As regular readers will be aware, I served in South Africa’s armed forces during the 1970’s and 1980’s, initially full-time and then in reserve status. I traveled in a number of then-current armored vehicles, and was reasonably familiar with their systems.
However, the state of the art has advanced so much since then that I don’t think I could even begin to take advantage of it. Here’s Israeli company Rafael’s Suite for Armored Fighting Vehicles.
I suppose, to the video game generation, such electronic wizardry in an armored fighting vehicle is not a new concept; but to those of us from an earlier era of combat, it’s mind-boggling.
Here’s an interview with a senior Rafael executive, discussing the system.
It looks like an excellent system, and given Israel’s and Rafael’s long-standing reputation for innovation and high-tech solutions, it’ll probably work very well – as long as power is available. Its Achilles heel is electricity. Knock out the vehicle’s generator, or drop an EMP weapon such as CHAMP over the battlefield, and all those electronic marvels will come to a grinding halt. At that point, you’d better be ready, willing and able to fight the old-fashioned way – or die.
Spam cans. Always were, always will be.
EMP artillery rounds and grenades, they exist now.
EMP is NOT that difficult to deal with. It is relatively easy to design the circuit to survive, albeit with a system reset.
So, how good is it at detecting and countering a clicker-fired 155mm artillery shell IED? And as previously noted, this will start a new arms race between EMP penetration and systems hardening analogous to last century's race between armor thickness & configuration and armor penetration capability.
Also, anyone else note the "optionally manned" blip at the end? Skynet in the offing, or are they hinting at remote operation? With this amount of lethality on the battlefield, taking some sort of human supervision/control out of the loop is *not* a good idea.
I'm certain ( just from the length of time EMP concern has been around) That countermeasures are well in hand. That arms race is running.
The issue isn't so much EMP hardening now, it's the concept of silent running. How long can the system run without powering the generator using a noisy engine?
A while ago, at the end of the M113 age, a company proposed building a MTLV hybrid version, with the run time at a slower speed of 3 hours on battery moving, or 6-7 on sensor watch. That's the type of innovation that is really the next gap. Silent running tanks and IFVs/APCs.
"The fighters grant the system higher levels of autonomy."
To quote Instapundit, Skynet smiles.
As as to Beans' mention of silent running…the engine noise is only the major noise if the vehicle is stationary. Once a tracked vehicle starts moving, track noise is the major sound. Unless you're going to go with all rubber tracks (which presents it's own issues with durability and damage resistance), that's going to be a tough nut to get around. There's also a good bit of very loud squealing from the transmission, too, especially when the vehicle is changing direction.
I'm reminded of Hammer's panzers, from David Drake's Slammers books. Increased C3I, at stunning cost that can only be borne by the most advanced combatants. Increased lethality? No powerguns here…so sure, as long as your missiles last or you can call in that airstrike. But what about the next battlefield where we don't have absolute control over the air and space regions, or face an opponent who can spoof our computers? I'm still not impressed with our ability to harden a bank's website, much less the level of complexity you'll find in these platforms.
EMP is one thing, but what about low tech, like mud, or black paint. Cover the optical sensors, and you remove your 360 visibility. I'll note this is the same problem sensors have in current self-driving cars. Get the sensor dirty, and the car malfunctions.
It looks like the US is planning on using the Rafael TROPHY active protection system for the Abrams, but is thinking that it draws too much power/space for the Bradley. So they're probably going with the (also Israeli, although marketed to the US through General Dynamics) Iron Fist system (probably the Iron Fist Light configuration) for that, since it's got a much smaller footprint.
Bring out the BOLOS!!!