Future Combat Systems: badly reinventing the M113 or "cash cows" that will "morph" into the "LAV-4" armored car?
...Organizations created to fight the last war better are not going to win the next. Nor is building an airplane around the ground weapons that won the last war an assurance that we will win the next. Keeping foremost in our minds the functional purposes of our means of ground combat, these means must be developed and produced so that they can be delivered to the battlefield in sufficient quantity to gain the decision. ..not only must our airplanes be developed but our ground fighting weapons and equipment as well. Only thus will we attain a position of dominance in Airborne Warfare"
---General James M. Gavin in Airborne Warfare1
Right now in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps (MC) there is some very bad thinking going on about ground armored fighting vehicles and the "future of warfare". The Russians (see below) and Europeans are not creating tnin-skinned armored cars with a computer screen to beg for someone else's firepower bombardment to do the Army's dirty work. They still understand that wars are won by DECISIVE MANEUVER even if they are reluctant to do it. They at least know what WAR is---not phony, absentee war by mouse-clicking firepower bombardment.
What is at stake here is the viability of decisive ground maneuver by the forces of the U.S. and hence our own national survival, since the firepower-bombardment lie is a road to defeat and ruin. Enemies have escaped it via C3D2 in Iraq, Kosovo and, now, Afghanistan because we refused to employ decisive ground maneuver to finish the job of defeating the enemy morally as well as physically.
At the root of the misunderstanding of how to design a future combat system (FCS) is a fundamental disconnect between the thinkers (equipment designers) and the doers/users (warriors that use the equipment) resulting from an amateur blind-obedience military culture that actually discourages and punishes intelligent thinking about technotactical details which are considered "vulgar" and unworthy of senior officers to be concerned with since they mentally are focused on the "higher levels of war". Since national security is at stake and time is of the essence, we will skip reforming the military culture as courageous Army officers like Major Don Vandegriff have proposed and jump-start a technotactical "coup d'oeil" (understanding of everything at a glance) to get on track, literally and figuratively2. In warfare, the "devil is in the details", and when you ignore them the result is defeat.
The following has taken us over three decades to figure out since we're not engineers but it is the TRUTH about the mess we are in. Keep in mind, the 3 constants in vehicle design are mobility, protection and firepower.
The first question is why do we need a FCS? The answers often given are:
1.) the vehicles we have cannot run forever and,
2.) their DESIGNS will eventually be found wanting in combat.
I. Current Designs Found Wanting?
Based on the above, some people at RAND and TRADOC then take the current M1 heavy, defensive tank that can survive a hit from a tank main gun as the "yardstick" to create a FCS with high-technology gadgets to avoid getting hit, weighing in at 20-30 tons or "medium". This is a nonsense, one size-fits-all platform-centric mentality that fails to optimize in the two possible forms of maneuver--2D and 3D3. The curent FCS concept is based on flying in once, a single platform type to orchestrate FIREPOWER with little emphasis on its own physical weapons effects and physical mechanical advantage. This is because the designers see the entire world through the stained glasses of Tofflerian precision firepower mentalities which makes also avoiding precision fires the driving force in the vehicle's protection design. Because the Army's world-view of the modern battlefield is based on precision weapons REPLACING (instead of supplementing) non-precision weapons, it's fatally flawed if it comes up against enemies who do not have, or refuse to employ, guided weapons subject to misdirection by our countermeasures. Doing what your foe cannot fight against is asymmetric warfare so sexy and in vogue today as a "buzz word" by the ignorant. In the real world, heavy tanks with main guns and teenagers with RPGs will still shoot at our vehicles. We cannot hope that we will always be able to see and destroy them first from a stand-off (far fight); there will be close fights where mass use of non-guided weaponry will be employed, even if we try to avoid them4.
Those that view the modern battlefield as an "arms race" or human progress treadmill where armies keep switching out their old weapons for newer ones are simply transplanting our American avante garde' fad-consciousness to the enemy. Smart enemies will take the capabilities of their current weapons, upgrade them and buy new weapons to ADD NEW CAPABILITIES, not try to replace them all with some "super platform" placed on a pedestal to be drooled over as an idol of human progress . Smart armies, with less lavish budgets are warfighting function and capability centered.
However, current Army leaders think a lot of precision firepower targeting gadgets are going to gloss over the physical weakness of their one-size-fits-all medium FCS as a physical platform by always being at a safe stand-off, as if the enemy has no "vote" in how the battle is fought. Their ideal situation would be a "Desert Storm" type joint air bombardment from across the Saudi Arabian border (FLOT) with some Army-launched PGMs getting some licks in for CNN, then rolling into Baghdad or Kuwait City to be peacekeepers like a "Kosovo". Even worse, the current fad is for a rubber-tired wheeled armored car FCS that, by being 28% less weight/space efficient than an M113, will be a huge, road-bound target that squanders its weight in complicated, fragile drive-train and steering mechanisms, not armored protection5. The two coalition attacks that failed in Desert Storm were caused by armored car flat rubber tires6 doesn't seem to faze TRADOC. ALL of the FCS candidates being presented to Boeing are WHEELED. The wheeled FCS is the worst of all worlds: a vehicle that cannot move, cannot fight and cannot survive if hit by enemy non-guided weaponry not subject to electronic gadget countermeasures that relies on mouse-clicked pleas for bombardment from others to hopefully kill the enemy for it. Former Army Chief of Staff, General Gordon R. Sullivan once said; "Hope is not a method"7. The FCS is basically a command post on wheels; machines replacing men's eyes and ears, an attempt to fight wars like a computer game with map symbols and computer icons.
Principle #1: Physically robust to survive both guided and non-guided weapons and EMP
But let's say we were smarter and we built the FCS on tracks so it could physically maneuver and fight, at the best armor protection levels possible, with active protection systems countermeasures (APS) to defeat enemy precision weapons as proposed by this author in the 1998 in U.S. Army ARMOR magazine as the "future tank"8. But "tank" is a curse word for the avante garde' who want to trash whatever is old to exalt their new platform and by removing an old landmark of functional utility--the tank---the FCS can go off and do its own RMA firepower thing without having to prove itself better. The irony is that a tracked "tank" that could do fire & maneuver could be fitted with all the RMA, "situational awareness" gadgets we can muster: "UAVs", "UGVs", "C4I Reach-Back," etc., etc., having the best of both capabilities for close and far fights. But that would means acknowledging utility of ideas from the past, from other people than ourselves, a humility that gets in the way of "making a name for yourself" with something "new". A certain zero-sum thinking is in effect with FCS that assumes we cannot have something new added to something that is old and proven, it can only go forward if it replaces the past. A combination maneuver and firepower tank would have tracked all-terrain mobility, be air-transportable and can FIGHT by fire & maneuver through concealing vegetation and avoid precision missile targeting physically and not just rely on always having a current effective electronic countermeasure. This is the best that's humanly possible, but it takes humility to get this result.
ElectroMagnetic Pulses (EMP) are not just by-products of nuclear explosions that threaten Western-style electro-gadgetized platforms. EMP can be created without using nuclear weapons and pose a grave risk to U.S. platforms that over-rely on electronics. Knowing this its vital that we de-gadgetize our platforms to reinstate PHYSICAL ROBUSTNESS so they can still fight even if they lose their electronics due to EMP or maintenance systemic failures. Candidates would be the hanger-queen AH-64 Apache, RAH-66 Comanche and the M1/M2 family of AFVs. The FCS must NOT become a ground version of the currently over-complex Apache whose physical characteristics are ruined by embedding electronics, the physical nature of the platform should stand independant of its electronics. There are indications that we used EMP weapons against the Serbs during Operation Allied Force in 1999, so this is no "straw man" threat. We've found some mentions of this on the Internet: www.infowar.com/mil_c4i/mil_c4i8.html-ssi
At the time of writing, the United States and the CIS are the only two nations with the established technology base and the depth of specific experience to design weapons based upon this technology. However, the relative simplicity of the FCG and the Vircator suggests that any nation with even a 1940s technology base, once in possession of engineering drawings and specifications for such weapons, could manufacture them.
As an example, the fabrication of an effective FCG can be accomplished with basic electrical materials, common plastic explosives such as C-4 or Semtex, and readily available machine tools such as lathes and suitable mandrels for forming coils. Disregarding the overheads of design, which do not apply in this context, a two stage FCG could be fabricated for a cost as low as $1,000-2,000, at Western labour rates [REINOVSKY85]. This cost could be even lower in a Third World or newly industrialised economy.
While the relative simplicity and thus low cost of such weapons can be considered of benefit to First World nations intending to build viable war stocks or maintain production in wartime, the possibility of less developed nations mass producing such weapons is alarming. The dependence of modern economies upon their information technology infrastructure makes them highly vulnerable to attack with such weapons, providing that these can be delivered to their targets.
Of major concern is the vulnerability resulting from increasing use of communications and data communications schemes based upon copper cable media. If the copper medium were to be replaced en masse with optical fibre in order to achieve higher bandwidths, the communications infrastructure would become significantly more robust against electromagnetic attack as a result. However, the current trend is to exploit existing distribution media such as cable TV and telephone wiring to provide multiple Megabit/s data distribution (eg cable modems, ADSL/HDSL/VDSL) to premises. Moreover, the gradual replacement of coaxial Ethernet networking with 10-Base-T twisted pair equipment has further increased the vulnerability of wiring systems inside buildings. It is not unreasonable to assume that the data and services communications infrastructure in the West will remain a "soft" electromagnetic target in the forseeable future.
At this time no counter-proliferation regimes exist. Should treaties be agreed to limit the proliferation of electromagnetic weapons, they would be virtually impossible to enforce given the common availability of suitable materials and tools.
With the former CIS suffering significant economic difficulties, the possibility of CIS designed microwave and pulse power technology leaking out to Third World nations or terrorist organisations should not be discounted. The threat of electromagnetic bomb proliferation is very real.
10.3. Offensive Counter Air (OCA) Operations using Electromagnetic Bombs
Electromagnetic bombs may be usefully applied to OCA operations. Modern aircraft are densely packed with electronics, and unless properly hardened, are highly vulnerable targets for electromagnetic weapons.
The cost of the onboard electronics represents a substantial fraction of the total cost of a modern military aircraft, and therefore stock levels of spares will in most instances be limited to what is deemed necessary to cover operational usage at some nominal sortie rate. Therefore electromagnetic damage could render aircraft unusable for substantial periods of time.
Attacking airfields with electromagnetic weapons will disable communications, air traffic control facilities, navigational aids and operational support equipment, if these items are not suitably electromagnetic hardened. Conventional blast hardening measures will not be effective, as electrical power and fixed communications cabling will carry electromagnetic induced transients into most buildings. Hardened aircraft shelters may provide some measure of protection due electrically conductive reinforcement embedded in the concrete, but conventional revetments will not.
Therefore OCA operations against airfields and aircraft on the ground should include the use of electromagnetic weapons as they offer the potential to substantially reduce hostile sortie rates.
Principle #2: dominate the "red zone" close fight with a FCS-2D
If you take the 70-ton M1 heavy tank's 30-ton turret off, you have a 40-ton hull that can survive a main gun hit.
Turretless is a good thing.
When you study WWII armored vehicle design, you'll see that turreted tanks got heavier and heavier in an attempt to stay protected from bigger and bigger tank guns. With one exception: the fixed-mount German Assault Gun ("Sturmgeschutze")9.
The Assault Gun mounts its gun on the front of the hull without a turret which is easily seen from a distance. "If you can be seen, you can be hit, if you can be hit, you can be killed". As Weapons expert Ian Hogg has concluded, turretless is the way to avoid being seen or hit10. This is exactly what German Assault Guns did throughout the war. More on this when we look at a FCS-3D Assault Gun. Their designs stayed light throughout WWII and they were rarely hit. Combine this design with modern helmet sight technology and a machine gun/30mm autocannon for 360 degree close-in protection. But for the M1, let's keep the 120mm smooth-bore gun and give it 360 traverse, using a lighter unmanned turret/pedestal within a 10 ton weight limit---making a MEDIUM tank with heavy-tank level protection that can fly 2 at a time in a C-5A/B Galaxy aircraft, as well as be far more off-road mobile in the third world countries whose bridges and roads cannot take 70 tons. Call this the "FCS-2D". The Bradley could lighten up with a smaller turret and free internal space to carry a full 9-man infantry squad to be a companion "FCS-2D" vehicle.
