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United States Military Vehicle General: Guns, G*vins, and Gas Turbines


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Also if we go back to the AI driver I think that first it will be implemented as working just in a "follow the leader" mode and only for the auxiliary vehicles as Looser pointed out (feeding ammo and other supplies seems to be the first candidate for an automated task). 

 

It will take a very long time for the AI to reliably solve many tasks which are quite simple for the humans - such as "Can I go through that green fence?" or "Will that ancient wall made of laid stones stop my tank?" 

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About two and a half years ago i've stumbled across some russian book about western IFVs, which apparently was a mere compilation of articles from western magazines translated into russian. There was

Bottom line me reasoning is the following: provided that the development of AI reached the point of being equally able to replace either the gunner or the driver, who would be the most preferable one to replace in a 2 man tank* ?

For all we know, the Chinese are focusing AI development in replacing the Gunner and also in assisting the TC for spotting targets. My guess is that the process could work in the following way: the AI fuses data coming from a variety of sensors (hence, being able to detect many more probable targets than what a TC can do just by  using his CITV) and passes the TC a full "menu" of likely targets. The TC then confirms the identification and authorizes the AI to engage. Then comes a second complex operation, the AI gunner must be able to recognize on his own when a shot has hit the target or missed and if this is the case must also be able to apply corrections for the follow up. This means that such an AI must be capable of (among other tasks) automatic target recognition and automatic shot correction. I don't see how this is any less complex than driving a tank. Moreover, AI assisted gunnery is not incompatible with a human gunner and i suspect that a team of a TC + Gunner + AI is more effective than "just" a TC + AI in this respect. My guess is that if the americans go for a 2 man crew (and if anyone has the time, resources and experience to develop this, it's them), they may be less willing to replace a gunner than a driver.
On the other hand, i didn't suggest fully autonomous driving, when not in combat either the gunner or commander can drive the tank especially to negotiate complicated obstacles (and as far as i know, tanks do not tend to engage in combat in unfavorable terrain). The only requirement for a 2 man crew that includes a dedicated gunner is that the AI be able to drive the tank while the human crew is busy with combat tasks. But even so, lets say that a tank platoon is driving in a column and the leading tank encounters an obstacle that the AI can't solve and so the "operator" (human gunner-driver) takes control of the vehicle and with the assistance of the TC, clears the obstacle. Instantaneously, the rest of the tank platoon AI understands what the lead tank has encountered and how they've dealt with the problem and therefore can replicate the exact maneuver or apply a better one. As an alternative, the entire tank platoon may be assigned a dedicated remote human driver (being transported in a dedicated vehicle kilometers away in the rear ) to  supervise the AI driving the lead tank and take control when necessary. Even more, having AI driving the tanks will ensure (or at least make less likely) that , for example, tanks of the same unit crash into each other or cross into their line of fire, as the networked AI is fully "aware" (certainly more so than a human driver with his hatch closed) of the position of the various vehicles in relation to each other. I can think of many other scenarios where a AI driver / optionally human driven tank can prove more efficient than a dedicated driver placed inside the tank.

Having said all this and again taking for granted that this crucial technology works, i think that a tank layout reminiscent of the MBT-70 could fully comply with what various american officials stated that they would like in a future tank. In fact, the americans have experimented a lot with virtually every type of tank layout in the last decades. They have experience with a "T-14 like" layout (Abrams testbed), 2 man crews (FCS) and also the aforementioned MBT-70. They need a tank that is more deployable than the Abrams but also can hold his own against T-14 or whatever the Chinese get to Pacific Ocean islands. But on the other hand,  they have a requirement need for the crew to be able to manually access the weapons compartment to service the main gun in case of malfunction  (or also manually operate the turret and weapons) and also many american TCs in various opportunities have expressed that they don't like not being able to pop their heads through the turret hatch. Granted, the development of VR/AR can partially or fully compensate for this but the american decision makers could and likely will argue that a tank must have a backup when those cameras/visor systems fail. These two things combined pretty much rule out a "T-14/XM1202 like" reminiscent tank. So either the americans can go with a more traditional approach, which won´t get light enough for global deployability, or they can go back to the MBT-70 "unmanned hull" layout (and its concept that they already experimented a lot, finding that the only "weak link" was the human driver), which could combine most of the benefits of a tank with unmanned turret (comparable or higher protection than a traditional tank with a potentially much lower weight) with the 2 requirements described above. 

