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3 hours ago, Renegade334 said:

@Manic Moran Do you happen to know if the LCAS turret is directly related to the M1E3 effort or if it's just some side tinkering/exploring? The timing seems rather convenient -- if only to serve as preliminary research for the E3's possible forms.

QUfpm5G.png

From https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2022/future/Tues_Grassano.pdf

If it's not AbramsX, then LCAS could constitute a good starting point for the E3.

SEPv4 cancelled as a program of record, therefore it's safe to assume any ongoing project that started before that decision, has been revised to some degree.

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On 9/14/2023 at 6:18 AM, Renegade334 said:

Lower right corner is "M1E3 / **** (possible XM13** model number)".

Upper left seems to be the Booker.

Upper right is probably a pair of robotic mules.

Lower left is the XM30.

Anyway, it simply suggests they're further along than the beer-stained napkin doodle stage.

So I had a gander at the original slide last night. The title on the quad is “M1E3-NG MBT”

At the very bottom of the slide is an asterisk, which says “Digital designs not representative of prototype vehicles”. In effect, it’s a cool image for the sake of putting something on the screen instead of an empty space.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not related to the M1E3 per se, but what is supposed to come after the M1A2 SEP vX (X being a hypothetical number): 

An Independent Assessment of the 2040 Battlefield and its Implications for the 5th Generation Combat Vehicle (5GCV), Final Report: Executive Summary, by the US Army Science Board, Aug. 2023

https://imgur.com/a/VS2RNex

Kindly reuploaded on Imgur by Clan_Ghost_Bear at SH because the DDL link at asb.army.mil is 404'ing.

A list of observations, opinions and observations, not necessarily reflective of the current and official state of R&D and the product scheduling.

A few interesting things on this hypothetical 5GCV:

  • goes for 130mm rather than 140mm but notes that there is still a drastic decrease (from 40 to 19; the "M1X" could be a mention to the AbramsX? haven't heard of it being renamed "M1X" although "StrykerX" has apparently been rechristened "Stryker QB") in onboard ammunition capacity
  • goes for hybrid-electric
  • autoloader with crew reduction from 4 to 3
  • almost doubles engagement ranges
  • goes for the 55-60t weight bracket
  • proposes an alternative 35-40t light tank solution with 130mm overmatch or "120mm with energetics", and/or a robotic wingman with ATGMs and/or LOSAT/CKEM-like hypervelocity missiles.

DJI1515.png

^--- giving me MBT70 vibes with the turret shape, there...

And a recommended timeline:

  • subsystems R&D should start next year
  • subsystems testbeds in 2026
  • 5GCV should be a program of record in 2031H2
  • competitive prototypes in 2031H2
  • LRIP from 2037Q4 to ~2040Q1

Again, this is just a study rather than a binding declaration of intent from the Army itself. USAR is perfectly free to ignore or dismiss the study and its opinions, but it could give clues as to where their minds are going.

Edited by Renegade334
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Jumping to 130mm just seems like overkill, especially given the huge drop in stowed kills.  It's predicated on the assumption that frequent, head on, tank-on-tank engagements vs Armata+ level tanks are likely.  Also, it seems like focusing on direct-fire engagements at 3-5km is an emphasis on rare events in most environments.  Just add a gun-launched, top attack missile that can do fire-observe-update.  

image.png.45a230b1ef02d35af1bc914a6301803b.png\

As seen from Ukraine, mines, artillery, UAVs and ATGMs have claimed far more tanks than tank-on-tank engagements.

So focus on cost-effectiveness, not on extreme direct fire performance, IMHO.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 10/3/2023 at 4:44 PM, Bsmitty said:

Jumping to 130mm just seems like overkill, especially given the huge drop in stowed kills.  It's predicated on the assumption that frequent, head on, tank-on-tank engagements vs Armata+ level tanks are likely.  Also, it seems like focusing on direct-fire engagements at 3-5km is an emphasis on rare events in most environments.  Just add a gun-launched, top attack missile that can do fire-observe-update.  

As seen from Ukraine, mines, artillery, UAVs and ATGMs have claimed far more tanks than tank-on-tank engagements.

1. The argument is that 120mm is doomed to lose ground to the latest advances in armor technology and other countermeasures, like bolt-on NERA blocks to increase thickness like the Challenger 2's LFP add-on, ERA that may --or may arguably not!-- be effective against APFSDS, and APS with --at best-- spurious claims of positive effects on long rods. The aforementioned systems are highly unreliable at this time, but in the future? It could change.

