Don’t Be Killed...
Armored Vehicle Survival
by Don Herskovitz
Apparently no one threw a party, but tracked armored vehicles, what we generally call “tanks,” recently celebrated their 84th birthday. On September 15, 1915, early in WWI, the British fielded “Little Willie,” the first tank to see combat action. Since then, combatants have been looking for better ways to kill tanks, while the folks who drive them have been equally diligent in finding ways to prevent this outcome.
Perhaps the modern day tanker’s mantra should be:
Don’t be seen.
Don’t be hit.
Don’t be penetrated.
Don’t be killed.
Not very poetic, but this little verse encapsulates the basic precepts of tank survival on the battlefield.
THE HISTORICAL SEQUENCE
In the beginning, tanks were little more than motorized, machine-gun carriers designed to assist infantry in storming defensive trenches. These mechanized pillboxes were protected from gunfire by partially enclosing them in metal boiler plate. Since little could be done to mount a covert tank attack, the philosophy of “You can’t hide, so take the hit and survive,” was invoked. But with the passage of time, weapons technology improved. The response to improved tank-killing abilities was to add more and better armor over more and more of the tank.
This approach has obvious limitations. Simply adding more armor can, perhaps, decrease the probability of the tank being destroyed. However, more armor also added weight and decreased the mobility and range of the tank — the antithesis of a swift, wide-ranging strike force. The 68-ton M1A1 Abrams main battle tank can go less than 300 miles before its 500+ gal. fuel tank runs dry. Even more ominous was the steady progress being made in antitank weapons such as high-explosive antitank (HEAT) rounds, shaped-charge warheads, kinetic-energy projectiles and top-attack missiles.
The philosophy of “taking the hit” came to a shattering end with Operation Desert Storm. The desert was littered with the hulks of Iraqi T-72 tanks, the most modern in the Soviet inventory and competitive with NATO’s best armor. In its place, the goals of the modern tanker must be “Don’t be seen; don’t be hit; don’t be penetrated; don’t be killed.”
DON’T BE SEEN
There is probably no place on the surface of the Earth that can escape the surveillance of “spy” satellites lofted by a sophisticated enemy. Given this fact, it becomes important to minimize the detection and identification of your valuable assets as potential targets. This applies, not only to armored fighting machines, but down to the level of the individual soldier in the field. Detection is best avoided by the reduction or elimination of telltale signatures. If characteristic signatures cannot be avoided, their source may be identified, which could lead to possible attack. These signatures are fundamentally electromagnetic (EM) emissions and reflections in the radar, millimeter-wave (MMW), infrared (IR) and optical regions and acoustic signatures.
Electromagnetic signatures range from relatively long wavelengths — tens or hundreds of meters, associated with radio communications — through radar reflections ranging from a few meters to millimeters, through thermally-induced infrared emission at micrometer wavelengths and into the optical and ultraviolet portions of the spectrum. Acoustic signatures, resulting from sources including power plants and traction devices, extend over far fewer octaves than those residing in the EM portion.
Reduction of many signatures is best treated in designing the platform. Proper design can minimize radar reflections at certain frequencies. It should be emphatically noted, however, that even with proper design, there are limits to the extent to which the radar crosssection (RCS) can be reduced. It is extremely unlikely that the RCS of a real platform can be reduced to below radar detectability at all radar frequencies and at all aspect angles. In the case of acoustic emissions, quieter electric motors or stealthier traction modes must be considered at the design stage.
But given a fielded vehicle, camouflage is the time-honored approach to mitigating some of the revealing signatures that lead to detection.
The Fox is part of a new breed of mobile, lightly armored nuclear, biological/chemical-hazard vehicles. It deploys robotic arms to sample environmental contamination (US Army photo)
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF CAMOUFLAGE
Camouflage is almost as old as life itself. Many forms of plant and animal life employ some form of camouflage to increase their probability of survival. So it is with military platforms. An encyclopedic treatise on the art, the US Department of the Army Field Manual 20-3, “Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys,”1 is available on the Internet.
Modern camouflage bears little resemblance to yesteryear’s saplings and brush piled onto a tank at rest. In fact, current materials have little resemblance to those in use only a few years ago. Take the case of the lightweight camouflage screen system (LCSS) developed in the early 1970s and in widespread use in the US military. The LCSS provided excellent visual concealment and good radar and infrared screening in the frequencies for which it was designed. But the LCSS is a product of the ‘70s and was not designed to protect against the full range of sensors now available on the battlefield. In addition, the LCSS has a peculiar problem — it is not “user-friendly.” The LCSS has the tendency to snag on everything — from the nuts and bolts of a tank to soldiers’ uniforms and their appurtenances (for more details, see “Multispectral Camouflage Tested,” JED, October 1998).
