General Dynamics Land Systems rolled out a lightweight tank at AUSA 2016 as a possible answer to the U.S. Army’s search for mobile protected firepower.
With its M1 Abrams turret and streamlined chassis, the gunmetal gray technology demonstrator definitely stood out as one of the most interesting exhibits at this year’s show.
“Five months ago, after listening to the Army for a year trying to talk about mobile protected firepower, we said ‘we really can’t wait any longer,’” Michael Peck, director of business development for General Dynamics Land Systems said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.
GD Land Systems, the maker of the M1 Abrams tank, took an Abrams turret and reduced the weight from 22 tons to eight tons, Peck said.
Company officials went to Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, and borrowed the lightweight 120mm gun designed originally for the Army’s now defunct Future Combat Systems, Peck said. The FCS gun weighs about half as much as the two-ton 120mm Abrams gun, he said.
When the crew gets in the turret “it looks exactly like an Abrams -- the gunner, the loader, everybody is in the same place,” he said.
The turret offers the same capability as the Abrams SEP V2, Peck said.
“Same fire controls, same electronic packages, the same monitors, the same spare parts -- you name it; it’s all the same,” Peck said.
The demonstrator’s chassis comes from the AJAX program GD built for the United Kingdom to use as a recon vehicle, Peck said.
Right now, the vehicle weighs 27 tons, but there are things the Army could do to make it lighter, Peck said.
“This is a true tech demonstrator,” Peck said. “We took mature technology that we either owned or could borrow and in five months put it together.”
Army officials took notice of GD’s effort, but made it clear that they can’t favor one vendor’s solution over another, said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, who runs Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems.
“I got to give General Dynamics some credit for their tech demonstrator,” Bassett told a group of defense reporters today.
“What they did was they started with a presumption that there was an opportunity to leverage all the Army’s investment in Abrams … which is a pretty smart way of going about offering a benefit maybe the Army may not have thought of.”