A dual sponson engine design clears more space in the fighting compartment, while minimizing the volume under armor, thus saving weight of about three tons. It also enables a two-seat crew compartment, for driver and commander seated side-by side.
The most ambitious land combat system development program currently underway is the US Army’s next generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle – known as the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). Two industry teams are developing vehicle prototypes for the Army evaluation under the program’s $900 million 24 month technology demonstration (TD) phase. Through this phase the Army will have the opportunity to compare how a new generation combat system fare against current systems and platforms. One of these technologies is Hybrid Electric Propulsion.
Although the Army hasn’t committed to Hybrid-Electric Drive (HED) propulsion, this technology is already shaping the future requirement in a new way. The first opportunity for the US Army to truly evaluate this trend is the upcoming selection of Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) expected in four years time. The Army will have to choose between two alternatives – a conventionally propulsion (diesel, proposed by GDLS) and HED-driven one (proposed by BAE-Northrop Grumman). QinetiQ developed the Ex-Drive based HED utilized in this vehicle and the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery bank is supplied by Saft.
BAE Systems claims a combat vehicle powered by HED will be 10-20 percent more efficient than diesel powered alternative, it will also offer faster acceleration and maneuvering, and higher degree of fault tolerance, through system redundancy and reduction in moving parts.
“HED is a system solution for the constant demand for increasing electrical power,“ said Mark Signorelli, Vice President and General Manager Vehicle Systems at BAE Systems, this is not merely a mobility solution, as it responds to requirements for more available power, more power generation and higher voltages independent of the HED application. According to Signorelli HED is already a mature system, proved for years as highly reliable propulsion for locomotives, bulldozers and heavy mining machines.
A layout depicting the placement of different HED related components inside the GCV
For the military, HED offers packaging flexibility, allowing for the design of more spacious, mission adaptable platforms. In addition, electric drive also offers high torque at any ground speed, improved fuel efficiency and silent mobility and increased silent watch endurance. Increased power availability also results in more available power for new capabilities, such as thermal and signature management (cooling, ECS, stealth), new armament (electric guns, lasers) and exportable power generation. Design flexibility enables the creation of space efficient steel core hull, further protected by tailorable armor packages resulting in a protective suite matching or exceeding MRAP type vehicles.
While the HED is positioned as a lightweight and compact alternative to existing transmissions, the entire HED GCV application would weigh 140,000 pounds (70 tons). Adding the full protection suite, the Army considers the weight scale up to 14 ton heavier, setting the weight limit of the GCV TD at 84 tons. The Army and BAE Systems engineers are confident this weight could be reduced with further optimization, BAE Systems executive said, stressing the advantages the system could offer.
GCV HED architecture
Signorelli said the HED benefits to the GCV would contribute reduction of 40 percent in moving parts, corresponding to significant improvement in reliability. Ex-Drive gear system built by QinetiQ The absence of reverse gear will also contribute to higher reliability and improved performance. This system offers a compact and lightweight solution for electric drive tracked vehicles based on an optimal combination of electrical and mechanical components. This is achieved through efficient packaging, mechanical transfer of steer power, range-shift mechanisms and permanent magnet motor technology.
The Ex Drive gear system will require only three-speed system, versus the current six speed mechanical gear, eliminating three sets of planetary gears. The clutch pack and torque converter will also be eliminated as well as high-pressure hydraulic controls for those systems. In fact, according to QinetiQ, the Ex-Drive developer, a mere 15 percent increase in transmission mass has delivered an increase of 85 percent of the torque available to move the GCV. This means more power on demand for faster acceleration and smoother low-speed movement, supporting operation with dismounted troops. The traction drive system will be half the weight of equivalent mechanical systems. The HED consists of two diesel generators, providing redundant capability in case one engine is hit. According to BAE Systems assessment, the dual engine architecture could reduce system abort failures from 1,106 failures experienced in traditional (diesel) systems to only 272 in HED, a potential 75 percent increase in reliability.
