The priority has always been to field this new critical capability soonest,
but the MPF will also be capable of accommodating additional weight and
spare electrical power to support future growth.

The SVA is on track to commence on Jan. 4, 2021. It will be conducted at Fort
Bragg and will run through June 2021. During that time, Soldiers will use the
MPF prototypes to conduct a wide variety of operational scenarios. The SVA
is an operational assessment rather than a formal test event, and it will directly
inform the development of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP)
of this new capability for the IBCT.

“The MPF brings a new level of lethality to our infantry forces. The SVA gives
us the first opportunity to put these vehicles in the hands of our Soldiers with
the 82nd Airborne and begin to develop the methods by which our forces can
best employ MPF,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, the Army’s director for the Next
Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team. “Once they are able to begin
interacting with these prototypes, I know that our Soldiers are going to come up
with the best ways to utilize MPF in our light formations.”

The competitive phase of the program is scheduled to conclude with the selection of a
single materiel solution and transition into production near the end of fiscal year 2022.

https://www.army.mil/article/241688/armys_mpf_program_begins_crucial_soldier_evaluation_phase
 

marauder2048

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I had quite forgotten this sweet little family of vehicles devloped to be carried in a CH53 helicopter.
Creating a man-sized rebar free hole in an 8-inch depth double reinforced concrete wall with a 20 - 30mm autocannon...

But an autoloading recoilless 105mm like the Rarefaction Wave Gun and I'm interested.
 

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riggerrob

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As for VDV forced entry, there is this:

The TLDR from the book: politics result in a huge VDV that'd get destroyed if it attempted its "planned" action.

Given that the Soviet military industrial complex managed to collapse the country without opponents even conducting any action at all, imo most decisions made around that circle ought to be viewed with suspicion in terms of actually serving the interest of the state.

A good analysis, but it ignores the geography of defending nations, most notably the USSR and Canada. They are respectively the largest and second largest countries on this planet. Native hunter-gatherers are thin on the land because of scarcity of food.
Meanwhile, white (racially European) inhabitants tend to huddle around the few mining towns.
Furthermore, most of their territory is vast swaths of Arctic tundra and taiga that is very thinly populated. Stationing and supplying sufficient troops to defend these vast regions is almost impossibly expensive.
Secondly, stationing white (racially European) troops in those regions soon produces large numbers of cold and psychological casualties ... even in peace-time.
During the Cold War, the Canadian Armed Forces "cheaped out" by arming handfuls of native hunters and assigning the Canadian Airborne Regiment to task of responding to Soviet invasion of the Canadian High Arctic. In truth, the Royal Canadian Air Force never had enough transport airplanes to re-supply a substantial numbers of paratroopers in the Canadian High Arctic.
 
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Kat Tsun

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If it can't be dropped from the aircrafts, I don't see its usefulness.

The number of combat drops of armor the US Army has ever conducted can be counted with one finger, and of the tanks that arrived in one piece they were all pretty much worthless in their contributions to the minor battles they participated in. M22 and Tetrach were also poor performers in British service. As it turns out, parachuting a small, bad tank has never been useful, because the disadvantages of a bad tank can't really be overcome by the surprise advantages of a parachute assault. If your enemy is surprised enough to be defeated by a mostly lightly armed infantry force with a couple crummy tanks, the tanks aren't the things winning the battle.

There's not much to suggest it would be any more useful in the future, either.

Had the Panamanians had a couple DShKs or RPGs in the right place, they would have killed all...three(?) or so of the Sheridans that saw action, and nothing much else would have changed except that it would have embarrassed the parachute cavalrymen I suppose. In British experience they were worse since the Germans actually knew how to fight and still had some gumption left, so all the paratrooper tanks did was attract howitzer and mortar rounds until they left. Naturally Varsity succeeded because the Germans couldn't repulse the paratroopers' beachhead rather than the too-small-to-measure benefits of literally a pair of tanks (if anything they were a liability). Then again, with their teeny 37mm's they would have just scratched the paint on late war Panzers.

Relying on weapons that generally succeed only because of the incompetence of your enemies is not an especially flexible plan.

