Robot Hover Tanks With Ray Guns? Army Looks To Replace M1

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On October 12, Breaking Defense released an article entitled “Robot Hover Tanks With Ray Guns? Army Looks To Replace M1“:

Robot Hover Tanks With Ray Guns? Army Looks To Replace M1

Hovering tanks from Star Wars.

“It doesn’t have to be a tank, it just has to be decisive and lethal,” Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman answered. “If that is run by a flux capacitor, hovers, and has a ray gun — and we can make it run at a reasonable cost — we’ll look at it.”

By 2023, the Army will decide whether or not to move ahead with a replacement for the M1 Abrams heavy tank. “Anything’s on the table,” said the service’s director for armored vehicle modernization.

Robot Hover Tanks With Ray Guns? Army Looks To Replace M1

Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman

Define “anything,” I asked. Are we talking Imperial Walkers from Star WarsLittle robots carrying big missiles?

“It doesn’t have to be a tank, it just has to be decisive and lethal,” Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman answered. “If that is run by a flux capacitor, hovers, and has a ray gun — and we can make it run at a reasonable cost — we’ll look at it.”

That “reasonable cost” criterion, sadly, rules out laser-shooting hover tanks, but behind Coffman’s jocularity is a deadly serious point: The Army wants industry to imagine a wide range of possibilities for a new way to deliver high-powered direct fire. (Indirect fire, at targets over the horizon, belongs to a different modernization team, which is exploring a 1,000-mile supergun). The key thing is to apply maximum killing power at the crucial point in combat, not how you do it. If you have a technically feasible proposal, it sounds like they’ll at least take a look.

“We don’t want to stifle any initiative based on some preset notion of, ‘it has to be tank, it has to have 120 mm or 105 (cannon),’” Coffman told an industry audience at the Association of the US Army conference. “We want options.”

Robot Hover Tanks With Ray Guns? Army Looks To Replace M1

How the Trophy Active Protection System works (Rafael graphic)

New Armor, Active Protection, & Robotics

The Army’s program manager for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), Col. James Schirmer, offered some more down-to-earth details in a later briefing at AUSA.

In his “personal opinion,” the colonel caveated, “I believe that a complete replacement of the Abrams tank wouldn’t make sense unless we have a breakthrough in one of three technology areas”:

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  • Jesus

    Getting ideas from the Star war movies. Hollywood can throw you in a spin to chase white elephants.

    • putinbeater

      and russia in 2040 will copy the new american tanks :DDDD

  • Smaug

    As for the “kinetic shot,” the word you are searching for is sabot round. The Trophy system works by sending a big shotgun blast at a rocket but with the dense shot of a depleted uranium shell that wound do much even if it hits. It is a minor game change, though, because rockets used to be the easiest way for light vehicles or infantry to take out tanks and now rockets are less useful.
    Altogether, this is the Army planning ahead because as you see their are so many modern systems and materials that in a decade or two we’ll need to design a new tank around these systems.

    • Jesus

      Russian Afghanit is supposed to be effective against sabot shots, even though explosive brick armour can cut a few inches of the sabot spike, taking the needle out or blunting it.

  • Barba_Papa

    I smell a new future American lemon in the making. The American way of weapons design seems to be to come up with a radical new concept, get everybody excited, throw lots of money at it, run into major problems, throw more money at it, in which case it eventually works or it doesn’t. In which case start all over again. In the past there were usually enough defense companies so if a big project failed an alternative could usually be chosen and developed instead. Nowadays there’s basically just Lockheed-Martin and Boeing. And once the big giant lemon fails, the other company usually has nothing left anymore as its involved with a big giant lemon of its own.

    Meanwhile the Russian way of weapons design seems to be to take an existing design and tweak it further and further, evolution instead of revolution. And while the Russians will come up with revolutionary new designs of their own, they never throw something away old. Western observers will probably scoff and say the Russians keep on tweaking their old legacy designs. But it works, and often for a fraction of the money that Western designs cost.

    • occupybacon

      “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Winston Churchill

  • sloopyjoe

    I’m sure the “Hover Tank” will be just another profitable piece of crap (i.e., F35) that benefits the MIC with funds partly disbursed to the SSP.

  • We tried.

    “That “reasonable cost” criterion, sadly, rules out laser-shooting hover tanks”

    Actually, it pretty much rules out a wooden stick.

  • BG Coffman – NGCV

    Great Comments- What are your ideas? The US Army is trying to break new ground here. Looking for lemonade not lemons Barda_Papa. Everything is on the table. So provide creative and innovative thoughts to help. We are listening.