UPDATED 12 September 2009

Heavy tanks, helicopter fighter-bombers: an Army in search for battlefield doctrine?

1998 Bosnia

"It's the best main battle tank in the world---if you can get it there"

The Armor (Tank) Battalion commander in the 1st Infantry Division, wryly remarked as he stood watching his fleet of 70-ton M1 Abrams heavy tanks sitting parked unable to patrol in his area of operations because they are too heavy for the primitive road nets. He has to improvise and draw unarmored, rubber-tired 4x4 HMMWV trucks from war stocks and re-equip his "Big Red One" Soldiers in order to accomplish the mission but at increased risk to his men who will be restricted to roads and unprotected.

1999 Kosovo

With the USAF bragging that they can drive the Serb Army out of Kosovo by striking easy-to-hit civilian infrastructure targets (power plants, dams, bridges) from above 15,000 feet and most air defense weapons, without need of a politically risky ground invasion, the U.S. Army finds it has only a small role to play in Operation Allied Force even though in previous small-scale contingencies in Grenada and Panama, it air-deployed with USAF transport aircraft dominant ground maneuver forces without almost any USAF fighter-bomber air strikes; minimizing civilian casualties and collateral damage and getting clear political victories. So the Army Joint Commander of Allied Force, sends in their own AH-64 Apaches helicopter "fighter-bombers" from Germany to cross into Serb territory and hunt for Serb tanks since the USAF aircraft at 15k and 500 mph cannot hit these mobile, well-camouflaged targets. The large, complex AH-64As are too large to fit easily into USAF transport jets and are thus slow to self-deploy for Task Force Hawk, and when they arrive are overloaded for deep strike missions over the mountainous terrain of Albania/Serbia resulting into 2 crashes and two fatalities. TF Hawk also flies into Albania's Tirana airport with elite 82nd Airborne Paratroopers backed by ultra-heavy M1/M2 armor units by USAF C-17 transports but these get mired in the mud from bad weather rains and cannot rumble into Kosovo to occupy even when the "bombardment" is over. The British with lighter tracked armored vehicles flying underslung helicopters are the first NATO forces into Kosovo, as the U.S. Army must clear the few roads capable of handling 70-ton tanks of mines and unexploded ordnance.

Battlefield form and labeling must follow function

How did the U.S. Army find itself with tanks and attack helicopters too heavy for Force Projection operations, and lacking utility on the current non-linear, inter-continental complex terrain arena? The short answer is because it doesn't have a CAVALRY BRANCH to insure such weaponry exists. The long answer follows.

It all began at the turn of the century when the U.S. Army struggled to adapt to the mechanized battlefield, where machines on the ground (tracked tanks) and in the air (fixed-wing airplanes) would need to be utilized to achieve future victory. Neither of these two platform types had the backing of the traditional battlefield functional branches (Infantry, Artillery, Signal etc.) to develop them fully into the best tools possible; and the result was a small group of zealots took on the job of championing their use. Filled with enthusiasm for their platforms, the zealots began to pressure the Army to create a separate Tank/Armor Corps and Air Corps to fully financially back their platforms as war winning entities in and of themselves rather than to be a combined-arms player with the other functional branches that had rejected them. Instead, they would develop their platforms into shooting weapons that would win wars by themselves rather than transport and enable the infantry, artillery and other Army branches to win battles together. From this an idealized platform-centric mentality was born instead of a battlefield function-centric mindset.

Dave Johnson in his excellent book, Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers describes how both the tank and the airplane were developed according to bad doctrinal assumptions; the tankers thought the battlefield would be like WWI supporting infantry at a walking pace, and the airplane enthusiasts thought they could create heavy bombers adequate to bombard the enemy's cities and factories into submission without ANY ground maneuver to defeat them. His conclusion was that it was not a lack of funds during the depression that harmed U.S. Army reformation, it was a failure in thinking about what the next battlefield would be like. His conclusion is that had the Army had more money in the 1930s, it would have used it to put more Soldiers in uniform to be infantry and bought more heavy bombers. I agree with his conclusion, but I disagree that this would have been all a bad thing. 50% of WWII was an infantry war in the Pacific, and the 1940 mobilization of the National Guard saved the day there and in Europe in WWII. He cites the failure of the M4 Sherman medium tank based on the doctrine of supporting the infantry in a breakthrough battle (offensive tank) to duel with the ultra-heavy German Tiger/Panther tanks, not mentioning that by the time the U.S. had entered the war in Europe, Germany was already on the defensive and had switched to heavier, defensive tanks. The battlefield expected to be a WWI-type static formation requiring tanks to breakthrough just against infantry now had a counter in the form of heavy defensive tanks held by the defense. Johnson seems to be imbued with the idealized platform-centric idea that, had we had the "right doctrine" we would have had a "better tank" than the M4 Sherman.

The truth is tanks should have developed along two lines, as Sapper tanks under control of Combat Engineers to support infantry breakthroughs like the smart British under General Hobart created, and as Cavalry means to do maneuver warfare on a large scale like General Patton did (medium and some heavy tanks) as well as provide the recon/screening and general purpose combat force (light tanks) ahead of the main body.

In 1940, Chief of Army Cavalry, General Herr refused to mechanize in favor of a dominant role for high-silhouette horse cavalry (even though horse cavalry failed on the fire-swept no-man's land of WWI), so senior Army leaders decide to work around him and create a new deceptively labeled "ARMOR" branch but without a true battlefield function doctrinal foundation. Johnson is all over this. The idea was to emulate the German blitzkrieg with Infantry fire support/breakthrough tanks and have a separate force of "Tank destroyers" with guns and ammunition optimized to destroy other enemy tanks as a covering force for the main body of an Armored Division's infantry and their tanks---a CAVALRY mission by another name. In actual WWII practice, the confused battlefield didn't facilitate there being enough tank destroyers in the right places at the right times to ward off German tanks for the medium Shermans.

For a good report on WWII Tank Destroyers, read online the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute report No. 12: Seek, Strike, and Destroy: U.S. Army Tank Destroyer Doctrine in World War II by Dr. Christopher R. Gabel. (PDF format)

The actual best tanks in WW2 were LIGHT and turretless! The German STUGs were the most effective tanks in WW2.

Meanwhile, the aircraft zealots had detached themselves from the rest of the Army (USAC, then USAAF, then USAF) in order to pursue strategic civilian infrastructure bombing to win the war all by themselves, and in the process robbing the ground forces of effective Close Air Support (CAS) of the German Stuka dive-bomber variety. Army "AVIATION" branch was born in 1942 as yet another work-around to provide artillery spotter planes for ground forces.

The tragedy in all of this is that we should have instead made tanks and kept some airplanes connected to the ground maneuver forces in an "Air and Ground Cavalry Branch", or "Armor & Aviation Cavalry Branch" by firing General Herr, political consequences be damned. General Marshall retired 55 generals and 445 full colonels between June 1939 and June 1940, why not General Herr? By not doing this, tank development has drifted without a battlefield functional basis to the current fad of platform centric dueling to where EVERY U.S. Army M1 tank is a tank destroyer with NO AMMUNITION to fire support for the infantry; a heavy defensive tank without offensive force projection capability, and fixed-wing air power has left Army ground maneuver completely merging into the separate service U.S. Air Force (USAF) which has no interest in CAS as it pursues the lie of winning wars by air bombardment alone. The U.S. military has been suffering from this disastrous decision since WWII, with heavy casualties due to a lack of an integrated air/ground general purpose combat maneuver force (Cavalry) optimized to the fullest extant possible.

Consider if we had created an "Armored Aviation Cavalry" branch in WWII.

C-47 tactical transports would have parachute dropped Airborne infantry Brigades to include light, offensive tanks (perhaps in gliders, too) to support by 3D maneuver the ground advance of mechanized 2D formations. Covering this force would have been P-38s and P-47s best suited for CAS missions, as the longer-range, high-altitude P-51s (but with liquid-cooled engines too vulnerable for low-level CAS battle damage) escorted heavy B-17 and B-29 bombers to give strategic bombing zealots a chance to try out their ideas in the Army Air Forces. Ground Forward Air Controllers (FACs) for tactical fighters would have been "SOP" from the beginning of the war, not just when we got deadlocked in the French hedgerows. When heavy bombers were employed at St. Lo for the COBRA break-out, they would have been controlled effectively to not drop bombs on friendly troops. With a Cavalry doctrinal mandate, and not a distrusted tank destroyer concept, a heavy tank would have been developed sooner and faster to combat German heavy tanks when they appeared to try to counter mechanized infiltration warfare. After WWII, the air/ground interface would have been cemented and development of short take-off and landing fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft focused on delivering a light tracked armored vehicle to act as forward mechanized 3D CAVALRY for U.S. forces deployed around the world, while not heavying the force up just to do 2D heavy platform versus platform combat.

In fact, the U.S. Army Armored Force Field Manual FM 17-10 from WW2 states such a 3D/2D maneuver synergism!


e. Transport aviation will be furnished by GHQ for the supply of elements of armored units when operating beyond the sources of normal supply or when no land communications are available.