130mm and upwards could yield penetration values of 1,000mm or thereabouts as the 140mm experiments by the US and Switzerland showed (Richard Ogorkiewicz did specifically mention that ~1m pen was achieved, IIRC by RUAG), which will be amply sufficient for a couple decades before armor tech catches up again (unless they go for the Leo 1 approach - "armor is overrated, Hans, but über-mobility shall save your life!"). The larger bore would also make it easier to launch more powerful rounds (bigger HE shells) if not outright gun-launched missiles (which would benefit from the larger diameter and thus deliver a slightly larger payload). The big problem is indeed stowage, but tanks like M1 TTB and CATTB Phase 2 (which could carry thirty-nine 140mm rounds, 17 in the turret bustle and 22 in two separate cassette autoloaders inside the hull) show that there are still different stowage solutions left to explore - each with their perks and drawbacks.

2. Russia, China, North Korea and certain Middle East actors do have sizable tank fleets, although...even after being cut down to size by the expected initial round of air strikes and artillery (plus attacks on logistics and other infrastructure like fuel supply and repair chains), it won't be guaranteed that tank-on-tank battles will be swept off the table, especially if there is a need to have boots on the ground to bring an decisive and lasting end to the conflict. And, right now, it's guaranteed that, by 2040, we'll be seeing a lot more new or novel tank types that, in one way or another, shall draw comparisons to the Armata or, at least, owe their existence to it. The KF51, AbramsX and possible follow-ons to the K2 are precursor signs of what will inevitably come -- unless, in the meantime, we observe another big round of paradigm changes that warrant drastic course corrections in design philosophy.

2. KF51 Panther and AbramsX have already incorporated Switchblade/loitering (kamikaze) UAV launchers into their turret and, as this tweet below shows, the Kongsberg RS6 RWS on the AbramsX was actually primed to receive a Javelin missile right beside the XM914 gun.

And you'll note that the ASB study's 5GCV illustration shows a Javelin tube next to that RWS autocannon.

3. There were still tank-on-tank battles and countless instances of tanks used as assault guns (like those near-antediluvian MBTs that Russia keeps resurrecting and perfunctorily facelifting) or ad hoc artillery platforms. It is true that bocage-like environments do whittle down engagement ranges quite severely, but there are still plenty of large, open spaces (esp. those once used for agrarian purposes) where medium-to-long range gunnery (as far as MBTs are concerned - arty isn't concerned by this) is necessary. And that's where you'll wish you had the extra protection in reserve for when your doctrine says "well, shucks" or just draws a blank.

I don't deny artillery, drones and other standoff weapons were the biggest tank-killers of the Ukrainian conflict, but they don't account for all of the casualties and they hardly relegated the tank to mere role of killstreak multiplier. As many will tell you, like @Manic Moran himself, the tank is not dead yet - it still has a big role to play in modern warfare. And it is very possible that role will evolve into something different from what we're used to.

Edited by Renegade334
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1 hour ago, Renegade334 said:

unless they go for the Leo 1 approach - "armor is overrated, Hans, but maximum mobility will save your life!"

This is something I talked about in another forum and believe will happen. I believe we'll see a higher caliber gun on a lighter platform that will, in absolute terms, be more protected than today's platforms, but will lose the relative competitive position its protection had vs contemporary firepower.

Current MBTs can be pushed down to the 50 ton area with a complete rebuild that reduces parasitic weight, but will have to maintain the capability to flex up and down substantially within hours, say even 50% up in weight, to meet protection demands on a field. I believe that the next evolution in protection can from such a capability.

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On 10/3/2023 at 12:33 PM, Renegade334 said:

1. The argument is that 120mm is doomed to lose ground to the latest advances in armor technology and other countermeasures, like bolt-on NERA blocks to increase thickness like the Challenger 2's LFP add-on, ERA that may --or may arguably not!-- be effective against APFSDS, and APS with --at best-- spurious claims of positive effects on long rods. The aforementioned systems are highly unreliable at this time, but in the future? It could change.

130mm and upwards could yield penetration values of 1,000mm or thereabouts as the 140mm experiments by the US and Switzerland showed (Richard Ogorkiewicz did specifically mention that ~1m pen was achieved, IIRC by RUAG), which will be amply sufficient for a couple decades before armor tech catches up again (unless they go for the Leo 1 approach - "armor is overrated, Hans, but über-mobility shall save your life!"). The larger bore would also make it easier to launch more powerful rounds (bigger HE shells) if not outright gun-launched missiles (which would benefit from the larger diameter and thus deliver a slightly larger payload). The big problem is indeed stowage, but tanks like M1 TTB and CATTB Phase 2 (which could carry thirty-nine 140mm rounds, 17 in the turret bustle and 22 in two separate cassette autoloaders inside the hull) show that there are still different stowage solutions left to explore - each with their perks and drawbacks.

