US Army News and updates general discussion

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
The FCS is honestly getting too much flak. It sought to acquire a very light and ultra mobile family of vehicles, which was an imbalanced approach. And the cost was not estimated properly, with services no longer willing to commit to the projects after cost overruns.

But the core of the FCS was not the platforms. It was how they interacted with each other, with infantry, and with other assets of the Army and other services.
And equally important is how they insisted on innovating on basically every piece of tech they wanted to replace. Much of the tech they developed almost 20 years ago still surpasses what industry proposes today.

The army did not learn its lesson. Instead of slightly changing the mature/new equation to favor mature tech a little more, they almost entirely neglected innovation.

I can't imagine how absolutely amazing it would have been to be an engineer in any of the FCS sub-programs.
I also can't imagine how absolutely boring it would have been to be an engineer in any of the Army's modernization programs 10 to 5 years ago.

The real lesson, IMO, is to get a young project leadership to remove the disconnect with the actual engineers. That way you can get cost and time assessments from the real people on the ground, who make schedule and budget changing decisions on the fly, and notice these changes, and have the experience to predict them a long time ahead.

They instead shifted to maintaining a different kind of disconnect - keeping the manpower discouraged.

NGCV seems to get a more or less right balance.
It's innovative where the FCS strived to be, and mature where the FCS should have been.
And just as important - it's flexible where the FCS wasn't.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member

Quite an interesting article. For ethical reasons, a TLDR:
Army wants to create a wide spectrum of support elements within army units from the division down to the squad level, that will be robotized and automated.
But simultaneously it wants to take back some of the independent capabilities of the brigade and give them to the division.

IMO, I think making brigades independent is a welcome change, and we should strive to give battalions some independence. So this move strikes me as odd.
Any thoughts?
 

Beholder

Member
IMO, I think making brigades independent is a welcome change, and we should strive to give battalions some independence. So this move strikes me as odd.
Any thoughts?
Well, in general you try to create concentration of forces in places you pick to engage enemy.
So to make great concentration possible you move capabilities up in chain of command.
On the other hand as level of technology and lethality rise, you want to empower smaller units to take more responsibility, so when unit empowered you make them more independent. Then you want interoperability for concentration.
It also largely depends on who do you plan to fight.
So no, it's not odd. It's constant process. IMO
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
But in that same article, it is said that you cannot rely on being the one that sees and shoots first, and therefore the first line should be autonomous systems operating in small numbers, with some aim to reduce the number of assets an enemy will engage in any point of friction.
 

Beholder

Member
But in that same article, it is said that you cannot rely on being the one that sees and shoots first, and therefore the first line should be autonomous systems operating in small numbers, with some aim to reduce the number of assets an enemy will engage in any point of friction.
This is debatable(small size). Actually massive application on part of the line make much more sense.
Even if enemy see and shoot first, you can hope for more favourable exchange.
If you are attacking party.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
This is debatable(small size). Actually massive application on part of the line make much more sense.
Even if enemy see and shoot first, you can hope for more favourable exchange.
If you are attacking party.
The conventional wisdom is that the attacking force is at least twice the strength of the defenders. How that attacking force is structured is up to the Commander of the force, the overall strategy for the campaign, the tactics that will be used, and the objective of the attack.

Robots will just be another tool in the toolbox like armour, artillery, ATGM, SF, helos etc., and will be used as such. There will be times where their use is suitable and times when it isn't. On their own they are reactive like humans so in some situations will be a liability. This begs the question of whether or not to install AI in them, which in turn leads to moral and ethical questions that have to be debated and answered. It is those questions that are are very important because failing to address them will leave us in a legal, moral and ethical quagmire of unimaginable proportions.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
If you use robots and autonomous systems, you have to install an AI in them, both due to the definition of autonomy, and because otherwise the necessary manpower per any fighting unit would balloon.

The article shows yet another good argument for the difficulty of adding new tech to the force structure.
In Ukraine for example, a cold war era force could gain an unimaginable advantage with only adding smartphones and light drones to the mix.
With a smartphone you can instantly send video, share complex non-verbal data, and do so extremely fast because a smartphone was designed for the user's comfort from day 1, and was refined over many years through many generations.
The downside is that smartphones are super easy to track and their data is not encrypted to mil-std, so they only give that effect against cold war era forces.

Military systems are nowhere near as intuitive and fast to operate, because UI almost always comes second. As systems become more complex, they become harder to operate, and today we're at a point where simply making a very good UI can be a force multiplier with a new system.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
I thought this was pertinent given the renewed focus on SHORAD. It must surely be gaining momentum in the wake of the conflict in Nagorno Karabkh.
The U.S. Army has released what appears to be one of the first images of a prototype low-cost surface-to-air missile following a successful flight test. The weapon is primarily designed to provide a defense against unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles, but could also engage fixed and rotary wing aircraft in certain envelopes. It is intended to be cheaper to employ than the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, but has a greater range and is otherwise far more capable than the shoulder-fired Stinger man-portable air defense system, or MANPADS.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I thought this was pertinent given the renewed focus on SHORAD. It must surely be gaining momentum in the wake of the conflict in Nagorno Karabkh.