1. Either parachute troops or air-borne troops may be employed in conjunction with the operations of armored units to secure terrain objectives on the routes of march or to seize vital points in rear of the hostile front. They may establish support groups and supply bases for a break-through.

The battlefield of 1939-42

The central danger when you create entire Army branches based on platforms rather than a doctrinal battlefield functional concept----is there is a tendency to build an idealized "Super Platform" that will be superior to all other platforms-to garner funds from the pacifistic U.S. Congress---for other platform dueling and all things being equal short of a revolutionary design---means a platform that is heavier and bigger than the competition in order to have the technical advantage. This also drives the cost of each platform up, creating Chuck Spinney's "death spiral" where you spend more and more money on less and less platforms because of being perfectionistic and utopian about what a platform can be. The truth is that in war you only get one "move" to equip yourself----the days, months and years preceding the war---Germany began the war with LIGHT TO MEDIUM OFFENSIVE TANKS to perform the battlefield function of offensive breakthrough and were highly successful from 1939-1942 against WWI style opposition. The design of the offensive tank was driven by physical reality to have the maximum cross-country mobility to infiltrate through enemy lines to collapse them from the inside out ala BH Liddell-Hart's expanding torrent idea--a battlefield functional requirement. The thing that won the "lightning war" (blitzkrieg) battle according to German Panzer General Hans Guderians was TRACKS' cross-country mobility--not tank dueling. The goal was to defeat Army units to win battles and wars not destroy other tanks to chalk up "kill marks" on your gun tubes.

What Johnsons doesn't point out is that in the Pacific, the U.S. Army's blitzkrieg (mechanized infiltration) tank, the M4 Sherman was superior as an infantry fire supoport platform rooting out Japanese infantry in the jungles and caves (50% of the war effort), and was more than adequate in North Africa and Italy supporting infantry in rough terrain against Axis infantry and light to medium tanks (another 25% of the war effort) and thus U.S. Army doctrine was 75% right for the need for a fast medium tank. He would have us believe that we should instead have discarded 75% of the success we had with a medium tank and instead based 100% of the force on an idealized single-type (heavy) tank like the M26 Pershing just to succeed at 25% of the battlefield situations where tank dueling against German heavy defensive tanks was needed. The "epitome" of WWII combat was not all about tank dueling. Only when we look at war as some sort of glorified human advancement do we fall prey to the idea of some sort of technotactical "ultimate" battle type. We would not have won WWII had we had an all-heavy tank destroyer force to duel successfully with German Tiger tanks. Military Historian Ian Hogg best expresses the reality of battle in his book, Great Land Battles of WWII; where he describes several major battles in the war according to their situation specific-TYPE, some are Airborne type battles, others are artillery dominant combat...there is no one "type" of battle (Example: Fall of South Vietnam in 1975 was dominated by NVA 130mm long-range artillery smashing the ARVN firebases with shorter ranged 105mm howitzers etc.) that driven by technology becomes the one "cookie-cutter" way to fight in all situations.

When you look at platforms rather than battlefield functions you are likely to end up measuring them against other platforms (fighting mirror images of ourselves, symmetrical warfare)---which is a defensive outlook and building a superiorly large and heavy platform which is a DEFENSIVE platform. This is exactly what would befall the U.S. Army years later when they created the M1 Abrams and AH-64 Apache super heavy DEFENSIVE platforms designed to already be in position in Europe for the enemy to come to them in a Soviet style breakthrough battle. We essentially copied the 1943-44 German Army.

Armor enthusiasts felt the tank was the dominant weapon for future land battles and the result was they created Armor Divisions without enough infantry to clear ahead closed, vegetated terrain of enemy infantry lying in ambush with anti-tank shaped-charge rocket weapons like Panzerfaust. In the bocage hedgerows a few miles inland from the Normandy beaches, German infantry, heavy tanks and assault guns took a heavy toll on U.S. Army Armor units struggling to break through without adequate infantry or combat engineer equipment for that environment. Armor force designers operating on the assumption that WWII would be like WWI in that infantry would need help breaking through enemy fortified trench lines designed their armored divisions around a fast medium tank, the M4 Sherman which had a good low-pressure 75mm gun good for demolishing enemy infantry positions but weak against enemy tank armor plate. With easy maintainability and easy to mass-produce, over 95% of a U.S. Army WWII armored Division was composed of medium breakthrough tanks, which did just that after the Normandy break-out in 1944-45. After the break-out, the Armor force ran into heavy, German defensive Tiger/Panther tanks and the separate unit Tank Destroyers were not plentiful or in position to ward off and kill the enemy heavy tanks, resulting in heavy Sherman tank casualties and a lingering phobia of tank inferiority complex in the U.S. Army ARMOR branch.

The battlefield of 1943-45: its the tank gun, stupid

However, had America's Army had better institutional candor and innovation, funds could have been spent beforehand in the 1930s to insure the Sherman tank was equipped with a 90mm gun good for both infantry fire support and tank destroyer duties by ammunition type in anticipation of the enemy in a long war having a "second move" to re-equip itself with heavier, defensive tanks to counter the allied offensives. None of the M4 Sherman vulnerability whining evident in current revisionist history books would have occurred. The Shermans in superior numbers as offensive tanks would have hit the Tigers and Panthers and killed them, and the times when they didn't and we lost Sherman crews hit by German guns we would accept that as a price we chose to pay in order to get a tank lighter than a heavy tank so we could sail across the oceans and march across Germany in maneuver battle to win the war and end the killing with operational art. The ability to have a tank armament capable of anti-personnel and anti-tank tasks was perfected shortly after WWII though the doctrinal weak foundation for ARMOR branch resulted in some Soldiers with the tank destroyer mentality to long for their own heavy Tiger defensive tank which would make them "invincible" if struck while doing tank duels.

But the U.S. Army entered WWII unable to technically put ANY gun into a turret, she had but one move to arm itself for the war, and she did the best she could with the M4 Sherman. By the time her second "move" was underway, the introduction of the M26 Pershing tank with 90mm gun, the war was almost over. Unless you start the war like Germany did, and its a long one, you only get ONE move to equip yourself for the war. We made our decision, we moved out and took fire and extensive casualties, but we WON, an important fact the offensive tank Sherman-bashing revisionists (secret tank duelers) don't want to admit. Today the same decision is before us for the 21st century. Should we have waited until we had the "perfect" heavier tank in the M26 before landing in Normandy and pushing the Nazis out of power in Germany, and bombarded them while their V-2 ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons programs matured? If the Nazis had developed a V-2 ballistic missile with nuclear warhead while retaining control over half of Europe, would we or the Soviets have continued to march onto Berlin?

Gavin and the helicopter reform the U.S. Army into a 2D/3D maneuver force, but without a Cavalry Branch to sustain this force

With the loss of fixed-wing attack and transport aircraft from the U.S. Army with the tragic 1947 National Security Act creating a schism between firepower (Navy, Air Force) and maneuver (U.S. Army, Marines), the U.S. Army found itself locked into just two dimensions of maneuver with disastrous consequences in the rugged, mountainous terrain fighting communist light infantry and some medium tanks in Korea. War futurists like Airborne General James Gavin began to develop offensive gun tanks like the Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle (AR/AAV-later the M551 Sheridan) and the superb Airborne Multi-Purpose Family of Vehicles (AM/PVF) M113 all-terrain, light tracked Armored Personnel Carrier, both of which could be parachute airdropped and STOL airlanded by the USAF's plentiful C-130 turboprop transports.

The U.S. Army had begun using rotary-wing "helicopters" at the end of WWII, and the USAF was not interested in using them due to their then low payloads, slow speeds and short ranges. The Army had a golden opportunity to regain 3D air mobility throughout its force structure. But it was a missed opportunity because Army helicopter zealots imbued with "Air-mobility" hubris sold the Department of Defense on the idea that their platform would replace all other platforms--particularly ground vehicles. The 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) would enter combat wed to just foot-mobile infantry supported by artillery firebases, and while they fought well and saved the day on numerous occasions; their casualties were heavy due to a lack of on the ground armored protection, mobility and firepower on a level superior to the foot-mobile enemy with "homefield advantage" of being able to cache his supplies and refuse battle. For some strange reason, the AR/AAV grew to 17 tons and couldn't be lifted by the CH-47 Chinook helicopter as intended. The Chinook was designed too small to have a 10-ton M113 roll on and off from its insides. Army Aviation did not insure it and the Army's armored vehicles were fully compatible; resulting in a less than optimized Air Assault force structure. Meanwhile the Army Airborne did field an "air-mech" capability with the M551 light tank using parachute airdrop, but suffered from a "seize and hold" mentality of securing airfields for follow-on forces and neglected to turn these light tanks into an offensive maneuver force by mechanizing some of its infantry in M113s. The Russian Airborne would show the entire world how to 3D air-mech maneuver by gobbling up Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan with their 8-ton BMD family of AFVs, and show how to helicopter air-mech a force in East Africa to defeat the Somalis.