To assess the benefits of HED for the GCV, BAE Systems is building a ‘Hot Buck’ test set representing the vehicle’s HED system, t. This system will include the dual diesel generator sets, transmissions and brakes, cooling, exhaust, energy storage systems, controls and software. These systems will be integrated into a chassis—like test fixture and tested against dynamometers to gain an understanding of the systems’ performance, reliability, verifying the system’s maturity for TRL 6 at GCV design weight.
Saft, the designer of ultra-high-power cells for the vehicle’s hybrid electric drive system, says it has already completed the demonstrator Energy Storage System (EES) including hardware and software. The system is charged by an MTU diesel engine, which directly runs the propulsion system when operating in full power. Overall, the GCV HED system will be able to deliver 1,500 horsepower and provide up to 1,100 kilowatt of electrical power to drive on board and external electrical systems. The EES utilizes ultra-high-power, high-voltage VL 5U cells, supporting the vehicles’ electric drive system when the vehicle is not running on gasoline, such as during silent watch missions.
The Army has also evaluated a number of existing platform, to asses the potential benefits a new platform could bring. In 2012 the Army evaluated a range of modern combat vehicles from domestic and foreign makers, including BAE Systems (M2A3, Turretless Bradley and CV-9035), GDLS (Stryker DVH) and Israel Defense Forces (Namer). The Army already determined the protection suite to be used with its future vehicle would result in a heavy platform (70-84 tons), that most likely will require a tracked vehicle. The weight variance is attributable to the propulsion system used. The vehicle proposed by the GDLS uses the latest version of the proven MTU 883 diesel engine and an Allison transmission (both are also proposed for the M-1A2 SEPV2 ECP), resulting in a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 64-70 tons. Future commonality with the M1A2 tank powerpack will also contribute to lower sustainment costs over the lifespan of the two vehicles. BAE lead team offers heavier, yet more efficient hybrid-electric propulsion that weighs 70-84 tons (depending on the armor configuration). The alternative vehicles weigh less, but do not provide the protection level required for the GCV. The Israeli Namer, the closest peer weighs around 70 tons.
Please note all tons mentioned in this article are US (short) tons, converted to 0.892 Long Ton (UK).
Two Ground Combat Vehicles (GCV) models, developed by BAE Systems / Northrop and GDLS / Lockheed Martin teams will be evaluated for the future Army procurement of vehicles replacing M-113s and Bradley IFVs.
The SpotterRF miniature radar packs impressive ground surveillance capabilities into a man-portable unit weighing less than four pounds.
Defense Update reports from AUSA 2012: Force Protection is another field of activity that is expecting to offer sustainable demand over the upcoming years. Despite the draw down of forces from Afghanistan, it can be assumed that the forces remaining in country, as training, support and special operations elements, will require extensive protection means to maintain low signature and avoid casualties or visible damage. (Rumors say the Pentagon plans to leave at least 10,000 troops there)
Among the systems shown at AUSA 2012 were various Counter-IED systems, from the new robotic flail to a giant route-clearing monster displayed by Pearson. A range of robotic C-IED systems were displayed here, supporting unmanned mobility, combatting IEDs etc. Another growing category of force protection sensors are the compact tactical surveillance radars, that have evolved from artillery locating or ground surveillance sensors. As integrated, multi-mission threat warning radars, they provide early warning about all types of hostile attacks – from rocket or mortar firing, locating missiles or gunfire. Additionally, they can detect vehicles or personnel movement at distances from several hundreds of meters to 10 or 20 km. Such radars were displayed by a number of manufacturers, including SRC, Telephonics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, IAI Elta, Rada and Spotter RF.
QinetiQ SMC Module and Q-Net 2, both attached with Magnetic Switch Connector. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
While improvements of automotive and support are important to the performance and sustainability of combat vehicles, it is the armor and weapon systems that makes these vehicles win the fight. In past years, armor protection technologies attracted much attention at defense exhibitions like AUSA, but this year, armor improvements were less visible. Even blast protection, which captured much interest in recent years was downplayed in 2012, presumably, due to reducing future orders. `one exception was QinetiQ North America, that unveiled two new protection systems – the second generation of G-NET and a new composition of armor, called Scalable Matrix Composite (SMC) armor. The company also introduced new add-on armor application system, using ‘magnetic switch’, enabling the application of SMC or Q-NET on metallic surfaces. This technique enables a quick and efficient use of threat-specific armor without special preparation of the vehicle.