I think that the US Army concept looks overly complicated and would be better if it was simplified to say three zones much like naval concepts for ship based air defence. I also like the Russian concepts of mobile gun / missile combinations for VSHORAD / SHORAD on the same vehicle; if the gun can't reach it the missile can, and if it's still well out of range you have a longer range SAM system for that. Or if the target's not worth a missile or the missile can't get a lock or whatever, you still have a gun or two guns that will still ruin somebody's day. Yes, I know different CONOPS, but it doesn't make it a silly idea.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
Yes, I get the impression the US is kind of cobbling things together at this point, while also exploring what is out there. My guess is that things like the above, Iron Dome and IM-SHORAD represent what can be brought to bear in the immediate short term.

Beyond that it remains to be seen what sort of force structure will be pursued in light of emerging technology like HELs, HVPs, unmanned systems and even the renewed focus on land based EW.

It strikes me that US GBAD atrophied somewhat in the 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, especially in the SHORAD space. I suspect we are now seeing the "crawl" part of a crawl-walk-run process to rebuild it.
 
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Boagrius

Well-Known Member
Further developments:
The US Army is seeking a replacement for its Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger short-range air-defence (SHORAD) surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, with a request for information (RFI) issued to interested parties on 10 November.

The man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) RFI seeks to meet increasing demand to counter the growing aerial threat capabilities with a new SAM system to replace the Stinger that has been in the US Army inventory since the early 1980s.

“The Stinger Reprogrammable Microprocessor (RMP) will become obsolete in fiscal year (FY) 2023, and Stinger Block I is undergoing a service life extension to extend its end of useful life. The current Stinger inventory is in decline,” the army said. “The [US] Army is conducting a SHORAD study which will inform efforts to modernise and to address emerging threats, which may increase the demand for MANPADS capable missiles.”

According to the RFI, the US Army is currently planning to award a full and open competitive contract no later than FY 2026 for the production of up to 8,000 MANPADS missiles to fill this need.

As noted by the army, in 2016 Congress and military senior leaders, “noting the results of studies and peer threat nations’ aggressions, provided resources and directed the army to aggressively pursue air-defence capabilities to protect maneuvering forces as soon as feasibly possible. This effort serves to meet increasing demand for MANPADS, organisational growth within the Air and Missile Defense (AMD) portfolio, and increasing near-peer threat capability.”
IIRC the new Russian Verba MANPAD has some capacity to incorporate data from the broader air picture to help with missile cueing. I wonder if similar functionality coupled with more advanced imaging IR guidance may feature in Stinger's successor.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
OMT - Optionally Manned Tank.
Of all members of the wide NGCV family, the OMT will be the latest to enter service, after the OMFV.

3 concept models have leaked recently, of which one seems very conservative and two more ambitious.

Article:

TLDR version:
OMT v 1 (55 tons):


OMT v 2 (60 tons):


OMT v 3 (65 tons):


Soldiers were asked to give feedback. They were tankers with different roles, but to my understanding they were all proficient in the other roles.
Notably, they overwhelmingly supported a 4 man crew, and said they could compromise on a 3 man crew if there is an autoloader (later demanded manual loading capability as backup).
They rejected a 2 man crew entirely.

It was not said, however, what kind of perspective they were given. Unless they got the chance to operate such a vehicle, they could hinder the program with an embedded conservative bias.

Such a bias derives from one's familiarity with one system and its set of capabilities, turning it into a reference point that prevents them from thinking about what really can be done.
For example, someone trained with an M4 will have a hard time operating a bullpup even if he goes through its entire basic training all over again.
But someone trained from the beginning with a bullpup will find no issue with it. And vice versa.

It is likely that they only answered based on their experience with the aging Abrams, considering an Israeli experiment with 3 different concepts, each with 2 men crews, resulted in all 3 concepts declared successful.

Now back to the platforms:

Engine location:

Comments in several forums, blogs, and sites, revealed there is some belief OMT v1 and v2 are front-engine tanks. This is at least partially untrue.
First, the traditional engine layout will be gone. Batteries will take a larger part of the automotive systems to aid in achieving emerging needs (short term stealth, backup power, speed bursts, energy intensive systems) as well as fuel economy, and generators will be distributed (survivability) and lighter.
Second, at least on OMT v2, the sprocket wheel is in the rear. It's impossibe to determine its location on the v1 due to concealment by the side skirts.

Armament:
We can see all variants have a rather low number of available shells. The 120mm variant appears to have the lowest amount (28), while the potentially higher caliber ones have considerably more (36), even though visually it appears the v2 and v3 have a higher caliber gun. 120mm armed tanks, today, have between 40 and 48 shells, albeit mostly stowed in the hull (except the Abrams' 36 in the turret).
The T-14 with its 1 meter long 125mm shells has 32 ready rounds.
This decision is particularly peculiar. A tank today could bank on 1 shell to defeat an enemy tank in theory, and 2-3 in practice, and usually only 1 per lighter targets.
Early on in the OMT's actual lifetime, it will face the challenge of APS-equipped AFVs, needing not 2-3 shells per target, but considerably more.
Anti-KE APS have 2-4 munitions available per system today, but a trend of making systems lighter has already paved the path for doubling that amount if needed.
Tankers will fairly soon have to start practicing, and actually dedicating shells to merely breach an AFV's APS, reducing their stowed kills from a dozen or two, to maybe half a dozen in the best case. They'd still need at least 2 shells after breaching the APS to confirm kill.