Despite the shortcomings of Army helicopters, combat commanders in Vietnam quickly realized the Howze Board anti-ground vehicle hubris was wrong and began fighting the Air Cavalry together with the M48 medium or M551 light tanks and M113 Armored Ground Cavalry as a 3D/2D combined-arms air-ground team starting with the 11th ACR "Blackhorse Regiment". These were the most powerful offensive combat formations the U.S. Army has ever fielded to date, and if given a mission of world-wide power projection, it could have flown rapidly to anywhere in the world INSIDE USAF transport aircraft and defeated any known enemy, as these formations were our most successful even in Vietnam.

U.S. Army Air/Ground Light Mechanized Cavalry = Magnificent, wish we had this today!

"Armor across country" by Jim Dietz www.jamesdietz.com


The U.S. Army Divisional Armored Cavalry Troop contained a Troop HQ (Troop HQ Track, Troop Commo Track and 2 x Troop Radar Tracks) and three Platoons (each consisting of a Platoon HQ Track , Scout Section , Infantry Track , Mortar Track and a Tank Section). All were based on the amazing M113 Gavin ACAV light tracked, amphibious, air-transportable Armored Fighting Vehicle.


A Squadron was the equivalent of an Infantry Battalion; a Troop was the equivalent of an Infantry Company. Both organisations used the term Platoon.


A Squadron consisted of an HQ and HQ Troop, 3 Line Troops ( Troops A, B and C) and an Air Cavalry Troop (Troop D). This page only concerns itself with the organisation of a Line Troop. For information on Troop D, see Air Cavalry Troop on the link below:

AIR OPERATIONS www.soft.net.uk/entrinet/aero_rifle.htm

There was normally a single Air Cav Troop organic to each Armored Cavalry Squadron and three Air Cav Troops organic to the Air Cav Squadron of the Airmobile Division. An Air Cav Troop contained an Aero Weapons Platoon, an Aero Scout Platoon and an Aero Rifle Platoon with some infantry for on-the-spot small-scale ground missions in support of air operations.

The U.S. Army was experimenting with a TRIple CAPability (TRICAP) 1st Cavalry Division with 2D tanks and 3D helicopter maneuver forces when the Egyptian Army crossed the Suez Canal in 1973 with swarms of offensive tanks but U.S. Army senior leaders abandoned offensive combat force structures for world-wide power projection in favor of defensive structures oriented to defending Europe from massive Soviet armored blitzkrieg.

Deja German Army on the defensive again in 1974: meet 1944

Since WWII, the U.S. Army had developed a good family of light-to-medium-to-heavy, general-purpose tanks that could do both infantry support and destroy other tanks to support OFFENSIVE operations in the M26 thru M60 family. The need for light tanks was recognized but without a DOCTRINAL foundation and proponency such that they were not fully exploited in either the Airborne or Air Assault Divisions or in a good Air/Ground Cavalry for Korea or even in the difficult terrains of Vietnam. However, when an offensive tank is pitted in a DEFENSIVE role against superior numbers of enemy offensive tanks as the Israeli Armored Corps was on October 1973, they were overwhelmed---if an offensive tank is hit by another offensive tank, its knocked out. The Egyptian Army broke through exactly how we feared the Soviets might in Europe, and in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war we decided to create large numbers of heavy defensive tanks in the U.S. Army---a tank that if hit would NOT be knocked out---to compensate for the still even larger numbers of Soviet offensive tanks at the platform versus platform technical level of war. Since U.S. force would already be in position in Europe to meet the Soviet armored blitzkrieg, power projection of these heavy, defensive tanks by aircraft was not a requirement or even a goal. Essentially, the U.S. Army of the 1970-80s switched positions and directions with the German Army of 1944 and turned to the East in a defensive posture with its own "Tiger" tank: the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank destroyer. The good WWII ETO veterans that Army force designers were, realized they needed infantry to accompany their Tiger tanks, but couldn't have them ride on top with a jet turbine engine and extremely hot exhaust. So a machine gun tank was created to shoot up Russian BMP infantry-carrying tanks with a 25mm chain gun that would carry a small force of Tiger tank "security guards"--the M2 Bradley. Essentially--the WWI "male" tank with a cannon and the "female" tank with machine guns, except in a defensive role. To deceive everyone as to what the 70-ton M1 Abrams really is--a heavy defensive tank; the Army creates a dishonest term; "Main Battle Tank" (MBT) to imply that this one heavy tank type is good for all situations in the flawed "ultimate platform" mentality, when its only good for the "main battle area", a DEFENSIVE TERM.

What's regrettable is that the IDF during the dark days of the Yom Kippur war did not have the luxury of re-designing its tanks into heavy tank destroyers, though they years later later would with the Merkava. Their early battlefield losses were not due to the technical inferiority of their M48/M60/Centurion offensive tanks as it was they were up against an enemy surveillance-strike complex (SSC) with an integrated air defense system robbing them of their air control for fighter-bombers to perform CAS and interdiction and on the ground hunter/killer infantry teams with RPGs and Sagger precision ATGMs. The answers was to create a 2D/3D air/ground combined arms team with tube artillery suppressing the enemy's ADA, followed by infantry in M113 Zeldas to clear out RPG/Sagger teams for the tanks to bust through to the other side of the Suez Canal with helicopter-borne infantry reinforcing----and encircle the Egyptian Army: basically the U.S. Army's TRICAP force structure! But instead of correctly learning from the IDF's experiences, the U.S. Army shelved the TRICAP Division and went about designing a super-heavy "Tiger" defensive tank to absorb a Soviet armored style breakthrough by letting the enemy come to them instead of at least continuing to develop an offensive force projection capability in other parts of the Army to meet other world-wide location threats.

It would be interesting to see what would happen with the IDF's Merkava heavy defensive tanks if the U.S. wimped out of its Sinai Multi-National Observer Force (MFO) mission and Egypt crossed over in an armored invasion again. Don't forget the IDF keeps a large force of upgraded M48/M60 Patton/Centurion offensive tanks in its force structure! Turn on your TV and watch them and M113A3s lead the way into Palestinian territories to locate and destroy terrorist cells.

Meanwhile, Army Aviation became its own branch in the 1980s, other branch officers stopped cross-training to be helicopter pilots as General Gavin had diligently arranged and undertook an effort to create its own super, war-winning platforms, like the AH-64A Apache anti-tank helicopter to be their already-in place in Europe, flying defensive "tank destroyer" to capture budget share. A flying version of the M1 tank for their branch. Self-deployability from CONUS or small size to fly easily and in efficient numbers in USAF transport planes was not a requirement/design goal. The helicopter gunship became the defacto fighter-bomber for the U.S. Army to do CAS since the USAF was lukewarm even with excellent armored A-10s and better yet, to roam free deep behind enemy lines like the fixed-wing prop P-47s did in WWII awaiting to shoot up a target of opportunity rather than bail-out infantry (2nd fiddle role). The 101st Air Assault Division's infantry became essentially "security guards" for the fuel and ammo dumps for these helicopter fighter-bombers to interdict the enemy like a small version of the USAF, as executed during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

This effort to perpetuate a platform for self-centered Aviation branch goals continues with the long and never-ending process to field a manned "stealth" scout and attack helicopter--the RAH-66 Comanche to win the fight by being its quarterback to digitally target everything in the Tofflerian/"Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) mode. This is a desperate measure to preserve the viability of helicopters flying forward across the line of friendly troops (X-FLOT) apart from complimenting ground maneuver via stealth technology despite increasingly lethal enemy air defense systems that USAF force planners had conceded to the enemy from 15,000 feet and under.

Deja Horse Cavalry! wrong doctrine all over again in 1999?

Without a Cavalry Branch constituency in the Army full of warriors who want to fight mobile Air/Ground warfare, is it a surprise that in 1997, Senior Army leaders and heavy ARMOR branch refused to air-mechanize parts of the Army force structure to attain an offensive, 3D power-projection capability using C-130 transportable light tracked AFVs, by continuing to ignore the 17,500 M113 Gavin APCs it owns and canceling the superb M8 Buford Armored 105mm Gun System light tank to replace the aging M551 Sheridanin the 82nd Airborne Division? Two years later, in the aftermath of the public embarrasments of the Kosovo heavy tank and heavy helicopter fighter-bomber failures to power project, Senior Army leadership instead of admitting mistakes and creating a Cavalry force with existing M113A3 Gavins regardless of what the Heavy tankers and Aviators, works around them by creating rubber-tired armored car, "Interim Brigade Combat Teams" (IBCTs) with NO Army Aviation units attached. To get around justified criticism that these wheeled platforms would not be able to fire & maneuver across country, Army leaders used dishonest labeling like "Interim Armored Vehicle" instead of "tank" to insure they would not be compared to the realistic and higher battlefield standard of the cross-country mobile tank. Other failings would be glossed over by the word "Interim" to provide maximum excuse-itude with "Brigade Combat Team" offering a pass-the-buck subordinate unit to foist off a task the motorized infantry with mere .50 caliber and 40mm machine guns can't handle. Current Senior Army leaders in love with the world-view of Alvin and Heidi Toffler's War and Anti-War see the battlefield as a WWI-style construct, where digital firepower reigns supreme and only ground troops never have to cross the FLOT to fight for ground or reconnaissance, but only occupy after the bombardment is over--friendly casualties stay nil or low which pleases civilian politicians who have to get re-elected and the Army has a reason to ask Congress for gobs of money to spend on electronics to gold-plate armored cars with the allure of ease of maintenance like your family SUV since both roll on the same air-filled rubber tires. The problem with "bombard & occupy" (BO) is that its a mini-version of USAF precision bombing in "Army Green" subject to the same failures as the enemy employs decoys, camouflage and deceptive measures (C3D2) so our expensive precision munitions explode nothing since there is noone actually forward of the FLOT on the ground insuring targets and not decoys/civilians are hit.

