Here’s what to remember: “Over the next 25 years or so, there will be a role to play in ground warfare, ”said US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
The main battle tank isn’t likely to fade from the history books like mounted cavalry units did at the turn of the 20th century, but advancements in technology could fundamentally change the nature of future armored vehicles.
The US military is currently conducting an alternative analysis of what a future family of armored vehicles might look like.
“Are we sort of at that point in history where mechanized armored vehicles follow the path of horse cavalry?” U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told a hearing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC
“I don’t think so, but I’m skeptical, so I’m going to keep asking that.”
The 40-year-old M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank remains a capable tank, but it’s starting to show its age. As Milley noted, longtime vehicles have been significantly improved over the years and hardly resemble their original setups under their skin. Almost everything about the vehicles has been completely redesigned.
But the Abrams is probably at the limit of its capabilities: the service needs a new tank.
“We need a new armored ground platform for our mechanized infantry and tanks,” Milley said.
“It is my belief, at least for the foreseeable future – the next 25 years or so – there is a role to be played in ground warfare for these types of formations.”
Milley said a new family of ground combat systems would likely incorporate technologies such as active protection systems, small crews and automated turrets, similar in many ways to technologies pioneered by the series of vehicles from Russian fight Armata. And like the Russian Armata series, a future US Army armored vehicle will be part of a family of related machines.
Robotics could also play a huge role in the future family of armored fighting vehicles. Milley said every future vehicle would need to be dual-capacity so that a commander would have the ability to send a piloted or unmanned version into a combat situation.
However, the biggest breakthrough the military could make is in materials. Composites of steel, tungsten, depleted uranium, and ceramic are tough and dense, and provide excellent protection when incorporated into an armor matrix. However, these materials are also heavy, which is why an Abrams tips the scales at almost 70 tons.
“The holy grail of technologies that I’m trying to find for this thing are materials – it’s the armor itself,” Milley said.
“Because if we could find a material – there’s a lot of research and development going on – that’s significantly lighter and gives you the same armored protection, that would be a real breakthrough. ”
Other potential technologies could do without chemical propellants for the cannon. Railgun and lasers are potential technologies that could be incorporated into future armored vehicles, Milley said.
This article is republished for the interest of readers.