Medusa 66mm Non Lethal Weapon System is designed to enable teams to employ scalable response from long distances. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The Army and Marine Corps are also interested in non-lethal weapons, enabling units to employ scalable response, in various situations, thus avoiding the use of lethal force unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Among the solutions displayed at the Modern Day Marine expo were two new capabilities – the Medusa from General Dynamics Ordnance and tactical Systems (GD OTS) and non-lethal ‘ray gun’, employing high-power microwave, developed by BAE for naval crafts.Medusa – is a 66mm weapon delivery platform firing non-lethal human incapacitation grenades. It is effective at ranges up to 150 meters. Mounted on vehicles or stationary posts, MEDUSA uses an articulated launcher and programmable grenade with thermobaric payload technology that provides non-lethal ocular, audio and concussive incapacitation.
The system can be mounted on vehicles or checkpoints, it can be used to repel crowd attempting to assault the protected site in situations where firing at the crowd is not likely or not feasible.
HPM Remote Weapon System from BAE Systems. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
The HPM would be used as a non-lethal ship self-defense capability, engaging multiple surface and air threats from a distance. The HPM has the potential to disrupt the operation of electronic circuits controlling boat motors, aircraft or UAV avionics, using powerful and directional electromagnetic pulses. The HPM naval weapon system would address a wide range of targets including small boats, anti-radiation missiles and UAVs. It would also be able to disrupt enemy fire control radars.
Despite its spacious size it can be air transportable internally in MH/CH-47 Chinook helicopters, thanks to height compression technique reducing the vehicle’s height to fit the Chinook’s cabin. Motor racing specialist company Pratt & Miller Engineering is signed on the unique design, brought from idea to fully functional prototype in few months. A respected industry leader in the defense, automotive, motorsports and powersports industries, Pratt & Miller is renown for their innovative, high-performance engineering and manufacturing solutions.
A top view of the new MAV-L custom designed special operations vehicle. Photo: Northrop Grumman
“Our clean-sheet approach and purpose-built solution applies innovation from across our industry team. We deliver an affordable solution that meets the warfighter’s mission requirements and a great new capability,” said Tom Vice, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Technical Services. “We’re fully committed to providing the Special Operations Command with the most modular and agile vehicle capable of top performance in any operational environment.” While MAV-L was designed to meet SOCOMGMV 1.1 requirements, the team considered it has applications beyond SOCOM. For example, such vehicles could be suitable for US Army and Marine Corps recon teams, forced entry teams operated by the Air Force, or for international customers. designing the vehicle for maximum adaptation and ample growth.
BAE Systems provides the experience of military vehicle manufacturing, and sustainment for the program. If MAV-L is selected, it will be produced at the company’s Sealy, Texas, facility where MRAPs and tactical trucks where produced in recent years.
“The capabilities of our partners combined with Northrop Grumman’s decades of experience integrating C4ISR systems into land forces sustainment and military platforms, ensure that our customers receive a vehicle as capable and flexible as their mission requirements,” said Frank Sturek, deputy director of land forces sustainment and MAV-L program manager, Northrop Grumman.
The Blitzer Electromagnetic Railgun shown at AUSA 2012 was developed by General Atomics for testing by the US Navy. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update
In recent years the role of armaments and weapons in military exhibitions is diminishing, reflecting the diminishing role of kinetic effects and the complex public perception as to their role in modern asymmetric warfare. Hence, the armaments and munitions presented at AUSA and the Modern Day Marine Expo emphasized focused precision effect and low collateral damage as outstanding qualities. This reflected the concern of manufacturers and users alike to those issues.