Enter the Ultralightweight Net System (ULCANS) Type IV, developed by Tracor Aerospace, now Marconi Aerospace Defense Systems (Austin, TX). In addition to its protective abilities in the optical region, the ULCANS expands the IR- and radar-coverage spectra. Perhaps of even greater importance, the material is much more snag-resistant than the LCSS and more than 25 percent lighter in weight. The ULCANS brings advances in chemistry into play to provide background matching. Using water-based printed products, — ULCANS presents solar loading similar to its background — that is, it warms and cools at rates similar to the background.
Long a participant in the signal-management arena, Barracuda Technologies AB (Gamleby, Sweden) has several products that address camouflage needs. Barracuda, previously part of Alvis pic Group and a subsidiary of HЉgglunds Vehicle, was recently sold to Saab. The Barracuda Multispectral Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Screen (BMS-ULCAS) offers protection against reconnaissance and surveillance in the visual, near-IR, thermal-IR and broadband radar portions of the EM spectrum. Near-IR imaging is often used for night reconnaissance while thermal IR, arising from heat generated by engines and personnel, constitutes a definite signature threat. Snow observed through an ultraviolet (UV) filter remains white, while ordinary white paint and other white materials stand out as black. Barracuda’s winter camouflage has high UV reflection, the same as snow, and appears white through UV filters. Barracuda also produces mobile camouflage systems (MCS), which when firmly fixed to a moving vehicle, provide reduction of the detection range and protection against smart munitions (for more details, see “US Army Tests Stealth Kits,” JED, August 1998).
Camouflage is not limited to use on land-operated vehicles. Even more vulnerable is the individual foot soldier, perhaps on a specialforces or other covert operation. Here, the proliferation of inexpensive, hand-held thermal imagers pose serious detection hazards. The challenge of individual camouflage suits has been taken up by Colebrand Defence (London, UK). Its suit gives visual as well as thermal screening while providing freedom of movement and easy access to personal weapons and communications equipment. Colebrand has also developed a smooth composite-material blanket called Tri-Lom which can be applied to a variety of land platforms to provide multispectral signature reduction against radar, IR and optical threats. The blanket, about 3/4 of an inch thick, offers 20-30 dB of radar attenuation in the 8-18 GHz region. Colebrand also provides a range of materials that modify the radar signatures of naval vessels, aircraft, buildings and aircraft hangers. ARC Technologies (Amesbury, MA) also produces radar-absorbing tiles and blankets for application on a variety of platforms.
KNOWING THE LAY OF THE LAND
But armored battle vehicles are not intended to remain motionless under the protection of camouflage netting. They are intended for combat operations where the admonition of “Don’t Be Seen” can hardly be operative. But a corollary to this warning, might be “Know Where You’re Going.” Knowing where you are with respect to enemy concentrations and how to avoid early detection can be key to successfully getting to where your firepower is needed. The tanker knows it’s usually what you don’t see that kills you. This is where situational awareness and the digital battlefield come into play.
The digitized battlefield expands horizontal integration of information. Digitizing the battlefield enables commanders, as well as operational units, the ability to gain critical information, analyze, synchronize, integrate and employ all fighting systems to maximum effect.
The M1A2 Block-II Abrams Main Battle Tank carries 18 smoke grenades, as well as a suite of electronic sensors and countermeasures designed to increase its lethality and survivability. (General Dynamics Land Systems photo)
DON’T BE HIT
Once committed to action against an enemy, whether it be tank versus tank, tank versus armed emplacement or a host of other overt actions, the maxim is no longer “Don’t Be Seen,” but becomes “Don’t Be Hit.” Hit avoidance comes in several forms, including passive actions, such as hiding in smoke or decoying the enemy’s weapon seeker, and active measures, such as predetonating, breaking up or misguiding attacking mortars or missiles.