If you want a light tank it's better to go the Sprut or Scorpion route and mount the biggest possible gun on the lightest (and shortest in height) chassis. Then you use it as a self moving AT gun to help cover ATGW and periodically peek around corners to blow up a machine gun. Airdrops aren't required of course. It can just be flown in on a plane, like the Sheridans were in Panama. Of course the US Army already has something that covers this niche effectively enough: the M1 Abrams.

Of course, if you really want to bring a big gun with the paratroopers, give them a towed anti-tank gun instead of a crummy tank. Much easier to airdrop, more difficult to detect, and it can be pulled by basically anything. And as for covering ATGW and blowing up machine guns in windows, it can do that too, provided you have enough muscle to push the thing around.
 

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You can get many more Sheridans (or hopefully a better tank these days) in on a few flights than Abrams. That's quite a useful capability which is why they bothered with the Stryker brigades and now MPF.

As for AFVs that can actually be parachuted in the Russians evidently still see a role as seen by the BMD series and the 2S25. I don't think a small number of a similar vehicle for the 82nd Airborne should be out of question. If the vehicle derived from the M8 AGS wins the MPF competition they could maybe even use a stripped down version of that.

You have to emphasize to commanders that such vehicles shouldn't be seen or utilized as you would a real tank but the same is true with regards to the deployment of just about anything that has tracks and enough armor to stop rifle-caliber fire.

These days I don't see much advantage to the towed anti-tank gun in place of what would essentially be a self-propelled AT gun.
 

Grey Havoc

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These days I don't see much advantage to the towed anti-tank gun in place of what would essentially be a self-propelled AT gun.
A robotic system that be can detached from inside the towing vehicle and self-deploy might be quite useful, especially when setting up hasty defences.
 

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A 4+ ton Anti-tank gun that can be detected and destroyed easily by random micro UAV? Against low tech opponents without working radio, mortars do the job, and return fire from HMG/autocannon on every pick up can do it too. I don't know how many men it'd take to push a gun of that size....

No way you can hide a 4+ ton direct fire gun with muzzle flash visible from space as easily as a <60kg man portable missile system that does not even need line of sight to engage.

No mobility, no protection and not stealthy.....
------------

If one merely needs to blow up machineguns and likes, no need an "Anti-Tank Gun" that needs to push 1.7km/s sabot but instead some Rocket or Recoilless launcher carrier or put on a RWS on any of the vehicles is enough.
 

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You can get many more Sheridans (or hopefully a better tank these days) in on a few flights than Abrams. That's quite a useful capability which is why they bothered with the Stryker brigades and now MPF.

As for AFVs that can actually be parachuted in the Russians evidently still see a role as seen by the BMD series and the 2S25. I don't think a small number of a similar vehicle for the 82nd Airborne should be out of question. If the vehicle derived from the M8 AGS wins the MPF competition they could maybe even use a stripped down version of that.

Ultimately, how you move a tank is quite simple: By train and by sea. This is probably irksome to the US Army because a lot of guys in charge remember being in Kosovo and having to constantly transload their tanks from trains to road movement and back again because of poor infrastructure. Aside from this not really being solved by airlift (if anything it's made worse), it isn't clear where this would be useful in practice. If the threat is similarly mechanized forces (road bound in trucks with a small amount of light tanks) then they will suffer the same problems, including having to transload their tanks. An anti-tank gun is preferable here because it can be moved without needing to use valuable railroad infrastructure. Or better yet, bring your own railroads and build them, and bridges too. That was common in WW2 on all sides.

Which again begs the question of why you're using planes to deliver outsize cargo. Planes are useful for moving certain types of outsize cargo, but not for mass movement of tanks (or Strykers, for that matter), and the likely number of MPFs airlifted will probably not exceed "2-4" per battalion. Same as the C-141 bound Sheridans, but they might be able to cut this in half in terms of sorties. It's very similar to the arguments for the MPGS, although C-17 is plainly superior to C-141, and this is probably why MPF has proceeded thus far while MPGS died fairly early on.

Generally, the smarter thing to do is to put the tanks on fast boats, like the FSS ships, and use all "one or two" sorties you'd save delivering the tanks towards delivering the airborne troops. This might be too much common sense for the modern US Army, but they're probably considering something less drastic than throwing paratroopers into the teeth of the Russian or Chinese armies. Of course boats also aren't mass limited, so they will be carrying M1s, not MPFs.

