While weapons continue to grow smarter and smarter, the U.S. Army is developing armor to match the arms. A new 'intelligent' armor under development at the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center can evaluate its own condition, identify the type of round being shot at it, and even generate electrical power from bullet strikes. Whether wrapped around a tank or an infantryman, the smart armor can relay information to soldiers in real time, extensively upping battlefield awareness.
The armor works via piezoelectrics, which essentially turn mechanical energy into electricity (and vice versa). Two piezoelectric sensors are placed within the armor, one that turns a small electric charge into a tiny vibration, and another that turns the vibration back into an electric charge. If the armor plate is damaged, some of the current won't be recycled at the second sensor, and a computer can then tell exactly what shape the armor is in.
The combination of knowing what the enemy is throwing at them and what kind of damage it's doing should help soldiers make better battlefield decisions. Though currently being developed for body and ground vehicles, the technology could easily be integrated into naval vessels and aircraft, making the whole of America's fighting fleet a little bit smarter.
a little more practical than the armored airbag idea
Just look at the tank in the pic. It's far past time the army started looking for far more intelligent assault vehicle designs - that thing looks like a slightly modified WWII machine. Its clumsy, totally lacks both aerodynamics and more high tech defensive structuring.
Compare this kind of low tech tank to what the newest destroyers, jets etc, look like.
Even video game designer could think up way better than that.
Seems like the Army has a lot of lessons to learn from the Navy and Air Force.
That's an M1 Abrams...state of the art in tank design and features. If you knew anything about tanks, you'd know that they usually don't go over 65 MPH...so there's really not much efficiency to be had to make it aerodynamic. It's NOT a sports car. Also, the angles of the armor are set up specifically to try and deflect tank rounds from penetrating it. German engineers during WW2 came up with the idea, using thinner armor plates to achieve similar protection while cutting down on weight to make it more mobile and fuel efficient.
You obviously are NOT a weapons engineer. Video games have cool tanks and other weaponry simply due to the fact that they're not bound by the rules of physics, which apply to things in the REAL world. Not only that, but they're not made to look cool. They're made to be practical and efficient killing machines. Who cares how cool it looks or doesn't if it can get the job done while also maximizing protection for the crew. Leave the weapons designs to the grown-ups, why don't you?
FYI--the M1 does have a jet engine for a power plant. Actually, it's a turbine engine. Not piston driven like most other land vehicles. It can move that multi-ton tank faster than any comparable piston engine. Only downside is that it sucks gas like a vampire sucks blood.
yes but the tank can use anything combustible for its fuel
get off the couch and and stop playing too many video games... lol.
Which lessons to learn from the other Services?
How to make a vehicle survivable in a point blank engagement like during the PGW?
Iraqi tank rounds fired from less than 300m bounced off the glacis plate or turret face of more than one Abrams without scoring even an M Kill. The crews returned fire on the Iraqi tanks and scored K Kills.
There are reasons why modern tanks are angular.
One is to keep tank crews alive.
It seems another is to provide the opportunity for the ignorant to make fools of themselves.
See your recruiter. Tell him the MOS you are interested in is 19K.
It can use anything as a fuel...do I detect a slight reference to Back to the Future II....maybe it's just my movie loving childish side.
You have a very sound point on the M1 abrams, but then taking into consideration, what can we do to make it better? The armor could use an techinological overhaul, along with the engine and computing systems. If that engine is the only thing powerful enough to push that beast past our enemys, im okay with that. If we can do the same thing with twice the power and have it use a fraction of the fuel it uses now, That would be a engineering feat that will be unriveled in the military.
I belive, if im correct, "A tank" will need approximately 300 gallons every eight hours; this will vary depending on mission, terrain, and weather. A single tank takes 10 minutes to refuel. Refueling and rearming of a tank platoon--four tanks--is approximately 30 minutes under ideal conditions.
The consumption is like this,
•0.6 miles per gallon.
•60 gallons per hour when traveling cross-country
•30+ gallons per hour while operating at a tactical ideal
•10 gallons basic idle
•A mine plow will increase the fuel consummation rate of a tank by 25 percent
My only comment here is no wonder why were in the fuel crisis.
All of this is from a highly educatated 16 year old.
"The combination of knowing what the enemy is throwing at them and what kind of damage it's doing should help soldiers make better battlefield decisions. Though currently being developed for body and ground vehicles, the technology could easily be integrated into naval vessels and aircraft, making the whole of America's fighting fleet a little bit smarter."
I think that there's a down side to having too much information.
Really, when you think about it, how much information do you need? Do you need another task when you already have five that need to be accomplished? You you need more data or do you need more relevant data? Do you need to know what kind of bullet is being fired at your tank? Probably not.