Despite what the Tofflers and the RMA precision firepower BO zealots think, we still live in a PHYSICAL WORLD where mechanical advantage still counts. The Iraqi Republic Guard escaped when USAF precision guided 2,000 bombs could not drop causeway sections and the ultra-heavy U.S. Army defensive M1/M2 tanks couldn't get there ahead of the enemy by slow overland movement punctuated by frequent refuelings of their fuel hungry tanks to seize control of the crossings. Bombardment has only worked once in war to defeat an enemy nation--but even then with an asterick*---the caveat is that this only occurred after ground maneuver had surrounded Japan and then only when two nuclear bombs were dropped. If U.S. politicians are unwilling to prosecute wars correctly to get real results due to fear of ground maneuver casualties, its the fault of the U.S. Army for not reforming itself to a decisive air/ground maneuver capability that can win with low casualties through institutional excellence requiring moral courage, candor and a willingness to face the unvarnished truths and not wallow in rank and image-conscious snobbery.

U.S. Army Power Projection Fire & Maneuver warfare for the 21st century needed

The future battlefields for the U.S. Army will be global, complex, lethal and urbanized--this means it must be light enough for strategic, inter-continental mobility and these forces must have the toughness to receive some enemy fires and not be damaged to fire/maneuver to take ground not just hope for bombard & occupy to work. This means low-ground pressure (9 PSI), go-anywhere, bullet-resistant tracked mobility platforms not vulnerable and high ground pressure (40 PSI) air-filled rubber tires on a LAV-III or a FCS road-bound armored car. To avoid targeting on the digitally-connected battlefield, platforms must be able to boldly maneuver off-road under concealing rural vegetation as well as urban structures and not be easily mobility killed by stray shrapnel and unexpected close-range ambushes. Fire/Maneuver with precision firepower not bombard & occupy to defeat enemies across the entire spectrum of conflict, not just the lower end. The doctrine is to have a protected, mobile, cross-country capable force that can air-deploy and afterwards take ground from the enemy to collapse his system of warfare by maneuver, not just hope for bombardment.

A C-130, cargo 747 and helicopter transportable 3D Army offensive force can be created TODAY with existing M113A3 Gavin, M973 and some new-purchase M8 Buford AGS light gun tanks, all digitized at a fraction of the cost of trying to work around intransigent people using inferior, expensive rubber-tired armored cars too large and heavy to fly by any of the aforementioned aircraft. This 3D force can be created in a number of ways, changing selected Battalions within existing Army Brigades, creating entire new Brigades etc. to act as the perfect compliments to light forces securing entries into enemy battlespaces and operating as forward maneuver elements to put enemy units in disastrous positions as heavier, 2D forces maneuver on them. Precision munitions technologies enable these 3D forces to destroy heavier enemy 2D forces if encountered in the "Blue Zone", by both low-tech guns and high-tech missiles though their intended targets will be the enemy's nodes of cohesion: supplies, command centers, key routes etc. Low-cost Javelin, 2.5 kilometer range, signature-less, fire/forget, top-attack missile pedestal mounts are already available that can be fitted to light tracked AFVs.

Merge Armor and Aviation Branches into a single Cavalry Branch

Therefore, the solution is to finally have the moral courage to do the right thing that should have been done in 1940 by firing General Herr and resisting the aircraft zealots: MERGE ARMOR AND AVIATION BRANCHES INTO A SINGLE ARMOR AND AVIATION CAVALRY BRANCH. Force both branches and their ultimate platform (tank) destroyer mentalities back into the rest of the combined-arms maneuver functional U.S. Army. We would then have a doctrinal, battlefield FUNCTIONAL basis for both an Air and Ground Cavalry, in the broad definition of mounted warfare using air and ground machines and not just the narrow view of cavalry as just reconnaissance, though that is included. All Armor/Aviation officers would have to go through BOTH tank and aircraft training and would wear on their collar the current U.S. Army ARMOR branch insignia with an AVIATION branch gold propeller in the center. The goal of the Air/Ground Cavalry would be the decisive MANEUVER of Army infantry, artillery and other type forces by air and ground platforms not just combating mirror-images of themselves.

Knowing that Cavalry means recon/security as well as a mounted decisive forces would automatically force planners to realize that there are two basic ways to optimize force on planet earth---for either 3D maneuver ("Blue Zone") aided by aircraft transport or 2D maneuver ("Red Zone") along more expected, but necessary axises along the earth. The 3D "Future Combat System" or future tank would be optimized to fly by BOTH Army aircraft and USAF aircraft, but why wait for a FCS when we can do it today with up-armored M973A2 SUSVs already in U.S. Army service that can fly by Army UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters externally as well as CH-47D Chinooks internally for the 101st Air Assault Division to gain an air-mechanized capability? The Army has thousands of M113 type light tracked AFVs with superior protected mobility charateristics over rubber-tired LAV-III armored cars that upgraded are RPG and ATGM resistant while still easily remaining within USAF C-130 transportation limits enabling parachute airdrop and STOL airland for the 82nd Airborne Division so it can force an entry in a hostile country despite possible surveillance strike complexes (SSCs) in place. The superb M8 AGS 105mm light tank can be obtained to act as the M113A3 mech-infantry's fire support/breakthrough tank. All of these robust, cross-country capable light tracked AFVs for Army offensive power projection would be digitized to exploit any precision fires available to suppress enemies for X-FLOT and INTRA-FLOT maneuvers but NOT RELY on them to do their fire/maneuver fighting for them. There would be no more "Blackhawk down" type incidents where enemy air defense weaponry are unsupressed and forces cut-off and surrounded because they lack the armored vehicle shock action and protected mobility to move at will across the fire and sensor swept battlefield.

With an Air/Ground synergy in place for the Army's Air and Ground vehicle proponents, we could insure that future Army tanks in the 3D mode of maneuver can be easily transported by future Army aircraft. Attack aircraft like fixed-wing manned or unmanned combat vehicles would be wed to CAS roles supporting ground maneuver operating from forward dirt airstrips as articulated by Charles Myers in his "Maneuver Air Support" concept and originally intended for the OV-1 Mohawk by the Howze Board in 1960 and later proven effective on a small scale in Vietnam combat. Air/Ground Cavalry would work with the USAF to create Joint Airborne-Air Assault "Attack Pathfinder" Platoons in every Army maneuver Brigade to insure Army vehicles can be loaded in both Army and USAF aircraft and then landed at will using digital information means to effect dominant maneuver.

Currently, in Iraq we Americans use excessive amounts of fuel that creates lots of wheeled truck resupply columns that are easily ambushed on the non-linear battlefields there. Since we will neither leave predictable smooth road paths using tracked AFVs or secure the main supply routes by picketing combat troops along them so roadside bombs cannot be placed there, our casualties have reached disastrous proportions.

We've argued for a long time that the M1 Abrams and the Tiger heavy tanks were/are both strategic disasters posing as tactical successes. A good article below lays out our concerns.