2. Russia, China, North Korea and certain Middle East actors do have sizable tank fleets, although...even after being cut down to size by the expected initial round of air strikes and artillery (plus attacks on logistics and other infrastructure like fuel supply and repair chains), it won't be guaranteed that tank-on-tank battles will be swept off the table, especially if there is a need to have boots on the ground to bring an decisive and lasting end to the conflict. And, right now, it's guaranteed that, by 2040, we'll be seeing a lot more new or novel tank types that, in one way or another, shall draw comparisons to the Armata or, at least, owe their existence to it. The KF51, AbramsX and possible follow-ons to the K2 are precursor signs of what will inevitably come -- unless, in the meantime, we observe another big round of paradigm changes that warrant drastic course corrections in design philosophy.

2. KF51 Panther and AbramsX have already incorporated Switchblade/loitering (kamikaze) UAV launchers into their turret and, as this tweet below shows, the Kongsberg RS6 RWS on the AbramsX was actually primed to receive a Javelin missile right beside the XM914 gun.

And you'll note that the ASB study's 5GCV illustration shows a Javelin tube next to that RWS autocannon.

3. There were still tank-on-tank battles and countless instances of tanks used as assault guns (like those near-antediluvian MBTs that Russia keeps resurrecting and perfunctorily facelifting) or ad hoc artillery platforms. It is true that bocage-like environments do whittle down engagement ranges quite severely, but there are still plenty of large, open spaces (esp. those once used for agrarian purposes) where medium-to-long range gunnery (as far as MBTs are concerned - arty isn't concerned by this) is necessary. And that's where you'll wish you had the extra protection in reserve for when your doctrine says "well, shucks" or just draws a blank.

I don't deny artillery, drones and other standoff weapons were the biggest tank-killers of the Ukrainian conflict, but they don't account for all of the casualties and they hardly relegated the tank to mere role of killstreak multiplier. As many will tell you, like @Manic Moran himself, the tank is not dead yet - it still has a big role to play in modern warfare. And it is very possible that role will evolve into something different from what we're used to.

1. T-14 Armata appears to be dead in the water.  The Russians are sticking with the T-90 series.  The Chinese are producing T-99As, which appear to be roughly equivalent to the T-90s.  There isn't a big push by any of our potential opponents to build new super tanks.  So why should we build our army to fight mythical "King Tigers", when the enemy is mostly sticking with "Pz IVs" and "Panthers"?  We haven't even gone up to the vanilla 120mm L/55, let alone the Rh-120 L/55 A1.

Both M1 TTB and CATTB were problematic.  The TTB autoloader can't use a 130mm gun without significantly increasing the hull height, was mechanically complex and expensive, and banished the crew to the hull.   The CATTB had a GIGANTIC turret.  Not exactly going to meet the goal of reducing overall weight while improving protection.  Both would be significantly more expensive than the existing M1 design, or even a more modest 120mm autoloader system.  We do actually need robust numbers of these new tanks.  We have to resist the urge to put our efforts into a handful of unaffordable Wunderwaffen.  

2.  We might see more novel tank types, but how many will actually make it into service in large numbers?  The Russians still use large numbers of T-72s and T-80s (though Ukraine is liberating them of those stocks).  The Chinese still mainly use the Type-96B.

3. Incorporating ATGMs into the RWS on a turret seems problematic. Where are reloads stored?  Better to build a LAHAT-like round that uses IIR and a fire-observe-update datalink. Or a gun-launched loitering munition.  Both of which can be stored as regular ammunition and loaded via the autoloader.

4. In terms of using tanks as assault guns, larger guns are worse.  105mm > 120mm > 130mm simply because you can carry more ammo for the smaller gun.  105mm also happens to be rifled, so you can use HEP against buildings. 

Using tanks as surrogate artillery is interesting, but they're highly sub-optimal for this.  They can't vary charge strength to shape trajectories, so everything comes in low and hot at shorter ranges.  This also leads to excessive barrel wear as artillery still needs to fire a LOT of unguided rounds to have sufficient effects.  It might be interesting to consider a tank/assault gun/artillery vehicle that uses a hybrid tank/artillery gun like the old MRAAS 105mm concept for FCS.  Maybe just stick with separate MACS-style charges like the 105mm G7 LEO artillery gun but adapt it to fire an APFSDS like M900.  Then it could actually be a real 105mm SPG as well as a light tank.

https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2003/gun/cord.pdf

https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2004/armaments/04_Vickory_105mm_Indirect_Fire.pdf

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Bsmitty said:

1. T-14 Armata appears to be dead in the water.  The Russians are sticking with the T-90 series.  The Chinese are producing T-99As, which appear to be roughly equivalent to the T-90s.  There isn't a big push by any of our potential opponents to build new super tanks.  So why should we build our army to fight mythical "King Tigers", when the enemy is mostly sticking with "Pz IVs" and "Panthers"?  We haven't even gone up to the vanilla 120mm L/55, let alone the Rh-120 L/55 A1.