What you NEED to know is how to accomplish your mission with the tank. You need to reach objective A, for example. If you don't, people will die, let's say. If the tank commander is given a direct order on the battlefield to reach objective A and fire as many rounds as he can at a building or a point on the battlefield, how likely is it that the overwhelming amount of information being thrown at the crew of that tank is going to cause them to overcompensate or overreact to a perceived threat? Delaying or taking some sort of different route to the objective could cause the enemy to escape or move against other forces.
We need the best technology on the battlefield. Too often, we forget to stick with what we need as opposed to all of the bells and whistles that just get in the way. Overthinking things leaves us with thousands of useless vehicles or with the wrong rifle or with helmets that don't protect our soldiers from head injuries. We need all-purpose vehicles with modular features that can be adapted to changing environments. We need a rifle with a larger round that can knock a man down with one shot. We need a helmet that is better adapted to preventing head injuries. And we're coming up with special armor that can tell us what kind of bullet is harmlessly bouncing off the surface?
Better priorities, please. Keep it simple and give the soldiers what they need, not what will force them to multi-task while they're being shot at.
Seriously. The tank as a weapons system will go the same way as the battle ship.
What can you do with a tank that you cannot do with drones and laser guided ammo?
Tank is used to get big gun for line of sight fire. What else is the tank used for? Crushing cars?
What the tank can do that a drone or laser guided ammo can't do is HOLD GROUND.
Believe me, if it were that easy, we wouldn't be paying $20 mil a tank but instead have tens of thousands of drones or whatever.
Battleships have gone extinct because of strike aircraft and cruise/guided missiles. Why? Because guns from a battleship can only go so far up a beach. Tanks are not limited to water, and can strike areas inland further than a battleship. It's not even a fair comparison between battleships and tanks. Battleships were meant to destroy ships in the open sea as well as barrage beaches with tons of fire. Since strike aircraft and guided munitions have been developed, it's much cheaper to pay for smaller missile frigates than a battleship. Tanks are used in conjunction with infantry.
Tanks give physical presence not only to attack the enemy should they stick their head up, but as a deterrent to keep them from sticking their head up. Used appropriately, tanks and other armor can take ground and keep it. Drones and other guided munitions can hit targets, but they can't keep it like a tank can. What happens when the targets all go into hiding and wait? The drones will have to refuel or the planes dropping the munitions will need to head back. That's when the tank comes in. It can just sit there, or sweep through looking for targets in conjunction with troops on the ground. Also, what are infantry supposed to use to help advance them? Tanks give cover, fire support, and can crush or break through obstacles in their way. Tanks can be used to blitz through enemy lines and wreak havoc. Against a well armed, modern force, drones can be shot out of the sky. Aircraft will have to deal with AAA and SAM sites while trying to deploy "guided" munitions. Not only that, but targets must be identified by ground personnel before drones or other munitions dropped on it to prevent fratricide. A tank commander can just pop his head up and tell his gunner which way to turn the turret. Less time and less complication equals less casualties on our side.
So you mean that the streangth of the tank is that it is a mobile bunker? Drones circling above, marking targets and requesting fire can hold ground in exactly the same way. Drones can even land and pretend to be a tank commander .
What comes to SAMs. If an area has decent SAMs or other AAA, the same are is also likely to have decent anti tank weapons. How long do you think it will take before e.g. Iran develops anti tank weaponry that can take out any US tank? How long do you think it will take before all US enemies have access to it?
Battleships died because a single aircraft could take out a battleship costing as much as 10000 aircrafts.
The cavalry has made some small changes in equipment... The armored forces will just change their tank into a drone. The "tank" commander can sit well behind the lines and identify targets from video shot by the drones in the air and on the ground. You don't think that a flock of drones keep the enemy from sticking out their heads? Any time anyone takes a shot on any of the drones a strike is directed to the location. How long can a tank sit and wait? They never need to refuel? 10 drones have a much better presence than one tank. The munition can be delivered with artillery as well.
The drones are new technology. Ones they become mainstream its bye bye, tank.
@someboy the same mistake was made with the development of the F-4 Phantom. Initially designers felt that installing a machine gun would be pointless since aircraft will not be getting into dogfights, and will just shoot enemy aircraft down with guided missiles. This proved to be faulting in that F-4 pilots still need the use of their guns. Later models were improved with the installation of the guns. The point im making here is that the designers felt that the guns were dated technologies and no longer had a use on the battle field. Vietnam proved that this was not the case. With that said while yes the tank is a dated idea rpenri is correct, a drone cannot hold a position like an Abrams can. There is something to be said about the shear power and fierceness of a tank staring at you. Perhaps an even better idea of simply sending the tank to graveyard would be to combine the the aerial advantages of the drone with the fire power of the Abrams.