Examples included sniper rifles with precision fire control enabling the shooter to achieve higher precision at long range; weapons offering ‘man in the loop’ control, and ‘clean’ artillery projectiles or aerial munitions providing effective area saturation effect without the hazardous duds (unexploded ordnance – UOX), complying with the limitations derived from the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
IMI 454 Super HE artillery round. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense Update
Two manufacturers are offering new versions of munitions designed to cover a wide area but leave no UXO after the attack. At AUSA 2012 IMI unveiled at AUSA 2012 a new M-454 Super-High Explosive (S-HE) round, a 155mm artillery projectile fitted with two fuses. According to IMI, the M454 is more efficient than standard HE rounds, requiring less ammunition to complete each mission, thus reducing logistics footprint. The new round is compatible with all NATO 39, 45 and 52 Caliber Guns. Textron Systems is offering a new area attack weapon system that is highly effective against soft targets including light vehicles, enemy combatants and air defense sites. Textron Systems is also using the AP-BLU as a unitary warhead for the Guided Clean Area Weapon (CLAW), designed to engage soft targets in open area, attacked form an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Armies using the MLRS or HIMARS systems could find the new Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GL-SDB) an interesting prospect to modernize combat capabilities in compliance with the CCM. Boeing, the producer of SDB is planning to strap its bombs on existing M29 rockets emptied from their DPICM bomblets. Using the rocket motor to accelerate the bomb into a trajectory bringing it to an altitude and speed from where it can deploy its wings and glide to hit the designated as it would do when launched from an aircraft.
Boeing is developing a laser-guided version of the Small Diameter Bomb for use with SOCOM AC-130J gunships. Photo: Boeing
To enhance precision, while maintaining low cost, Boeing is developing the ‘Laser SDB’, utilizing the Laser JDAM guidance kits. ‘With the laser SDB pilots can now prosecute moving, relocateable and maritime targets travelling at highway speeds’ Boeing officials said. The first application of Laser SDB will be with the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) as the US Air Force plans to equip the new AC-130W ‘Stinger II’ gunships with this capability.
Boeing is also promoting new ideas about future weapons supporting expeditionary naval and ground forces. Among these conceptual designs is the Joint Air-Breathing Multi-role Missile (JABMM), extending the strike range of ground-launched weapons well beyond the range of rocket-propelled weapons. Such weapons could be deployed on surface combatants such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) or carried on tactical vehicles supporting expeditionary ground forces, airborne or Marine Corps.
Joint Air Breathing Multi-role Missile is proposed by Boeing as a future stand-off attack weapon supporting expeditionary forces. Concept drawing: Boeing
Supporting future amphibious assault, the Marine Corps will have to rely on precision artillery fire delivered from the sea, by the Navy warships. However, today’s destroyers are armed with 5“ (127mm) guns that are not designed to provide precision fires. Such capability will be fielded with the Zumwalt class (DDG-1000) guided missile destroyers currently under construction, that will be equipped with 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) firing specially developed Long Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAP). Both are developed by BAE Systems. With an effective range of 60 nautical miles, these guns will be capable of supporting Marine Corps units on the ground, from positions over the horizon. The 155mm LRLAP is a rocket assisted precision attack projectile using GPS/INS guidance techniques. The AGS is designed to fire up to 10 rounds per minute and has a storage capacity of 600 rounds.
While the AGS and LRLAP offer great future capabilities, the Navy plans to have only three such vessels. Hence the need to upgrade the current Mk45 Mod 4 5” gun system operational on DDG 51 guided missile destroyers and CG-47 guided missile cruisers. BAE Systems is developing such capability under the 5” Standard Guided Projectile (SGP) program. A sabot version of the 5” SGP projectile will also be compatible with the 155mm howitzers, enabling Marine and Army Artillery Corps to engage targets with high precision.
A futuristic weapon that has already passed the concept definition is the electromagnetic rail gun. A prototype developed by General Atomics Electromagnetics system (GA-EMS) group for the Office of naval Research has successfully performed initial firings at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, VA. And at the Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The gun is designed to deliver significantly higher muzzle energies that ever demonstrated in a tactical relevant configuration. The full scale ‘Blitzer’ EM Rail Gun System is currently undergoing a series of full energy tests and evaluation by the navy.