I'd really assume MPF is more about providing a mount for the airborne cavalrymen than any intrinsically useful military application. As I mentioned with Sheridans, there are always niche cases where having heavy firepower in a bulletproof chassis matters. Really niche. Once a decade niche, if that.

Since there will likely never be more than maybe 50-60 MPFs ever produced by whoever wins the contract, it's not a huge expenditure of resources, and they might be useful in that once-a-decade drug bust like Panama, where the enemy is armed with nothing but AKMs and cocaine, or if the US Army needs to suddenly invade the Dominican Republic again, or whatever. It's not a particularly useful vehicle by itself, since at the end of the day, it is just an M1 Abrams with inferior maintenance ergonomics and worse armor, but it is useful if there is no one around who can actually hurt it.

The scenarios where MPF is useful are extremely limited. More limited than the scenarios where airborne troops are useful in general. You can at least dump a towed gun out of a airplane. MPF, being basically designed for the "Panamanian" type role and having similar requirements (2 per plane; no airdrop) to the post-Panama Mobile Protected Gun System, is probably more so the 18th ABN Corps doesn't need to holler at the Navy every time they want to invade a podunk dictator's crack den.

You have to emphasize to commanders that such vehicles shouldn't be seen or utilized as you would a real tank but the same is true with regards to the deployment of just about anything that has tracks and enough armor to stop rifle-caliber fire.

These days I don't see much advantage to the towed anti-tank gun in place of what would essentially be a self-propelled AT gun.

Johnson's Criteria applies to LCDs and FLIRs too. Just swap "CRT line" for "pixel".

An anti-tank gun is shorter than a standing man at its absolute height. An M8 AGS (or ASCOD) is taller than most battle tanks. This makes it basically impossible for a tank with a FLIR to spot the anti-tank gun before itself is spotted, all else equal. And the light tank will certainly be spotted at least at the same time by the battle tank.

While it's possible the Russians or Chinese might be able to pull a hyper FLIR out of their rear ends and put it in their tanks of the future, this seems highly unlikely, and we can expect the United States and its allies (Japan, mainly) to have superior FLIRs for the foreseeable future. Putting FLIRs (maybe a PAS-13 or something?) on every ATG would be fine.

Since tank battles are won by the guys who get the first round off, anti-tank guns are incredibly lethal against armor, and it's helped by the fact that ATGs can generally go undetected while the tanks meander into shooting distance.

If there were a snowball's chance that MPF actually gets issued to the National Guard or something then it's probably better to say that they should just use 105mm ATGs towed by 2.5 tons though. It's a bit Russian but it makes sense for the Guard. You get something like 70% of the capability out to a kilometer and a half, and the rest can be covered by TOWs and Javelins (or, Heaven willing, something actually modern like Type 96 MPMS) which the IBCT has in abundance.
 
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GARGEAN

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While it's possible the Russians or Chinese might be able to pull a hyper FLIR out of their rear ends and put it in their tanks of the future, this seems highly unlikely, and we can expect the United States and its allies (Japan, mainly) to have superior FLIRs for the foreseeable future.
Russia is already producing 3 gen IIR for its tanks while US is continuing use of 2 gen even in M1A2C ^_^
 

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The enemy strategic center is nicely provided with a undefended air strip for medium sized transports of course! Don't need to worry about the problem of moving the gun into position over significant distances then.
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Alternatively, I can see a two dozen man trying to get the gun unstuck to shoot at an MG nest while being towed by some wheeled vehicle, when a T-72 shows up, which a 105mm can't pen, on a flank which a gun can not turn at a decent rate (you try turning 2tons with muscle power) while nothing is armored against even HMG fire.

A tank on the defense can simply find or dig (dozer blade on tank) a turret down position out of line of sight, and pop up in a instant for shots, exposing only the top half of the turret for seconds. With good communication and coordination with spotting infantry and careful use of top of turret sensors this enable very lopsided results as tanks popup to shoot at opponents "aimed at the wrong location, with side armor exposed" as opponent travel through interlocking kill zones.

If one look at Syrian civil war videos, it appears that turret down utilization of tanks is a necessary survival tactic against effective ATGM spam, as the combination of response time and slow missile speed means ATGMs gets dodged.
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The question at 2021 though, is why is the opponent sending tanks without a swarm of UAVs scouting out everything beforehand, as it can detect most of those ambushes and get them destroyed by artillery and long range precision fire, or avoided if attack is not viable. You need infantry in complex terrain to have a good chance at avoiding detection to spring an ambush, not big guns or vehicles.
 