Both M1 TTB and CATTB were problematic.  The TTB autoloader can't use a 130mm gun without significantly increasing the hull height, was mechanically complex and expensive, and banished the crew to the hull.   The CATTB had a GIGANTIC turret.  Not exactly going to meet the goal of reducing overall weight while improving protection.  Both would be significantly more expensive than the existing M1 design, or even a more modest 120mm autoloader system.  We do actually need robust numbers of these new tanks.  We have to resist the urge to put our efforts into a handful of unaffordable Wunderwaffen.  

2.  We might see more novel tank types, but how many will actually make it into service in large numbers?  The Russians still use large numbers of T-72s and T-80s (though Ukraine is liberating them of those stocks).  The Chinese still mainly use the Type-96B.

3. Incorporating ATGMs into the RWS on a turret seems problematic. Where are reloads stored?  Better to build a LAHAT-like round that uses IIR and a fire-observe-update datalink. Or a gun-launched loitering munition.  Both of which can be stored as regular ammunition and loaded via the autoloader.

4. In terms of using tanks as assault guns, larger guns are worse.  105mm > 120mm > 130mm simply because you can carry more ammo for the smaller gun.  105mm also happens to be rifled, so you can use HEP against buildings. 

Using tanks as surrogate artillery is interesting, but they're highly sub-optimal for this.  They can't vary charge strength to shape trajectories, so everything comes in low and hot at shorter ranges.  This also leads to excessive barrel wear as artillery still needs to fire a LOT of unguided rounds to have sufficient effects.  It might be interesting to consider a tank/assault gun/artillery vehicle that uses a hybrid tank/artillery gun like the old MRAAS 105mm concept for FCS.  Maybe just stick with separate MACS-style charges like the 105mm G7 LEO artillery gun but adapt it to fire an APFSDS like M900.  Then it could actually be a real 105mm SPG as well as a light tank.

https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2003/gun/cord.pdf

https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2004/armaments/04_Vickory_105mm_Indirect_Fire.pdf

1. The Armata is dead in the water, not so much because the concept was proven deficient in the wild and in action, but because the program itself is a quagmire of dysfunction. There are a thousand and one different bad things to say about that ongoing trainwreck, from the dire financial state Uralvagonzavod was in when they started the damn design, their choice of engine, the APS that cannot shoot upwards and apparently even damaged the testing rigs, and the rampant embezzling and corruption that made the intended production line an absolute joke that is beyond fixing now.

But China is another different matter, even though their current economic woes could change that soon. Their industrial base is stronger and, unlike Russia, they do have the ability to create their own chips, however dated; they have no need to dismantle washing machines to harvest them for spare electronics. As such, it's a lot easier for them to upgrade their Type 99s or field something completely new by 2040 (you seem to be focused on now compared to the 2040 finishing line the study relies on). It took eight years between the appearances of the Armata and the KF51 and the AbramsX, half the time between today and 2040. Why would research and procurement stop all of  a sudden?

Speaking of which, the Type 99A2 has, reportedly (I'm still taking this very cautiously, as it could be over-extrapolation from Chinese official commentaries), been considered for up-gunning to 140mm (allegedly why the turret shape was modified - for new gun types), but that cannon itself ran into issues (barrel cracking) before it could be mounted on a vehicular testbed. Again, taking this with a huge grain of salt.

And a military confrontation with China is not off the table, either - there are fears the current economic downturn in China is pressuring Xi to accelerate his Taiwan reunification agenda and amplify his bluster, reinforcing him in his belief that he must make at least one big achievement to eclipse his recent blunders.

A bit further East, North Korea is still sticking with very old tanks and dressing up their later variants to look like Abramatas (which is what I call Kim's latest parade darling), but the recent business dealings with Russia could potentially result in some technology transfers (and ensuing capability growths) we might not want to see. It's a what-if followed by other what-ifs, but remember...no one imagined at the beginning of the conflict that Putin would be desperate enough to ask for alms abroad. Things change. Reservations fade. Shit happens as a result.

On another note-

The M1A1 (in the form of the M1 Thumper) and the M1A2 (in the form of the M1A2/L55) both tested long-barreled 120mm guns and ran into issues (there is also a picture of a M1 with a 120mm XM291, but the barrel length is unclear). On the M1 Thumper, they noticed a drop in accuracy (a higher target impact dispersion or TID) compared to the 44-caliber M256 barrel and the 44-caliber XM291 barrel; on the M1A2/L55, the gun (or more specifically one of its components, the tuned shroud) was damaged twice due to vibrations before it could be fired. The entire motor and stabilization system appears in need of a strong upgrade or replacement. The longer-barreled XM360E1 warranted a "modified Abrams rotor", but the gun itself is much lighter than a M256, let alone a 55-caliber variant. I wouldn't therefore put much money on a Rh120/L55 upgrade - the Army is far more invested in the significantly lighter and more modern XM360 (which is ready for programmable ammo and higher chamber pressure ammo cartridges, out of the box), which it has spent a LOT more time testing.