The Atlantic Monthly | May 2005
The Agenda: The Military
Gas Pains
One of the U.S. military's greatest vulnerabilities in Iraq is its enormous appetite for fuel. The insurgents have figured this out
by Robert Bryce
The Department of Defense now has about 27,000 vehicles in Iraq and every one of them gets lousy gas mileage. To power that fleet the Defense Logistics Agency must move huge quantities of fuel into the country in truck convoys from Kuwait, Turkey, and Jordan. All that fuel gives American Soldiers a tremendous battlefield advantage (in communications, mobility, and firepower, among other things). But overseeing and carrying out this process requires the work of some 20,000 American Soldiers and private contractors. Every day some 2,000 trucks leave Kuwait alone for various locales in Iraq.
In addition to the challenges posed by the volume of fuel needed, the Army's logisticians must deal with the sheer variety of fuels. Although the Pentagon has tried to reduce the number of fuels it consumes, and now relies primarily on a jet-fuel-like substance called JP-8, the Defense Energy Support Center is currently supplying fourteen kinds of fuel to U.S. troops in Iraq.
In short, the American GI is the most energy-consuming Soldier ever seen on the field of war. For computers and GPS units, Humvees and helicopters, the modern Soldier is in constant need of energy: battery power, electric power, and petroleum. The U.S. military now uses about 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day in Iraq. Some of that fuel goes to naval vessels and aircraft, but even factoring out JP-5 fuel (which is what the Navy primarily uses), each of the 150,000 Soldiers on the ground consumes roughly nine gallons of fuel a day. And that figure has been rising.
Some of the rise in consumption is due to the insurgents' use of improvised explosive devices, which account for about 30 percent of all American combat deaths since the occupation began. As John Pike, the executive director of GlobalSecurity.org, told me, "This is a war of convoy ambushes and car bombs. There is no front line." Perhaps hundreds of American vehicles have been destroyed by IEDs (the exact number is classified), and hundreds of Soldiers many of them guarding convoys have been killed or injured by them. (And more than sixty-five private contractors are known to have been killed by convoy attacks or IEDs since July of 2003.) Cheap, easy to use, and highly effective, IEDs have forced the Americans to add armor to their fleet of Humvees in Iraq. A fully armored Humvee weighs more than five tons and requires a larger engine and heavier suspension than the non-armored model. The Army also recently allocated more than $500 million to add armor to its utility trucks.
The added armor will help protect U.S. Soldiers from IEDs and snipers but it also means higher fuel consumption for their vehicles. Which means, in turn, that more tanker trucks will have to be driven into Iraq and those trucks will provide more targets for the insurgents, who have become skilled at attacking them. It's difficult to guard them all. When insurgents see that American patrols are increasing in one region, they can quickly and easily shift their attacks on fueling stations, pipelines, truck convoys, refineries to another region.
It's a vicious cycle: attacks on convoys produce a need for more armor, which produces a need for more fuel, which produces larger convoys, which produce more targets for attack. Over the past six months the Army and the Air Force have had to specially train more than 1,000 additional Soldiers to perform convoy security. One tank commander, who returned from Iraq last spring, told me that he had been so concerned about his supply lines that he had stationed sentries at one-mile intervals along the highway in his sector.
Logistics is an old and critically important issue in war. During World War II the German general Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps was stymied in North Africa by a shortage of fuel for its tanks. A lack of gasoline also halted the gallop across France of General George Patton's Third Army in the summer of 1944. The Third Army had about 400,000 men and used about 400,000 gallons of gasoline a day. Today the Pentagon has about a third that number of troops in Iraq yet they use more than four times as much fuel.
Given that the longer the fuel supply lines, the greater the vulnerability for our military, logic would suggest we try to reduce our fuel requirements. But over the past several decades the Pentagon has bought billions of dollars' worth of tanks, trucks, and other vehicles with little or no consideration to their fuel efficiency. In decades past, U.S. Army logisticians assumed that 50 percent of the tonnage moved onto a battlefield was ammunition, 30 percent was fuel, and the rest was food, water, and supplies. Today the fuel component may be as high as 70 percent, according to a study done in 2001 by the Defense Science Board.
The insurgents' tactics may not stop the flow of motor fuel to American troops, but they are part of the broader war that is forcing the United States and its allies in Iraq to defend every pipeline, every refinery, every tanker truck, and every fuel depot. Even in peacetime that's a difficult task.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Iraq is in a bind. It has no choice but to continue fortifying its vehicles with armor and pumping imported fuel into, for example, the Bradley fighting vehicle (which gets less than two miles per gallon) and the M1 Abrams tank (less than one mile per gallon). But all the fuel demanded by those armaments and vehicles creates logistical and military headaches. The tank commander I spoke to told me that Soldiers on the ground are beginning to see that "the more fuel-efficient we are, the more tactically sound we are."
But U.S. military commanders seem not to see that connection. At the conclusion of its study the DSB recommended that the Pentagon make fuel efficiency a key consideration when buying new weapons systems. The Joint Chiefs of Staff dismissed the proposal in August of that year.
Richard Truly, a former astronaut who recently retired as the head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, chaired the DSB study. "The thing we were trying to get across was that this doesn't have anything to do with moral values," Truly told me. "It has to do with running the goddamn military with as little fuel as possible and showing the advantages to the warfighter himself so that instead of having ten fuel trucks, you can have five." Unfortunately, Truly says, the prevailing wisdom at the Pentagon is that "fuel efficiency is for sissies."

What can we do with the Army's Heavy defensive tank destroyers and helicopter fighter-bombers?

Russian tanks have always had jettisonable fuel drums, so did our M3 Stuart light tanks in WW2...we can do this!

Fortunately, there is some good news here. The Army's 70-ton M1 defensive tank destroyer can be reduced to under 55 tons with a pedestal gun and a more efficient diesel engine instead of a weight-inefficient manned turret and jet turbine engine to become an offensive general-purpose 2D maneuver tank without sacrificing one iota of armor protection. Its shedding dead old-manpower intensive technology weight. This is what the Russians (see two articles from Military Parade at bottom) and our NATO allies are working on while we try to put "Windows 98" in armored cars so we can e-mail calls-for-help to the field Artillery and the USAF when caught in close-range ambush and unable to defend ourselves.

The 70-ton M1A1's AGT-1500 turbine engine (derived from T53 that powered the OV-1 Mohawk and UH-1 Huey aircraft) develops 1500 hp at a weight of 2, 528 pounds.

Range (29 mph speed on roads) 279 miles
Fuel capacity 495 gallons
Fuel consumption roads: appx 2 gallons per mile
Fuel rate x-country is 7 gallons per mile
Ground pressure 14.0 PSI

The 62-ton Leopard 2's MTU MB 873 multi-fuel, 1500 hp diesel engine develops 1500 hp at a weight of 14, 330 pounds

Fuel capacity: 1160 liters (255 gallons).
Range: 550 km (343 miles).
Fuel rate is about 1 mpg
Ground pressure: 9.60 PSI

Leopard 2 Diesel 14,330 lbs
M1A1 Turbine 2, 528 lbs
11, 802 lbs

5 tons-----------------

The M1A1 can by using a turbine have 5 tons more armor protection but at an added tactical liability of having to be surrounded by unarmored fuel tankers refueling it constantly. Maybe as a heavy defensive Fulda Gap "Doomsday Tank" for 24 hours this makes sense but not for offensive operations.

What would you rather have?

A diesel heavy tank that sips fuel at 1 mpg and isn't constantly being refueled with 5 tons less armor protection (Leopard 2) or a turbine heavy tank with 5 more tons of armor protection that is constantly surrounded by rolling thousand gallon molotov cocktails?

USNI Periscope reports:

"A U.S. Army decision to switch from DF-2 diesel to the kerosene-based JP-8 (to standardize Army fuel supplies) further reduced M1 fuel efficiency.

In defense of the AGT-1500, Textron Lycoming notes that all automotive engines are affected by the reduced caloric value of each gallon of the less dense JP-8, which typically means a 5% reduction in maximum range. Textron goes on to note that no changes in the AGT-1500 are required to burn JP-8, whereas diesels must adjust fuel rack and other settings or see an even greater relative drop in efficiency.

There is no debate about the AGT-1500's high specific fuel consumption at idle.

According to one tank commander interviewed by Periscope, the rate is as much as 16 U.S. gallons (60.6 liters) per hour; the official claim is approximately 10 U.S. gal (37.9 liters) per hour. (Vickers claims that its Challenger 2's 1,200-hp diesel engine consumes 5.2 US gal (19.9 liters) per hour at idle.)

The debate over fuel economy continued in the Saudi peninsula during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. A retired marine Lt. Colonel wrote in the January 1991 USNI Proceedings that tank drivers told him the tank used 9 gallons a mile (21 liters/km) and that the M1 was down to 40% of its fuel after 50 mi. (80 km). Army officials quoted in the Proceedings article stated that the M1 and the M60 have the same fuel mileage -- 3 U.S. gal per mile (7 liters per km). [Editor: liars]

A Tank-Automotive Command (TACOM) report on Abrams trials in the United Arab Emirates in October 1990 stated that the M1 had been driven 208 mi. (335 km) at an average speed of 35 mph (56 km/h) over rough terrain before running out of fuel. This equates to 2.4 U.S. gal per mile (5.6 liters per km). Textron Lycoming points out that M1s operating in Desert Shield/Desert Storm were able to burn any available fuel, whether DF-2 or JP-8, without adjusting any settings and thus allowing overall demand for certain types of fuels to be met by varying the AGT- 1500's diet. [Editor any weak-ass excuse to justify your ego hot rod and make "lesser" Soldiers risk their lives becoming human barbecues having to refuel the egotist tankers who get all the glory]

In addition to improvements to the engine that cut fuel consumption, it is likely that the Army will adopt the practice of fitting each tank with one or two Battlefield Refueling Apparatuses (BRA). These are 80-U.S. gallon (303-liter) synthetic rubber fuel bladders developed by Teledyne Brown Engineering that are carried on the tank's turret. To refuel, a bladder is placed on the ground and the tank rolls over it (presumably slowly), forcing the fuel into the hull tanks. The BRAs entered a protracted evaluation in 1984 with acceptance delayed by concerns about adding to the logistical train. {Editor any excuse necessary to defend the status quo]

Although many tankers dislike carrying fuel supplies outside the hull, tests suggest that the bladders "weep" rather than explode when hit by enemy fire. The Army's project manager also contends that the cost of this fueling system is one-tenth that of the four less-mobile tanker trucks that would otherwise be required. [Editor: But then the RISK would be on the egotistical heavy tankers whose whole point of riding in a heavy, defensive tank is so they can fight wars without risk to themselves. Make the lesser being Soldiers ride around in fuel trucks and become crispy-critters] U.S. marine corps experience with smaller Flexcel bladders began in 1986 and, according to Teledyne Brown, contributed to the Light Armored Vehicle's (LAV) mobility during Operation Desert Storm. [Editor: do you see the Mc using these NOW?] Flexcels purchased for the Army's Concept Evaluation Plan (CEP) testing were sent to Saudi Arabia and used by armored vehicles (e.g., Sheridan light tanks) in the 82nd Airborne Division.