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riggerrob

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I had quite forgotten this sweet little family of vehicles devloped to be carried in a CH53 helicopter.
Creating a man-sized rebar free hole in an 8-inch depth double reinforced concrete wall with a 20 - 30mm autocannon...

But an autoloading recoilless 105mm like the Rarefaction Wave Gun and I'm interested.

25 mm cannon on LAVs proved effective at knocking holes in the mud brick architecture of Afghanistan.
 

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Fascinating competition. It will be interesting to see if the winner actually gets bought.
It will not be able to match the M1 and I still dont see many likely cases where a small force of tanks flown in by air is going to be effective or survivable.
 

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Good to see BAE's vehicle in the customer's hands. Hopefully we get some footage of both being tested at some point.
 

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The service said in a news release it had decided the time has come to retire the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System after a study showed it is obsolete, and its out-of-date cannon and automatic loader have systemic issues.


 
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jsport

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It was not that long ago some senior Army officer claimed MGS was a successful program. Lack of integrity of these senior types waiting to enter the revolving door is endemic. It was obsolete when it was adopted and it never worked properly. Where is the ARES auto 90mm?
 

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As far as I know work on a 90mm variant of the 75mm CTA gun never progressed very far.

I fail to see how the 105mm gun on the MGS is obsolete when the Army evidently wants a 105mm gun for MPF. The idea being that it's not supposed to be facing down MBTs.

As far as the autoloader on the MGS goes I've heard a lot of criticism but how much of it is based on real world experience? The major complaint I heard from someone who crewed a MGS was that it was too cramped for the gunner and commander. Apparently when they designed the turret they weren't accounting for all of the display panels and everything else they throw in these days for sensor/networking purposes.
 

jsport

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The Ares was unfunded along w/ the RDF tank. Political decision not technical.. informed statements are best..
The Army article stated it was obsolete.
Recoil, proper gun function on a wheeled veh.. many problems.
Every cbt veh will be facing MBTs...
 

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I fail to see how the 105mm gun on the MGS is obsolete when the Army evidently wants a 105mm gun for MPF. The idea being that it's not supposed to be facing down MBTs.

I suspect they're talking about the specific M68 gun in the MGS, not the idea of 105mm in general. The Griffin MPF has the XM35, which is an updated version of the M68, probably with different moving parts and materials.
 

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The Ares was unfunded along w/ the RDF tank. Political decision not technical.. informed statements are best..
The Army article stated it was obsolete.
Recoil, proper gun function on a wheeled veh.. many problems.
Every cbt veh will be facing MBTs...
I never said work on the CTA guns or RDF tank itself was cancelled due to technical problems. It's just that a 90mm CTA gun would take a fair bit more work bringing to service than either the well-established 105mm or the ARES 75mm CTA.

The Italian Centauro and comparable vehicles has proven there is nothing inherently wrong about having such a gun on a wheeled platform. The major problems I've heard with the Stryker MGS were primarily ergonomics related. Although as TomS said it's possible that the use of the 105mm M68A1 didn't go quite as well as they'd hoped. It has a fancy muzzle break on it but it's not a low recoil design like the XM35 or other designs typically used on lighter platforms.

Of course any combat vehicle might be unfortunate enough to go up against enemy MBTs but this not being the intent is the Army's policy with MPF, MGS and I think even before then the M8 AGS and later part of the M551 Sheridan's service. In recent history they've always been hesitant to call such platforms "light tanks" out it concern it gives commanders the wrong idea of how to deploy them.

If you want be able to penetrate the front armor of modern MBTs the 120mm gun is what you need at a minimum. This is very much possible to fit to MPF but the Army seems to still want a 105mm gun for it. The ARES 75mm (or a 90mm variant) would be a very useful multi-purpose gun system but at normal combat ranges I'm a bit skeptical of the claim that it could put 3 hits on the same spot to punch through heavy armor.

Edit: Looking at some photos it seems the M68A1 on the MGS didn't even have a muzzle break which is rather surprising. Still, the claims that it would flip the vehicle if fired to the side were always sensationalist nonsense.
 

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