Weight, crew, and protection:
*Metric tons zone
We can see the lightest platform weighs 55 tons, after it there's a 60 ton one, and the heaviest sits at 65 tons.
Unless I'm missing something, I believe they have 2, 3, and 4 men crews respectively.
so within that curve, each crewman adds approx 5 tons to the tank.
Although manned by 3 men, the Russian T-14 appears closest to the 2-man OMT v1 tank. Both are 55 tons in weight. Perhaps a crucial factor here is that the absence of crewmen in the turret allows making the turret extremely narrow, enough to make only a traditionally lightly armored segment (gun mantlet) exposed to fire from the front - so medium caliber protection only.

The 2nd variant adds a 3rd crewman not to the front armored capsule, but to the turret basket, peeking just a little above the turret ring. It therefore requires additional protection, presumably on the sides, adding 5 tons. The crew appears to shift further to the back.

The 3rd variant adds a 4th crewman, now having two men sitting in the turret not in head level but with almost a full body, bringing it back to the weight category of modern western tanks.

IMO the most optimal concept of the 3 is the OMT v2 but with 3 men in the armored capsule and not 2, and none in the turret.
Both the v1 and v3 are overly conservative in aspects that we should innovate in.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
Soldiers are already wearing a lot of power hungry equipment. Carrying an additional battery pack should become a standard, rechargeable with a nearby vehicle's generator.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Soldiers are already wearing a lot of power hungry equipment. Carrying an additional battery pack should become a standard, rechargeable with a nearby vehicle's generator.
Yes, and maybe in the future, some kind of body motion recharging system (or super efficient battery with a rapid recharging cycle).
 

Terran

Active Member
OMT - Optionally Manned Tank.
Of all members of the wide NGCV family, the OMT will be the latest to enter service, after the OMFV.

3 concept models have leaked recently, of which one seems very conservative and two more ambitious.

Article:

TLDR version:
OMT v 1 (55 tons):


OMT v 2 (60 tons):


OMT v 3 (65 tons):


Soldiers were asked to give feedback. They were tankers with different roles, but to my understanding they were all proficient in the other roles.
Notably, they overwhelmingly supported a 4 man crew, and said they could compromise on a 3 man crew if there is an autoloader (later demanded manual loading capability as backup).
They rejected a 2 man crew entirely.

It was not said, however, what kind of perspective they were given. Unless they got the chance to operate such a vehicle, they could hinder the program with an embedded conservative bias.

Such a bias derives from one's familiarity with one system and its set of capabilities, turning it into a reference point that prevents them from thinking about what really can be done.
For example, someone trained with an M4 will have a hard time operating a bullpup even if he goes through its entire basic training all over again.
But someone trained from the beginning with a bullpup will find no issue with it. And vice versa.

It is likely that they only answered based on their experience with the aging Abrams, considering an Israeli experiment with 3 different concepts, each with 2 men crews, resulted in all 3 concepts declared successful.

Now back to the platforms:

Engine location:

Comments in several forums, blogs, and sites, revealed there is some belief OMT v1 and v2 are front-engine tanks. This is at least partially untrue.
First, the traditional engine layout will be gone. Batteries will take a larger part of the automotive systems to aid in achieving emerging needs (short term stealth, backup power, speed bursts, energy intensive systems) as well as fuel economy, and generators will be distributed (survivability) and lighter.
Second, at least on OMT v2, the sprocket wheel is in the rear. It's impossibe to determine its location on the v1 due to concealment by the side skirts.

Armament:
We can see all variants have a rather low number of available shells. The 120mm variant appears to have the lowest amount (28), while the potentially higher caliber ones have considerably more (36), even though visually it appears the v2 and v3 have a higher caliber gun. 120mm armed tanks, today, have between 40 and 48 shells, albeit mostly stowed in the hull (except the Abrams' 36 in the turret).
The T-14 with its 1 meter long 125mm shells has 32 ready rounds.
This decision is particularly peculiar. A tank today could bank on 1 shell to defeat an enemy tank in theory, and 2-3 in practice, and usually only 1 per lighter targets.
Early on in the OMT's actual lifetime, it will face the challenge of APS-equipped AFVs, needing not 2-3 shells per target, but considerably more.
Anti-KE APS have 2-4 munitions available per system today, but a trend of making systems lighter has already paved the path for doubling that amount if needed.
Tankers will fairly soon have to start practicing, and actually dedicating shells to merely breach an AFV's APS, reducing their stowed kills from a dozen or two, to maybe half a dozen in the best case. They'd still need at least 2 shells after breaching the APS to confirm kill.

Weight, crew, and protection:
*Metric tons zone
We can see the lightest platform weighs 55 tons, after it there's a 60 ton one, and the heaviest sits at 65 tons.
Unless I'm missing something, I believe they have 2, 3, and 4 men crews respectively.
so within that curve, each crewman adds approx 5 tons to the tank.
Although manned by 3 men, the Russian T-14 appears closest to the 2-man OMT v1 tank. Both are 55 tons in weight. Perhaps a crucial factor here is that the absence of crewmen in the turret allows making the turret extremely narrow, enough to make only a traditionally lightly armored segment (gun mantlet) exposed to fire from the front - so medium caliber protection only.

