Armored vehicles are incredibly useful in battle. But they are difficult to transport to remote locations (where many confrontations take place) because they skydive very poorly. You would too if you were 50 tons of clanking machinery.
The armored vehicle geeks at the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence are working with the Army 18th Airborne Corps and Rand to create a list of features they'd like to see in what they're awkwardly calling a "new mobile protected firepower vehicle"--essentially, a light(ish) tank to be used by the airborne infantry, the first troops to parachute into a country during an invasion. The project is in the very early stages, and when I contacted the Army, officials there said that the project's first significant update, beyond acknowledging the search for capabilities, will come with a Rand report to be published in September.
Airborne infantry soldiers typically parachute into hostile territory with just the cargo on their backs. Later they can access additional supplies and equipment, but only after they've established a safe area for cargo planes. It's easy to see why airborne soldiers would want a protected vehicle with a nice heavy gun when they land in hostile places.
But the particulars of the design still need to be hammered out. Strategically, a division of airborne soldiers can be much more effective if it's able to move faster than the enemies it's facing after landing, Robert Kmiecik of the Maneuver Center tells Popular Science. So should the vehicle sacrifice heavy-duty armor in order to go faster on the ground, or should it trade some speed and protection for a more aerodynamic form? Those are just a couple of several trade-offs designers will have to consider as the plan takes shape.
The first U.S. armored vehicle to skydive was the M551 Sheridan, a light tank the Army dropped by air during Operation Just Cause, the U.S. invasion of Panama. The Sheridan was light enough to be deployed alongside parachuting soldiers. One problem: It was actually too light; heavy machine-gun bullets blasted right through the aluminum armor. The Sheridan was taken out of service in 1996, and the Army hasn't had a replacement since.
It's likely we haven't seen new interest in a replacement until now because most of the military fighting over the past decade was done on patrols, where the weaker armor of a lighter vehicle becomes a dangerous liability against enemies planting roadside bombs and staging ambushes. Airborne soldiers and vehicles are best used for invasions and raids, where the surprise of leaping out from the sky can catch an enemy unaware. With the U.S. out of Iraq and withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, it makes sense that attention has returned to quickly and effectively getting into a country.
Service Members, we aren't too hot at building flying machines such as the F-35, so we'll be trying a new alternative to flying. We like to call it FWS, falling with style.
hey here's an idea, don't build a new tank, just build a disposable add-on to the ones we have now that basically function like retro rockets when it detects the ground coming close.
or maybe an actual platform that can make any vehicle hot-drop-able. it'd take a lot of figuring out but i'm sure the military can do it. just tell a sergeant to do it yesterday and it'll get done tomorrow.
to mars or bust!
hmmm...military designing armored vehicles capable of airdrops. Airdrops being effective in raids and invasions against hostile nations. Sounds to me like they are expecting to invade a nation. Now why would they need these capabilities for a weak one, sounds like they are expecting a new war against a formidable foe.
I think the problem is speed. Everything in the world is going faster. But if you want to move M1 tanks around the globe to fight, it will take you weeks to ship them to a conflict if you use the fastest ship. It took 6 weeks to deploy Patriot's from Europe to Turkey.
In the meantime you're opponent could already defeat all your soldiers you've send by air.
It makes sense to have airborn armored vehicles.
It also makes more sense to buy more INCAT ships to transport troops asap all over the world or you can wait to see all the conflicts come to your world in a multiculti society.
It would be good to upgrade the existing C5 Galaxy's to use less fuel, but even then you need armored vehicles which you can drop somewhere where there are no airports.
You could drop M1 tanks from the sky like bombs, but you can't use them afterwards
Or you could say that every American abroad is there at their own risk? Then you could maybe retreat from your role as the policeman of the world.
To me it makes a lot of sense to make your forces be able to transport themself asap all over the world. The use of conventional forces makes as not to solve every conflict with nukes.
Without a threat, negotiations are useless. How are the negotiations with Iran?
How about spending these resources on actually cool stuff, like a new superconducting supercollider.
What you suggestion is not feasible. A M1 barely fits into the largest transport aircraft available The retro rockets you suggest would have to be massive, more massive then could be carried on any plane we have.
Many of battles or wars in history were lost, simply because the warring country or government could no longer afford the cost of fighting.
Before we worry about dropping big things out of planes, perhaps we should take care of government home economics.
Just teach tank drivers how to pull the stunt from the recent A-Team movie.
Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis.
I think you could drop a Gundam almost anywhere....
The U.S. tried staying out of it before World War 2 started Amun-Ra, and it didn't work.
What we need here is transporters, Star Trek style.
What a waste of R&D and acquisition funding. This program should be one of the first killed with and/or after the sequestration.
The Sheridan also had a very loud weapon/main gun....miserable on the crew.
At one time there were rumors of a nuclear warhead for the Shillelagh missile that was the main armament on the M551 Sheridan...
Can they not airdrop the stryker? Isn't it already near to production?
The USSR had tested a way to drop tanks that included both parachutes and on final stop, retro rockets. The USSR and USA also tested a sort of low skid sort of drop. Neither ways looked too easy on the machine.
Every armored vehicle in the US military is getting heavier, not lighter. The current version of the M1 tank is well over 60 tons. And even the MRAP's now weigh over 14 tons.
If NASA can drop a rover the size of a car on Mars.......
@NOCELL Yes, a rover the size of a car, but only 1/67th the weight of an M1 and much less so on Mars. Utilizing a rocket powered skycrane that is risky and costs more than an M1 itself. Skycranes dropping M1 tanks would be a bad idea for cost, reliability, and just how visible such a thing would be when the military never wants to be particularly visible.
@johnt007871 The Stryker is not "already near to production." It has been in service since 2002. One was air dropped in 2004, but since then no more have been attempted despite it being a success and no variants have been certified for air drop.
Why not just make a modular vehicle, dropping extra amour with it that can be added. also drop the ammo separate also in quick load boxes. add a couple sleds to to be pulled for supplies and what not. think outside the box.