Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR DEC-JAN 2017 Contents 43
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 27 | DEC/JAN 2017
dtrmagazine.com | Follow us now on
The West’s largest land force
thinks about future capabilities while
lamenting the lack of investment in
its legacy armoured fighting vehicle
US Army envisages
next-gen AFV and warns
Fuel cells can also be coupled with diesel to reduce fuel costs
and the logistics footprint on the battlefield, he said. Electrical
energy from braking can also be stored in capacitors and re-used.
“The big advantage of electric drives,” proposed Mr Paulson, “is
we’ll be able to supply more power to combat vehicles to support
future weapons like high-intensity lasers, rail guns, or active
protection systems [APS] and improved situational awareness
Team leader of the Material Manufacturing and Technology
Branch, Army Research Laboratory, Dr Bryan Cheeseman, said
that more use should be made of directed energy to improve 360°
protection, and that a greater science and technology focus was
needed to investigate “using directed energy as force-field type
According to Dr Cheeseman, numerous advanced-composite
materials are being examined for armour protection and that
nanotechnology and nano-grain metals are “possibilities”.
WHEN THE GENERAL TALKS...
Speaking at a professional development forum on 1 November
and also for The Association of the Institute of Land Warfare,
deputy director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy
commanding general, Futures, US Army Training and Doctrine
Command, Lieutenant General H.R McMaster sought to dispel
four persistent myths about heavy armoured fighting vehicles
(AFV) and the US Army’s combat vehicle fleets.
MYTH #1: Existing US Army platforms are already the best in
the world and are sufficient for future conflicts.
LTGEN McMaster did not agree, making it clear that “our
enemies, and even our friends and allies, have not remained
static”. Potential adversaries, notably the Russians, are integrating
new technologies into their combat vehicles, he said.
He highlighted the Puma, CV90 and Ajax tracked fighting
vehicles as those allied vehicles which feature mature technologies
that the Army should consider in its own combat vehicles where
MYTH #2: The next war won’t be fundamentally different from
previous ones and will be resolved through long-range, stand-off
Here LTGEN McMaster believes that enemy forces will
THE US ARMY has provided a hint as to what type of capability
the service’s next-generation combat vehicle (NGCV) will possess,
with alternative energy sources, directed-energy weapons,
advanced composite armour and active protection systems
Colonel William T. Nuckols, director of the Mounted
Requirements Division at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said
when he chaired a panel at The Association of the Army’s Institute
of Land Warfare on 1 November that whilst there is still at least 4
years of analysis needed to ensure the first units are equipped with
the NGCV by 2035, major decisions must be made by 2025.
Panel member Dr John Gordon IV, a senior policy researcher
for RAND Corporation, said that future threats will shape the
capabilities of the NGCV.
He sees the biggest threats to combat vehicles coming from
rocket-propelled grenades, armour-piercing-guided munitions
(APGM), improvised explosive devices and mines, adding that
non-state actors are heavily armed with such systems, often as
well as nation state opponents.
“Modern APGMs can go through a metre of armour plate
after they blast through an explosive-reactive armour array,” Dr
Gordon said. “ That’s pretty difficult to cope with.”
Cyber disruption and electronic warfare also pose significant
John Paulson, senior director of engineering and project
management for General Dynamics Land Systems, offered that
biofuels are a cheaper and readily available alternative to diesel
or petrol fuels. Fuel cells also had potential, and coupled to other
technology like high-capacity batteries might be able to energise
weapons such as tactical lasers.
not be passive targets for long-range weapons, but rather will
take evasive actions to avoid targeting including dispersion,
concealment, intermixing with civilian populations, deception
and moving into restrictive terrain like forests, jungles and
He said to expect enemies to employ new technological
counter-measures to stand-off weaponry, such as counter-satellite
capabilities, sophisticated electronic warfare and cyber-attack
“It should be pointed out that [the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant] doesn’t have a navy or air force, and they were doing
OK for a while,” he said. “It wasn’t until we had capable land
forces developed in Iraq that we could close with and destroy the
LTGEN McMaster cited the recent Turkish offensive in Syria
as another example of the impact of armoured combat forces on
a campaign. “[ISIL] looked like an insurmountable problem until
a combined-arms formation, equipped with combat vehicles,
overmatched the enemy,” he said.
MYTH #3: Combat vehicles have a limited role in restricted
environments and dense urban areas.
“That neglects our history,” LTGEN McMaster remarked,
noting that during World War II tank battles in dense forests
with sloping terrain both the US and German armies employed
armoured vehicles to support their dismounted troops to great
In the early years of the Vietnam War, too, the collective view
was that the jungles were too dense to support heavy combat
vehicles. Ground forces with armoured support, however, became
“the most flexible in Vietnam” LTGEN McMaster said, and
were key to winning a number of battles. This, of course, echoes
Australia’s own experience in Vietnam in operating the 52 tonne
Centurion tank and the M113 armoured personnel carrier.
More recent examples of the successful use of AFVs were also
given, including that in the very dense urban areas of Gaza in the
Gaza Strip and Sadr City, Iraq. In such operations, where enemy
forces often use civilian populations as shields, armoured vehicles
“allow you to take more risk to get closer to that enemy...and to
use precision firepower,” he said.
MYTH #4: Combat vehicles are too expensive.
Not so. Compared to an “F-35, an F-22, a nuclear submarine...
this is an inexpensive capability that’s vital to our national
security when you compare it to the big-ticket procurements of
the other services,” LTGEN McMaster said.
“The Army is a cheap date,” he said, when it comes to the
level of modernisation funding allocated to it compared to the
other services. “We are gravely underinvested in close combat
overmatch, gravely underinvested in land systems broadly, gravely
underinvested in combat vehicles in particular.”
Indeed, the US Army does not currently have a ground combat
vehicle under development, a position it has not found itself in
since World War I.
“At current funding levels, the Bradley and Abrams will remain
in the inventory for 50 to 70 more years,” LTGEN McMaster
DTR acknowledges as source material ‘The next-generation combat vehicle
could have lasers, run on hybrid power’ and ‘4 myths about combat vehicles,
debunked by Lt. Gen. McMaster’ as originally published by US Army Public
Affairs on 3 November and 2 November 2016 respectively.
ABOVE: The T-14 Armata main battle tank is one of several
new Russian combat vehicle designs now being fielded that
incorporates leading-edge lethality, mobility and self-defence
technologies. Image: Russian MoD
ABOVE: The US Army has made numerous failed attempts at
introducing a next-generation combat vehicle. Shown is BAE
Systems’ design for the cancelled Ground Combat Vehicle
program. Image: BAE Systems
Links Archive DTR NOV 2016 DTR FEB 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page