The FCS-2Ds would be the weapons for the 2D axis of advance through valleys, roads, open areas, cities that an Army must take. If the Army must take these areas, why not fully OPTIMIZE the vehicles for this purpose? A FCS-2D should not be over 50 tons.
However, some will state that if we "started over" with a new vehicle design and materials we would be better off. OK, let's get to the heart of this.
The M1 is made of steel, depleted uranium and ceramics (Chobham armor).
ARMORED VEHICLE WEIGHT---KE PROTECTION "REALITY CHECK"11
A box of 1/2 inch steel on a wheeled LAV-III-type vehicle will stop 7.62mm BALL at 19 tons
A box of 1.5 inches of aluminum armor on a tracked M113-type vehicle will stop 7.62mm AP at 12 tons
A box of X inches of ceramic armor on a tracked M113-type vehicle will stop 12.7mm (.50 cal) at 12 tons
A box of 3 inches of aluminum armor on a BFV-type vehicle will stop 12.7mm at 25 tons
Therefore, a box of 2X inches of ceramic armor on an M113-type vehicle will stop a 25mm autocannon projectile at 25 tons
So if you built a vehicle completely of lighter, stronger ceramics it would be:
*Double the KE projectile armor protection of aluminum alloy and triple compared to steel
*Non-metallic to be less radar visible
*Not rust like steel does
*You could shape it better to deflect mines knowing what we do now
*You could integrate a system of mission modules
However, after creating a "plastic tank" you are still left with a vehicle that can be destroyed by shaped-charge RPGs, ATGMs and kinetic energy tank gunfire so the relevance of starting over with an exotic material body is questionable. Ceramics as they are now are brittle and break after multiple KE impacts, to make an entire AFV out of them is not a sure thing.
However, you can add applique' armors of titanium and Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) with APS that could on a case-by-case basis defeat RPGs and ATGMs. However, you need hardened steel on the outside to defeat tank main guns. So if we cannot do a better job of protecting from tank main gun rounds if we "started over" than we do now with the M1, why not instead of a from-scratch FCS optimize it to be the FCS-2D?
Principle #3: dominate the far fight "blue zone" with a FCS-3D
Air-Mech-Strike from Land
Why does TRADOC want the FCS to be under 20 tons?
To fly it (3D) one time from CONUS to the foreign battlefield. From there, it will mouse-click firepower and bombard the enemy using unmanned vehicles, then roll in 2D afterwards to occupy with dismounting infantry. Its obvious that without MANEUVER to put men deep into enemy territory to flank, encircle and block their escape or flush them out of hiding, that they will evade our costly, precision firepower and not be defeated.
There is some lukewarm support for vertical 3D maneuver (re: the RAND report damning-with-faint-praise Air-Mech "Analysis of Air-Based Mechanization and Vertical Envelopment Concept Technologies" www.rand.org/publications/DB/ DB321/DB321.pdf) but really there is little desire to decisively maneuver, encircle, collapse and defeat enemies as General David Grange's Air-Mech-Strike proposes and FM 3-O Operations declares is official U.S. Army doctrine12. This is despite the fact that Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege (Retired) has proven for years in the Army After Next (AAN) war game simulations that a 3D Air-Mech maneuver deep in the enemy's rear can unhinge his "Surveillance Strike Complexes". That's because TRADOC is dominated by top-down, authoritarian precision firepower futurists who rose to rank in a blind-obedience, anti-thinking military culture who do not value decentralized, egalitarian truth-telling much less maneuver conducted by subordinates of lesser rank/position. War to them is a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), that's they way they like it---its their "favorite" way of doing business. That this WWI French-style methodical firepower bombardment predisposition is clearly predictable and being evaded by our asymmetric enemies should sound an alarm throughout the Pentagon and the Army to open up and innovate before it's too late. Yet watch how their hired thinkers treat Soldiers thinking "out-of-the-box":
"We note that the air-mechanized (air-mech) battle force design and employment concept used in this study represented the work of theAAN study project in the FY96-98 timeframe and has no relationship to the current 'Air-Mech' concepts proposed by BG (ret.) David Grange and others.* The 'battle force' was a notional design construct used by
AAN to analyze possible future organizational constructs without the constraints of current unit paradigms. The air-mech concept explored was the organic capability, within a battle force, to air maneuver both troops and medium-weight combat systems at both tactical and operational depths. TRADOC's Army Transformation Study, Wargaming, and Analysis effort has replaced the idea of organic operational airlift of systems with a more general-purpose capability for external lift assets (Army and/or joint) to enable operational maneuver by Objective Force units."
*David Grange et al., Air-Mech-Strike: 3-Dimensional Phalanx; Full-Spectrum
Maneuver Warfare to Dominate the 21st Century, Paducah, KY: Turner Publications, August 2000.
So why would the RAND authors distance themselves from BG Grange and the AMS concept? To hide the fact that we employ Airborne (parachute means) and they use more vulnerable airlanding?. That we propose a way to do Air-Mech with existing equipment? Or simply "not invented here," so they can scoff at it and call the concept something else? The report is written by "Legs"---Non-Airborne types who completely ignore parachute forced-entry. Airlanding is not forcing-an-entry. Airlanding in open danger area LZs, is not forcing-an-entry, either. If the enemy is there to threaten with ADA, an entry has to be forced or aircraft cannot airland--1941 lesson from the battle of Crete or with helicopters, Lam Son 719 in Cambodia13.
To do 3D maneuver you must first, force-an-entry which strips away a ground exclusion zone clear of enemy ADA. Doctrinally, it is called a Recon & Security Zone as per FM 90-26 Airborne Operations14. Then---you can project out with 3D and/or 2D fire & maneuver against an unbalanced enemy. The RAND authors combine operational maneuver with trying to forcing-an-entry by airlanding. This conveniently leaves the 3D force without any 2D maneuver working in concert with the air maneuver. There is no supporting attack, is unrealistic and makes their simulations invalid.
Consider the IDF approach after they met the Egyptian Surveillance-Strike Complex (SSC) in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. They used 2D maneuver by tank/infantry to clear out ATGMs aided by mortars and then cleared away ADA for the IAF to fly, which we call a "Surveillance Strike Maneuver Capability". Once this was done, they had helicopter infantry take the opposite bank of the Suez Canal, crossed, then encircled and annihilated the Egyptian 3rd Army, winning the war15.
Next, the RAND authors paid by TRADOC create an ADA "boogie man" that will wipe out their hated tilt-rotor "strawman" Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR). We really don't think or want a humongus FTR tilt-rotor built, either; that's a TRADOC non-Airborne, sit-on-your-ass and gently airland construct, anyway. Forcing-an-entry means drastically assaulting to take the ground using drastic measures (parachuting, gliders, fast roping etc.) not airlanding like a comfy civilian airline flight. It's bad Air Assault tactics at best.
The RAND authors are ignorant about vehicle design. A 10.5 ton M113A3 can be RPG applique'/ERA armor protected. They gloss over the details of how vehicle armor works in a lump sum weight statistic. 20 tons doesn't mean a vehicle is better armored, especially if much of its weight is squandered in wheeled propulsion. Thus, they not only screw-up the weight of an LAV-25, which is actually 14 tons, not lighter than a 10.5 ton M113. They have no excuse because our AMS book lists the exact M113A3 weight and they list it as a reference!.
If we don't get onto the ground because Air Defenses are too tough, how do we maneuver?
I guess we don't.
THUS, THEIR ULTERIOR MOTIVE: KILL MANEUVER FOR FIREPOWER?
The firepower-bombardment hubris of the authors shows through by trying to make 3D Air-Mech "too hard to do". They know damn well "leg" Army officers are lazy and risk averse and will opt for staying behind the FLOT and bombarding, then occupying. The authors are trying to "damn" Air-Mech with "faint praise" and set false goal posts like a 30-ton one-size-platform-fits-all ground platform-centric FCS approach tied to another "pie-in-the-sky" ultra-expensive, bloated FTR tilt-rotor aircraft that will never be built. To RAND, we can't do Air-Mech unless we have a brand-new construction, high-tech, gadgetry FCS and FTR, and then only with difficulty. It's a set-up for failure. No 3D, we do 2D bombard & occupy.
In short, I think they want to evade the Air-Mech-Strike approach with existing equipment because attacking it means attacking on ground that here-and-now reformers know better: the specific platform weights and capabilities of existing equipment not make-believe FCS/FTR constructs. Instead, they create a quasi-Air-Mech "straw man" based on two vehicles that don't exist in order to kill them with a "boogie man" ADA, so we don't do 3D maneuver, but do 2D (actually 1D along roads with wheeled armored cars) "bombard & occupy" FIREPOWER. Good to see our tax dollars going towards mythology while we, the warriors in the trenches, can't even get some M8 AGS Buford light tanks supplied to us!16
Thus, a new design vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) Future Transport Rotor (FTR) aircraft to replace the current Army's helicopters with greater speed/range is a low priority with TRADOC since the Army's current leaders just want an entry point that the USAF's fixed-wing aircraft can take them to on their budgetary dime. In fact the Army recently shelved FTR indefinitely. The Army will then do zero-risk bombard & occupy strikes from 2 or 1 dimensions along roads via unmanned vehicles. If FCS is under 20 tons, 4-6 x C-17s could fly them and if made under 16 tons, even one of the USAF's 510 available C-130s could fly one into the battle entry point, if someone else like the 82nd Airborne Division fights for and dies without light tanks to get an entry point for them17. Over time, Army Aviation will end up flying "safe" behind the FLOT (they think, the battlefield is non-linear) doing "ash and trash" missions since transport helicopters delivering armored vehicle forces is PERCEIVED too hard to do ("Air-Mech") and attack helicopters are VIEWED as too vulnerable to do deep attacks in the face of enemy ADA ("Task Force Hawk" blues)
So again, instead let's say we decided to do the FCS-3D right and "not take counsel of our fears" as General George S. Patton once warned us, and make it the platform for 3D maneuver that can help force-an-entry by parachute airdrop, and then decisively maneuver to flank, encircle and collapse enemies in concert with our 2D maneuver forces? Can we do it without a brand-new FCS and FTR design?
Described above, we would already have FCS-2Ds (upgraded M1/M2s--there is little to be gained "starting over" with a new vehicle design) to dominate close fights and prevail even against enemy main tank guns. The FCS-3D force, delivered by parachute and/or assault airlanding from aircraft, would need maximum mobility, firepower and protection in the under 17-ton size range to fly by C-130s and under 11 tons to fly by Army CH-47D/F Chinook helicopters. We state these parameters, since a new Army FTR design with greater range/payload is not going to happen in light of the current institutional bias within most of the U.S. Army against taking risks through 3D maneuver using aircraft. Aircraft will crash in peacetime, to the 2D mind he'd rather not get on the aircraft in the first place and opt instead to try to fight wars under a Charles Shultz "Peanuts" character Linus-like "security blanket"; what was 70 tons of vehicle being replaced in FCS with millions of dollars of countermeasures gadgets and stand-off firepower means sans ground maneuver that lets enemies slip away. Instead let's chose courage so we can have both firepower and maneuver to be VICTORIOUS over freedom's enemies.
