Armor: April 29, 2000

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The Army has declassified some parts of its Future Combat Vehicle program. This is to be a 17-ton vehicle able to replace M1 tanks starting in 2015. Almost no one in the armor community is buying it. The most obvious problem is pure energy. Such a vehicle simply could not survive a hit from the main gun round of virtually any other tank. Even if the hull was not penetrated, the shock of the impact would cause the crew to suffer disabling injuries from "momentum transfer", and would knock out the computers, autoloader, and engine. The Pentagon theorizes that the FCV will first avoid getting hit by using information warfare to avoid being in areas the enemy is shooting at (a theory few soldiers with dirt under their fingernails accept), then to use an electrothermal cannon to destroy any enemy in range (using precision-guided shells that don't exist yet), and then to use a defensive suite to deflect or intercept incoming missiles and shells (a nice theory if you can make it work). The final defense is to be an entirely new kind of armor which no one has invented yet which will stop shells and missiles at a fraction of the weight of the current steel, uranium, and ceramics. The driving force behind FCV is the need for strategic mobility, that being some way to fly an armored division to the war without needing thousands of extra airplanes. The armor community rejects this as wishful thinking, pointing out that the cost of keeping troops closer to home must be made up in more ways to move them, not by lessening their protection. --Stephen V Cole

 


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