/ Science / DARPA’s nimble tank concept ducks, dodges, and runs from danger

DARPA’s nimble tank concept ducks, dodges, and runs from danger

Andrea on September 21, 2014 - 11:18 pm in Science

The word tank can literally mean slow, bulky, cumbersome — to move like a “tank” is to be specifically incapable of nimbly getting out of the way of attackers. Yet DARPA, never content to let such problems lie, has a different vision for the tank, a fast and responsive design that combines heavy-duty armor with the versatility of quick movement.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be called a tank at all; maybe it would be more accurately called an Agile Armored Vehicle (AAV) or a Dodgy Drivey Troop Carrier (DTTC) than a tank. Still, the GXV-T agile tank could be the future of armored vehicles.

To achieving a nimble tank, DARPA had to set some big goal for itself on the build side. The vehicle’s base speed should be doubled from traditional tanks, thanks mostly to a weight reduction of no less than 50%. A big part of that reduction means lowering the number of crew members needed to get full combat functionality. Removing drivers means not only less space, plating, and meat onboard, but easier protection for the few who do remain inside. Unlike many of DARPA’s recent initiatives, this isn’t a completely self-driven solution — though it probably wouldn’t be too hard to adapt self-driving software to this technology.

For a look at just what DARPA wants the GXV-T to be able to do, check out the video below.

The necessity of agility in modern combat comes from the fact that modern ballistics have become much better at armor penetration than armor has become at stopping those ballistics. In general, the need to avoid being hit has been manifest in the air force, as faster, stealthier, and higher-flying aircraft have made many ground operations irrelevant. Still, the humble tank has not received a major operational upgrade since it was introduced in the First World War — a lumbering armored box with guns. The GXV-T could change that, making the tank a nimble armored box with guns, instead.

gxv-t 2

One big strategic advantage would be that the lighter, faster tank could access areas that were previously off-limits to armor — all the cliche griping you hear from US Marines in movies, about how they never have adequate armor support for their tin-can Humvees, could be about to become a thing of the past.

This project is still in the concept phase, remember, so these are just artists’ concepts, but DARPA has long been known for actually achieving seemingly nonsensical goals. The aesthetic, and rather questionable physics simulation, is reminiscent of older tactical games like the original, pre-Xbox concept for Halo. This isn’t quite a warthog, but any four-wheel suspended future-jeep can only depart so far from the basic archetype.

Source: Science – Geek.com

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