The 2nd variant adds a 3rd crewman not to the front armored capsule, but to the turret basket, peeking just a little above the turret ring. It therefore requires additional protection, presumably on the sides, adding 5 tons. The crew appears to shift further to the back.

The 3rd variant adds a 4th crewman, now having two men sitting in the turret not in head level but with almost a full body, bringing it back to the weight category of modern western tanks.

IMO the most optimal concept of the 3 is the OMT v2 but with 3 men in the armored capsule and not 2, and none in the turret.
Both the v1 and v3 are overly conservative in aspects that we should innovate in.
On the engine placement. Most world war 2 Tanks had forward mounted sprockets with rear engines. A mechanical line ran from the engine block to the transmission under the bow. In all likelihood OMT would use an electrical drive system with electric motors and an alternator connected to the “Engine” which would act more like a generator the drive could be rear ward the generator could be anywhere. Front rear on the sides. Generally the only reason would be weight distribution most pick rear as it offsets the armor at the front.

armament,
first a note it’s seldom stated but Abrams actually has hull storage bins for reserve ammo. It’s under the turret floor has blow out panels. Not much but it means abrams has between 40-42 rounds for the 120mm.
V1 clearly is the smallest capacity based on the way it’s described it looks like these would be Autoloader magazine only.
V2 and V3 mentioned stowed so a reserve ammo magazine in the tank.
The question of round counts though I think is really I think less of how many shells per tank and more of how many enemy per engagement. Since you are not going to send a tank against a tank you are going to sent a troop against a tank troop. What I really mean is do you really think you are going to fire all 28 rounds in a single engagement? My bet is no. So then the next question what prevents you from rearmament after said engagement?

Anyway. Larger caliber means more likely an Automatic loader. But I think all three concepts are based on that. There are two schools on those the Bustle and the basket. T14 uses the Basket the carousel which allows a larger space for storage of rounds in volume but not necessarily length. NATO tanks favor the Bustle drum types. Smaller ready magazine favoring a reserve. These fit the latter.
APS system primarily are effective vs ATGMs and most are added to augment the existing heavy armor. Trophy for example covers the sides and rear places where the tanks armor is thinner. Afghit and the like similarly are more defensive vs the weaker points. As such I am doubtful it’s going to create a huge shift in number of rounds needed to engage another tank especially if the rounds caliber has increased.

Crew vs concept.
Basically everyone said no to a 2 man crew. Although reading through it seems like leadership still liked the idea. They deemed that a 3 man could be done with an Automatic loader. Rational is logical that being that the smaller the crew the more they need to pull to assist in recovery and repairs.
The article mentions that they wanted to be able to manually load in a emergency. This means they can’t use a unmanned turret configuration and have to have at least a crew under the turret. So as to be able to manually load and operate the gun in the event of electrical systems failure.

They also talk about using both a drone possibly tethered to the tank and modifications to the suspension.
In summary think of the three.
V1 a heavy FCS MCS.
v2 the South Korean K2 Black panther. Bustle Automatic loader, horstmen in arm suspension, 3 man crew. But upgraded to 130mm or 140mm gun.
V3 Abrams “Thumper” CATTB.

V1 I think is to reliant on recovery vehicle assistance. Making compromises in perspective of reliability for a reduction in crew and weight. Up side of course is it would be easier to deal with bridges and transport.
V3 is the most conventional vs the existing Abrams and other tanks. But because of that would basically be stuck in the same weight trap as Abrams is on. Might as well be built in the Abrams line.
V2 I think falls in line with the trends of other existing state of the art MBT. It’s very practical and realistic as tanks like it already are around. I think where it would innovate is the fcs, and propulsion elements.

————————

A short article on some new technology kit from Microsoft. Seems interesting and useful. No mention on battery life which is understandable but would be interesting to know
2-3 active hours is the stated battery life of the Hololens 2 base model. With a 2 week standby. I don’t imagine the military model has developed far enough to break that yet.
Yes, and maybe in the future, some kind of body motion recharging system (or super efficient battery with a rapid recharging cycle).
There are already modular battery packs offered by makers like Revision. The Marines two years back tested early versions of power harvesting harnesses in the form of leg and back pack harnesses.
 
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Big_Zucchini

Active Member
armament,
first a note it’s seldom stated but Abrams actually has hull storage bins for reserve ammo. It’s under the turret floor has blow out panels. Not much but it means abrams has between 40-42 rounds for the 120mm.
Yes, I think I mentioned that in my comment. However, I've heard that this ammo bin is usually left empty for safety reasons (blowout panels are a must for every ammo rack, but a penetration in the right vector can nullify their effect).
Do you remember where the hull blowout panels are? i.e floor or roof of the hull. Either way they could be a major hazard (IEDs or disabling the turret respectively).


The question of round counts though I think is really I think less of how many shells per tank and more of how many enemy per engagement. Since you are not going to send a tank against a tank you are going to sent a troop against a tank troop. What I really mean is do you really think you are going to fire all 28 rounds in a single engagement? My bet is no. So then the next question what prevents you from rearmament after said engagement?
If you go for a tank troop vs a tank troop, then the calculus remains as is.
The existence of APS, plus unmanned ground assets and the growing ability to distribute capabilities, necessitates higher volumes of fire.
I think whoever considered this decrease in ammo capacity to be viable, must have taken into account RCV-H vehicles that could provide additional firepower, as well as other advanced technologies drawn from artillery like automated loading from a dedicated ammo carrier, and unmanned ammo carrying vehicles.