 

*side note: a 2 man tank could fulfill US requirements for global deployability, and if its armor is fully modular then its protection and weight could be scalable up or down to be used both in Europe and SE Asia

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   "Unmanned hull" was looked at as part of Object 490 Topol development. Placing crew in turret increases chances of getting crew killed/wounded by penetration, as turrets are statistically hit more often. MBT-70 layout is outdated. Decreasing size of stuff in area high enough (above most of terrain features, rocks, etc.) is better idea. Look at Abrams Block 3 for example. 

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11 minutes ago, LoooSeR said:

Placing crew in turret increases chances of getting crew killed/wounded by penetration, as turrets are statistically hit more often. MBT-70 layout is outdated. 

Well, i did say that such a layout brings "most" of the benefits of a tank with unmanned turret, not all. And yes, the crew and ammo are less protected as they are placed above the turret ring. But on the other hand, since the hull is unmanned/smaller, more weight can be assigned for the heavy armor of the turret. On the other hand, an advantage of this layout over the unmanned/lightly armored turret would be that if the turret is hit by anti tank fire, it won't necessarily lead to the loss of the main gun.

 

11 minutes ago, LoooSeR said:

Look at Abrams Block 3 for example. 

That's what i meant by "Abrams testbed". Thing is that they tried that idea and didn't like it for the reasons i mentioned. That's why i started thinking of alternatives they may consider in the future during this "brainstorming" phase they are having. I mean, if I were to design a tank i would go for an unmanned turret  but since they have not shown much affection to that concept, the "unmanned hull" comes as a rational choice given the most likely requirements. 

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10 minutes ago, Beer said:

By having proportionally more weight on the turret compared to the hull you definitely create whole lot of issues with weight balance and driving, especially off-road, performance. 

Of course, it's a matter of proportions and something to be solved in an actual design. However, having a relatively higher center of gravity didn't pop as an issue during the MBT-70 program: adding more weight to the turret proportionally to the hull can be mitigated by making the hull (and hence the whole of the tank) shorter and thus lowering the center of gravity which is something simple when you don't need to place the crew there.

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Well, I see very few advantages of the crew being all in the turret compared to the crew being all in the hull (if we compare only these two options). Quite the opposite. The second brings much higher crew survivability, smaller, lighter and simpler vehicle, easier to repair (for example by replacing the whole turret module) and with for sure better driving performance. There are very few advantages of the crew-in-the-turret concept which IMHO can not outweight the disadvantages. 

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6 minutes ago, Beer said:

Well, I see very few advantages of the crew being all in the turret compared to the crew being all in the hull (if we compare only these two options). Quite the opposite. The second brings much higher crew survivability, smaller, lighter and simpler vehicle, easier to repair (for example by replacing the whole turret module) and with for sure better driving performance. There are very few advantages of the crew-in-the-turret concept which IMHO can not outweight the disadvantages. 

I do agree with all of that, i´m just exercising my imagination with what alternatives the americans might consider to a traditional design (can get too heavy) or an unmanned turret (that they tried and since then said again and again that they don't like).

 

Some pages ago we discussed a concept "leaked" from one of their brainstorming meetings which we speculated that it pointed to a 3 man crew with the TC and Gunner sitting in the turret basket but below the turret ring. While this idea is very much plausible, it may be that even this layout produces a tank heavier than what they need: imagine the chinese bringing a 2 man tank with unmanned turret weighting 40 something tons (and we already have articles and concepts posted in this forum covering that) to an island in the Pacific and the US Marines don't even have tanks. Then it occurred to me that because of this the americans may give the 2 man crew another shot and so i started thinking all what i wrote.

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On 9/23/2020 at 6:00 PM, alanch90 said:

I do agree with all of that, i´m just exercising my imagination with what alternatives the americans might consider to a traditional design (can get too heavy) or an unmanned turret (that they tried and since then said again and again that they don't like).