Working within current aircraft limits instead of waiting for a larger "security blanket" of a new FCS vehicle and a new FTR aircraft that can carry the heavier mount with minor improvements, you will see from the vehicle weight/protection table above, that current M113-type vehicles at 11 tons (10.5 tons to be exact) with 1.5 inches of aluminum alloy armor have maximum mobility potential across the earth and can then be fitted with the same protection measures the from-scratch new FCS would need anyway---applique' armors, APS that will stop autocannon, RPGs and ATGMs. If we "started over" with a ceramic body we could V-hull shape to deflect mine blasts and have a mission-module system, but at increased cost. We have 17,000 x M113s, so we are not having to spend money replacing what we already have. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". We could create the V-hull with the existing alloy M113 body as well as come up with mission modules. The only thing we lose is double kinetic energy projectile armor protection comprising the entire body of non-metallic construction to be less visible to radars. However, since we have to cover the body with modular applique' armor anyway to defeat shaped charges from RPGs/ATGMs, and the latter is not a threat, since radar-guided missiles in land combat do not exist, (too much clutter exists that will confuse the missile guidance system) the thickening of the vehicle body which is primarily a structure to carry occupants, propulsion, weaponry is not needed. In fact, doubling the vehicle body thickness is EXACTLY the same mistake we made once before with the Bradley---not realizing that doubling the weight would kill mobility---cannot swim, travel cross-country at will, fly by C-130s---and offer only an incremental improvement in protection from KE projectiles. The main threat to armored vehicles comes from shaped-charge warheads on RPGs and ATGMs, and for this ERA and APS are needed on a fully-terrain agile vehicle that can travel fast through concealing vegetation to prevent target acquisition---but we squandered this mobility away when we doubled the thickness of the entire vehicle's hull in a broad brush. In the case of FCS, doubling its hull thickness by using ceramics will make the vehicle over 20 tons, making it non-C-130 air-transportable and requiring a new V/STOL FTR aircraft to fly it for 3D maneuver. All things being equal, the FTR will be studied to death and the double thickness FCS built with lots of gadgetry to replace the current 70-ton armored cocoon with a 20-ton electronic cocoon.
Thus, there is no compelling reason to start-over with a ceramic FCS for 3D maneuvers, since it will only offer marginal improvements in armor protection against KE projectiles and a non-existent radar-guided missile threat, it will need denser and harder applique' armor not practical to build an entire vehicle out of and ERA/APS which can just as easily be applied to current vehicles like the superb M113A3 Gavin. Perhaps all-composite bodies for a RECON vehicle would be beneficial, since having a non-metallic body would enable it to venture into enemy territory and not be detected by the more sophisticated nation-state armies that employ ground surveillance radars and don't mind losing men to anti-radar guided missiles. In these cases, make the existing M113 body all-ceramic so we can use as much of the running gear as possible used by the metal M113s for logistics/training commonality. Two ceramic M113s were successfully tested extensively in the past18.
Furthermore, by NOT "starting over" we can better focus our limited funds putting a stealthy hybrid-electric drive inside and rubber band-tracks to make the M113A4 "Gavin" noiseless and with 600 kilometer range with near unlimited battery power to run sensors. There is still enough space inside to carry a 9-man infantry squad or scouts. Place applique', ERA armor outside to defeat RPGs and ATGMs with an APS when proven. On top of this, add troop storage bins for gear and sandbags to further increase protection levels using natural materials. Lastly, infared "thellie" camouflage to render the entire, already silent, vehicle invisible to heat sensors "thermal sights" which is the main threat target acquisition guidance means behind optically-fired antitank weapons (RPGs, recoilless rifles). Arm the M113A4 with a 25-30mm autocannon with Javelin "fire & forget" missiles to have genuine shoot-on-the-move firepower against most battlefield targets with FBCB2 digital means to call for joint fires from stand-offs---this doesn't have to be "an either firepower or maneuver" situation, it can and must be BOTH. Some Gavins will have EFOGMs and guided 120mm mortars for precision top-attack missions. The M113A4 Gavin would be a cross-country, amphibious, "stealth" AFV which can be C-130 parachute dropped or airlanded because it started off light and stayed under 16 tons19. A CH-47D/F helicopter can sling-load it short distances. We can afford all these things because we are using funds to buy capabilities added to existing platforms not squandering all our money away on a new inferior, wheeled platform--a box on wheels---and having no money left over to buy capabilities nor enough money to replace all current armored vehicles in the 6-divisions with them now.
Remember, we realize we still need a gun tank for close-range fights--the 17-ton M8 Armored 105mm Gun System light tank is ready to go to accompany infantry in M113A4 Gavins and can be fitted with the same high-technology stealth and C4I mouse-clicked firepower features. There is simply not enough money to replace all the Army's vehicles, much less replace all the vehicles and gain new capabilities. What's needed is the new capabilities mounted on existing platforms. Things like assault boom capsules to deliver a fireteam to a selected floor in a building, battering rams, firefighting modules for dominating city combats that cannot be avoided as the world urbanizes out-of-control20.
Realizing that the Army is going to have to upgrade its existing UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters to keep them flying for even interior line logistics, if they are fitted with Piasecki ducted tails and wings, they can self-deploy at V-22 advertised speeds as compound helicopters without being a vulnerable, mechanically unsound hybrid design prone to crashing like tilt-rotors are. This gets Army helicopters to the fight earlier and without needing USAF airlift. From there, the 101st Air Assault Division (AASLT) needs an under 9-ton AFV that its UH-60s can transport. Again, the answer already exists in the U.S. Army 7-ton M973A1 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) that in an armored form is called a "BV-206S". A "M973A2" armored SUSV can roll on/off from inside the CH-47D/F for faster flight profiles with less drag and its front and rear halves separated so two UH-60s can lift it. The M973A2 could form the 9-man infantry carrier variant for the 101st AASLT's squads. These vehicles already have band-tracks, so adding applique' armor, thellie camouflage, a 30mm autocannon/Javelin ATGM weapon and hybrid-electric drives would finish the upgrade to FCS-3D standards.
So where does the M973A2 mobile infantry get a 105mm gun system to accompany it for direct fire support? We cut-down a M113 Gavin to be a fixed-mount "assault gun" that is under 10 tons so a CH-47D/F can lift it, preferably roll-on/off from inside. The Germans have already built such a vehicle in the '80s. The return of the Sturmgeshutze! Again, we can afford to do this because we use our money to buy CAPABILITIES mounted on existing vehicles instead of "reinventing the wheel".
If the following is not enough to make it crystal clear that the FCS should be structured as a FCS-2D and FCS-3D upgrade of existing armored vehicles, the FCS-3D family of vehicles would all be cargo 747 air-transportable to enable the Army to solve the lack of airlift problem once and for all, as the Army Science Board has long recommended21. Commercial passenger airliners sitting unused in the low-humidity southwest USA could could converted to cargo with internal material handling equipment roll-on/rol-off (RO/RO) vehicle ramps at less than $20 million each and preloaded with FCS-3D armored vehicles in a ready-to-fly-away condition so the Army can surge Brigade Combat Teams into intermediate staging bases outside of most enemy short-range theater ballistic missiles of the SCUD variety and then project by C-130s and their own helicopters to force-an-entry and then conduct decisive maneuver that totally vanquishes enemies by precision firepower and precision 2D/3D maneuver. The winged Army Prepositioned Set (APS) could be 50 x cargo 747s flown by USAFR or civilian contract pilots. We would designate it "APS-6".
Air-Mech-Strike from the Sea
The Marine Corps is reported to have joined up to the Army-led FCS program but is also guilty of using its own vehicle to be its "cash cow" from Congress, they have at least two; the V-22 tilt-rotor flying deathtrap and the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV) swimming one22. The only good thing about the latter is it's TRACKED, so it could get out of the loose sand on the beach. Funny that its manufacturer, General Dynamics Land Systems, doesn't mention that its imported Canadian LAV-III rubber tired armored car often can't get off the beach. If wheels are so "great," why isn't the AAAV wheeled?
What is absurd about the AAAV is its designed to swim at 20 mph so it can be launched from 50 miles away (Over-The-Horizon) so the Navy ships carrying it do not get targeted by anti-ship missiles or have to clear the way ahead of sea mines (the familiar resistance to earning maneuver). But there's the absurdity: the AAAV traveling at 20+ mph is going to hit seamines, explode and kill 12+ Marines. To travel this fast in the water, the AAAV's tracks have to retract, making for an extremely complicated hydraulic nightmare (like a V-22's tilting rotors except this is immersed in salty, corrosive sea water!) that will not likely be maintainable by a high school kid off the street made into a junior marine enlisted mechanic. So rather than make the USN do its job, nearly the entire burden of delivery has been shifted to the LANDING CRAFT, a craft that has to be able to fight as an APC inland. This means weight in extra running gear, such that the AAAV is too heavy to fly over sea mines by helicopters to shore. If mines are present, the AAAVs cannot land, just like what happened in Desert Storm where 18,000 marines and 22 USN ships were blocked by 1,000 "low-tech" Iraqi mines from landing. Today's mines are now "high-tech" and very lethal.
Even if it gets ashore, the huge AAAV has burned a lot of fuel doing this and by its size is a huge target. Wherever it goes on land, its extra running gear weight goes with it, making it less mobile and speedy as a similar volume sized M113-type AFV without the high-water-speed baggage. Is there a better option?
An Italian M113 conversion by the Italian company ARIS SPA, has developed a cheap alternative for the more expensive amphibious AFV's like the AAV-7 or AAAVs: a floatation kit and water jet propulsion system for the M113. The M113 is unchanged and can still transport the normal 11 men. 2 prototypes existed by July 1998 and they were used for trials & demonstrations. If we were to load our APS and MPF ships up with inexpensive M113A3 Gavins with amphibious noses and waterjets....these ships could become de facto amphibious assault ships!
1. APA APS-3 and/or MPF RO/RO sealift ships filled with M113A3 "Amphigavins"
2. Soldiers or marines flown by Army compound helicopter or C-130 seaplane to APA or MPF ships en route to objective area prior to offloading
a. CH-47D/F or CH-53E helicopter sling-loads M113A3s that drive off onto helipad created by APS-3 lighter to shore (sea mines not cleared)
b. Amphigavins can drive into the water from the ship's hold over stern and left/right ramps
Amphigavins act as infantry carriers for combat and re-supply vehicles (like DUKW trucks in WWII).
MAGTFs: Brigade combat teams around the Amphigavin
The Russian BMP-3 is ocean water amphibious and is used by Russian Naval Infantry, why not use our greatest AFV, the M113 to do the same? Vulnerable 14-ton LAV rubber-tired armored cars and 46-ton AAV-7s should be retired. Airborne/ Amphibious capable Amphigavins should replace the AAAV program, with funds saved to upgrade them with thellie camouflage, better weaponry and band-tracks. The current battalion-sized ARG-MEU's 3 amphibious ships are packed with 150+ soft-skin, rubber-tired trucks, making for a weak light infantry force that is vulnerable to all types of enemy fires and moves at a walking pace, re: battalion landing team blown up in Beirut in 1983. Instead, move everyone in a Brigade Combat Team of combined-arms variant Amphigavins (deck space slightly larger than a HMMWV truck) under armor, digitally connected and "situationally aware" with multiple weapons variants; ATGM, 120mm mortar, Assault Gun, Engineer, EFOGM etc. The Israeli amphibious Gi'vaati Brigade (purple berets) gets combat power mass by filling their landing ships with M113 Zeldas not vulnerable soft-skin trucks that get toasted in "Blackhawk Down!" type close-range firefights against unguided weapons that do not comply with our Tofflerian human-progress-in-warfare "timeline"23.
I think any comparison of the FCS/AAAV to an Amphigavin must revolve around several factors:
1. Cost per vehicle: an Amphigavin company would cost less than one AAAV. Probably buy 2 companies worth. The FCS won't be here for a while, and likely non-amphibious given the Army penchant for bombard & occupy and not "be there", so don't even count on it.
2. Vehicle utility once ashore: The USMC won't risk high value vehicles in the brush going after bad guys. A 4-vehicle Amphigavin platoon could have 2 x 40mm HVGLs and 2 x .50s at the commander positions, and go Vietnam ACAV-style with a pair of M240B 7.62mm MMGs off the rear corners of each top hatch, behind gunshields. The same marine platoon would have to be carried in a pair of AAAVs, with much more limited firepower. Let's not mention 120mm mortars, TOWs, 106mm Recoilless Rifles, Javelins, mini-guns, Combat Engineers, etc., which can all be (or already are) standard for M113 series vehicles. The armored MEDEVAC vehicle is also M113-based.