And if that's not enough already, there's the entire debate of depleted uranium vs tungsten alloy and those respective supply chains that also play a certain role in why the US never bothered going with the L55.

As for the CATTB and TTB? Both M1 prototypes were over-engineered for their times (1980s and 1990s, respectively), yes, but it must be mentioned that the M1 TTB's vertical carousel demonstrated remarkable reliability, being able to pick up, chamber, remove and re-stock ammunition several tens of thousands of times without breaking down. That's something to keep in mind. Oh, and it only weighed 45 tons using only 1980s tech. I'm sure USAR wouldn't mind an extra ton or two courtesy of newer ammunition types - and that's assuming we stick to the 130mm round standard as marketed by Rheinmetall; the US has also been looking at different cannon concepts lately, including a "157mm straight chamber cannon" (source). And there are other things that could be explored to give a few more inches (if not a full foot) of clearance, like eliminating the torsion bars and going full hydropneumatic.

And I must underline: both prototypes are now almost thirty years old. Technology evolved, improved, in the meantime. Meggitt's been working on its autoloaders for quite a while already, constantly refining them and pushing them to the fore, whenever USAR goes wishy-washy on the subject. And if I am to understand properly certain comments made on Sturgeon's House, the KF51 does take an indirect leaf from the CATTB Phase 2's book for the ready-to-nonready storage replenishment system.

Speaking of which, the CATTB's 140mm XM291 used two-piece, snap-joined rounds. The long rods were approximately 1m long. If one could create propellants with higher energy density/release, paired with, say, ETC (the so-called "energetics" mentioned in the study for the light tank's gun), we could potentially, hypothetically do away with that rear component (which in the Phase 2, could be stored in a cassette separate from the forward component, which contained the long rod) and thus reduce overall length (the XM964 was ~1.5m long, total, IIRC? but my memory could be failing me here). And, yes, I know that this imaginary propellant gifted with higher energy density also has the potential to be much more unstable and therefore unsafe...

It's the Red Queen Hypothesis put into practice: one side of the ecosystem evolves, and in turn the other must do the same, just to preserve the overall balance.

Besides, it's not like we're asking to jump to 152/155mm, like Russia hoped to do until the engineers realized that the barrel wear and strain on the turret ring were unacceptable (the 152mm T14 itself even required a redesigned turret ring, essentially making it a separate vehicle).

2. And again we return to Russia shopping abroad for equipment it does not have, sweetening the deals with certain offers (like Iran wanting to have a peek at captured Western equipment, especially ATGMs). Production can be outsourced or outright licensed. Iran, for one, is producing the Karrar, which is basically a T90 knockoff pretending to be a T90MS (which they failed to get a direct license for). Industrial capabilities are not necessarily restricted to the country of origin, especially with certain actors trying to achieve industrial independence from the rest of the world. Besides, look at what China did when it got its hands on a Su27 prototype and a Soviet aircraft carrier from the cash-strapped Ukrainians...>_> Granted, the engines on their knockoffs aren't that good, but they'll do for now.

And again, the study has 2040 as target. Not tomorrow or next year. Who the hell knows what will happen to Russia and other belligerent actors in that meantime - as well as what will happen to their armed and their industrial bases.

3. Switchblades and others are already part of current prototype designs and they don't claim extra internal space. And there is also the question of whether UAV control privileges should not conferred to other vehicles, like C4I units or brigade-level command I/AFVs so as to avoid overburdening the MBT's crew with extra tasks and freeing their attention for something else of equal if not higher importance.

4. The AbramsX has a turret bustle rack that could contain spares, even though it requires the tank to break line of sight, seek cover and have either a nearby infantryman or a crewmember to climb onto the turret to make the swap. But we're not asking the 5GCV to be a missile spammer, anyway - the missiles are merely there as bonus, and you don't have to sacrifice stowage units that could have been used for more multipurpose stuff like AMP.

5. Which is why the M10 Booker went for 105mm, because it's the best option for its assigned purpose, but the Booker is not trying to be an Abrams with the extra firepower and armor. It is more specialized.

As for ad hoc artillery, that's just a bonus role to offset the fact that they probably can't scrounge up enough modern FCS and optics to keep up with the opposition.

Edited by Renegade334
(headache makes me write weirdly-worded and grammatically-unsound sentences)
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In my opinion, the Type-99A is already a bigger threat than any russian tank, including the T-90M. China is far ahead in terms of onboard electronics. It doesnt matter if the T-90M has stronger armor. Type-99A has modern communication and navigation equipment and almost certainly a working BMS, this is already a big advantage. I suspect that the FCS and the gun stabilization system is also better. Type-99 may have better readiness rates also when it comes to automotive stuff, since it has a far more modern engine, in a quick replaceable power pack. China also has the ability to modernize the 99 even further, they have the industrial base for that. In terms of firepower, the advantage again goes to the 99A. Russia is unable to produce modern tank ammunition in large quantities, main product is still the ancient and hopelessly obsolete 3BM42. Chinese APFSDS is still far from western standards, but better than 3BM42.