Defensive measures are initiated when it becomes obvious that you have been seen and are under imminent attack. One indicator is being illuminated by a laser rangefinder or weapon designator. Avitronics Pty Ltd. (Centurion, South Africa) produces the Laser Warning System for Combat Vehicles (LWS-CV). The system includes a number of laser-warning sensors and a laser-warning controller. Each sensor contains a detector array and the appropriate hardware and software. The controller can accommodate up to six sensors, although only four are required for 360Ў-azimuth coverage of a platform. The LWS-CV features include detection of all known lasers associated with anti-armor threats, from 0.5-1.8 micrometers; an indication of threat direction, with an angle-of-arrival accuracy of 11Ў RMS; spectral-band-frequency declaration; and a single-pulse probability of intercept of over 99 percent.
Other forms of warning are initiated by acoustic-detection sensors. Typical of these systems are Helispot and SADS, products of Rafael Armament Development Authority (Haifa, Israel). Helispot is a passive system designed for the detection and identification of low-flying helicopters and remotely piloted vehicles. These threats can operate below the line of sight, remaining undetected by ground-based radar or optical systems. The foldable acoustic antenna, which may be mounted on the vehicle or the ground, receives and processes signals over a 360Ў-azimuth coverage. The Sniper Acoustic Detection Sensor (SADS) also uses a real-time acoustic system to detect, identify and localize sniper firing at ranges of 3,000 ft. The system may be carried by a single soldier and yields bearing accuracy of 3Ў in azimuth and 10Ў in elevation.
THIS SMOKE MAY NOT BE DANGEREROUS TO YOUR HEALTH
Smoke is a time-proven, cost-effective method for hit avoidance. Smoke and obscurants have been used in warfare since the time of ancient Greece. A simple cloud of smoke encompasses many self-protection philosophies. Smoke is effective against command-guided weapons such as Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missiles, which require the shooter to maintain a visual track on his target until impact. If the shooter loses sight of the target, the missile will also. Smoke clouds also tend to be taller and much longer than the object to be hidden. This plays into the “psychology of aiming” in which a shooter, unless well trained, instinctively aims for the center of the cloud. Vehicles attempt to stay out of this kill zone. Contemporary smoke formulations can also produce multispectral protection over a large portion of the EM spectrum. Smart weapons sensors operate primarily in three parts of the spectrum: the visible and near IR, the mid- and far-IR and MMW regions. The entire chain of electro-optical, IR and MMW devices linking a smart weapon to a target are susceptible to smoke and obscurants. In addition to absorption, some smokes emit heat that can blind or clutter thermal imagers. Smoke also tends to provide protective clutter in the form of reflection and diffraction of laser beams used for targeting. But overall, the challenge to obscurant developers is not only is countering the threat, but countering it in time.
In the US Army, smoke falls under the purview of the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) at the Edgewood Area of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Included under the current projects of the Product Manager for Smoke/Obscurants (PM Smoke) are the M56 Smoke Generating System, the M58 Mechanized Smoke Obscurant System, the M157A2 System and the Lightweight Smoke Obscuration Smoke System (LVOSS).
The M56 Coyote is a motorized system mounted on an M1113 Expanded Capacity High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The smoke-generating system provides 90 min. of visual and 30 min. of IR obscuration. Preplanned upgrades will add 30 min. of MMW-obscuring capabilities, and a Drivers Vision Enhancer (DVE) will provide the ability to drive at night and under obscured conditions. The M58 Wolf is a turbine smoke-
generator system mounted on a dedicated M113A3 mechanized armored vehicle. The Wolf employs a three-person crew and fields capabilities similar to those of the M56. The M157A2 Lynx Smoke-Generator Set uses two M52A2 Smoke Generators, mounted on a variety of platforms. The M52A2 generators are pulse-jet engines capable of producing 90 min. of large-area visual smokescreens on the move. The LVOSS is a smoke/obscurant device that mounts externally on the host vehicle. The system discharges grenades to counter threat weapons operating in the visual and near-IR portion of the EM spectrum.
The SLID — or Small, Low-cost Interceptor Device — consists of a maneuverable, hit-to-kill interceptor, high-speed launcher, passive threat-warning sensor and precision fire-control sustem. (Boeing Aerospace photo)
Widespread activity in smoke and obscurants is also found in Europe. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) of the UK Ministry of Defence recently demonstrated its Large-Area Smoke Generator (LASG) at the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition in Chertsey, UK. The LASG is designed for mobile and stationary applications and covers both the visual and IR region, as well as degrading laser performance. The system produces up to 9,500 m3/min. of visual and thermal image obscurants for
periods of up to two hours. The Swiss Ammunition Enterprise Corp., teamed with Germany’s Buck, is producing a 76mm vehicle self-protection flare called “Maske.” Immediately after firing from an armored vehicle, this round produces obscurant cover which effectively blinds sensors in the entire optical and IR spectrum, as well as rendering laser rangefinders and designators ineffective.