On another note this technology feels reminiscent of the scene in District 9 when the protagonist was inside the aliens gundam wing looking robot and it showed all the rounds coming hitting it.
How many times did the fighter jets use their machine guns in the Gulf wars? Did anybody even get visual contact with an enemy plane?
The tanks can be used as gun platforms. They can deliver the smart munition without providing line of sight fire. A Hellfire can take out Abrams. Soon China and Iran will start selling cheap copies to anybody who has the money. Range 8000 m. Proven to take out M1.
I bet that the whispering of killer drones send the same kind of vibes as a mobile bunker. Picture a drone with a .50 cal with guided bullets. Any time. Any place... What do you need a MG for?
You missed the point I'm making you cannot simply replace something just because a new gadget is out. Sure drones are a great technology but they will not replace a tank. A better tank will more likely replace the tank just like the drone replaces the spy plane and supplements satellites. Sure Iran and China and all our other enemies are out the developing weapon systems to take out tanks/personnel/artillery/aircraft/naval systems...etc etc. just like we are developing weapon systems to take out their equipment as well. This is the nature of war the enemy makes an awesome weapon we make a better one and a way to protect then they do it then we do it.
I understand your point though a drone coming in for a kill is a scary site to behold but then maybe the operator will abort when the sirens from a samsite or worse start blaring...
Maybe you're right. Maybe not. I'm just not convinced. I'm still looking for reasons why smart munition and drones couldn't replace the tank as a system. It wouldn't be the first time that a weapons system has become obsolete.
You have hundreds of small drones. Each reporting the location of the SAM sites. You wait for 30 sec. No more SAMs. Maybe you loose 5 drones. Who cares. They are cheap.
Someboy, These guys are right. Drones can be jammed, and shot down. Tanks and infantry complement each other in combat utilizing the ground view beacause they are on the ground, and drones, or satellites, or AWACS all see a distorted view of hilly or mountainous terrain. Your fancy scenario of a Hellfire dropped from a drone flying at 8ooo ft? The tank will see the drone, and drop it, in seconds of auto targeted fire from the 'MA-Deuce' long before the drone could get close enough to drop ordnance on target. You assume a reality where everything always goes according to plan, and that we can disregard the hard won lessons of full engagement. You also assume you know the true capabilities of our roving dreadnaughts, but you do not. Your drone can't act as a static shield in pitched combat or plug an access point between objects or buildings. You have no idea what the sensory abilities of the tank are, nor have any idea of the value of switching heavy ordnance on the fly in moving engagement. Or the real nature of ground support, which is often a matter of long periods of waiting, followed by intense supporting cover fire, possibly smoke, and simultaneous heavy support for fortified targets. Trust me on this, as long as humans must make war, we will use armor. That's tanks, to you.
Sure. Drones can be jammed, and shot down. Tanks can also be jammed and "shut down". What's your point? Drones can fly very low. They can even land. What's your point? "Hellfire dropped from a drone flying at 8ooo ft"?? The range of the Hellfire is approx. 8000 m. "Range" means from how far you can hit a target. "m" is short for "meter"´. It's a unit of length that's taught in college. Who needs SAMs or AAA? We have the tank! Next you say that the tank can replace the navy... You have missed my point totally. We're talking flocks of small drones (the size of a bird) that observes and marks targets. The ordnance can then be delivered in whatever means. Artillery, bombs, missiles. I'm sure you can think of some other means. I'm sure that the tank is capable of almost anything. It has though one "small" limitation. It needs good terrain. And it's a sitting duck that hopes the enemy doesn't have any heavy weapons. Any sensory abilities that the tank has can be given to a drone. What's the problem? I'm suggesting that every infantry man gets the firepower of a tank. Just point with your laser and you have a 155 mm grenade flying in.
I understand that the difference between tanks an armor can be difficult to comprehend for a layman. Please look up the difference in Wikipedia so that we're talking about the same thing. I'm talking about the MBT.