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7 hours ago, Bsmitty said:

-14 Armata appears to be dead in the water.  The Russians are sticking with the T-90 series.  The Chinese are producing T-99As, which appear to be roughly equivalent to the T-90s.  There isn't a big push by any of our potential opponents to build new super tanks.  So why should we build our army to fight mythical "King Tigers", when the enemy is mostly sticking with "Pz IVs" and "Panthers"?  We haven't even gone up to the vanilla 120mm L/55, let alone the Rh-120 L/55 A1.

Just because they're in a bad situation right now doesn't mean that for the next 50 years there won't be adversaries capable of posing a conventional threat to the west.

And the L55 isn't a clear cut upgrade over the L44. In many respects it's a downgrade. Going for a larger 130mm is a hard to swallow pill for the same reason.

It is possible that new MBTs will retain the 120mm or go for the more conservative 130mm (relative to the 140mm types), whilst maintaining the capability to be upgraded with a simple switch of a turret.

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3 hours ago, old_goat said:

...I suspect that the FCS and the gun stabilization system is also better...

You have no clue what you are talking about.

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15 hours ago, old_goat said:

In my opinion, the Type-99A is already a bigger threat than any russian tank, including the T-90M. China is far ahead in terms of onboard electronics. It doesnt matter if the T-90M has stronger armor. Type-99A has modern communication and navigation equipment and almost certainly a working BMS, this is already a big advantage. I suspect that the FCS and the gun stabilization system is also better. Type-99 may have better readiness rates also when it comes to automotive stuff, since it has a far more modern engine, in a quick replaceable power pack. China also has the ability to modernize the 99 even further, they have the industrial base for that. In terms of firepower, the advantage again goes to the 99A. Russia is unable to produce modern tank ammunition in large quantities, main product is still the ancient and hopelessly obsolete 3BM42. Chinese APFSDS is still far from western standards, but better than 3BM42.

The Type-99A's gun performance is limited by its autoloader design.  Can't use longer APFSDS, and will compete in the turret tossing Olympics just like every T-72 derivative.  Still, in any fight against China, there will be a lot more Type-99As in the fight than M1s or 5GCVs or whatever.  

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17 hours ago, Renegade334 said:

1. The Armata is dead in the water, not so much because the concept was proven deficient in the wild and in action, but because the program itself is a quagmire of dysfunction. There are a thousand and one different bad things to say about that ongoing trainwreck, from the dire financial state Uralvagonzavod was in when they started the damn design, their choice of engine, the APS that cannot shoot upwards and apparently even damaged the testing rigs, and the rampant embezzling and corruption that made the intended production line an absolute joke that is beyond fixing now.

But China is another different matter, even though their current economic woes could change that soon. Their industrial base is stronger and, unlike Russia, they do have the ability to create their own chips, however dated; they have no need to dismantle washing machines to harvest them for spare electronics. As such, it's a lot easier for them to upgrade their Type 99s or field something completely new by 2040 (you seem to be focused on now compared to the 2040 finishing line the study relies on). It took eight years between the appearances of the Armata and the KF51 and the AbramsX, half the time between today and 2040. Why would research and procurement stop all of  a sudden?

Speaking of which, the Type 99A2 has, reportedly (I'm still taking this very cautiously, as it could be over-extrapolation from Chinese official commentaries), been considered for up-gunning to 140mm (allegedly why the turret shape was modified - for new gun types), but that cannon itself ran into issues (barrel cracking) before it could be mounted on a vehicular testbed. Again, taking this with a huge grain of salt.

And a military confrontation with China is not off the table, either - there are fears the current economic downturn in China is pressuring Xi to accelerate his Taiwan reunification agenda and amplify his bluster, reinforcing him in his belief that he must make at least one big achievement to eclipse his recent blunders.

A bit further East, North Korea is still sticking with very old tanks and dressing up their later variants to look like Abramatas (which is what I call Kim's latest parade darling), but the recent business dealings with Russia could potentially result in some technology transfers (and ensuing capability growths) we might not want to see. It's a what-if followed by other what-ifs, but remember...no one imagined at the beginning of the conflict that Putin would be desperate enough to ask for alms abroad. Things change. Reservations fade. Shit happens as a result.

On another note-

The M1A1 (in the form of the M1 Thumper) and the M1A2 (in the form of the M1A2/L55) tested long-barreled guns and ran into issues. On the M1 Thumper, they noticed a drop in accuracy (a higher target impact dispersion or TID) compared to the 44-caliber M256 barrel and the 44-caliber XM291 barrel; on the M1A2/L55, the gun (or more specifically one of its components, the tuned shroud) was damaged twice due to vibrations before it could be fired. The entire motor and stabilization system appears in need of a strong upgrade or replacement. The longer-barreled XM360E1 warranted a "modified Abrams rotor", but the gun itself is much lighter than a M256, let alone a 55-caliber variant. I wouldn't therefore put much money on a Rh120/L55 upgrade - the Army is far more invested in the significantly lighter and more modern XM360 (which is ready for programmable ammo and higher chamber pressure ammo cartridges, out of the box), which it has spent a LOT more time testing.