FMW Composite Systems - Flexcel Liquid Containment System


The Flexcelä Liquid Containment system is a self-contained liquid storage system which can rapidly dispense its contents (fuel, water, decontaminates, oil, etc.), from a rubber bladder for military and/or commercial use. The Flexcel fuel system and the FAST fuel system have been sole-sourced by the Dept of Defense from FMW. These liquid containment systems are available in different configurations, sizes, and military/commercial use. Use requires no special equipment or training making it the simplest way to move and use liquids. Uses include helicopter and aircraft transports refuel LAV transport and refuel, M1A1, and M1A2, main battle tank refuel and other vehicular refueling capabilities. Field refueling is Flexcels specialty. Units can be airdropped, without a parachute to military tanks and armored personnel carriers. This system also transports and delivers water for emergency situations, oil, other fuels and several decontaminates. With no moving parts and high reliability and re-usability, Flexcel has been tested and is in the U.S. Army and U.S. marine corps inventory. Early this year, FMW sold several kits to Egypt. A demonstration in August has resulted in a second contract under negotiation, with continued sales for the next several years being discussed. This system is currently available in 55 and 80-gallon sizes, with a kit containing two bladders each. Modifications are available for commercial use. This system has been tested and used by the U. S. military and foreign countries and has a long-term shelf life and is reusable. Flexcel can operate in extreme temperatures and environmental conditions arctic to desert.

Deployment Concept:

Flexcel is either tied to the side of the turret of the vehicle or laid across the back deck. It can dispense fuel by gravity feed or can be dropped onto the ground and the vehicle drives up on the bag and pushes the fuel out while the hose is inserted in the vehicle fuel tank. Upon completion of the fueling operation the cell can be dropped off the vehicle or left attached.

It has quick disconnect straps in the event the crew wants to jettison the device and is built to survive a 30 ft. drop to the ground. As depicted, heavy-duty Cleves straps are used to affix to the side of the vehicle.

Flexcel ranges in size from a 50-gallon version to the larger 80-gallon version. Any size Flexcel can be produced to meet the customers needs.

FMW Composite Systems Inc.
1200 W. Benedum Industrial Drive
Bridgeport, WV 26330
United States of America
Phone: (304) 624-8028
Fax: (304) 624-0170
E-mail Address: fmw@fmwcomposite.com

Complaints about the Abrams' relatively high maintenance demands were given some credence by a brochure published by the Textron Lycoming/General Electric team promoting the LV100 turbine- powered candidate for the Advanced Integrated Propulsion System (AIPS). Charts comparing current M1 powerplant requirements to the LV100 showed that the current engine, transmission, and final drive accounted for approximately 0.32 hours of unscheduled maintenance man-hours per operating hour. The time to remove and replace certain powerplant components was also outlined, showing that the air cleaner assembly requires 8.5 maintenance man-hours, the engine 7 man- hours, the final drive 5 man-hours, and the hydromechanical control 1 hour. These are by-the-book figures, however. For example, a typical well- drilled crew operating in the field can change a tank powerpack (diesel or turbine) in approximately 1 hour.

The M1's weight also means that it cannot be recovered by any Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) in the Army inventory. The Abrams requires two M88A1 ARVs to recovery one M1. This is inefficient in peacetime and could result in unnecessary loss during combat. An improved ARV, the M88E1, was canceled so procurement funds could be used for ammunition vehicles for the new M109A6 howitzer. However, development of the M88A1E1 was restarted in 1991.

A U.S. Army tank commander told Periscope in October 1991 that his experience with the Abrams had been "very positive". {Editor: he's a liar and wants to get promoted] He confirmed that the change to JP-8 had further cut fuel mileage, but praised the gas turbine's acceleration, low noise level, and reliability and concluded that the trade-off was well worth it. [Editor: BULLSHIT. Using minor excuses to overthrow the really important reasons for having a tank with better fuel economy. The term for this dishonest, BS reasoning is SOPHISTRY.]

Third, the jury remains out on certain performance factors on which data have not been thoroughly analyzed. The high fuel consumption of the M1 remains an open question because the lack of an enemy air threat reduced the risk of bringing fuel supplies forward in unarmored trucks. By the end of 100-hour war, however, fuel demands were noticeably straining VII Corp's logistics system. An observer later told Periscope: 'If the unit did not have a top-notch S-4 (staff officer in charge of supply), it was almost out of gas.'"

How about removing the M1's 30 ton 3-man turret and replacing it with an unmanned or 1 man turret of 10 tons and switch to a diesel that's 5 tons heavier, making for a 55-ton MEDIUM, offensive capable tank with lower ground pressure?

The M1 because its turbine powered carries 500 gallons of fuel just to go 250 miles.

If we put the Leopard 2 diesel engine inside we could use that 500 gallons to go 500 miles! This means from Kuwait to Baghdad without refueling.


We could reduce the M1's fuel load by 250 gallons and save 1 ton of weight while reducing its vulnerability to land mines setting off its fuel.


Because a turbine needs twice as much fuel as a diesel engine, the weight savings of a turbine is actually just 4 tons.

In other words for having to constantly refuel and enlarging the entire M1 to carry 500 gallons of fuel all we get is 4 tons more of armor protection, (or did this weight get eaten up by volume to carry the fuel??) which is a drop-in-the-bucket.

Something to think about, huh?


M1A1 NET book, Ft Knox

The same pedestal gun concept applied to the M2 Bradley increases internal space for a full 9-man infantry squad and allows the dismounting infantry leader an unobstructed view to command the force instead of a wannabe tanker in the 2-man turret who never leaves his vehicle. The AH-64 Apache can be fitted with wings and a ducted thrust tail propeller to enable it to fly at 200 mph for 2,000 miles for self-deployment for offensive operations world-wide without need of USAF transport aircraft to fly them. The disparaged "legacy" Cold War confrontation in Europe platforms can be transformed at a relatively small cost to be optimal 2D offensive, power projection platforms to work in Air/Ground synergy with the 3D forces. This 2D/3D Red Zone/Blue Zone air/ground synergy is far better throughout the spectrum of joint operations than a single sized rubber-tired armored car unable to fire & maneuver based on the BO/RMA precision firepower zealot's force structure and wrong world-view. The U.S. Army can and MUST have both precision firepower and precision maneuver, it can attain this by reforming what it has in terms of platforms and institutions not trying to evade the issue with dishonest labeling and creating some new bureaucracy when its really old sour wine in old, tattered wine skins.


Lo and behold! The Army brass realize the turbine engine is vulnerable to rear grill shots from RPGs. Do they replace the flimsy and fuel hungry turbine engine?


They place a bird cage around the engine rear. Then they proceed to add the faulty remote weapon system from the GDLS Stryker truck deathtrap and add ERA tiles to the side skirts.


1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne)

End Notes

1. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century (New York: Little, Bown & Co., 1993); and John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, "Cyberwar is Coming!" Comparative Strategy (April-June, 1993).

2. Tofflers, 69-70.

3. GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, "Moving into the 21st Century: America's Army and Modernization," Military Review (July 1993), 2.

4. GEN Gordon R. Sullivan and COL James M. Dubik, "War in the Information Age," Military Review (April 1994), 46.

5. A Tale of Two Doctrines: U.S. Armored Doctrine and Tank Development from World War Two to the Present.

By CPT John S. Wilson

NOTE: The genesis for this article was an essay submitted by the author to the adjunct faculty of the Non-Resident Studies Department, Command And General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to fulfill evolution of modern warfare requirements.

Army doctrine seeks victory at the least cost to American Soldiers. Maneuver doctrine seeks victory at low cost by attacking enemy moral cohesion through preemption, disruption and dislocation. Attacking moral cohesion requires attrition and maneuver to succeed. Sun Tzu recognized this mix: "...[T]he Army is certain to sustain ...without ... defeat ... due to operations of the extraordinary and the normal forces.... [U]se the normal force to engage; use the extraordinary to win." Li Ch'uean, Sun Tzu commentator, elaborated: "The force, which confronts the enemy, is the normal; that which goes to his flanks the extraordinary. No commander...can wrest the advantage...without extraordinary forces."

