With the national debt talks moving into day whatever and Congress arguing about how best to fix the budget deficit, the bloated defense budget continues to be a touchy topic in Washington. So perhaps it's a good thing that DARPA is moving forward with its best effort to mend the broken military procurement process by selecting Vanderbilt University to set up vehicleforge.mil, the new open-source development tool that aims to get everyone involved in designing the next generation of military machinery, a la the FLYPmode.
First up: a new ground combat vehicle.
Vehicleforge is the tool that DARPA hopes will make things like XC2V (a.k.a. FLYPmode) a military reality. The FLYPmode, if you missed our previous coverage, is a military concept support vehicle built by Arizona-based Local Motors and presented to President Obama last month amid much fanfare. It was designed by an open online community and built from scratch in just four months, beating the drawing-board-to-prototype time for most military hardware by an eternity or two.
FLYPmode falls under DARPA's Fast, Adaptive, Next-Generation Ground Combat Vehicle program, which lives under the larger umbrella of the META program--DARPA's larger initiative to tap open source designs to minimize production times for military vehicles. Vehicleforge will be the place where all that happens, and that starts with creating a place for people to collaborate.
The idea is to create a high level "metalanguage" and a library of component parts that the online community can tap into via Vehicleforge, which will also provide the online infrastructure for discussions, design submissions, and the hashing out of design problems. But it won't just be a space to talk vehicle design. Vehicleforge, as its name implies, will link directly to a reconfigurable "build-to-print" facility that can manufacture different versions of these vehicles.
In other words, where the FLYPmode was a demonstration that crowd-sourcing military vehicles is viable, Vehicleforge will be the place where it becomes a regular thing. A $4.3 million contract to develop the online infrastructure calls for the site to be operational and chock full of component model libraries that designers can access by sometime next year. Design challenges start in 2013, and prototype infantry combat vehicles (like the concept above) could be rolling out of the fabrication facility by fiscal 2014.
This is how the U.S. won World War II; mass production. Many defense hurdles can be crossed if the Defense Department thinks outside the box and goes beyond contractors and universities for ideas. Imagine what a nation can do when the people work together (Denmark put launched a rocket; others could do much more).
Cool! First and probably only comment, and I flubbed up on it! Yeah!
Mass Production and isolation from the war front. Germany had mass production but their quality standards were too high for some equipment to get really large numbers, and their industrial capacity really started to decline once the bombings started. Russia also had a very high production rate, but they had much lower standards. "Quantity has a quality of it's own" was Stalin's military model, and it is the reason the Russians took Berlin before the Western Allies got there. So in reality, Russia won the war in the European Theater. In the Pacific, Japan had the capacity to hold out for another 6 months to a year or more, and only surrendered after they were nuked twice. Now the US would be hard pressed to mass produce all the goods it consumes in a year, thanks to outsourcing to Asia.
Crowd-source in the cloud or whatever all you want, at the end of the day an anti-tank missile is going to destroy your precious 'Next-Gen' tank. Did I say 'at the end of the day?' I meant, 'by tea-time.'
Defense contractors may as well pocket cost savings by making tanks out of bicycles covered with plywood and armed with squirt guns. That couldn't do worse than real tanks when up against anti-tank missiles.
Now that I've suggested it, expect to soon hear about 'energy-efficient fully-organic' mobile artillery with 'environmentally-friendly' ammunition.
It's true that there exists missles that can destroy tanks, but what's the cost effectiveness of utilizing these weapons? Is the cost of the missle significantly higher than the cost of the tank? If it is, they'll never use the missle without suffering the waste.
In that sense, the more cost-efficient the tank, the more survivability it will have on the battlefield because the enemy won't be able to spare the resources to take them all out.
@engineerzero...a missle can take out a plane, ship, tank, ect., so we should just stop making them? pretty stupid statement, all the pieces work together to protect the whole, you heard war was a risky bussines, right? this is a great concept, hopefully it will be fruitful
If you have the internet access and the time to comment here, you're certainly able look up the cost of anti-tank missiles versus the cost of tanks for yourself. I'm not going to play troll games.
You want to prove you're so smart? Then win a war.
zero... If you had a clue... you would know that missiles would not affect the next gen tank... that's what a g.e.d does for you. Keep dreaming and understand the real future. If you work for a canning factory don't talk national defense. Stick to the green beans you are great at!
If you can't blow the tank up with a missile, drop a big enough bomb or shoot a missile at the ground in front of the tank; trap it in a hole. Develop a missile that flips this turtle on its back too. It sound odd to flip it, but if the technology was develop and existed, you be real happy to own it. We have some conventional bombs now they drop which make some wonderful lake front property. As much at the tank is develop to be bomb proof, the ground is just the same old ground.
An AT4 is U.S. $1,480.64 to build, according to wikipedia, although there isn't any real price indicated...
"Real tanks" don't move across the battlefield alone. To hit a tank with a missile, you have to get close enough to it without getting killed first.
For a good example of how armor is employed in real life, read up on the "Battle of 73 Easting". Wikipedia has a fairly good write-up on it.
EngineerZero, you have no idea how military tech works together to accomplish the goals set before it.
Please prove how smart you are by turning off your computer, if you can find the button.
Here is some good links war and weapons and flight.
Ease up people. They use old shells and c4. Their bombs cost a few hundred dollars. They aren't worried about cost.
The crowdsourced idea is a good one - pool all your resources to make a better tank. Some ideas will be really stupid and some will be awesome. Some might see that their little widget that they make could be used in a tank to make it more fuel efficient, or make the doors easier to open, or the seats more comfortable. That's what crowdsourcing does - everyone has a chance to bring an ingredient or two for the whole product.
You are not taking into account the Trophy system, which has had battlefield success in thwarting the anti tank munition.
It all depends who you're going after and what you want to achieve. Obviously they have a purpose. In a battlefield against a modern army they are basically coffins on wheels. A moron with explosives strapped to his chest wouldn't fair much better either and yet they cause damage.