That is a sound concept, but it may not be viable for at least a while.
The whole concept of utilizing RCVs of varying weight categories, plus mule drones carrying various supplies, allowing every individual platoon to multiply its numbers, is a VERY expensive one. So it's likely that such a battlegroup of drones will simply be redistributed on demand until production is refined to the point where the core expensive components are cheap.
And as is most natural in war, sometimes you just don't have the gear you want for the task.
Re-equipping tank units with an OMT is going to be a lot faster than distributing RCV packages to every battalion and division.

And so it brings me to my next point - you don't always get to choose to rest and resupply. Sometimes the intel is bad and you stumble on an enemy of far greater numbers.
I remember that even during the switch from 105mm to 120mm, the reduction in available ammo was quite painful.


In all likelihood OMT would use an electrical drive system with electric motors and an alternator connected to the “Engine” which would act more like a generator the drive could be rear ward the generator could be anywhere. Front rear on the sides. Generally the only reason would be weight distribution most pick rear as it offsets the armor at the front.
Yes but you still have a bulky engine/generator somewhere.
I was a major supporter of front mounted engines for the current generation of tanks because it allows you to create a rear entrance for the tank, which allows safe evac or rearmament, both under fire.
But with a large basket in the way, it's no longer an option unless you go for a bustle autoloader, which is a concept I oppose.


Anyway. Larger caliber means more likely an Automatic loader. But I think all three concepts are based on that. There are two schools on those the Bustle and the basket. T14 uses the Basket the carousel which allows a larger space for storage of rounds in volume but not necessarily length. NATO tanks favor the Bustle drum types. Smaller ready magazine favoring a reserve. These fit the latter.
They fit NATO in the current gen. Not necessarily in the next one.
If you go for a fully unmanned turret, you can make it extremely small. The ingenuity in the T-14's turret is that if you hit the gun, it's a goner (like literally any other tank), but if you hit anything else on the turret, it's going to lose some important components but nothing that would keep it out of combat. It would still see and shoot.
If you add a bustle mounted autoloader, your turret returns to pretty much current-gen width levels, which again makes it vulnerable. Any shot that goes through the APS, has a very high chance of burning your entire ammo instantly.
It's always much safer to keep your vital stuff below the turret ring. That was the logic behind the TTB and T-14.


APS system primarily are effective vs ATGMs and most are added to augment the existing heavy armor.
That's not true. It's a myth that was created when Israel chose Rafael's Trophy over the IMI's Iron Fist. Trophy was generally less capable, but it was more mature and the program was urgent.
IMI technically met the anti-KE requirement, but it had to reduce its ammo from 6 to 4 to do that (with 6 the launchers couldn't rotate fast enough), and the IDF saw ammo count as more important than an anti-KE capability.
Plans to integrate IMI's interceptors with Rafael's architecture were made about a decade ago, but they failed due to internal conflicts.
Elbit bought IMI a few years ago and accelerated Iron Fist's development. Since then they've debuted a market ready version called IF-LK that gives anti-KE capability in a much smaller package, suitable for light AFVs, and might even allow 6 interceptors instead of 4 but that one's a mere speculation on my part.


Basically everyone said no to a 2 man crew. Although reading through it seems like leadership still liked the idea. They deemed that a 3 man could be done with an Automatic loader. Rational is logical that being that the smaller the crew the more they need to pull to assist in recovery and repairs.
As I've claimed above, it's possible they were demonstrated something very simple and not particularly representative, and also they might have had a bias from their service.
But more importantly, the next gen of tanks is unique in crew management, so it's not immediately obvious what a 2 man crew or 3 man crew really is.

In Israel, a 2 man crew is what the US considers a 3 man crew. Odd, right? The Israeli system sees 2 men operating the vehicle itself with its weapon systems.
And a 3rd man operates various supporting systems around the tank, but he's not considered a part of the fundamental crew. The American system sees him as an integral part of the crew.

Around the tank, however, there are plenty of things that may shift work load.
For example, a reduction in manpower inside an AFV might translate not to a total manpower reduction, but shifting of some manpower to dedicated maintenance units. Therefore, the ability to repair a tank may now even increase because some maintaining and repairing element will be more proficient in the task. This is particularly important as some systems are becoming more complex.
I believe that as we'll near the materialization of the tank and even see running prototypes, testers will be convinced you can forego a manual loading backup if you can gain a lot more elsewhere. Separating a crewmen from the rest will definitely do a number on the dynamics of the crew, plus situational awareness.
 