These strategists describe a Direct Force and Indirect Force. Direct Force is attrition or a symmetric duel between like forces (e.g. tank against tank, etc.). Indirect Force is an asymmetric or "maneuver" fight where combat power is applied against a vulnerable enemy aspect to destroy moral cohesion (a center-of-gravity).

This historical survey studies development of U.S. armored doctrine from its application during World War Two through the present. It demonstrates how doctrine fluctuated between the two extremes of objective and subjective warfare and shows how single-sided views of doctrine lead to inadequate tank design and poor execution. It illustrates how recent trends form a pendulum swing back to a previous extreme. Finally, it demonstrates how future development must find a balanced armored doctrine and forces capable of fighting both extremes simultaneously.

World War Two and the Sherman: Best of Times and Worst of Times.

U.S. armored doctrine during World War Two was profoundly asymmetric. According to FM 17-100, Armored Command Field Manual, The Armored Division, "The Armored Division is ... given decisive missions.... Its primary role is in offensive operations against hostile rear areas."

For this, the Sherman Medium Tank was designed to destroy anti-tank weapons, bunkers and unarmored or light armored vehicles. It was not built to fight other tanks or make frontal assaults against fortified positions. Doctrine left this attrition-style fight to infantry divisions and their GHQ Heavy Tank battalions. This asymmetric focus. worked well only when the allies kept Germans forces off balance.

The Sherman's [75mm] gun and armor were no match for German Tiger and Panther tanks. These Nazi tanks were introduced to fight Soviet heavy tanks. Shermans had to use speed, mobility and mass against heavier German armor. Despite its lighter weight, Shermans' narrow tracks exacted sharper ground pressure off road than the Panther. As a result, Shermans often bogged down in soft terrain. The Germans exploited these flaws to tax allied tankers heavily for every tank-to-tank victory.

Because GHQ Heavy Tank Battalions possessed the same Sherman as armored divisions, the infantry and their tanks could not punch holes successfully in German formations to allow exploitation by the light, fast-moving armored divisions. Therefore, armored divisions were pressed into frontal assaults, a non-doctrinal role they were neither designed nor equipped for. As a result, tank crew losses were terribly high.

A suitable heavy tank, the M26 Pershing, was ready for production as early as January 1944. The Allied high command decided against the Pershing until too late in the war to be of decisive benefit. First, General Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army, chose rapid deployability over survivability. With limited sealift, the allies could ship two Shermans in the space of one heavy tank.

Second, because of the one-sided view of armored force doctrine, both Generals Marshall and Patton saw no need for heavy armor in Europe. They felt that light, fast tanks could and should use their speed and maneuverability to avoid tank-to-tank fights and force rapid decisions through deep strikes. Third, senior leaders felt that a lighter tank would require a shorter logistics tail. Heavy losses were acceptable to an industrialized society where national strategy hinged on out-producing the enemy while undercutting his production. In this light, doctrine was marginally successful; however, doctrine was slanted too far towards seeking decision through indirect/extraordinary forces. Commenting on Sun Tzu, Samuel B. Griffith wrote, "Should the enemy...respond to [an indirect] maneuver.... as to neutralize it, the maneuver would automatically become [direct]." German ability to adapt against American Blitzkrieg forced the allies to fight a symmetric slugfest on ground of German choice. With a dual-force doctrine and a heavy tank to realize it, the war in Europe may have concluded five months earlier, the Battle of the Bulge preempted, and thousands of lives preserved.

The Abrams Supertank: Cold War, Desert Storm, and Beyond

Armored doctrine swung widely with the specter of Soviet armored hordes during the Cold War. Soviet tank design of the 1960s-70s shocked NATO and forced the United States to consider a bold new tank design. Tigers and Panthers outclassed U.S. Tanks during World War Two. T34s outclassed U.S. tanks again in Korea. These hard lessons played heavily in the design and development of the M1 Abrams. Junior officers who had fought in Shermans were now senior leaders involved in design of the new tank, and recalled the inferiority of the Sherman. The Army fixated on the direct, tank versus tank fight. The U.S. Army found that armies run out of trained crews faster than tanks. Designers, therefore, selected crew survivability as the primary evaluative criteria for the new tank. Strategic mobility and logistical support demands were lowest on the list. Armored doctrine focused training on fighting against other tanks and armored vehicles instead of soft rear area targets, a dramatic contrast to World War II Armored Doctrine.

In 1981, the United States fielded a modern Tiger tank. Within ten years, the Soviet Union dissolved and the Abrams remained unproven. In 1990, Iraq laid down the gauntlet. During Operation Desert Storm, performance of the M1A1 against Soviet-built T72s reached mythical proportion. The Abrams, its doctrine and training appeared successful.

The Abrams performed perfectly as a direct force platform. But, the Abrams and the doctrine were missing something. It took months to move the massive formations into theater via strategic lift. The heavy formations punched holes in Iraqi defenses, but proved logistically difficult to maintain during sustained pursuit operations. Doctrine and training prized deliberate, set-piece fire and movement rather than deep, aggressive thrusts. Much of Iraq's elite Republican Guard escaped annihilation as a result.

Operation Iraqi Freedom again proved that the Abrams is a relevant Main Battle Tank. It was the cornerstone for the victorious mechanized ground assault. Despite the improved employment of the Abrams, it still proved difficult to move their heavy formations into theater. Turkey denied passage of the 4th Infantry Division through their borders into Northern Iraq. This forced U.S. to deploy a less mobile, more vulnerable light infantry formation in its place. As in Desert Storm, the heavier forces employed in Iraqi Freedom proved difficult to sustain logistically. Our bold ground thrust was forced into an "operational pause" to allow the logistics chain to catch up. This ponderous chain also found itself vulnerable to asymmetric assaults, further bogging down the armored strike.

The Stryker and Armored Force Doctrine for the 21st Century: The Pendulum Swings Again.

Evolution of U.S. armored doctrine and tank design has typically taken an "either-or" approach. The United States Army has either used objective armored force doctrine with medium/light armor designed for use in the enemy rear against soft targets or gone to a subjective doctrine focused on heavy tanks slugging it out with other armored formations. Failures of the Abrams to rapidly flex into theater during Desert Storm, Bosnia or Kosovo led to a swing back to a medium armor employed with a precision, objective doctrine. Emerging doctrine and vehicle design for the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams stress decisive action through indirect, precision operations.

Despite hopes placed on the new force, these formations are not robust enough to confront a conventional subjective force with superior armor and firepower. Like its doctrinal grandfather, the Sherman, the Stryker hopes to remain survivable through speed, mobility and precision maneuver to avoid subjective fights. Like the Sherman, Stryker proponents seek to maximize strategic lift and minimize the logistics tail. Unfortunately, foreign armor and anti-armor weapons designs focus on heavier armor and larger guns with one objective: defeat the Abrams. Russia released the Black Eagle, a heavy main battle tank capable of fielding a 140mm gun. The likely future tendency to Plug-n-Play the Stryker formations as a substitute for heavier armored formation in the face of such weapons would prove disastrous. Despite this, former Chief of Staff of the Army, General Shinseki, most responsible for the Stryker, wanted to replace heavy armor and subjective force doctrine with all-wheeled, medium forces steeped in asymmetric doctrine. If history foretells future performance, the Stryker, without subjective force support, will fail when faced with formations of new armored exports designed to fight the Abrams. Some postulate that information technology will facilitate precision strikes allowing lighter formations to avoid subjective force counterstrokes. The allies had an information advantage during World War Two known as ULTRA: the Enigma cipher machine. ULTRA allowed allies to read German mail throughout the war and proved critical to victory in Europe. Despite information dominance, Sherman tanks could not avoid subjective confrontation and heavy losses.

To Form a More Perfect Doctrine: The Case for a Balanced Armored Doctrine and Diverse Forces

From World War Two through Desert Storm, the Army bounced between two opposing armored doctrines with positive and negative implications on tank design and employment. The Stryker swings again to another doctrinal extreme. If we learn from history, it appears that the Army should develop a dual doctrine with two distinctly different armored forces working in concert. The M1A2 should remain for the next ten to twenty years as the Army's subjective force tank. Eventually a more advanced heavy tank should replace the Abrams. Meanwhile, we must increase rapid heavy force deployment capacity. Resurgent airship technology holds much promise to fill rapid deployment needs for heavy mechanized forces. Such technology is the "most exciting" proposal under serious. consideration as part of a radical military strategic lift overhaul. The addition of Lighter-than-Air (LTA) lift shows promise to provide mass rapid deployment platforms for heavy forces, the possibility of mechanized forcible entry operations, and a significant reduction of redundant theater logistics infrastructure. To complement the Abrams, the Army requires a medium asymmetric armored force capable of airborne and "air mechanized" (a NATO Doctrinal name for air assault capable mechanized forces) insertion deep against enemy centers-of-gravity. This marriage of two historic armored doctrines with the addition of three-dimension capable mechanized forces optimizes America's armored forces to win the nation's wars along the full spectrum of combat for decades to come.