And if that's not enough already, there's the entire debate of depleted uranium vs tungsten alloy and those respective supply chains that also play a certain role in why the US never bothered going with the L55.

As for the CATTB and TTB? Both M1 prototypes were over-engineered for their times (1980s and 1990s, respectively), yes, but it must be mentioned that the M1 TTB's vertical carousel demonstrated remarkable reliability, being able to pick up, chamber, remove and re-stock ammunition several tens of thousands of times without breaking down. That's something to keep in mind. Oh, and it only weighed 45 tons using only 1980s tech. I'm sure USAR wouldn't mind an extra ton or two courtesy of newer ammunition types - and that's assuming we stick to the 130mm round standard as marketed by Rheinmetall; the US has also been looking at different cannon concepts lately, including a "157mm straight chamber cannon" (source). And there are other things that could be explored to give a few more inches (if not a full foot) of clearance, like eliminating the torsion bars and going full hydropneumatic.

And I must underline: both prototypes are now almost thirty years old. Technology evolved, improved, in the meantime. Meggitt's been working on its autoloaders for quite a while already, constantly refining them and pushing them to the fore, whenever USAR goes wishy-washy on the subject. And if I am to understand properly certain comments made on Sturgeon's House, the KF51 does take an indirect leaf from the CATTB Phase 2's book for the ready-to-nonready storage replenishment system.

Speaking of which, the CATTB's 140mm XM291 used two-piece, snap-joined rounds. The long rods were approximately 1m long. If one could create propellants with higher energy density/release, paired with, say, ETC (the so-called "energetics" mentioned in the study for the light tank's gun), we could potentially, hypothetically do away with that rear component (which in the Phase 2, could be stored in a cassette separate from the forward component, which contained the long rod) and thus reduce overall length (the XM964 was ~1.5m long, total, IIRC? but my memory could be failing me here). And, yes, I know that this imaginary propellant gifted with higher energy density also has the potential to be much more unstable and therefore unsafe...

It's the Red Queen Hypothesis put into practice: one side of the ecosystem evolves, and in turn the other must do the same, just to preserve the overall balance.

Besides, it's not like we're asking to jump to 152/155mm, like Russia hoped to do until the engineers realized that the barrel wear and strain on the turret ring were unacceptable (the 152mm T14 itself even required a redesigned turret ring, essentially making it a separate vehicle).

2. And again we return to Russia shopping abroad for equipment it does not have, sweetening the deals with certain offers (like Iran wanting to have a peek at captured Western equipment, especially ATGMs). Production can be outsourced or outright licensed. Iran, for one, is producing the Karrar, which is basically a T90 knockoff pretending to be a T90MS (which they failed to get a direct license for). Industrial capabilities are not necessarily restricted to the country of origin, especially with certain actors trying to achieve industrial independence from the rest of the world. Besides, look at what China did when it got its hands on a Su27 prototype and a Soviet aircraft carrier from the cash-strapped Ukrainians...>_> Granted, the engines on their knockoffs aren't that good, but they'll do for now.

And again, the study has 2040 as target. Not tomorrow or next year. Who the hell knows what will happen to Russia and other belligerent actors in that meantime - as well as what will happen to their armed and their industrial bases.

3. Switchblades and others are already part of current prototype designs and they don't claim extra internal space. And there is also the question of whether UAV control privileges should not conferred to other vehicles, like C4I units or brigade-level command I/AFVs so as to avoid overburdening the MBT's crew with extra tasks and freeing their attention for something else of equal if not higher importance.

4. The AbramsX has a turret bustle rack that could contain spares, even though it requires the tank to break line of sight, seek cover and have either a nearby infantryman or a crewmember to climb onto the turret to make the swap. But we're not asking the 5GCV to be a missile spammer, anyway - the missiles are merely there as bonus, and you don't have to sacrifice stowage units that could have been used for more multipurpose stuff like AMP.

5. Which is why the M10 Booker went for 105mm, because it's the best option for its assigned purpose, but the Booker is not trying to be an Abrams with the extra firepower and armor. It is more specialized.

As for ad hoc artillery, that's just a bonus role to offset the fact that they probably can't scrounge up enough modern FCS and optics to keep up with the opposition.

The Armata failed for the reasons you mentioned, but even if they'd run the program better it would still be at risk of failure.  Taking the crew out of the turret opens up a lot of difficult issues, and makes for a much more expensive vehicle.  