3. Size: To quote from the Godzilla 2000 movie trailer, "size does matter", but in this instance, the smaller size is more useful. Smaller target, more firepower, less noise, LESS REPLACEMENT COST, able to travel in tighter areas.
4. Mobility: A marine CH-53 could lift an Amphigavin and two squads into a blocking position quickly, even from an assault ship deck. Mobility, firepower, ammo; a real 3D move for the Marines, even if it's only a few klicks from the shore.
5. Maintenance: Much simplified over an AAAV.
But the real question the NAVY must answer is: Why won't you get close to shore? The Marines (and potentially, the Army) end up with the smelly end of the stick because the NAVY can't get close to shore with their poorly armed/armored "cruisers" to support a contested landing. A bozo on shore with a three-barrel 23mm ADA gun in an untouched bunker would eat a Ticonderoga class CG alive in 20 seconds. Some jokers with a 107mm 12-pack launcher, fed data from an FDC, would make life exciting for the Navy very quickly.
Imagine that a dozen 23mm guns and 20 rocket launchers aren't neutralized by USAF and Navy/marine too-fast-to-see-the-target tacair (highly likely). The AAAVs lumber ashore and get chewed by half the guns. 4 x LCAC unarmored hovercrafts get smacked by a dozen launchers. If the Navy has to put a big ship close to shore, several reserve guns and rocket launchers wait for it to get close, then hit it. Not a good scenario for a Service that doesn't like to get ship's paint marred.
The AAAV keeps the Navy out of harm's way and supports lofty-sounding, risk-averse "Operational Maneuver From The Sea" and "Over-The-Horizon" assaults which are nothing more than amphibious base seizures that conk out at the water's edge as the tough inland maneuver and warfighting is done by the U.S. Army. The whirring sound in the basement crypt of the USNA Chapel is John Paul Jones spinning.
II. Who says our current vehicles cannot run forever?
So now that its apparent that we do not need a from-scratch FCS-2D or FCS-3D by DESIGN with exotic materials, the final reasoning that "existing vehicles will wear out" needs to be carefully examined. A heavy armored box is a heavy armored box---unless its broken you simply keep replacing parts attached to it. The Aircraft industry says that its possible to keep an aircraft flying indefinitely by switching out its parts, so why not a far more sturdy armored box?
The complexity and cost of weapons systems has risen to such a level that you must look and see if the new thing you are wanting to buy is going to give you capabilities you cannot attain if you upgraded your existing systems. But even if it does, your money will buy less and less systems, creating Chuck Spinney's "death spiral" paradigm24.
America is a nation of 270+ million people with a 3,000 mile land, sea, air and space mass--just 10 Army Divisions is barely enough to defend it from external aggresssion--if 6 Divisions worth of vehicles (about 10,000 ground vehicles) would have to be replaced in the current avante' garde mindset, and if each one costs $50-100 million dollars in a wunder-weapon FCS/FTR design, then $100 Billions buys just 1,000 air/ground vehicles, enough for just one division. We would have to spend $1 TRILLION dollars to re-equip the Army's 6 divisions or settle for one division while the rest languish---all because we replaced a platform that didn't need to be replaced. Even America does not have that kind of money to do this. With 1 "super-division" only 1 brigade out of 3 would ever be ready to fight. A brigade with 333 x FCS ground combat vehicles, however "brilliant" at firepower bombardment and situational awareness, will be hard-pressed to defeat an enemy symmetrical force that is 3 times larger and simply has MORE TARGETS than the FCS brigade has missiles to shoot at it. Or if the enemy opposes via an asymmetric force structure, refuses by Camouflage, Cover, Concealment, Deception, Deceit (C3D2 according to the Defense Intelligence Agency) to become easy stand-off targets for our precision firepower, but fights "belt-buckle" close. A one-type-fits-all FCS designed around just a high-technology threat (and badly at that) would be unprotected (expected threat to be missiles), immobile (runs on air-filled rubber tires using non-guided weaponry, would render the FCS brigade, built on Tofflerian hubris not armed enough (more missiles than guns) not able to defend itself.
No money for FTR, no money for FCS, what next?
Compare the costs of a single FCS @ $10 million each and how it pays out when re-equipping the entire U.S. Army.
44 FCS vehicles (Battalion) @ $10 million each = $440 million
3 Battalions (Brigade) @ $1.320 BILLION
3 Brigades (Division) @ $3.960 BILLION
10 Divisions (U.S. Army) @ $39.60 BILLION
The LAV-III started off at $880,000 each. Now its $2.8 million each on average. That's about a 300% increase. Assuming FCS is subject to the same over-runs;
FCS @ 300% increase
44 FCS vehicles (Battalion) @ $30 million each = $1.320 BILLION
3 Battalions (Brigade) @ $3.960 BILLION
3 Brigades (Division) @ $11.880 BILLION
10 Divisions (U.S. Army) @ $118.800 BILLION
An aircraft carrier costs $5 BILLION. So we could buy 8-24 nuclear aircraft carriers for the price of FCS....our Navy now has 13 carriers........
Will there be enough money for a $80-100 million from-scratch FTR (tilt-rotor V-22 is $80 million, an enlarged "V-44" would cost roughly $100 million)? Just to replace the Army's 450 x CH-47F Chinooks would cost $450 BILLION. To move just one Brigade in one lift will require 132 operational FTRs; at an 80% maintenence ready-rate this means an Army Aviation Brigade of 150 x FTRs. Out of a force of 450 x FTRs, this means just three 3D maneuver lift brigades for the entire U.S. Army.
Rather than ask Congress for $1 TRILLION dollars to re-equip the entire U.S. Army, its likely the FTR will never be built since the 2D bombard & occupy digital firepower-as-a-panacea mentality doesn't think it needs 2D maneuver much less 3D maneuver.
Shrink the Army to pay for FCS?
FCS Apologists might quibble about the two underlying assumptions in the above FCS cost analysis;
a.) That the FCS will be organized into battalions and brigade structures
b) Those "battalions" will approach 44 manned vehicles each.
They will complain that when describing FCS units we should use terms like "Cell" and "Unit of Action" and "Unit of Employment". This Army semantical ploy is a baited ambush. Use their terms or else APPEAR---note I said APPEAR---to be "out of touch". Or if you use their terms, you have taken their bait and given them legitimacy. This is why every 5 years we re-write FM 100-5 Operations and redine what war is in different terms. It gives the current ruling officers in the Army a feeling that they are "visionaries" while providing doctrinal cover for whatever schemes they are trying to foist on the rest of the Army.
It puzzles me that people assume that unless you accept their new, avante garde' terms that you have done so out of ignorance, when it could be conscious REJECTION. We reject the RMA/precision firepower-replaces-ground-maneuver, robots-replace-men/transformation into rubber-tired armored car/FCS construct and its associated terms. Changing terms with proven meanings like "tank" and "battalion" to "FCS" and "cells of action" are clever ways to dodge accountability to BETTER the systems we already have by playing a "shell game" of words. Intellectual honesty would call FCS a "future tank" with bombardment firepower capabilities in addition to ground maneuver warfighting abilities inherent in the "tank" IF this is what was trying to do---however this is not what FCS is about. FCS is a trick to TAKE AWAY GROUND MANEUVER by robbing us through semantics of a point of reference to measure the new vehicle system.
God warns us in the Bible; "Remove not the ancient landmark".
There is a lot of truth in this warning---once we remove our points of reference we will become totally lost.
Thus, we will not use FCS terminology and give them one ounce of legitimacy.
b. We deliberately use the FCS as a one-for-one replacement of the primary vehicle fighting systems in a battalion as a "reality check" [reinstating the landmark] knowing full well the Army sophists will try to clutter the issue by calling a FCS a "system" with UAVs, UGVs, again to dishonestly shell game you away from the truth that they are proposing a system that bombards and can't maneuver. A M2 BFV has a lightweight camouflage screen SYSTEM, a 7-man dismounting infantry SYSTEM, a 3-man crew SYSTEM...is it a VEHICLE or should we start calling it a multi-component "system" too? Well, we have 44 of these "systems" in an infantry battalion today. This should be our landmark/measuring stick/yardstick/tape measure/ruler etc.
However the transformation firepower/RMA hubrists will boast that their systems are "so much more powerful and can control so much more battlespace" that they do not need as many "systems".
c. First off, this is a lie. We had an FCS-like capability in Afghanistan with UAVs flying all over the place, without enough ground maneuver forces and al Queda and Taliban escaped across the border. This is why Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan now has ground MANEUVER being employed to block escape routes, but note its a weak cordon/search with our men on foot fighting their men on foot "even" or at a disadvantage without vehicular firepower/sustainment (Air-Mech-Strike).
d. Any Army force that does not have ground maneuver does not "control" anything just by sensors and firepower. Ask the family of the dead SEAL who was possibly executed by al Queda terrorists as a Predator UAV flew overhead "in control" of the situation.
To do ground maneuver requiring physical presence on the ground, and line-of-sight requires A LARGE NUMBER OF "SYSTEMS" ON THE GROUND. This arrogant hubris that a FCS with remote sensors that can direct precision firepower can control large areas of ground without being there at all ignores the fundamental truth that there are types of MILITARY FORCE that have nothing to do with blowing something up. What would FCS have done to rescue the Navy SEAL? Send in a robot? Drop a missiles-in-a-box "Netfires" ordnance onto his and his captors' heads? Or if it was a friendly village being raped and pillaged by para-military thugs? Will we drop ordnance onto the village and kill all the civilians and bad guys in order to "save" it?
In contrast, a 44-vehicle battalion equipped with light tracked fighting vehicles that can parachute drop or helicopter insert could encircle the village and sort out the thugs from the women and children and save the day [Air-Mech-Strike]. Exactly like the Sharon's IDF did by M113s and tanks maneuvering into Palestinian Authority areas during Operation Defensive Shield to root out and destroy sub-national terror groups because the notional government was unwilling or unable to control them from waging defactor war on Israel. FCS can't do this because its designers don't want to be able to do this, they want to bombard then occupy.
Will FCS be too costly to use in combat?
If the Army follows the suicidal path set for it by RMA hubrists, the costs of the FCS will result in a complete abandonment of its Constitutional primary function to do DECISIVE PHYSICAL MANEUVER to win land combats in favor of a siren's song of PRECISION MENTAL FIREPOWER. FCS System costs will be so high that you can forget a 3D insertion capability by a FTR aircraft (already shelved). Next, FCS costs will be so high, that the Army will have to use the semantical shell-game to reduce the size of its units (battalions, brigades etc) and pretend that we are not losing ground control/maneuver capability or---discard Divisions which will please initially reformers like Colonel Douglas MacGregor until it becomes clear that it would be a cost-cutting measure to pay for bombard & occupy toys not to do DECISIVE MANEUVER or be more joint-service compatible.
The next question is will the FCS be so expensive that the threat of combat losses will result in it not being used? ("Nelson platform loss combat avoidance paradigm"). In Afghanistan, air bursting RPGs drove off expensive Army AH-64A Apache helicopter gunships, leaving our infantry on the ground, sans armored fighting vehicles to rely on fixed-wing aircraft for CAS, which was then taken away from them when overcast weather settled in. Already, every time a $15 million dollar Predator UAV/UCAV is lost due to enemy action or crash-landing its demise is lamented. Clearly FCS design intent is that the vehicles stay dozens of kilometers behind some sort of forward line of troops (FLOT) away from enemy danger, but what if an asymmetric enemy refuses to play by our rules and threatens to attack and destroy our FCS "mother" vehicles by overwhelming infantry and armored vehicle maneuver close-range combat which the FCS system is not designed to do? Will the loss or damage of a few $10-50 million dollars worth of FCS system parts during a lesser crisis, say a peacekeeping operation in Africa; result in the FCS network being sent even further back to the rear to prevent its combat loss? Will the mission fail by default? Will we forfeit victory out of fear of losing overly costly platforms? Maybe its time we make a conscious step towards robust, MANNED air and ground platforms that can MANEUVER?
