Here’s What Future US Military Ground Vehicles May Look Like
Historically there’s been a tried-and-true way of increasing a military vehicle’s level of protection—simply add more armor. Of late, the formula has created some of the safest war-fighting US military ground vehicles ever built, but the recipe has a major drawback, its sizable heft. The more armor you add, the heavier, less nimble, and more costly to develop the vehicle becomes. The Department of Defense’s latest endeavor to counter this trend is known as the GXV-T program (or “Ground X-Vehicle Technology”) and it’s being spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Its aim? Create nimbler, faster, and smarter armed ground vehicles which don’t compromise on safety and don’t break the budget to develop and manufacture. You can take a look at the agency’s conceptual renderings in the video, below. RELATED: Meet the $6.7 Billion Humvee Replacement for the US Military
According to DARPA, eight organizations have been given contracts to develop the new technology to make these future fighting vehicles possible, and this includes Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University as well as engineering firms Honeywell International, Leidos, and Pratt & Miller.
“We’re exploring a variety of potentially groundbreaking technologies, all of which are designed to improve vehicle mobility, vehicle survivability and crew safety and performance without piling on armor,” said Maj. Christopher Orlowski, DARPA program manager.
The agency previously highlighted four concrete goals of the US military program, which included reducing vehicle size and weight by 50 percent, slashing operational crew size by half, doubling driving speeds, and allowing access to 95 percent of battlefield terrain.
Further, the program also aims to implement autonomous evasion technology, which could allow the ground vehicles to independently avoid incoming threats by shifting, dodging, and repositioning in real-time—a truly revolutionary advancement if achieved.
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DARPA also lists reducing the vehicle's detectable signature (visible, infrared, acoustic, and electromagnetic) as well as increasing situational awareness through 360-degree data visualization and the automation of minor crew functions.
“DARPA’s performers for GXV-T are helping defy the ‘more armor equals better protection’ axiom that has constrained armored ground vehicle design for the past 100 years,” says Orlowski, “and are paving the way toward innovative, disruptive vehicles for the 21st Century and beyond.”
The US Army and Marines likely won't deploy anything of this magnitude in the next few years, however the recently-approved Oshkosh JLTV will begin to see service in 2018 and 2019.
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Photo Credit: DARPA, Department of Defense