Yes, we should look at what think the tank inventories will look like in 2040, 17 years away.  It's instructive to look back 17 years and see where everyone was.  The Russian Army was still using T-72s, T-80s and some T-90s.  That largely hasn't changed.  IIRC, The Chinese were using a mix of older tanks, Type-96s, and the Type-99 was just coming online.  The Type-96 is still their backbone today, but there are more Type-99s in service. 

So not much has changed in 17 years for either opponent, just fiddling with the proportions and newer variants of each.  We were using M1A2 variants then.  We still are. These things just don't change very rapidly.  New tank development and production is expensive.

The M1 TTB demonstrated reliability on a test stand, not in realistic conditions.  Could they've made it reliable in a real tank? Perhaps, but it would still require more maintenance.  Was there even room to crawl around in there?  How do you reload the MG or clear a jam?  What's the backup plan if something critical in the turret fails?  Are tank commanders willing to give up direct top vision for electronics? How much more expensive would a TTB-like tank cost?

4. My point is, maybe 5GCV should be a missile spammer. It'd be a heckuva lot cheaper and have far fewer design implications than trying to make it able to direct fire duel mythical 2040 King Tigers at 5km. 

5. On the SPG/Tank concept, artillery has killed more tanks than other tanks in Ukraine. So maybe focusing on that aspect will produce better results in the future than focusing on direct fire engagements at extreme range.  A tank company with 14 SPG/tanks isn't that far off from an artillery battalion with 18 SPGs.  A G7 Leo-equivalent gun could fire 30+km, or fire at much shorter ranges in support of an infantry assault with barrel saving, low-zone charges.

 

 

 

 

 

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OK, I saw that one over a year ago when I was at Warren to film the M10. At the time, it was still a 'don't talk about it' design, I guess that's no longer the case. Thing's made of fiberglass. It is literally a conceptual model.

Note the hatches in the bottom photo. It is an unmanned-turret concept, similar to TTB or Armata. There's no reason it can't become an 'optionally manned' vehicle in the future, but note how in the Ronkainen twitter photo the 'front part' between the tracks and forward of the turret is missing. Looks like they just pulled that part of the module away. Not sure why they did that, they may as well add armor or whatever. Otherwise those front side plates holding the wheels together are going to have to be very thick.

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1 hour ago, Manic Moran said:

 but note how in the Ronkainen twitter photo the 'front part' between the tracks and forward of the turret is missing. Looks like they just pulled that part of the module away. Not sure why they did that, they may as well add armor or whatever. Otherwise those front side plates holding the wheels together are going to have to be very thick.

Maybe that part of the hull is detachable and contains a full-sized mockup of the hull capsule that can be used as a separate exhibit...which doesn't force visitors/guests to clamber over the glacis for access?

Edited by Renegade334
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10 hours ago, Renegade334 said:

 

And RCV-H looked rather different a couple years ago: https://www.moore.army.mil/armor/earmor/content/issues/2020/Spring/2Morris20.pdf (Bottom of page 4)

Thats because its no RCV. Its a concept for M1E3 maskirovking as RCV. Either that or RCV program has been absorbed into M1E3 just like with OMT or the various names it had through the years.

Edited by alanch90
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@alanch90 The RCV-H may one day overlap and maybe even get fused with M1E3, but the other members of the RCV family are still under development and are wholly separate from M1E3. Previously the RCV-H was exploring a robotic light tank concept called ACT3205, but it seems they're now going for a full-fledged unmmaned/optionally manned MBT.

The RCV-Light prototype construction was recently awarded to QinetiQ, and there are two possible candidates for RCV-Medium, namely the Textron Ripsaw M5 and the GDLS TRX (the latest variant thereof, the TRX-SHORAD, will even be displayed at AUSA this year).

Robotic M113 surrogates were used to simulate RCV-H units in field tests with other members of the RCV ecosystem.

Edited by Renegade334
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^--- Don't take this too seriously, BTW. It's probably one of the many exploratory concepts studied or doodled about at Fort Moore. Besides, it's still carrying a M256 - if USAR is really serious about weight reduction, it'll go for a XM360, which is almost a full ton lighter.

In other news, Cummins ACE is no longer a direct shoe-in for M1E3:

Quote

While the most concrete proposed competition is one for an upgraded active protection system (APS), the army will likely hold a competition for a new engine, Bush told Janes on the sidelines of the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA's) 2023 annual conference. The acquisition and technology choices take inspiration from the F-16 programme with the US Air Force (USAF), he noted.

Edited by Renegade334
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On 10/6/2023 at 2:41 PM, Bsmitty said:

not much has changed in 17 years for either opponent, just fiddling with the proportions and newer variants of each.  We were using M1A2 variants then.  We still are. These things just don't change very rapidly.

Think how much tanks changed in the 17 years between 1965 and 1982. The speed of weapons evolution is also a function of the percieved threat environment.

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