LAV-III will "morph" into the LAV-4 "FCS"
In fact, after a few from-scratch FCS prototypes are built, the costs figures will come home to roost. Like Army officials are already say now, "the platform is not important". The Army will cancel the ploy for building from-scratch new FCS platforms, because it may have newly purchased LAV-III "Interim Armored Vehicles" with allegedly lots of service life left which to splice all the FCS's digital networking, and unmanned sensor gadgets onto. The LAV-III rubber-tired armored car was never really intended to be the "interim" armored vehicle, its IS the "objective"---to get the Army on rubber wheels----force vehicle, the LAV-III/IAV will "morph" into the "LAV-IV/Future Combat System". The Shinseki "transformation" is ALL about "wheels versus tracks", the chief acting out his personal grudge against tracked vehicles.
I propose that rather than playing this game of wanting to build unaffordable, marginally better ground/air platforms (FCS/FTR) and actually intending to splice the gadgets born out of this "science fair" to existing Army vehicles, that we do this right and splice future technologies to the BEST Army existing tracked vehicles that are capable of decisive 2D/3D MANEUVER, the so-called denounced "legacy" vehicles. Let's make the suicidal idea of a rubber-tired combat vehicle the "legacy".
So size does matter if you want to do ground maneuver; to actually hold or take ground from the enemy. As long as your systems are not falling apart from age, why not upgrade them with situational awareness, precision firepower and maintain your force SIZE so you can gain more "leap ahead" capabilities---2D/3D fire and MANEUVER?
Conclusion: from-scratch FCS and AAAV are "cash-cows"--CANCEL NOW--upgrade instead existing platforms
The inevitable conclusion is that the from-scratch FCS and AAAV are costly, multi-billion-dollar "cash cows" to soak money from taxpayers by an Army/MC that wants to be pampered with new toys that will provide them a built-in excuse not to warfight with maneuver. Once done building a few prototypes, because the cost of a from-scratch vehicle will be so high due to the "death spiral," the FCS "SITUATIONAL AWARENESS" and FIREPOWER GADGETS will be spliced somehow onto the LAV-III "Interim Armored Vehicle" rubber-tired armored car because as TRADOC Army officials say, the platform is not important.25 Since in their Tofflerian world-view, physical maneuver by men and platforms is not needed nor wanted, they assume they can get-by with an armored car. The AAAV will make its "splash" with the fleet and start breaking down and having fatal accidents trying to make the unworkable "do-it-by-yourself" OTH concept work. 60 Minutes will do an expose' program, widows will cry and questions will be asked why and the programs will continue.
Well, if the "It is not the carrier chassis that is important in developing FCS" as TRADOC Lieutenant General John Riggs says, then why not splice the FCS bombard & occupy gadgets to existing Army tracked vehicles that are also capable of 2D/3D maneuver? If we could mechanize the entire MEU with M113A3 Amphigavins and get rid of the 150+ soft-skin rubber-tired trucks for a combined-arms combat team, why not gain a maneuver warfare capability? Why not upgrade existing Army UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters with compound flight capabilities (vectored thrust ducted propellers, wings) to attain near-tilt-rotor like 200+ mph speeds and self-deployable 2,000 mile ranges that can transport Army upgraded M113A3/IAVs or smaller armored versions of the 7-ton M973 SUSV over-snow vehicle used in Alaska?
Because you cannot then waste several billion dollars buying inferior LAV-III/IAV armored cars nor fund FCS "science fairs" with costly prototypes if you are actually fielding CAPABILITIES on real world equipment that really is used to fight. I realize there are anti-military members of the U.S. Congress who will fund barracks and housing, but oppose better weapons so the men can survive the war to enjoy the barracks and defeat the enemy, so we can have a Congress.
The following quote expresses the subtle anti-military Congressional undercurrent:
"We should not unilaterally assume the function of policing the world. If it is easy for us to go anywhere and do anything, we will always be going somewhere and doing something."
Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-Ga.)
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee (1967)
But we should not "cut-off our nose to spite our face" by opting for lesser weapons just because they will soak up more money from a hostile Congress.
If the U.S. Army was serious about warfighting and actually killing America's enemies with decisive 2D and 3D maneuver--not just hope for firepower to do our dirty work---it would upgrade its existing M1, M2, M113 vehicles, buy some M8 AGS light tanks and M973A2s to be the "Future Combat Systems" using the latest technology. The detailed proposal for doing this at a fraction of the costs is contained in General David Grange's 2nd edition book: "Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Maneuver Warfare"; www.geocities.com /air_mech_strike /amsbook.htm.
1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne)
September 26, 2002
The solution to all of this is take M113A3 Gavins, M8 Buford AGS light tanks, apply advanced technologies that are ready like band tracks, hybrid-electric drives etc. and get a FIREPOWER AND MANEUVER FORCE not a poopy Lav3stryker or wheeled FCS "unit of laxative action" that begs for air strikes from the USAF to save them. The Gavin/Buford force can be PARACHUTE AIRDROPPED FROM C-130s SO THE USAF DOESN'T HAVE TO AIRLAND HEAVY METAL OBJECTS WITH WINGS WEAKENED BECAUSE THEY ARE EMPTIED OF FUEL TO FLY.
Airdrop is the answer.
Oh, by the way another word for this is:
Inside the Army
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 96-hour deployment time line said to be in jeopardy
SOURCES: MATURITY OF FCS TECHNOLOGIES, 2008 FIELDING DATE IN QUESTION
Date: September 16, 2002
The Army's Future Combat System program is headed in "some seriously wrong directions" and is in danger of missing the fiscal year 2008 fielding date set by Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, sources said last week.
Concern about the viability of FCS is tied directly to the most critical feature of the future warfighting platform. The FCS concept centers on a networked system of systems, but, sources say, officials fear the necessary network will not be available until the second block of production -- and no one is certain when that will occur.
The problem is that many of the various technologies planned for FCS simply are not mature enough, a source stated. For example, a recent assessment of the Multifunctional On-the-Move Secure Adaptive Integrated Communications (MOSAIC) system, which will comprise one component of the network, determined it will not be ready to transition out of the science and technology base until the fourth quarter of FY-04. However, the source pointed out, the system development and demonstration phase for Block I of the FCS program is supposed to start late next year or at the beginning of FY-04.
Officials are further concerned that the FCS lead systems integrator, a team of Boeing and SAIC, has not crafted a back-up plan to provide an on-the-move network by FY-08, if MOSAIC or other components are not available.
Many other pieces of the Future Combat Systems also are not as far along as they should be to meet the 2008 fielding date, according to sources. According to the General Accounting Office, a system should achieve a technology readiness level rating of seven before it is moved out of the tech base into SDD. Yet, an evaluation conducted by the science and technology objective project managers themselves found the TRL for FCS subsystems averaged between three and six, with almost nothing reaching the higher end of the scale. No technologies merited a seven, a source said.
According to an official, the FCS engine and the Integrated Defense System received a 5.5 TRL. The Precision-Guided Mortar Munition was rated a five; Objective Force Warrior only got a three.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency declined to submit a TRL for NetFires, a key offensive weapon for FCS. A source asserted that NetFires technology is very immature, with significant challenges for its datalink, automatic target recognition capability and the anti-jam performance.
Other important technologies that did not reach TRL seven include: the Precision Attack Missile, the Loitering Attack Missile, the Combat Hybrid Power Supply, FCS ballistic armor, and the Small Unit Aerial Vehicle.
Sources also claim that the FCS unit of action, which will equate to the current brigade echelon, is growing uncontrollably. The 2,000-person unit was supposed to weigh 2,200 tons, but a source contends it now tips the scales at 12,000 tons -- and it keeps getting larger.
The Army has designed the FCS concept around C-130 compatibility and had planned to deploy one FCS brigade via 100 of the Air Force planes. However, a 12,000-ton force would require 900 aircraft, a source said.
Transportation by Air Force C-130 faces other problems, too, an official said. Allegedly, the Air Force has told the Army it will land C-130s only on concrete runways, limiting where the service can send its troops. Further, the aircraft will carry armor, which will reduce payload size. The Army wants a 20-ton FCS, which is a significant improvement over the 70-ton Abrams tank. But that is not good enough, a source suggested; realistically, an armored and fueled C-130 will be able to accommodate only a 13-ton payload.
Sources said the Army also is backing away from the deployment time line promised by Shinseki. According to that blueprint, a brigade must be able to deploy to any location around the world from the continental United States within 96 hours. An official said last week the 96-hour standard now applies to intra-theater delivery of the force only; the time line to deliver the force to the theater has been dropped.
According to a source, that 96-hour metric was selected without consulting the Air Force, which concluded the requirement would be impossible to meet.
-- Erin Q. Winograd
James Gavin, Airborne Warfare
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century (New York: Little, Bown & Co., 1993)
GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, Michael V. Harper, Hope is Not a Method: What Business Leaders Can Learn from America's Army (New York: Broadway Books) www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/076790060X/qid=935888823/sr=1-1/002-5064372-3906832
Army Science Board Chairman Michael Bayer told Jane's Defense Weekly:
"The ASB found that providing strategic lift from the continental USA to intra-theatre staging grounds will continue to be the major bottleneck in transportation. Bayer noted that Boeing 747-style aircraft would provide the greatest strategic lift potential because they can carry more cargo further than the U.S. Air Force's future mainstay Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. Noting that because "there is a huge demand for strategic lift", the ASB recommended that expeditionary units plan to send as much equipment as possible on 747-type aircraft, freeing up scarce space on the C-17s." also see: www.geocities.com/cargo747airlift
"U.S. Army considers options to meet FCS goal", Kim Burger, Jane's Defense Weekly Staff Reporter, Washington D.C.
If the FCS is so important to the Army, and it will be developed and fielded on a tight schedule (the Army says), then why is the Army so eager to buy an INTERIM Armored Vehicle? The "why" is that key officers in the Army are planning to justify and sell "product-improving" the "LAV-III" into the FCS. That clearly puts the GD/GM combo in the driver's seat for the FCS program. Having been given a contract to develop a non-deployable armored car for a need that doesn't exist (the Army has had Light Armored Vehicles deployable on C-130s for over 4 decades: M113s), now they plan to justify giving the next job to GD/GM. These games are illegal and must be having an influence on the stock prices of the likely competitors, driving up GD/GM's and driving down the others.
Jane's Defense Weekly
U.S. Army considers options to meet FCS goal
KIM BURGER JDW Staff Reporter
The U.S. Army is considering a variety of new options to ensure fielding of its Future Combat Systems (FCS) by the end of the decade that include applying technologies to the GM GDLS Defense Group 8 x 8 LAV III Interim Armored Vehicle the army is buying for its Brigade Combat Teams. An upgraded LAV would likely be seen by many Department of Defense and Congressional leaders as an inadequate substitute for the revolutionary, high-technology capability the service is seeking and sources say the army leadership is unlikely to support it as a solution.
However, the army's willingness to consider improvements to existing vehicles in lieu of a newly designed system [Editor: as long as its wheeled LAV deathtraps and not tracked M113A3s], coupled with new plans for FCS program management, indicate the service is grappling with the practical realities of its ambitious goal to field a new system by Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08).
Lt Gen John Riggs, director of the army's Objective Force Task Force, said in August he was "a little bit apprehensive" about FCS and its dependence on robotics and unmanned systems and questioned whether the necessary technologies will be mature enough for the system. The army plans for FCS to be a network of ground platforms, weapons systems, sensors, robotics and unmanned air vehicles. In addition to the "LAV-plus" option, officials are also considering whether the Future Scout and Cavalry System (FSCS), a program run jointly with the UK -which calls it Tactical Reconnaissance Armored Combat Equipment Requirement (TRACER) - could provide an initial FCS. The FSCS/TRACER program presently is not funded for production, although the army is exploring ways to utilize its sensor suite and other technologies (Jane's Defence Weekly 25 July).
Gen Riggs told JDW these options are under consideration "because they do exist and we will not rule them out" at this point in the process. It is not the carrier chassis that is important in developing FCS but the integration of systems and maturation of technology, he added. But Gen Riggs acknowledged the army is "looking for more than those systems to bring to the table".