A particularly broad line of 76mm-cartridged smoke grenades is available from Nico-Pyrotechnik (Trittau, Germany). A cartridged grenade is distinquished from conventional grenades in that only the smoke payload leaves the launcher. The cartridge case is retained in the launcher after firing. Since only the payload is propelled, the mass to be accelerated is smaller and results in reduced recoil. The launcher tube receives no stress from gas pressure and is protected from corrosion from combustion products. Included in the line are the IR Smoke 76/1 and Multispectral Screening Smoke 76/60 NG grenades. The IR Smoke is efficacious in the visual region and in the IR from 0.4 to 14 micrometers. The IR portion of the payload consists of brass particles of defined shape and size. The Multispectral round provides attenuation of greater than 15 dB between 35-140 GHz and is effective in the visual, IR and MMW bands. Screening components are potassium chloride and magnesium oxide in the visual region and graphite, produced in situ, for the IR and MMW regions (for more on smoke combat, see “Make ‘Em Miss,” JED, December 1995).
OTHER FORMS OF PROTECTION
Defensive action may be taken even after an antitank round has been fired. A sampling of such actions includes the Shortstop Electronic Protection System (SEPS) developed by Condor Systems Electronic Systems Division (San Jose, CA) under a quick-reaction-
capability program during the Gulf War. The SEPS, available in both manportable and vehicle-mounted versions, is an electronic-countermeasures system that protects personnel and high-value assets from artillery, mortar rounds and rockets by pre-detonating their proximity fuzes well before impact at the intended target area. Each unit protects an area with a radius of hundreds of meters. The SEPS was developed for use in Desert Storm and has been deployed in Bosnia.
Boeing Aerospace Co. (Seattle, WA), under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is developing a small, low-cost, fully self-contained active defense system for protecting military vehicles and other assets from missile and artillery threats. Designated SLID, for Small, Low-cost Interceptor Device, the system consists of a small, maneuverable, hit-to-kill interceptor; high-speed launcher; passive threat-warning sensor and precision fire-control system. Threats, including Antitank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), HEAT rounds, mortar rounds and artillery shells are defeated at standoff ranges of over 800 ft. The SLID System draws on various technologies, including IR sensors for threat warning, threat acquisition and tracking; laser illuminators for threat designation, rangefinding and autonomous tracking; laser seekers for high-accuracy terminal guidance; advanced digital processors for high-speed computation; and solid-propellant divert thrusters for interceptor maneuverability in flight. The SLID program has been ongoing since 1993.
DON’T BE PENETRATED
For as long as there have been armored vehicles, there have been munitions-makers trying to blow holes in those vehicles. It is an old and interesting contest.
Until recently, armored vehicles were constructed using either riveted, welded or cast metal plates. Unfortunately, rivets, when struck by high-velocity artillery rounds, often fractured and ricocheted around inside the tank. Welding forms distinctly angular plates that sometimes separated at the welds and represent radar-reflecting surfaces with a huge RCS. Casting, which can produce rounded bodies without inherent weak spots, became popular when foundries capable of handling items as large as tank turrets and bodies became available. In the WWII era, the main forms of armor plate were homogeneous nickel-steel alloy and face-hardened steel. The most advanced armor was RHA, or rolled homogeneous armor. Today, the menu of materials used in tank armor has expanded dramatically.
PASSIVE OR ACTIVE ARMOR
Contemporary armor is available in two distinct forms — passive and active. Passive armor is made from a wondrous assortment of exotic and semi-exotic materials — and it is tough. Basically, it sits there and absorbs the hit. Active armor, also known as energetic armor, reactive armor, smart armor, etc., doesn’t just sit there — it fights back!
The catalog of modern passive armor includes an assortment of composite materials, also called layered, laminated or “Chobham” armor. There are many different types of composites in use and the exact formulations of many of these remain classified. The actual armor is composed of sandwiches, bonded layers of various materials including steel, aluminum, ceramics, glass, resin, titanium, tungsten and depleted uranium. Some of these materials deserve additional comment.
The use of titanium in composites recalls the A-10A Thunderbolt 2 aircraft. Designed for low-altitude troop support, the aircraft is subjected to all forms of ground fire, from which its crew is protected by encapsulation in a titanium container.