 

Some pages ago we discussed a concept "leaked" from one of their brainstorming meetings which we speculated that it pointed to a 3 man crew with the TC and Gunner sitting in the turret basket but below the turret ring. While this idea is very much plausible, it may be that even this layout produces a tank heavier than what they need: imagine the chinese bringing a 2 man tank with unmanned turret weighting 40 something tons (and we already have articles and concepts posted in this forum covering that) to an island in the Pacific and the US Marines don't even have tanks. Then it occurred to me that because of this the americans may give the 2 man crew another shot and so i started thinking all what i wrote.

There's nowhere to fight in the Pacific with tanks, the Army has no intentions of fielding heavy armor in that part of the world. An unmanned turret doesn't save that much weight. It's main purpose is to increase crew survivability and free up space in the hull. 

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2 hours ago, Insomnium95 said:

There's nowhere to fight in the Pacific with tanks

LOL, check some history.  Tanks have been used all over the Pacific by various players.

 

But, most importantly, time and time again, people say "you can't use tanks in...." and always, somebody does!

 

And if the other guy has armour, you need armour.

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2 hours ago, Insomnium95 said:

There's nowhere to fight in the Pacific with tanks, the Army has no intentions of fielding heavy armor in that part of the world. An unmanned turret doesn't save that much weight. It's main purpose is to increase crew survivability and free up space in the hull. 

Well, places like JAPAN or TAIWAN are still islands on the Pacific, and at least the first one is a place where a  a tank weighing more than 50 tons can´t be deployed on 70-80 percent of its territory. And then you start connecting dots and realize that the Chinese must have pretty good reasons to develop a lighter 2 man next gen MBT which from what we got until now seems to be in the 40-50 ton class.

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7 hours ago, Insomnium95 said:

 An unmanned turret doesn't save that much weight. It's main purpose is to increase crew survivability and free up space in the hull. 

 

That's not true at all. Simple physics tells you that the weight is mainly driven by the internal turret volume. No need for space for the crew -> very little volume to be covered by armor -> very little overall armour volume -> much less weight. 

 

Today the three man tank turret weight is usually over 20 tons. There is no reason at all why the unmanned turret shall have such weright. Realistically it can have less than half of that and most likely even less. It means that by its sole existence it saves 10+ tons of the vehicle weight. 

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3 hours ago, Beer said:

 

That's not true at all. Simple physics tells you that the weight is mainly driven by the internal turret volume. No need for space for the crew -> very little volume to be covered by armor -> very little overall armour volume -> much less weight. 

 

Today the three man tank turret weight is usually over 20 tons. There is no reason at all why the unmanned turret shall have such weright. Realistically it can have less than half of that and most likely even less. It means that by its sole existence it saves 10+ tons of the vehicle weight. 

As soon as you start taking armor off the turret you lose survivability. Now your main armament is exposed which is key to survivability. You save weight on some unmanned turrets but not all. 

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9 hours ago, DIADES said:

LOL, check some history.  Tanks have been used all over the Pacific by various players.

 

But, most importantly, time and time again, people say "you can't use tanks in...." and always, somebody does!

 

And if the other guy has armour, you need armour.

When I say tanks I mean MBTs. Light tanks like the M8 AGS would be fine. 

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8 hours ago, alanch90 said:

Well, places like JAPAN or TAIWAN are still islands on the Pacific, and at least the first one is a place where a  a tank weighing more than 50 tons can´t be deployed on 70-80 percent of its territory. And then you start connecting dots and realize that the Chinese must have pretty good reasons to develop a lighter 2 man next gen MBT which from what we got until now seems to be in the 40-50 ton class.

 

8 hours ago, alanch90 said:

Well, places like JAPAN or TAIWAN are still islands on the Pacific, and at least the first one is a place where a  a tank weighing more than 50 tons can´t be deployed on 70-80 percent of its territory. And then you start connecting dots and realize that the Chinese must have pretty good reasons to develop a lighter 2 man next gen MBT which from what we got until now seems to be in the 40-50 ton class.