The army has decided to initiate a new management strategy to address integration issues and to rapidly transition the program from research and development to acquisition. The service plans in FY02 to select a single contractor to serve as lead systems integrator, a departure from earlier plans to select two or more contractors to pursue concepts. A draft solicitation may be out in November.
The integrator will work closely with the army program office, which will be led by a one-star general and overseen by a program executive officer (PEO), possibly the PEO for ground combat and support systems. This program is currently run as a joint effort with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Army Chief Scientist Mike Andrews said the use of "recycled technologies" and other options for FCS will depend on the pace the army decides it must produce the systems. If the army wants to achieve a first unit equipped for FCS in FY08, followed by initial operating capability in FY10 - which is two years sooner than the current program - "then you've got to redesign your approach to the program, to the problem".
Technologies the army might apply to a LAV or FSCS include a hybrid-electric propulsion system or weapons systems under development for FCS. General Motors Defense has been working on LAV improvements including vehicle electronics and "smart" technologies for general application, not the U.S. Army in particular. FSCS could provide a chassis for an FCS ground vehicle. (c) Jane's Information Group 2001
March 12, 2002
C-130 Will Provide Airlift For FCS; No Role For Future Transport Rotorcraft
The C-130 Hercules will provide the tactical airlift for the Army's Future Combat Systems, according to senior Army officials, relegating plans for the development of a Future Transport Rotorcraft to the back burner. "We've already picked the box size and our box size is a C-130," Claude Bolton, the Army's lead acquisition official, told reporters at a March 8 press briefing. "That's been the workhorse, it has been for years, and we don't see that changing." Asked whether the Army's idea of having a Future Transport Rotorcraft provide lift for the Army's Future Combat System has been discarded, Bolton replied, "I think it has for the time being." The Future Transport Rotorcraft had been envisioned as a way for the Army to get its own lift capabilities as a supplement to Air Force C-130s. Designed to replace the CH-47 Chinook and CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters, the Future Transport Rotorcraft had been scheduled for program definition and risk reduction during fiscal years 2008-2011, followed by engineering and manufacturing development during fiscal years 2012-2017 (DAILY, Nov. 12). The program originally included Marine Corps participation and was known as the Joint Transport Aircraft. The Marines have pulled out to pursue tiltrotor technology, but the Army has continued with the program.
Early last year, the U.S. Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate issued a notice in the Commerce Business Daily requesting information from contractors on developing a survivable, affordable, repairable airframe program.
The notice was to lead to a four-year program "enabling technology suitable for a weight optimized, affordable Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR) airframe," according to the notice (DAILY, Jan. 19, 2001). However, over the past year, senior Army officials have said that the schedule for the Future Transport Rotorcraft has slipped (DAILY, Jan. 10). Cost issues have dogged the program, and A. Michael Andrews, the Army's chief scientist and deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, has said that the aircraft is simply not affordable for the Army (DAILY, Nov. 12).[Editor: Duhhhh. When you are wasting $7 BILLION on armored cars you don't need there isn't any money left for real projects]
Lt. Gen. John Riggs, the director of the Army's Objective Force task force, said at the March 8 briefing that although the Future Transport Rotorcraft "is still open to the requirements process," the program itself remains in the "conceptual stage." The Army will keep an open mind on the matter, said Riggs, but "we would like to be informed by our capabilities to operate with C-130s."
Changing operational requirements "will give us the insight to know whether we should continue with an internal capability, which is a shorter haul capability than what is provided by a C-130," he said.
Not enough lift
Asked whether sufficient lift capabilities are provided by the military's current C-130 forces, Bolton acknowledged there is a shortage, but added, "It's not just Army needs, the question has to be asked across the board." The Joint Staff is conducting a review of its mobility requirements to
examine the additional burdens placed on airlift since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The review comes barely a year after the completion of the Mobility Requirements Study 2005, and is expected to recommend more C-17s and C-130s.
"I think the answer [that] would come back even today is there's not enough [lift] period." Bolton said. "We don't think that's going to change much in the future."
-- Sharon Weinberger
Federal Computer Week
March 4, 2002
Army Gearing Up For Transformation
By Dan Caterinicchia
The Defense Department could award a contract this week that will serve as the centerpiece for an initiative known as Objective Force, which is expected to change nearly every aspect of how the Army operates during war and peace.The systems integration contract for the Future Combat Systems (FCS), expected to be worth more than $150 million, will integrate information technology into vehicles used throughout the service for command and control, surveillance, reconnaissance, combat and other missions by the end of decade.Claude Bolton Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said science and technology would enable the Army's transformation into Objective Force, which is envisioned as more deployable than the current armored forces and better able to survive an all-out fight than current light forces. Technological innovations and business process changes are necessary for success, Bolton said, because the service hasn't faced a change like this in 50 years. "Virtually every fabric of the Army [is] touched somehow," he said, speaking last week at the Association of the U.S. Army's 2002 Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.As soon as the integrator is selected, its team will begin working with government colleagues at Fort Knox, Ky., which has been established as the Objective Force Battlelab Federation for FCS, said Brig. Gen. Robert Mixon Jr., deputy commanding general of the Army Armor Center at Fort Knox. On March 1, the site became the hub for collaboration by DOD and industry laboratories, serving as the "engine of tactical development for the Objective Force," Mixon said. "We have the engine running, and our nation deserves no less."Gen. Paul Kern, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, said the service "knows how to integrate systems, but now must integrate systems of systems." That means collaboration among the Army commands, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, industry and academia, Kern said.The Army's focus on Objective Force is reflected in its budget. The service is spending 95 percent of its science and technology budget and 70 percent of its research and development budget on its transformation to Objective Force, and funding must increase in the future, Army officials said.Maj. Gen. William Bond, director of force development in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs, said it is already clear that more money will be needed in upcoming budgets for Objective Force, which means completely phasing out legacy systems. "The fiscal 2004 budget will be much more focused and have more money," and that will continue through fiscal 2009, Bond said.Future Combat Systems vehicles will cost $7 million to $9 million each.
March 11, 2002
U.S. Army To Solicit Industry Concepts For Future Combat System
By Frank Tiboni, DefenseNews.com Staff Writer
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army will begin soliciting ideas for the $5 billion
Future Combat System (FCS) by March 31, according to industry officials who are helping the service manage the program.
The broad industry announcements for FCS components, communications networks and weapons platforms are being reviewed by the Army, Bob Mitchell, FCS strategic development director at Boeing Co.'s Phantom Works group, Seal Beach, Calif., told DefenseNews.com at a March 11 briefing here. The team of Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), San Diego, won the 18-month, $154 million FCS concept technology demonstration contract on March 7. As FCS lead systems integrator, the team will help the Army develop the next generation of armored vehicles and sensors.
The Boeing-SAIC team most likely will rely on weapon systems currently in development for the first block of FCS, planned for fielding in September 2010, Mitchell said. They could include the A160 Hummingbird unmanned rotary aircraft and the Future Scout and Cavalry System armored reconnaissance vehicle, he said.
Technologies not yet ready for fielding, such as chemical and solid lasers, could find their way onto the second and third blocks of FCS beginning in 2014, Mitchell said.
As FCS lead systems integrator, the Boeing-SAIC team will scour the world for the best manned and unmanned ground and airborne weapons platforms and supporting technologies to get the Army a light, rapidly-deployable force by 2010, Mitchell said.
The Boeing-SAIC team is limiting ground vehicle platforms to 16.5 tons to achieve the top performance of the U.S. military's transport aircraft fleet, Ron Prosser, vice president of advanced space and communications at Boeing Phantom Works, said at the briefing. To meet this stringent weight requirement, the Army will need a fast, reliable communications network so FCS weapons can see and destroy enemy forces before they are detected, Prosser said. The Boeing-SAIC team will build FCS computer networks in system modules so they can be replaced as new technologies become available, he said.
9. The Proliferation of Electromagnetic Bombs
At the time of writing, the United States and the CIS are the only two nations with the established technology base and the depth of specific experience to design weapons based upon this technology. However, the relative simplicity of the FCG and the Vircator suggests that any nation with even a 1940s technology base, once in possession of engineering drawings and specifications for such weapons, could manufacture them. As an example, the fabrication of an effective FCG can be accomplished with basic electrical materials, common plastic explosives such as C-4 or Semtex, and readily available machine tools such as lathes and suitable mandrels for forming coils. Disregarding the overheads of design, which do not apply in this context, a two stage FCG could be fabricated for a cost as low as $1,000-2,000, at Western labour rates [REINOVSKY85]. This cost could be even lower in a Third World or newly industrialised economy. While the relative simplicity and thus low cost of such weapons can be considered of benefit to First World nations intending to build viable war stocks or maintain production in wartime, the possibility of less developed nations mass producing such weapons is alarming. The dependence of modern economies upon their information technology infrastructure makes them highly vulnerable to attack with such weapons, providing that these can be delivered to their targets.
Of major concern is the vulnerability resulting from increasing use of communications and data communications schemes based upon copper cable media. If the copper medium were to be replaced en masse with optical fibre in order to achieve higher bandwidths, the communications infrastructure would become significantly more robust against electromagnetic attack as a result. However, the current trend is to exploit existing distribution media such as cable TV and telephone wiring to provide multiple Megabit/s data distribution (eg cable modems, ADSL/HDSL/VDSL) to premises. Moreover, the gradual replacement of coaxial Ethernet networking with 10-Base-T twisted pair equipment has further increased the vulnerability of wiring systems inside buildings. It is not unreasonable to assume that the data and services communications infrastructure in the West will remain a "soft" electromagnetic target in the forseeable future. At this time no counter-proliferation regimes exist. Should treaties be agreed to limit the proliferation of electromagnetic weapons, they would be virtually impossible to enforce given the common availability of suitable materials and tools.
With the former CIS suffering significant economic difficulties, the possibility of CIS designed microwave and pulse power technology leaking out to Third World nations or terrorist organisations should not be discounted. The threat of electromagnetic bomb proliferation is very real.
10.3. Offensive Counter Air (OCA) Operations using Electromagnetic Bombs Electromagnetic bombs may be usefully applied to OCA operations. Modern aircraft are densely packed with electronics, and unless properly hardened, are highly vulnerable targets for electromagnetic weapons. The cost of the onboard electronics represents a substantial fraction of the total cost of a modern military aircraft, and therefore stock levels of spares will in most instances be limited to what is deemed necessary to cover operational usage at some nominal sortie rate. Therefore electromagnetic damage could render aircraft unusable for substantial periods of time.
Attacking airfields with electromagnetic weapons will disable communications, air traffic control facilities, navigational aids and operational support equipment, if these items are not suitably electromagnetic hardened. Conventional blast hardening measures will not be effective, as electrical power and fixed communications cabling will carry electromagnetic induced transients into most buildings. Hardened aircraft shelters may provide some measure of protection due electrically conductive reinforcement embedded in the concrete, but conventional revetments will not.
Therefore OCA operations against airfields and aircraft on the ground should include the use of electromagnetic weapons as they offer the potential to substantially reduce hostile sortie rates.
Notice the following Russian future tracked tanks designs from the superb magazine, Military Parade are to do physical, DECISIVE MANEUVER not American-style mental mouse-clicking of someone elses's stand-off firepower bombardment via LAV-III/IAV or FCS armored car "cash cows" and lots of expensive but throw-away UAV/UGV gadgets.
More reasons why there should be a FCS-2D as well as a FCS-3D....
Jane's International Defense Review
The Outlook For Tanks
The capabilities of tanks are being called into question more than ever with the increasing use of long-range precision-guided weapons. R M Ogorkiewicz takes a close look at the future part the mobile ground-weapon platform may have to play.
One of the consequences of the changes taking place on the military scene is the raising of doubts about the future of tanks. Such doubts are not new as they appeared several times during the past 80 years, only to be dispelled by subsequent events. However, this time the reasons for them are different. On earlier occasions such doubts generally followed the deployment of new types of anti-tank weapons. Each of these weapons demonstrated that the armor of tanks could be defeated and this was interpreted as putting an end to them. But, contrary to popular belief, tanks were never invulnerable and armor protection has not been their only attribute. In consequence, the successive demonstrations of their vulnerability have not led to their demise.