Hey, kid. Crack wise on things you know nothing about, cool, we all do it once in a while. Don't assume you know anything about any of the people on here, because you don't. I'm not gonna rip on you personally, because that's not what this is about here. My 'roving dreadnaught' allegory was in reference to the tank, not a battleship, although I can see how you may be confused. On the field, they both act in a very similar capacity, though. I do get your point about drones in combat, and the modular combat vehicle is an advance that definitely will have it's day. However, the things we are learning over there now will not be fully incorporated for some time, and there will be costly mistakes, there always are. For our armed forces to just up and switch to a fully mechanized combat force is an impossibility. It doesn't work that way. In time, when our government has re-bootstrapped America's financial footing, we probably will start hearing about squad level dedicated aerial drones, and maybe even something like that neat catbot from the movie 'Red Mars', AIMEE. Still, it will be some time, 25 years, probably, before all armor could be fully remote controlled, and I would anticipate that the tank will be the last to go. It's real capabilities are just too great in importance to be haphazardly replacing it.
You sound like one of those video game junkie kids who play Call of Duty Modern Warfare or Battlefield 2142 too much.
You think you can revolutionize the way wars are fought overnight when men ten times smarter than you have tried since the beginning of modern time and couldn't?
Go back to video games and let the men who know how to do it and have done it get back to it. Maybe when you're old enough, you will know exactly how "hard" wars are to fight. You just might change your tune when you are on the ground and wishing you had some mechanized armor blocking those bullets coming at you.
Ah. All of you armchair warriors, WOW experts and movie goers slay me. I almost feel like I haven't the faintest clue about any of this, even though I spent almost 24 years actually being a Soldier -- a Soldier like 6 generations of US Army veteran forbears in an unbroken line stretching back to the Revolutionary War. My son is in the Army now. The 8th generation. I feel so foolish when you people tell me the real deal about this sort of stuff. I'm getting a real education here.
For all of recorded history, technology has advanced. Weaponry has become more powerful. All along, people thought that the new advances would change the one fundamental truth of war.
But that one truth has not changed in all those thousands of years: Soles on the ground win wars.
For the "educated 16 year old". Were you actually educated in this subject, you would know that the armor and electronic systems on modern tanks are always in the process of improvement. Those vehicles continuously cycle through depots for refit.
In two years, see your recruiter. Tell him the MOS you want is 19K. After four years, come back and tell us how backward our armored vehicle technology is.
Drones can kill tanks. That's true. But I always thought that tanks did not operate in a vacuum. I was always under the impression that Armor and Infantry support each other in, for instance, a Brigade Combat Team that has both Armor and Infantry Battalions. Oh. They also have Air Defense assets to cover the third dimension of the battlefield. They also have close air support and indirect fire support. Stuff like that.
I wasn't aware that tanks got left alone to suffer the unhindered predation of drones.
Call me ignorant.
If a guy wearing the smart armor and gets hit with an explosive round, I wonder what would happen.
"If a guy wearing the smart armor and gets hit with an explosive round, I wonder what would happen."
Depends on what they come up with. It hasn't been made and fielded yet.
What happens when a guy wearing the current armor gets hit by a small arms round? An RPG?
I still talk to the first guy. The second, not so much.
You know, Someboy, you sound very well versed in all of this.
Say an enemy drone spots and plots the position of a friendly tank and it is targeted with indirect fire.
After the enemy tubes heave their projos, how long do you think it takes for friendly counter battery radar to get a precise location and transmit that data to the FDC? Just a hint: counter battery fire will go out before the enemy rounds splash.
Again: No one weapon system operates in a vacuum. You have reduced the equation to one friendly tank versus every technological advance our enemies have made.
Remember. That friendly tank has friends, too.
I'm sorry that this subject causes so much anger ad hominem.
What I was looking for was some real arguments why the tank has a future. "It is, it has always been and it will always be" is not an argument. Nor is " My family has been in the army ever since the civil war". Or "The tank will shoot down any drone with its MG"
The first tank was the knight in armor. He became obsolete when the single infantry man could take him down (first with cross bow and then fire arm). The tank will in the same way become obsolete when the single infantry man can order in a Hellfire (or eqv.). The Hellfire can take out an M1. It is 80s technology. What are the chances that the enemy has something similar? Pretty big I would say. The development is going more and more into the direction "If you can see it, you can destroy it" or the other way round "if you can be seen you will be destroyed". The tank is a sitting duck. Not very easy to hide. Neither is the tank very good at seeing either. It sits low. From a higher position you have a better view. OK. The tank could use the drones or infantry men as its eyes. But then it's just a mobile gun for indirect fire. That is also how the future of the indirect fire looks like. You don't have any fixed guns. You shoot your smart munition and then you run before the counter measures take place. You can even shoot while driving.
So please tell me. What can the tank do against an infantry man that from 2 miles away in hiding orders a Hellfire that's launched from 10 miles away? Or against a howitzer 155 mm grenade that's fired from a mobile platform 20 miles away?
Based on some of the writing the tank requires that the area is secured. Why do you need the tank if the area is secured? To crush cars?