Depleted uranium (DU), reclaimed from spent nuclear fuel, was selected for tank armor because it is one of the densest metals known (about two-and-one-half times denser than steel). In March 1988, a program was initiated to mount DU plates on the M-1A1. The armor was used in combat for the first time in Operation Desert Storm but remains controversial because of unknown health hazards.
Chobham armor is a ceramic-and-steel-plate composite developed by the British. The hull and turret of the early US M-1 Abrams tank used a similar composite.
Spaced armor represents a method of fabrication rather than a selection of materials. It was found during WWII that a layer of armor placed over the main battle armor, but with an intervening gap, afforded more protection than when bolted or welded to the base armor. In effect, this spacing increased the distance traveled of the plasma jet produced by HEAT rounds, reducing their lethality.
There are many suppliers of composite-armor materials including Rank Enterprises, Inc. (Wilmington, DE), offering fiber-based composites made of S glass, polypropylene and nylon. Also in the Rank product line are ceramic bodies, containing boron carbide or silicon carbide in an aluminum-oxide matrix. Rafael produces ceramic armor appliques for use on light-armored vehicles.
Active armor, in its many present-day forms, was necessitated, in part, by two particular type of munitions — the shaped- or hollow-charge warhead and kinetic-energy (KE) penetrators. The warhead of the shaped-charge (SC) takes the form of a shallow cone with explosives deposited on the inner surface. The energy of detonation is concentrated into the center of the cone and jets out along its axis. This fearsome jet has stream velocities of 26,000 ft./sec. and penetration pressures ranging from 1-10 million kg/cm2 or more. This pressure is roughly equivalent to a pressure of 1-10 million atmospheres! As if this penetrating power were not enough, the effect can be increased by placing a metal cover over the base of the cone. When the explosion occurs, the metal cover is vaporized and forms a jet of intensely hot plasma. If no obstacles are encountered, this jet may keep its shape for many feet. If an armor steel plate is placed in the jet’s path, a small SC can penetrate 10-12 in., while a large charge can penetrate 20 in. of steel. The destructive force of a shaped-charge is not dependent upon the kinetic energy of the warhead. The charge can be laid upon the target by hand and be every bit as devastating as that fired from a canon. The kinetic-energy penetrator consists of a combustible cartridge case and a base case with a long-rod-tungsten or depleted-uranium penetrator equipped with stabilizing fins and contained within a metal sabot. Due to its high muzzle velocity and mass, it has a significant increase in armor-penetrating abilities.
A new class of armor was needed to counter these new threats, and this was reactive armor. The principle behind reactive armor (RA) is to use “energetic” elements that very rapidly release energy to react against the SC. Simplistically, an explosion is created in a direction opposed to that of the incoming metallic plasma. An exchange of momentum occurs between the materials of the explosion and the SC jet. This exchange deflects and partially disperses the jet. The simplest embodiment of this effect is achieved by sandwiching a layer of high explosives between two metal plates. Upon impact of antitank munitions, the outer plate is blown off and decreases the penetration of the target by the jet. This simple design is about 20 times more effective than armor steel. The original RA was invented, perhaps simultaneously, by the Israelis and the Soviets. It consisted of many little metal boxes attached to the outside of the turret and hull of a conventional-armored tank. Pioneering work on first-generation RA was conducted at Rafael in 1974, leading to the Blazer system of retrofitted armor.
But early RA had a major drawbacks — its explosive nature created logistic burdens and produced collateral damage. As Dr. Doug Templeton, Team Leader, Emerging Technologies, at the US Army’s Tank-Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) put it, “The user would like to get rid of explosive reactive armor, if he could get something as effective.” And this “something” is found in a variety of modern reactive-armor systems — including self-limiting, non-energetic and nonexplosive reactive armor. An example of nonexplosive RA is a standard reactive box with a rubber-like material that expands very quickly when heated. Rafael’s early work on the Blazer has evolved into Super Blazer, a very insensitive high-explosive material. So after 25 years, RA still provides protection from deadly shaped charges. Templeton observed, “Good ideas never seem to die. They just come back after 20 years, and everyone thinks they are new.”