Terran

Active Member
Yes, I think I mentioned that in my comment. However, I've heard that this ammo bin is usually left empty for safety reasons (blowout panels are a must for every ammo rack, but a penetration in the right vector can nullify their effect).
Do you remember where the hull blowout panels are? i.e floor or roof of the hull. Either way they could be a major hazard (IEDs or disabling the turret respectively).
Belly of the tank towards the right mid to rear. I have to correct myself though it’s not under the floor it’s back of the turret ring.
still this makes two points.
1) not as much ammo as it seems is needed for a successful tank.
2) even with the potential risk some hull storage if done properly can be safe.
If you go for a tank troop vs a tank troop, then the calculus remains as is.
The existence of APS, plus unmanned ground assets and the growing ability to distribute capabilities, necessitates higher volumes of fire.
I think whoever considered this decrease in ammo capacity to be viable, must have taken into account RCV-H vehicles that could provide additional firepower, as well as other advanced technologies drawn from artillery like automated loading from a dedicated ammo carrier, and unmanned ammo carrying vehicles.

That is a sound concept, but it may not be viable for at least a while.
The whole concept of utilizing RCVs of varying weight categories, plus mule drones carrying various supplies, allowing every individual platoon to multiply its numbers, is a VERY expensive one. So it's likely that such a battlegroup of drones will simply be redistributed on demand until production is refined to the point where the core expensive components are cheap.
And as is most natural in war, sometimes you just don't have the gear you want for the task.
Re-equipping tank units with an OMT is going to be a lot faster than distributing RCV packages to every battalion and division.

And so it brings me to my next point - you don't always get to choose to rest and resupply. Sometimes the intel is bad and you stumble on an enemy of far greater numbers.
I remember that even during the switch from 105mm to 120mm, the reduction in available ammo was quite painful.
I think again though the chances of actually emptying the entire magazine in a single engagement are low. Unless you have a Valley of tears situation where you have a tank troop vs a far stronger adversary but are in a advantageous position to snipe. Yet even in that situation it seems like you have a point to resupply.
Farther as we both know not every shell a tank carries is a Tank killer. HE can be vs a lesser tank or in the right conditions. KE is if operated in the right conditions.

As to cost point true yet when you consider how large the US Army is and the wants of how they want to shift. It’s a bit of a necessity. They want to stretch what man power they have to do with it as effectively as possible. Mixing manned and unmanned tanks would give the adversaries a hard
Yes but you still have a bulky engine/generator somewhere.
I was a major supporter of front mounted engines for the current generation of tanks because it allows you to create a rear entrance for the tank, which allows safe evac or rearmament, both under fire.
But with a large basket in the way, it's no longer an option unless you go for a bustle autoloader, which is a concept I oppose.
Only one modern MBT does that Merkava. Don’t get me wrong here it’s a good tank. But is bespoke built for the needs of Israel. That is a design feature more common in IFV and APC (save for BMP3 which was designed originally as a tank.)
The rear mounted power pack has I think more pros than cons. For Merkava it’s okay, but when you consider how much space modern armor takes up. Although the forward mounted power pack allows you to bail out the rear It also means in the event that demands this bailout were the result of a penetration to the power pack immobilizing the tank, this again goes back to WW2 tanks where a hit to the prow of the tank where the transmission was was a good way to pin the tank down for a follow up attack.
They fit NATO in the current gen. Not necessarily in the next one.
If you go for a fully unmanned turret, you can make it extremely small. The ingenuity in the T-14's turret is that if you hit the gun, it's a goner (like literally any other tank), but if you hit anything else on the turret, it's going to lose some important components but nothing that would keep it out of combat. It would still see and shoot.
If you add a bustle mounted autoloader, your turret returns to pretty much current-gen width levels, which again makes it vulnerable. Any shot that goes through the APS, has a very high chance of burning your entire ammo instantly.
It's always much safer to keep your vital stuff below the turret ring. That was the logic behind the TTB and T-14.
I don’t see anything that exists yet to truly justify a new generation designation just yet even for the vaunted Armata. Abrams TTB was never adopted. At best I view the latest tanks as Gen 3.5.

The reason for the crew being sardine canned in the hull like we see on T14 and TTB was to mitigate the event if the turret or hull was hit and penetrated. T14 turret is armored because like the T90, T80, T72, T64 before it. The carousel has a major trade off on safety in the event of an IED or direct penetration. The turret is minimized to try and reduce that risk to the turret yet it’s still a risk. Even a hull hit can still cook off the ammo.
The logic of the T14 seems really to be that they (the Russians) despite claims to the contrary are not in any position yet to adopt a new ammunition type IE 152mm or Unitary 125mm. This is also I think the root of why the Chinese did the same. They wanted a new tank that had higher crew survival but it had to be ammunition backwards compatible. Since that ammo is binary they need the carousel autoloader. basically why reinvent the wheel for a tank that although in production will not likely become the largest type in service.

Bustle loader systems are very mature and safe. They come with blow out panel systems standard. They are also modular. They can farther isolate the ammo more than even the guillotine doors of Abrams bustle rack as by the means of operation they only allow a small space for opening between the magazine and crew compartment using a conveyor to move ammo to the ready position in many ways they are a larger yet farther development of the ready drum (10 rounds) found on Merkava IV.
Yes they demand a larger turret and heavier tank absolutely true. However I don’t see that as a major con. That places more positions for sensors and defenses. The Trophy system, MUAVs, remote weapons stations all need space and room for mounting modern MBT roofs are a hedgehog’s back, tons of sensors and antennas. So More sensors more awareness.