DARPA OneShot TX
You don’t always need a big bang to win a fight. Sometime, all it takes is one bullet fired by a trained sniper, to deal with a serious situation. But snipers activities are often limited by weather conditions to medium or short range. In few years, snipers will be able to double their range and improve accuracy, therefore becoming even more useful in combat, as DARPA’s ‘One Shot’ system is fielded.
The conceptual Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GL-SDB) will utilize the MLRS rocket to boost the SDB to a trajectory from where it will be able to continue gliding to its target like it was dropped from a manned aircraft. Photo: Boeing
As heavy combat vehicle programs are idling, modernization of the tactical vehicles is in progress, as the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command plan to replace and reset their fleet of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Two vehicles classes are currently underway – the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), equipping the Army and US Marine Corps, and the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 – replacing the HMMWVs operated by the Special Operations Command.
JLTV is currently underway, as the services await the delivery of 22 vehicles from three competitors. Following the scheduled testing the Army will select a single vendor to produce 55,000 vehicles or more, replacing HMMWVs currently in service. Since the Army has stressed cost limitations as its highest consideration, all three competitors are offering conventional, diesel powered vehicles, leaving more exotic hybrid electric drives for future upgrades. To reduce cost while meeting weight and size restrictions, manufacturers are employing advanced engineering and manufacturing techniques to minimize weight, while adhering to conventional materials over advanced, high performance composites (reducing material and production costs). For example, in the prototypes Lockheed Martin plans to deliver in about 10 months, the company is using thinner but stronger steel, rather than the lighter but expensive and hard to process aluminum alloys previously used, saving cost and also enabling easier repair in the field. The weight gain resulting from the use of heavier materials was balanced by optimizing design, engineering and manufacturing, therefore limiting the weight increase. The JLTV has already demonstrated helicopter sling-load carriage.
AM General is offering a beefed-up variant of the HMMWV, optimized for Special Operations. Photo: AM General
Even when the JLTV is fielded, HMMWVs will still be around, and require ongoing sustainment and support. AM General, the vehicle manufacturer and one of the three finalists for JLTV is also offering a new version of the HMMWV designed for special operations. The HMMWV based GMV, positioned by the company as the ‘next generation vehicle’, which takes the original GMV 1.0 (SOCOM HMMWV) to the next level of performance, mobility and transportability (it is designed for internal transportation in the CH/MH-47 Chinook). This HMMWV is powered by a GEP Optimizer 3200 diesel supporting 300 miles operating range. This version has a lower curb weight and higher gross vehicle weight (GVW), compared to the GMV 1.0. It has full independent suspension for all-terrain mobility, off-road and on road. The vehicle has six articulated weapon mounts and greater stowage capacity, and, along with sustainable highway speed of 80 mph and high dash speed, is well positioned to answer special ops requirements.
AM General is not the only company showing vehicles for the GMV 1.1 selection. In fact, all the competitors that are still among the qualified finalists for the programs were there – GDLS, with the Specter, Oshkosh defense unveiled the S-ATV at the Modern Day Marine event, Navistar Defense displayed their pick-up sized ‘Special Operations Tactical Vehicle (SOTV) at AUSA and the BAE-Northrop Grumman team that launched the new MAV-L, ccustom built prototype developed specifically for the GMV 1.1 program by racing specialist Pratt Miller.
Absent of other new starts in the Army tactical vehicle arena, SOCOM is attracting much interest among tactical vehicle manufacturers. Apart from the GMV 1.1 program that sees the acquisition of at least 1,300 vehicles over the next seven years, SOCOM also plans to buy hundreds of additional special purpose off-road vehicles for long range recon missions, personnel extraction and other special missions. Required to be even more maneuverable and agile than the GMV, these vehicles are attracting specialty vehicle providers such as HDT, Flyer defense (teamed with General Dynamics) and Polaris Defense – all were present at this year’s AUSA and MDM. Designed as a ‘low profile’ vehicle, Navistar’s SOTV could be applied for several SOCOM programs – including GMV 1.1.
The S-ATV from Oshkosh is one of several vehicles competing for SOCOM’s future GMV 1.1 program. Photo: Oshkosh defense