Using intense magnetic fields to disrupt the killing jet of shaped charges is an example of protection techniques envisioned for next-generation armored vehicles. (coutesy of TARDEC)
But there are some new ideas coming into the active-armor catalog. These include smart armor and electromagnetic armor. Smart armor uses sensors in an “effector module” to detect a round as it hits and determine its critical parameters. Embedded microprocessors then initiate the appropriate charge-momentum transfer to blunt the effectiveness of the incoming penetrator round or raise bars to break up a penetrator. Electromagnetic armor is a dream that has been around since the 1970s and may indeed appear in some future tanks. The relatively simple concept arose from classified Soviet research and resurfaces from time to time. Basically the following sequence occurs:
the penetrating jet of a SC is detected,
an intense electrical discharge is created between electrically conductive plates,
the discharge produces a powerful magnetic field,
this magnetic field interacts with the charged particles of the penetrating jet, and
magnetohydrodynamic instabilities occur disrupting the jet.
DON’T BE KILLED
At long last, we are approaching the end of our tale. Despite all efforts, our tank has been seen, hit and penetrated. A few years ago, this might have been the end of the story. But smarter designs can often minimize the loss of crew members. The key here is to compartmentalize. To survive a penetrating hit, crew members must be shielded, as far as possible, from shrapnel, fuel and explosives. Ammunition should be stowed in armored boxes behind sliding armor doors. Armor bulkheads should separate the crew compartment from the fuel tanks. The top panels of the tank should be designed to blow outwards in the event of penetration by a HEAT projectile. Fire-prevention and suppression measures must be autonomous and fast-acting.
Additionally, means must be provided for protecting crew members from nuclear, biological and chemical agents. Eye protection from blinding lasers must be considered. The list is long, and it may be difficult to retrofit these features on an existing tank, but these features must be designed into the tanks of the future.
FUTURE TANK SYSTEMS
Central to the US Army’s plans is the Future Combat System (FCS). The FCS is a revolutionary system planned for fielding a future main battle tank for the “Army After Next” between FY15 and FY20. The physical appearance of tomorrow’s tanks will be quite different from today’s land battleships. The US Army TARDAC’s view of the future main battle tank is a slimmed down 40-ton behemoth.2
This concept vehicle is based on evolutionary tank design and technology which pushes the two-person crew down and forward into the hull with a remote turret. The crew receives information from onboard target-acquisition and hit-avoidance sensors. Target-acquisition sensors are the gunner’s primary sight, including panoramic and auxiliary sights. Hit-avoidance sensors are mounted in the four corners of the turret. A high-pressure, 120mm gun is mounted on the turret. Variable-height suspension presents a lower, smaller target and makes the tank more survivable. The height can be lowered to 64 in. or raised to 79 in. At its maximum height, the tank has a 19-in. ground clearance, equal to the M1 fleet.
Other survivability technologies include a hull front with 40 in. of armor that uses advanced passive with integral reactive armor for large-caliber kinetic-energy and chemical-energy protection. The hull flanks and turret front and flanks have electromagnetic armor. The armor will be supplemented by signature management, hit avoidance and active protection. Eighty smoke-grenade launchers are buried under the skin of the turret armor. Increased cross-country mobility could be provided by an electric-drive transmission and semi-active suspension, which would enable the vehicle to obtain speeds of about 45 mph. Its light weight increases strategic deployability by allowing 2-3 vehicles per C-5 cargo plane and increasing the number of vehicles that can be transported by ship, rail or highway. With these new systems and smaller crew, tanks will become more aircraft-like in logistics. A small crew will operate the vehicle in combat with a behind-the-lines support crew to help maintain and repair it.
Many features of this concept vehicle will not be readily apparent to the casual observer. There will be increased demands for large quantities of electrical power. This power will be required for an electric/hybrid drive train; weapons, such as electric rail guns and directed-energy devices; protective electromagnetic armor; signature management; a plethora of processors; and a host of vetronics innovations (for more on vetronics, see “Toward Tomorrow’s Tanks: The Role of Vetronics,” JED, October 1996). By FY05, TARDEC hopes to demonstrate the integration of the full suite of tank technologies in its FCS Integrated Demonstration. Successful integration of these systems depends on the ability to store several megajoules of energy and to delivering and controlling power pulses of several megawatts within the confines of a combat vehicle.
Concealed within the vehicle will be sensing systems, communications assets and situational- awareness suites of unprecedented complexity and ability. In all aspects, the battle tanks of 2015 will bear little resemblance to their distant ancestors, the “Little Willies” of 1915.
1. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 20-3, “Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys”, Washington, DC. Available at http://www.wood
2. Details may be found at the Army Materiel Command’s Public Affairs site at: 404 - File or directory not found.