The vulnerability of tanks is being questioned again, particularly because of the threat of top attack munitions. But the principal reason for the current doubts is whether, in the long term, there will be a need for them. The answer to this lies in the capabilities of tanks and the likely demand for such capabilities in the future.
The lasting capabilities of tanks have been obscured by the diversity of views of them and the varied history of their employment. But, basically, they are manned, protected, mobile ground weapon platforms that make the weapons mounted in them more effective by making them more mobile. The mobility they provide has two aspects. The more obvious of the two is automotive mobility, which enables tanks to move over different types of terrain. The other aspect of the mobility is armor protection, which distinguishes tanks from unarmored weapon carriers, and enables them to move much more freely in the face of enemy weapons because they are largely immune to many of the latter.
The principal weapons that tanks have made more effective are medium to large caliber direct-fire guns. Their development has been driven by the most difficult of the targets that have faced tanks, which have been other tanks. In consequence, the caliber of tank guns has risen to the present level of 120 or 125mm and they have been provided with increasingly more effective types of armor-piercing ammunition. This has made tanks a very effective means of killing other tanks, as was shown by Israeli armored units during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and by U.S. units during the 1990-91 Gulf War.
The growth in the size and power of tank guns reflected, and to a large extent was responsible for, progressive increases in tank armor. This has reached, over the front of tanks, an areal density of more than 3t/m2. Because of it, tanks have been relatively immune to many weapons so that they could advance against them, which made tanks a very effective implement of ground assault.
The capabilities of tanks are epitomized by what was expected of them by the opposing sides during the Cold War: the 59,000 tanks of what was then the Warsaw Pact were to lead a mass assault on Western Europe while the 25,000 tanks available to NATO were to kill the maximum of enemy tanks in a defensive battle of attrition.
Since the end of the Cold War the number of tanks in Europe has gone down dramatically. But elsewhere their numbers have not changed significantly and they continue to be widely used, if only because of the quantities in which they have been produced. For example, of the Soviet-designed T-72 as many as 30,000 have been built and 8,000 exported, according to Russian sources. Eventually numbers will shrink worldwide as the existing tanks come to the end of their working life of 40 years or more, and as new tanks prove too expensive to be produced in large quantities.
In the meantime, tanks remain an effective counter to other tanks. But analysts, particularly in the U.S., envisage that in future regional conflicts enemy tanks as well as other ground targets will be dealt with from a distance by stand-off precision weapons, launched primarily by strike aircraft. In the extreme version of this scenario the long-range precision weapons would be so effective that there would be virtually no close contact battle and, therefore, no need for tanks.
However, some enemy units are bound to evade being targeted at long range by resorting to camouflage, deception and countermeasures as well as infiltration and other tactics, as they have done from Vietnam in the 1960s to Kosovo in the 1990s. They will therefore have to be engaged in close combat. This cannot be done solely with light, portable weapons nor with long-range weapons which, in the nature of things, are not suited to engaging targets at short ranges.
This means that close combat will require the continued use of tanks, which can respond more directly to local situations than long-range weapons and which, at the same time, provide heavier and more mobile firepower than dismounted troops, as well as being less vulnerable to many threats than the latter.
Tanks can also respond more rapidly and directly than robotic vehicle systems, which are being promoted for close combat as part of the US Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. Even if they are semi-autonomous, it is generally accepted that fire by robotic vehicles will need to be supervised, which introduces time delays and the vulnerability of the sensor-to-shooter link. Robotic vehicles will have a role to play, particularly where the risks to manned vehicles are high or where their functions can be much more narrowly defined than those of manned vehicles, but the latter will remain more adaptable and versatile.
Tanks are also capable of operating much longer in a given area than strike aircraft, attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and they can do so in all weathers. In consequence they can contribute more effectively to the ultimate objectives of seizing or maintaining control of the ground in face of an enemy. Tanks can also be a major deterrent to aggression in peacekeeping operations just by being there.
In view of all this, tanks are not likely to be made redundant by stand-off precision weapons but will be needed as a complement to them, acting as medium-range, mobile ground weapon systems.
However, to fulfill their future role tanks will have to change in several respects. One reason for it is that they are not likely to be used for massed assaults or engage in large-scale tank versus tank battles of the kind seen during the Second World War and more recently during the Yom Kippur War. Instead, they will be expected to maneuver in small, dispersed battle groups and this will put a premium on their capacity for sustained operations with a minimum of logistics support.
To reduce their logistics requirements tanks will need, above all else, to minimize their fuel consumption. In consequence, it will not be possible to power them by engines as inefficient as the AGT-1500 gas turbine of the US M1 tanks which, however good they might be in other respects, consume twice as much fuel as comparable diesel-engined tanks. Fuel cells might eventually reduce fuel requirements but, in the meantime, efforts must be made to reduce them in other ways because the operational mobility of tanks is governed by such requirements much more than by the speed of which tanks might be capable because of more powerful engines or more sophisticated suspensions. A very clear demonstration of this was provided during the Gulf War when the decisive outflanking maneuver of the U.S. VII Corps was paced not by the speed of its tanks but by its supply trains. Nevertheless, the importance of minimizing fuel requirements is still not generally recognized, as shown by the recent U.S. Army decision to develop another gas turbine for tanks, the Honeywell (originally General Dynamics) LV-100.
Whatever the type of engine, fuel requirements of tanks can be reduced by making them lighter because the overall fuel consumption of vehicles is directly proportional to their weight. In consequence, the current emphasis on lighter ground platforms in the U.S. FCS and British FRES (Future Rapid Effects Systems) programs is bound to be beneficial from the point of view of the operational as well as the strategic mobility of armored units. But if the weight of tanks were restricted to as little as the carrying capacity of Lockheed C-130 aircraft, which implies 18 metric tons or less and which is required of combat vehicles by the U.S. FCS program, their capabilities would be greatly reduced. For one thing, they could not be provided with much passive or reactive armor which can still make them considerably less vulnerable, particularly to short-range weapons. Very light weight would also restrict what else they could have. This includes comprehensive active protection systems (APS) which tanks will need to use to an increasing extent, just as attack helicopters will have to rely increasingly on self-protection systems.
Moreover, even if an 18-ton tank could accommodate an effective APS it would still be vulnerable to the impact of disabled missiles and broken tank gun penetrators because it could not absorb their residual kinetic energy. On several counts therefore heavier tanks, of at least 30 to 40 tons, are likely to be more survivable. They are consequently the more logical choice for armies which are not expected to engage in long-range expeditionary operations or which are prepared to deploy in part at least by sea.
Greater target variety
Apart from being more survivable, heavier tanks are also capable of mounting a wider range of weapons, including conventional or electrothermal-chemical guns more powerful than the existing 120 or 125mm tank guns. Lighter platforms might possibly be armed with kinetic energy missiles, but while these could kill enemy tanks they would not be sufficiently versatile to deal effectively with the greater variety of other targets that tanks will have to engage.
Tanks might, for instance, have to deliver high angle as well as flat trajectory fire to deal with targets in urban and other environments. For such purposes the Israeli Merkavas area already armed with 60mm mortars in addition to their 105 and 120mm high velocity guns. Traditionally, tanks have avoided urban areas and have run into difficulties more than once when they ventured into them, as the Russian tanks did in Grozny in 1994. However, the growing urbanization of the world will make it increasingly difficult for tanks to avoid urban areas and operating in them will have to be addressed seriously in tank development.
An important aspect of future operations in urban as well as other areas will be the need to minimize collateral damage. This will require the use of weapons which are not only very accurate but also less destructive. To meet this requirement the U.S. Air Force has already considered the use of small inert guided missiles and tanks will have to be provided with their equivalent which could, for instance, take the form of non-explosive squash head projectiles.
In addition to the problem of urban environments, the development of tanks will have to pay more attention to the engagement of aerial in addition to ground targets. In particular, it will have to address the problem of engaging attack helicopters and UAVs which will be a serious threat to them. At present the engagement of helicopters is being attempted with the standard gun armament of tanks but as this might not prove to be sufficiently effective against all aerial targets some tanks might have to be re-armed with specialized surface-to-air weapons. But in the future it might also involve the use of directed energy beam weapons based on high-energy lasers, which could also form part of the defense of tanks against guided missiles.
Oleg Brilev D.Sc. (Technology), Professor, State Prize Winner
Improved mobility is the key feature of the tank that enhances its combat efficiency. In the first quarter of the 21st century one can anticipate only a minor increase in specific horsepower, of up to 35-40 hp/t (1,750 - 2,000 hp for a 50-ton tank), because it cannot be increased any further when tanks move either in march columns or in combat formations on the battlefield. Average speeds of tanks moving in march columns can reach 35-40 km/h. It is anticipated that fuel endurance will remain unchanged, namely about 350-400 km, depending on road and terrain conditions. Tanks will perform long-range marches covering 1,500-2,000 km while making 350-400 km day's marches.
Multi-fuel diesel and gas-turbine engines will continue to compete with each other. Multi-fuel diesel engines have not yet exhausted their capabilities; more than that, merely by applying the adiabatic principle, minimal heat emission into the atmosphere can radically increase their power and efficiency in addition to considerable design advantages due to the incorporation of a more compact cooling system. However, it will take time to adopt engine designs that will be able to operate at high temperatures. Gas-turbine engines have so far been unable to produce to a considerable extent the expected advantages, which include a higher power-to-volume ratio, easy start in cold weather, long service life, and the opportunity to simplify transmission design. However, despite theoretical and design preconditions that appear promising, their main drawback has yet not been eliminated. This involves high fuel consumption compared with a diesel engine (30-40 percent higher). It should be noted here that, even if it were given preference in the long run, the gas-turbine engine would not create a revolution in ground transportation as it did in aviation. In the transmission's improvements there is a clear tendency to use an interlocking hydrodynamic transmission coupled with a planetary gearbox in the main power cascade and hydrostatic gearbox incorporated in the steering mechanism. Meanwhile, the high efficiency factor is achieved by the improvement of the hydrodynamic transmission and its use only during movement on rugged terrain.
The electromechanical transmission can not operate, at least for the time being, on a par with a hydromechanical transmission because of a low efficiency factor. In the future, electromechanical transmissions may be installed in tanks with new layouts, where the layout "flexibility" of a transmission will play a key role.
The tank running gear will evidently feature a hydropneumatic suspension. It will enable the operator to not only change the tank's clearance and running trim, but also increase speed and smoothness of the movement over the terrain by changing the suspension characteristics according to the road and ground conditions. Such "adaptive" suspension will be of great value to tanks because in battlefield operations they move on cross-country terrain. Later on, such innovations may be incorporated to form a hull stabilization system which will enhance accuracy when firing on the move.
The adjustable automation of operating modes of the engine-transmission-running gear system will drastically simplify the tank's movement control, increase average speed, ensure stability during curvilinear movement and at high speed, and help maintain the preset speed or distanse to the tank ahead.
The number of controls will be minimal: a steering wheel, throttle pedal and foot brake pedal. This will allow the driver to concentrate his attention on the road, terrain, battlefield and therefore prolong his fitness for work.
The commander's steering system override will become a standard feature on tanks.
Tank crews rarely use the full extent of combat capabilities incorporated in a tank design while operating on the battlefield. Capabilities of tank subunits can be significantly enhanced by automation of all operations performed by tank crews inside their vehicles and control operations within a tank subunit, provision of tank crews and subunit commanders with requisite information and care for their comfort.
Three-shaft gas-turbine engine (diagram)
An onboard computer should provide for automatic fire, movement and tank protection control. The crew-members should be provided with information in a visual form presenting the combat situation at hand, tank capabilities and its present position. The tank commander should be able to visually orientate himself on the terrain without protruding himself from a hatch. All routine control operations should be excluded. The crew-members will perform a minimum of the required actions that stem from the logic of combat tasks.