Yes. Soles will always be needed on the ground. But what do the soles need the tank for if they themselves can order in more fire than a tank can deliver?
Please also remember that there are other types of enemies than illiterate AK47 wielding fanatics. The tank is great if your only resistance is MGs and a random RPG-7.
Let them mock the nerds. We shall have the final chortle.
Sorry, wrong button. Anyway, one point you guys seem to have missed is that the tank is a fantastic anti-enemy attack device. A tank is a tremendous psychological weapon in a way a drone simply cannot be. Tienenmin square left a distinct impression in the minds of the world that a tank will destroy enemies. The simple presence of a tank may be a deterrent than a drone can be a destroyer. After all, the intent of a weapon is that you don't need to use it.
"Based on some of the writing the tank requires that the area is secured. Why do you need the tank if the area is secured?"
Some of what writing? Tanks take and secure objectives in concert with Infantry. Infantry and Armor support each other. Tanks DO the securing on an objective. In the offense before the objective, what must be secured? The 10 miles of rolling terrain the tank smokes through while if targets enemy vehicles?
"Please also remember that there are other types of enemies than illiterate AK47 wielding fanatics. The tank is great if your only resistance is MGs and a random RPG-7."
Unless, of course, the "illiterate fanatic" is wielding a tank. And yes. I am quite familiar. I remember many things well. Real combat, in particular, is hard to forget.
"Or against a howitzer 155 mm grenade that's fired from a mobile platform 20 miles away?"
Tanks have done very well in providing protection from indirect fire since they first appeared on the battlefield. Given the circular probability of error of a ballistic projo, the odds of scoring a direct hit on any particular tank are a bit low. Aside from a direct hit, the primary threat from arty is shrapnel, which the crew is protected against.
What, by the way, is a "howitzer 155 mm grenade"?
A guided missile following a painted tank depends on someone to hold a piece of equipment still while he is shaking and wetting his pants because all the tank's friends are shooting at him. There is not a one-to-one kill ratio.
There are only so many aircraft that can paint vehicles. They don't score one-to-one either.
"The first tank was the knight in armor."
The first knight was Cavalry. And he wasn't rendered obsolete. He simply took off his armor or slipped into lighter armor, stopped being called a "knight" and was utilized differently for several hundred years. The need for a mobile, heavy, direct fire weapon system did not disappear. Cavalry's role was taken up by the tank and armored Infantry. The tank will not go away. It will become a better tank.
"The tank is a sitting duck. Not very easy to hide. Neither is the tank very good at seeing either. It sits low."
Modern tanks move. Very rapidly. They can take advantage of terrain. They can hide behind the military crest of a ridge away from the GM wielding Infantry and pound them with direct fire, while they call fire support or close air support. They don't just sit around waiting to be hit. In defensive positions (when they are not moving), tanks can be dug in by Engineers so that their position has both hull and turret defilade platforms. A tank commander can look out over the terrain (picked out as suitable for his mission) from his hatch while the tank is in turret defilade, tell his driver to pull forward on to the firing platform, fire his rounds and ease back into turret defilade. A tank is pretty good at seeing what it needs to. Again: A tank is not without friends. Those friends are tasked with taking out the very threats you keep referring to.
"You don't have any fixed guns."
Nobody does any more. Guns are already mounted on tracked vehicles that can move. But it takes the crew a while to prepare for a move. Counter battery fire is quite capable of catching them in the act.
"So please tell me. What can the tank do against an infantry man that from 2 miles away in hiding orders a Hellfire that's launched from 10 miles away?"
Again. You have forgotten about the tank's friends. Did you mean "infantry man" or "infantryman"?
"It is 80s technology" (the Hellfire)
So is another threat to Armor. Think of the A-10 Warthog. Even with those impressive aerial anti-tank weapons orbiting overhead, we still had to kill a lot of tanks the old-fashioned way.
So is another threat that is much older still. Artillery. Artillery has rendered neither the Infantryman nor the Tank Crew Member obsolete yet. Tactics and Strategy change.
You know what? If you would like the ad hominem to stop, it might do you well to have some expertise before you open your mouth.
Warfare is a complex undertaking that involves a whole lot of different weapons and varying sizes of units working in concert. Tanks do not go it alone. If you ever get a chance to actually go to a shooting war where the bullets are more than excited light-emitting materials flowing across your monitor, come back and tell me how you feel when a tank rolls up beside you. Tell me how you feel when the Air Force covers you from above.
Tell those who program 3D video games what weapons should or should not be on the battlefield. Let those of us who have been on real ones decide what needs to be there.
They should have a word limit to this. Your readers will get uninterested in your comments if you keep on posting such long comments.