DARPA’s next generation tanks might dodge RPGs

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Last month, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency introduced what a next-generation tank might look like. Known as the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program, this experimental vehicle is less like the traditional heavily armored brutes typically on the battlefield. These are built for speed. In a new video, DARPA shows off exactly how this new tech might work in the field. As the military research agency outlined in its initial proposal, these new “tanks,” though they’re more akin to an enclosed Warthog from Halo, aim to reduce the size and crew by half while also making it twice as fast and able to cover almost all terrain.

The Pentagon wants next-generation armored vehicles that are more mobile, maneuverable and survivable, but without more armor. In September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will host a proposer’s day to give potential contractors a more clear idea of what the Defense Department wants in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. “GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle— it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles,” Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager, said in an Aug. 18 press release. Historically, militaries and industry have responded to improved or more lethal attacks on its armored vehicles by adding more armor. But armor piercing weapons technology has pretty much taken the day in that competition, advancing faster than industry’s ability to come up with armor to withstand penetration, Massey said. The more heavily armored vehicles do increase the chances of crew survivability. The Congressional Research Service, citing DoD figures in 2009, said the casualty rate for troops in an MRAP is 6 percent. For the M-1 Abrams, it’s about 15 percent and for the up-armored HMMWV – the Humvee – it’s 22 percent.

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