The unit commander should at all times be aware of the situation and state of his tanks, and obtain ample information about the enemy deployed on the frontage and in depth. A helicopter or drone can be used for this purpose. Thus, the unit commander will be able to act in advance of a situation, quickly make decisions, quickly transfer the appropriate control commands and personally perform tank fire control, if the need arises. The complexity and dynamic nature of combat actions and poor visibility necessitate the installation in tanks of an IFF system.
All this will enhance the efficiency of tank subunits. These units will become more mobile and less vulnerable close combat firing systems that will "see" the battlefield, quickly and rationally respond to the changing situation.
The automation of the tank also provides an opportunity to create tank-robots that could be used in the foreseeable future for resolving special tasks, including disclosure of a hostile fire system, demolition of vital hostile installations, operation on the terrain with a high degree of radiation, etc.
Confused and rapidly changing battlefield situation and prolonged periods of severe combat actions urgently require tanks to become self-sufficient in terms of fuel, ammunition load and conditions of the crew's habitat. However, the tank must not be converted into a "depot" of ammunition and fuel. The tanks should be supplied from an advanced logistical unit that will have armored vehicles intended to carry ammunition, fuel and foods and load the supplies via mechanical means into tanks. It is necessary to provide proper ergonomic conditions for the crew. Tanks should be self-sufficient to operate efficiently on the battlefield during twenty-four hours of extensive combat actions or three days of combat actions with short respites.
Sophistication of design of future tanks by cramming them with electronics, automatics, hydraulics, etc., and striving after ever more compact arrangement of their main units and mechanisms, on the one hand, and severe conditions of their combat use, on the other hand, make the problem of their reliability rather acute.
I believe that this problem can be resolved successfully, provided the tank building industry will reach the expected level. Meticulous development of a tank's design, use of new materials and technologies, state-of-the-art methods of calculation and tests will ensure fairly high basic reliability indices: failure rate of 0.6-0.7 per 1,000 km and a total mileage of 16,000-18,000 km. This will allow tank crews to undergo combat training during peacetime, their participation in 2 to 3 deep combat operations and maintenance of combat readiness on the level of 0.9-0.95 during their execution.
Prevention of failures and effective troubleshooting will be ensured by an automated, information-diagnostic system alongside the incorporation of a modular design principle.
A genuine leap forward to enhance the tanks's efficiency and survivability can be made by introducing a principally new layout, because the conventional configuration with a gun mounted in the rotating turret arranged in the center, accommodating the commander and gunner, driving compartment arranged in the front of the hull, and engine-transmission compartment in the rear is no longer efficient. The use of the automatic, electronic and remote control systems allow a three-man crew to be accommodated in the front part of the hull in a special armored module outfitted with comfortable automobile seats and an air conditioning system. It is tempting to arrange the power plant in the lower front part of the hull, in front of the habitable compartment, which will provide additional protection for the crew. Similar configuration of a 50-ton tank will radically enhance protection of the tank and its crew, increase ammunition load and fuel distance, create excellent ergonomic conditions, and allow for the mount of a gun of more than 125mm caliber.
Two gas-turbine engines coupled with electric transmission generators can be arranged in the hull's above-track space, thereby allowing the inner space to be utilized more rationally. Other layouts can also be used.
The combination of modular layouts with the high degree of unification will provide for the prompt conversion of the production facilities to manufacture infantry combat vehicles instead of tanks on the tank's chassis.
The new layout, without a high ballistic gun and even without a turret, can become a reality only when the reliable jamming immune guided reactive weapons with more compact ammunition produced at reasonable cost are created to effectively encounter various targets. Projectiles will be fired through the roof of the combat compartment.
This will reduce the overall weight by 12-15 tons which can be used to enhance the vehicle's protection.
The tank's weight is unlikely to exceed 60-65 tons due to the dimension and weight restraints for the transportation of equipment by rail and on trailers.
Automation of the crew's operations will reduce its number to two men. However, proceeding from functional considerations it is expedient to retain the three-man crew to allow one of them to focus his attention on the battlefield, enemy and cooperating tanks, orientated on the terrain and maintain communication with superior commanders.
Thus, analyzing probable trends in the development of tanks and their armament in the first quarter of the 21st century and taking into consideration the feasibility of advent of fundamentally new means of armed struggle, it is possible to assume the following:
The concept of the tank as a mass-produced, ground-based tactical weapon operating on the firstline that is equally effective both in the offensive and defensive operations will remain basically intact. This weapon will constitute the core of the combat power of general purpose forces which will continue to exist while there is a need for the armed forces in general.
The system of armament intended for armored vehicles will be further improved. Other combat vehicles featuring the same level of protection as tanks will cooperate with them while operating in the first echelon. To carry out mobile operations, mobile echelon combat vehicles (amphibious and air-transportable) will be used.
As regards the appearance of the tank, it may be drastically changed against a background of extensive science and technology progress. Most changes will occur in its layout, provision with required data on the battlefield, automation of fire control, movement and combat activity, reliable detection of small-size targets even in adverse weather conditions and use of new methods to enhance protection and create good ergonomic conditions for the crew.
Articulated Tracked Armored Vehicles (ATAVs).
Issue 30. November - December 1998
Vladimir Kovalev, Vladimir Batenin, Mikhail Starostin
One of the goals of Russia's military and technical policy is to develop and manufacture highly effective tanks capable of operating in any combat environment, in different climatic and geographical conditions, and in all types of military operations, including local conflicts.
In Russia and abroad, all of the existing tank types were designed on the "crew and systems in one hull" principle. Each tank was designed as an entity combining all combat (firepower, mobility and armor protection) and maintenance capabilities. Later tanks were equipped with more sophisticated systems, caliber of their guns became larger and their armor protection, engine power and transmission output increased. But the tank's overall dimensions remained unchanged. All this reduced the intertank space thus affecting the crew's comfort and its working efficiency and made it impossible to boost combat effectiveness as a whole.
Investigations show that the combat potentialities of a modern tank are realized by not more than 70 percent and that further upgrades to enhance its overall effectiveness are practically useless, i.e. the traditional approaches used currently to devise tanks do not allow designers to materially improve their performance characteristics.
The combat effectiveness of tanks can be considerably improved if the following requirements are fulfilled.
First, while designing new tanks one should remember that in action the tanks are normally employed within subunits that are assigned missions differing to some extent from those assigned to a single tank. Generally, missions assigned to army units are to defeat (annihilate) enemy manpower, armament and equipment, and capture (occupy) a certain area.
Second, a "system-centered" approach should be used, whose main purpose is to take the most advantage of the systems employed in the tank rather than focus on the enhancement of technical capabilities of new vehicles and creation of comfortable conditions for the crew.
Third, while developing armored tracked vehicles for tomorrow's uses, one should take into account that tank units are likely to perform missions independently, away from the main forces. Moreover, the requirement of standardization of various-purpose vehicles and their components should be met. Consequently, support and auxiliary vehicles are to be designed simultaneously with armored tracked vehicles. Also a family of various-purpose vehicles can be developed from the basic vehicle.
The above-mentioned requirements could be met through developing new types of articulated tracked armored vehicles (ATAVs).
A configuration, consisting of a central section and two transport/recovery sections connected to the central section is proposed. The sections can be uncoupled from one another and used separately.
The main advantages of this configuration are:
- the main combat properties of the tank (maneuverability and firepower) can be used separately on the battlefield by employing the combat and two transport/recovery sections independently of one another. This can boost the tank's efficiency due to the purposeful and separate designing of each section. Using the above sections in such a way, units on the battlefield may change their tactics to achieve higher effectiveness and make the tactics more suitable to the type of combat actions and to the operational environment. This can be exemplified by operations in Bosnia, where all tanks were normally used as self-propelled guns while artillery systems were mainly employed from fixed emplacements;
- combination of standard transport/recovery sections with central sections outfitted with different war-fighting, support, and auxiliary equipment provides for the development of a family of such articulated vehicles as infantry combat vehicles, armored recovery vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, supply vehicles, medical evacuation vehicles, etc. The need for such vehicles stems from the fact that a great number of wheeled transport vehicles have to provide tank units with various supplies, including fuel and ammunition, as well as to repair and recover damaged tanks. However, the cross-country ability of wheeled vehicles is much lower than that of tanks;
- compared with traditional tanks, there is a greater vacant armor-protected space inside the central section of the articulated vehicle obtained because of the absence of a track assembly. The requisite facilities needed to support the crew for a protracted period of time, including sleeping places, can be arranged there. Thus, the standard requirements for ergonomics can be implemented in the design of the vehicles.
The combat tracked armored articulated vehicle consists of a combat section and two transport/recovery sections. The combat section is hinge-mounted between the transport/recovery sections. The hinges allow the transport/recovery sections to turn relative to the combat section in the vertical and horizontal planes and provide for their automatic articulation and disengagement. The hydraulic jacks located in the combat section lift or lower the latter to engage/disengage it with/from the transport/recovery sections.
The combat section turret accommodates armament and crew. The transport/recovery sections accommodate engines, transmission, and drivers' seats to independently use the transport/recovery sections.
The proposed configuration features certain advantages over the traditional design making it possible to enhance some of the combat and service characteristics of the new tank.
Greater firepower can be achieved by:
- varying the location height of observation and sighting devices by means of the combat section hydraulic jacks when the section is used independently;
- installing armaments in the transport/recovery sections when these sections are used independently;
- stabilizing the entire combat section.
The prototype's mobility is increased due to:
- a "pull-and-push" principle behind its straightforward motion;
- the vehicle's ability to move forward and back at the same speed without turning around;
- the vehicle's increased cross-country ability owing to a greater ground clearance (the height of the transport/recovery sections is increased since it doesn't produce any restraints on the total height of the vehicle);
- the vehicle's ability to change the direction of movement by two methods: the "like-a-tank" method, where the speed of one track differs from the other, and by the "like-a-wheeled-vehicle" method where either each of the two transport/ recovery sections turns independently of the other or both turn simultaneously relative to the combat section.
Better protection is provided by:
- two armored transport/recovery sections located in front of and behind the combat section;
- possibility of varying significantly the degree of armor protection from section to section (reasonable increase in the thickness of armor of the combat section at the expense of its reasonable reduction on both transport/recovery sections);
- possibility of reducing the vehicle's clearance.
Use of the armored articulated vehicles enhances the fighting efficiency of tank units due to their high maintainability. For example, one combat-ready vehicle can be assembled of the good sections of two disabled vehicles. Moreover, shipment of articulated vehicles by air is easy since each section can be carried and air-dropped separately.
Thus, the proposed configuration of the armored tracked vehicle would boost practically all of its basic performance characteristics, help the crew to perform to the best of their ability, and allow designers to develop a family of combat, support and auxiliary vehicles that would encourage commanders of all levels to develop basically new methods of employment of army tank units. We can say, in conclusion, that on the basis of the proposed tracked armored articulated vehicle, new-generation armored vehicles can be developed.
A HQDA Staffer writes:
"The word in the halls is that DoD has decided not to decide on the M113A3 versus LAV-III waiver.
The word on the street is that Shinseki and Abrams have lost favor, the former perhaps considered a Clintonite. There are apparently some opinions in DoD of Shinseki and his right hand man, Abrams, which are not entirely favorable, to put it blandly.
Other than saying he wants to make heavy forces lighter and light forces more mobile and more lethal, he has done nothing else to explain how he plans to get there. The entire transformation is beginning to unravel as serious students of doctrine and landpower begin to see the fatal flaws in a concept of the transformed forces that is dependent on a 40-year-old airframe, that transforming 3 light brigades actually makes the Army heavier, placing greater demand on airlift that are already in short supply and are not expected to be fixed for at least 5-10 years; that the technologies so anticipated for the FCS rely on non-existent satellite bandwidth already overtaxed by 1 Predator and 1 Global Hawk are at least 10 years from being adequate.
Both Shinseki and Abrams are (to be) gone because their fantasy is unraveling. The real tragedy is that the Army is about to be hit with major budget cutting that will damage all of their programs, FCS, Comanche and Crusader.
What will they have left?
GEN Keane will have a chance to make an omelet, but the sad truth is that the airpower enthusiasts will have checkmated an Army leadership that never saw it coming because their egos got in the way."