That's not true. It's a myth that was created when Israel chose Rafael's Trophy over the IMI's Iron Fist. Trophy was generally less capable, but it was more mature and the program was urgent.
IMI technically met the anti-KE requirement, but it had to reduce its ammo from 6 to 4 to do that (with 6 the launchers couldn't rotate fast enough), and the IDF saw ammo count as more important than an anti-KE capability.
Plans to integrate IMI's interceptors with Rafael's architecture were made about a decade ago, but they failed due to internal conflicts.
Elbit bought IMI a few years ago and accelerated Iron Fist's development. Since then they've debuted a market ready version called IF-LK that gives anti-KE capability in a much smaller package, suitable for light AFVs, and might even allow 6 interceptors instead of 4 but that one's a mere speculation on my part.
First vs which types of penetrators. 100mm, 105mm are going to be slower than 120mm which will differ by generations of short vs Long and 44 vs 48 vs 55 cal. Then you have 130 and 140mm future types which will differ again.
This is critical as in order to deflect IE Tip the rod you have to detonate or impact the rod in flight at a precise moment and set distance. Pull it off right the chances of survival increase miss by a few points it’s all on the armor of the tank. It’s like trying to pull that trick shot of a bullet vs a sword.
Farther you again point out to only one specific system yet the other more proven system from the same nation differs, can you really apply Iron fist rules to Afganit? Or the Chinese or what ever other systems might be employed? Even vs the KE what they are trying to do is tip the rod to reduce penetration yet it’s still going to hit. It’s just a question of is it defected enough for the armor to survive or not.
The US army pretty openly has been skeptical on Hard Kill APS vs rods.
The IDF who employed Trophy probably favored it as they are more likely to face RPGs and ATGMs vs Tanks barring some major shift in the region. Meaning a cheaper, more reloadable less complex system IE Windbreaker.
As I've claimed above, it's possible they were demonstrated something very simple and not particularly representative, and also they might have had a bias from their service.
But more importantly, the next gen of tanks is unique in crew management, so it's not immediately obvious what a 2 man crew or 3 man crew really is.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
I think again though the chances of actually emptying the entire magazine in a single engagement are low. Unless you have a Valley of tears situation where you have a tank troop vs a far stronger adversary but are in a advantageous position to snipe. Yet even in that situation it seems like you have a point to resupply.
You're never going to empty an entire magazine unless because some of the shells you're carrying will necessarily be against soft targets.
You could still use them effectively versus tanks, but they're sub-optimal.
It's not so much about how many shells you can lob at a single type of enemy, as much as it is about flexibility.
A tank with a high volume magazine can have a relatively low number of HE shells, expecting an armored force, but if it stumbles on a light force it will still have sufficient ammo because a small portion of a lot, is a medium portion of not so much.

So, you're not punished as severely for an error, which is good.

The rear mounted power pack has I think more pros than cons.
That's arguable. If you wish to continue this debate beyond my reply, I suggest we move this to the Israeli AFV section.

For Merkava it’s okay, but when you consider how much space modern armor takes up.
The Mark 3 tank was hindered by a large engine, but the Mark 4 has a larger volume of armor on the hull front than the western or global average.
And if at any point it will not be considered sufficient anymore, there's plenty of space on the hull front to spare. Both internally and externally.
Although the forward mounted power pack allows you to bail out the rear It also means in the event that demands this bailout were the result of a penetration to the power pack immobilizing the tank, this again goes back to WW2 tanks where a hit to the prow of the tank where the transmission was was a good way to pin the tank down for a follow up attack.
Which in turn requires actually penetrating the hull front armor.
It was proven in combat that even when the enemy has weaponry overmatch, such a design results in a significant reduction in casualties.

I don’t see anything that exists yet to truly justify a new generation designation just yet even for the vaunted Armata. Abrams TTB was never adopted. At best I view the latest tanks as Gen 3.5.
The Armata is really not part of what the west's trying to field by the 2030's.
The generational leaps between 1st and 2nd gen, then 2nd and 3rd, weren't as big as the technological leap attempted now. Since the introduction of 3rd gen tanks in the late 70's, a lot of things have changed.
The next gen of AFVs promises to multiply the number of sensors, fuse them, and fully automate them.
It promises to multiply the protective value of a tank (via APS).
And of course a wide range of new capabilities like silent operation, decreased visual signature, drone operation, NLOS strike, interconnectivity, etc.
What these new tanks will share with previous gen tanks is that they, like any generational advancement, will require a total restructure of the platform to unlock their full potential.
You can't just mount all these new systems on an Abrams and expect it to work as good as a clean sheet design.

The reason for the crew being sardine canned in the hull like we see on T14 and TTB was to mitigate the event if the turret or hull was hit and penetrated. T14 turret is armored because like the T90, T80, T72, T64 before it.
Yes, but then the crew must sit in the front of the vehicle, which is vulnerable as well. A concept I've proposed a while ago would be to push the turrer ring a bit to the front, and have the crew capsule sit in the rear. This way you can even reduce the profile of the vehicle, because a front capsule will make the hull painfully tall.
The crew will already be fed with information from countless sensors, some extremely high quality but exposed to external damage, and some lower quality but protected by armor.
It would complicate the periscope design, though.