Why would you want to pack a bunch of tanks on a mountainous island with thick jungles? Most armored vehicles will have little value in places like those islands. Taiwan has no value to America, why would anyone want to fight to save them from China? Any fighting with China won't be on an island but on the sea and in the air. 

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6 minutes ago, Insomnium95 said:

As soon as you start taking armor off the turret you lose survivability. Now your main armament is exposed which is key to survivability. You save weight on some unmanned turrets but not all. 

 

Come on, you don't need to give up any armor. You don't need to protect x cubic meters of internal space for the crew. Do you understand what makes the difference? You can even add much more armor on the unmanned turret and still save tons of weight compared to the manned one. 

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2 minutes ago, Beer said:

 

Come on, you don't need to give up any armor. You don't need to protect x cubic meters of internal space for the crew. Do you understand what makes the difference? You can even add much more armor on the unmanned turret and still save tons of weight compared to the manned one. 

It's not just about protecting the crew but your life line which is your firepower. If you add armor to the unmanned turret wouldn't that defeat the purpose of keeping weight down?

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Just now, Insomnium95 said:

It's not just about protecting the crew but your life line which is your firepower. If you add armor to the unmanned turret wouldn't that defeat the purpose of keeping weight down?

 

No. 

 

I really can't see how to explain that to you if you don't understand the most basic math. 

 

Let's try. If you have a square garden of 100 square meters, how long fence do you need around it? 40 meters, right? Now make the garden 400 square meters for your three dogs. How long fence you have now? 80 meters, right? You have the very same fence. Which one is heavier? The second, right? It is twice heavier but it's the very same fence offering your dogs the very same protection. You can add twice thicker fence to the first small garden to have the same weight of the fence. Do you understand now? 

 

Sorry but if you don't understand this basics than there is no discussion possible. 

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4 hours ago, Beer said:

 

No. 

 

I really can't see how to explain that to you if you don't understand the most basic math. 

 

Let's try. If you have a square garden of 100 square meters, how long fence do you need around it? 40 meters, right? Now make the garden 400 square meters for your three dogs. How long fence you have now? 80 meters, right? You have the very same fence. Which one is heavier? The second, right? It is twice heavier but it's the very same fence offering your dogs the very same protection. You can add twice thicker fence to the first small garden to have the same weight of the fence. Do you understand now? 

 

Sorry but if you don't understand this basics than there is no discussion possible. 

Didn't even read what you wrote. 

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On 9/28/2020 at 11:01 AM, Insomnium95 said:

Didn't even read what you wrote. 

 

What he is trying to say is there is much less volume in an unmanned turret, as it has no fighting compartment inside it. As such the unmanned turret is much smaller and can carry far more armor for a given mass.

 

The scourge of protected volume is what lead the soviets to the hilariously compact T-64.

 

That said, Beer's explanation was quite good and you should have read it.

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https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/army-robots-hunt-tanks-in-project-convergence/

 

[quote]A pair of unprepossessing robots, looking more like militarized golf carts than Terminators, trundled across the Yuma Desert, part of the Army’s Project Convergence exercise on future warfare.

 

Like human troops, the machines took turns covering each other as they advanced. One robot would find a safe spot, stop, and launch the tethered mini-drone it carried to look over the next ridgeline while the other bot moved forward; then they’d switch off.

Their objective: a group of buildings on the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, a simulated town for urban combat training. As one robot held back to relay communications to its distant human overseers, the other moved into the town – and spotted “enemy” forces. With human approval, the robot opened fire.
 

Then the robot’s onboard Aided Target Recognition (ATR) algorithms identified another enemy, a T-72 tank. But this target was too far away for the robot’s built-in weapons to reach. So the bot uploaded the targeting data to the tactical network and – again, with human approval – called in artillery support.[/quote]

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1 hour ago, TokyoMorose said:

 

What he is trying to say is there is much less volume in an unmanned turret, as it has no fighting compartment inside it. As such the unmanned turret is much smaller and can carry far more armor for a given mass.

 

The scourge of protected volume is what lead the soviets to the hilariously compact T-64.

 

That said, Beer's explanation was quite good and you should have read it.

His response has nothing to do with what I said. He just wants to argue and I'm not interested in that. 

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