The carousel has a major trade off on safety in the event of an IED or direct penetration. The turret is minimized to try and reduce that risk to the turret yet it’s still a risk. Even a hull hit can still cook off the ammo.
And a bustle rack will be directly exposed to a hit by ATGMs and other shells.
If you penetrate it from the side, that's fine. But if you penetrate the front of the turret and pierce the ammo compartment door as well, you're creating an opening between the ammo compartment and the rest of the vehicle, so some of the energy, heat, and toxic gases from the cook-off will be diverted to the vehicle's internals.

Yes they demand a larger turret and heavier tank absolutely true. However I don’t see that as a major con.
I do. If you look at the T-14 turret from the front, it's extremely small. Every component that upon damage would have the tank disabled or mission-killed, is within an extremely narrow path, roughly as wide as the gun itself, which is by all means a target too small to aim for.
With a bustle rack, you have a turret as wide as the Abrams', but with no armor to protect that ammo unless you're willing to invest an additional 5-10 tons just to protect a different rack design.

AFV design 101 - the turret is always the most vulnerable part of an AFV.
Strive to put all your vitals below the turret ring unless necessary.

The Trophy system, MUAVs, remote weapons stations all need space and room for mounting modern MBT roofs are a hedgehog’s back, tons of sensors and antennas. So More sensors more awareness.
You can artificially inflate the turret with an inert mass to accommodate more sensors.
The majority of the T-14's turret surface area is completely inert. You shoot through the left cheek and you destroy 2 radars and an optic. You shoot the right cheek and you destroy 2 radars and another optic plus RCWS. In both cases you're also bound to disable or destroy some APS hard kill launchers, the roof mounted soft kill APS launchers, and the bustle reserve ammo rack.

First vs which types of penetrators. 100mm, 105mm are going to be slower than 120mm which will differ by generations of short vs Long and 44 vs 48 vs 55 cal. Then you have 130 and 140mm future types which will differ again.
This is critical as in order to deflect IE Tip the rod you have to detonate or impact the rod in flight at a precise moment and set distance. Pull it off right the chances of survival increase miss by a few points it’s all on the armor of the tank. It’s like trying to pull that trick shot of a bullet vs a sword.
You're right that it's a tricky thing to do. But you're not so right about the role of the diameter and speed of the rod.
The tests I've seen show a 120mm APFSDS fired from an L44 gun. The description of the test implied an IMI M338 was used.
Hitting the tank at anywhere between 30° to 45°, I doubt a rod even twice as heavy would be able to avoid such a tilt.
Regarding speed, there is no technical issue in detecting even objects flying at 3,000m/s or more. The physical limitation is half the speed of light, and the rest is a computational limitation that no longer exists for such speeds.

Farther you again point out to only one specific system yet the other more proven system from the same nation differs, can you really apply Iron fist rules to Afganit? Or the Chinese or what ever other systems might be employed? Even vs the KE what they are trying to do is tip the rod to reduce penetration yet it’s still going to hit. It’s just a question of is it defected enough for the armor to survive or not.
The US army pretty openly has
Rafael was also testing anti-KE interceptors, but the only system that was somewhat ready for deployment by the conclusion of the trials was Trophy in its 2009-2019 iteration.
At around the time Trophy entered service, there were many financing issues with AFVs in general in the IDF, and so the program to get an anti-KE interceptor in service was delayed. In 2014 a further delay was announced again, and after that they've announced they plan to introduce it on the Barak MBT first, which will only enter service in March 2023.

The Russian system appears to be similar to the Iron Fist in its interceptor design, except it uses a fragmentation warhead instead of a fragment-free one. This is necessary to counter ATGMs because the interceptors will detonate far from the missile as they cannot pivot.
Tipping the rod even 5° is enough to reduce its penetration to merely a fraction of its potential.
NxRA armor technology appears to proliferate in the west, and we can see a lot of new AFVs looking beefy despite relatively light weight. This will ensure that even traditionally light armored APCs and IFVs will be able to resist the residual penetration of a deflected rod.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
The US army pretty openly has been skeptical on Hard Kill APS vs rods.
The article does not portray them as skeptical of the viability of such a system, but the timeline of such a system.
After Rafael won the IDF's APS contract, IMI practically stopped development of the Iron Fist. They didn't bother to bring it to maturity. Only when Elbit bought IMI they really ramped up development and debuted 3 new variants with various add-ons and higher level integration.
But that still didn't make the system mature enough for immediate installation for service, only readiness for trials.
So while they've done excellent work on the Iron Fist, there was still much to do.
An even bigger issue at the time was the fact the M2A3 Bradley had too many technical limitations to install such a system, and it was known that even without it it was already overburdened physically and energetically.

Putting the Iron Fist interceptors on the Trophy system is something that demands new integration work, which takes a long time in both actual work and re-certification.

The IDF who employed Trophy probably favored it as they are more likely to face RPGs and ATGMs vs Tanks barring some major shift in the region. Meaning a cheaper, more reloadable less complex system IE Windbreaker.
Not sure what "more reloadable" means. Existing variants of the Iron Fist have the same amount of munitions as Trophy, just without a loading mechanism that leaves the system vulnerable to salvos.
And the Trophy is by no means less complex. In fact, its autoloading mechanism makes it more complex than the Iron Fist.


And last but not least, the ATLAS is still a prototype of a concept whose extent is unknown. There's a huge dynamic range for what you can call "automation".
There is no indication whatsoever that the surveyed soldiers have had any relation to the ATLAS.
 
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