Department of the Army, Field Manual 100-5, Operations, (Washington, DC: Headquarters, Government Printing Office, 14 June 1993), p. v.

Robert Leonhard, The Art of Maneuver: Maneuver-Warfare Theory and Airland Battle, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1991), pp. 19-20, 61.

Robert Leonhard, The Principles of War for the Information Age, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), pp. 226-232.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Trans. Samuel B. Griffith, (New York, NY and Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press, Copyright 1963), p. 91.

Ibid., p. 91.

Robert Leonhard, The Principles of War for the Information Age, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), pp. 228-229.

Ibid., pp. 229-230.

Dr. Christopher R. Gabel, The 4th Armored Division in the Encirclement of Nancy, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College April 1986), p. 4.

Captain J.L. Mudd, "Development of the American Tank-Infantry Team During World War Two in Africa and Europe," PB 17-99-5, ARMOR Magazine, Vol. CVIII, No. 5, p. 15.

Belton Y. Cooper, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), pp. 26-27, 125, 138, 145, 313-314.

Ibid., pp. 154-155.

Dr. Christopher R. Gabel, The 4th Armored Division in the Encirclement of Nancy, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, April 1986), pp. 1-2.

Kenneth Macksey, Tank Versus Tank: The Illustrated Story of Armored Battlefield Conflict in the Twentieth Century, (Topsfield: Salem House Publishers, Copyright 1988), pp. 86, 120, 122.

Dr. Christopher R. Gabel, The 4th Armored Division in the Encirclement of Nancy, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, April 1986), pp. 1-2.

Belton Y. Cooper, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), p. 308.

Ibid., pp. 114, 215, 308.

Ibid., pp. 26-27, 145.

Ibid., p. 145.

Steven Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrenders of Germany, (New York, NY: Simon and Shuster, Copyright 1997), p. 63.

Steven Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrenders of Germany, (New York, NY: Simon and Shuster, Copyright 1997), 63; Belton Y. Cooper, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), pp. 25-27.

Ibid., p. 27.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Trans. Samuel B. Griffith, (New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, Copyright 1963), p. 91.

Belton Y. Cooper, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, Copyright 1998), pp. 154-155.

Orr Kelly, King of the Killing Zone: The Story of the M-1, America's Super Tank, (New York, NY: Berkley Books, Copyright 1989), pp. 17-21.

Ibid., p. 22.

Ibid., pp. 21-24, 89, 127, 174.

Ibid., pp. 21-24, 106.

Ibid., p. 108.

Ibid., p. 108.

Ibid., pp. 108-109.

Department of the Army, Field Manual 17-15, Tank Platoon, (Washington, DC: Headquarters, Government Printing Office, 7 October 1987), pp. 2-47 through 2-54; Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-20.12, Tank Gunnery (Abrams), (Washington, DC: Headquarters, Government Printing Office, 1 October 2001), pp. 14-23 through 14-96.

Dan Fahey, "Chapter 5: Collateral Damage: How U.S. Troops Were Exposed to DU During the Gulf War (Excerpt)," Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers & Civilians with DU Weapons, (New York, NY: International Action Center, Copyright 1997), [Online] Available www.iacenter.org/depleted/fahey.htm.

Richard M. Swain, Lucky War: Third Army in Desert Storm, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Command and General Staff College Press, 1994), pp. 248, 255, 260, 262-263, 332-333.

Ibid., pp. 229, 236, 237, 246, 256, 343.

Dr. Grant T. Hammond, "Myths of the Gulf War: Some Lessons Not to Learn," Airpower Journal (Fall 1998), 7-8; Richard M. Swain, Lucky War: Third Army in Desert Storm, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Command and General Staff College Press, 1994), pp. 289-290.

Sean D. Naylor, "Radical Changes: Gen. Shinseki Unveils his 21st-Century Plans," Army Times, 22 November 1999, p. 8; Brigadier General (Retired) David L. Grange, Brigadier General (Retired) Huba Wass de Czege, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Liebert, Major Chuck Jarnot, Major Al Huber, Lieutenant Mike Sparks, Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Warfare for the 21st Century (Second Edition), (Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, Copyright 2002), pp. 20-22, 92, 109.

Department of the Army, Field Manual 7-30-X, The Interim Brigade Combat Team (Draft), (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, n.d.), p. 1-1.

Ibid., p. 1-1.

Sean D. Naylor, "Radical Changes: Gen. Shinseki Unveils his 21st-Century Plans," Army Times, 22 November 1999, p. 8.

Colonel James H. Nunn and Lieutenant John C. Paulson, "Three Tanks Featured in Russian Arms Show," PB 17-99-5, ARMOR Magazine, Vol. CVIII, No. 5, (September-October 1999), p. 27.

Sean D. Naylor, "Radical Changes: Gen. Shinseki Unveils his 21st-Century Plans," Army Times, 22 November 1999, p. 8.

Charles B. MacDonald, A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge, (New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Copyright 1985), pp. 59-60, 78; Hans von Luck, Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck, (New York, NY: Dell Publishing, Copyright 1989), p. 203; Sir Harry Hinsley, "The Influence of ULTRA in the Second World War," Seminar Speech by Sir Harry Hinsley (University of Cambridge, Babbage Lecture Theatre, Computer Laboratory, 19 October 1993), transcript posted by Computer Security Group, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge [Online] Available: www.cl.cam.ac.uk/Research/Security/Historical/hinsley.html, 26 November 1996.

Captain John S. Wilson, "Keeping Our Options Open: Another Possibility for Heavy Force Deployments," PB 17-00-2, ARMOR Magazine, Vol. CIX, No. 2, (March-April 2000), pp. 44-48; Christopher Miller, "Airships Rise Again," Popular Science (January 2001), pp. 78-83.

Greg Jaffe, "For Military a Lesson in Speed," Wall Street Journal, Vol. CCXLI, No. 70, (Tuesday, April 10, 2003), pp. A1 and A6; "Cebroski: Iraq War Offers Clues For Transformation Agenda," Aerospace Daily, April 23, 2003, transcript posted by Early Bird, [Online] Available: https://www.U.S..army.mil/portal/jhtml/earlyBird/Apr2003/ e20030423179086.html.

Captain John S. Wilson, "Keeping Our Options Open: Another Possibility for Heavy Force Deployments," PB 17-00-2, ARMOR Magazine, Vol. CIX, No. 2, (March-April 2000), pp. 44-48.

Brigadier General (Retired) David L. Grange, Brigadier General (Retired) Huba Wass de Czege, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Liebert, Major Chuck Jarnot, Major Al Huber, Lieutenant Mike Sparks, Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Warfare for the 21st Century (Second Edition), (Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, Copyright 2002), pp. 16-19, 29-30, 54-55, 68, 113-127.

Notice the following Russian future tracked tanks designs from the superb magazine, Military Parade are to do physical, DECISIVE MANEUVER not American-style mental mouse-clicking of someone elses's stand-off firepower bombardment via LAV-III/IAV or FCS armored car "cash cows" and lots of expensive but throw-away UAV/UGV gadgets.


Oleg Brilev D.Sc. (Technology), Professor, State Prize Winner

We continue to publish articles on tanks of the near future (See Military Parade issues # 3 and # 4, 1997). This article briefly describes the tank's features, including its mobility, controllability and reliability. Some possible layout versions are also highlighted.

Improved mobility is the key feature of the tank that enhances its combat efficiency. In the first quarter of the 21st century one can anticipate only a minor increase in specific horsepower, of up to 35-40 hp/t (1,750 - 2,000 hp for a 50-ton tank), because it cannot be increased any further when tanks move either in march columns or in combat formations on the battlefield. Average speeds of tanks moving in march columns can reach 35-40 km/h. It is anticipated that fuel endurance will remain unchanged, namely about 350-400 km, depending on road and terrain conditions. Tanks will perform long-range marches covering 1,500-2,000 km while making 350-400 km day's marches.

Layout variant

Multi-fuel diesel and gas-turbine engines will continue to compete with each other. Multi-fuel diesel engines have not yet exhausted their capabilities; more than that, merely by applying the adiabatic principle, minimal heat emission into the atmosphere can radically increase their power and efficiency in addition to considerable design advantages due to the incorporation of a more compact cooling system. However, it will take time to adopt engine designs that will be able to operate at high temperatures. Gas-turbine engines have so far been unable to produce to a considerable extent the expected advantages, which include a higher power-to-volume ratio, easy start in cold weather, long service life, and the opportunity to simplify transmission design. However, despite theoretical and design preconditions that appear promising, their main drawback has yet not been eliminated. This involves high fuel consumption compared with a diesel engine (30-40 percent higher). It should be noted here that, even if it were given preference in the long run, the gas-turbine engine would not create a revolution in ground transportation as it did in aviation. In the transmission's improvements there is a clear tendency to use an interlocking hydrodynamic transmission coupled with a planetary gearbox in the main power cascade and hydrostatic gearbox incorporated in the steering mechanism. Meanwhile, the high efficiency factor is achieved by the improvement of the hydrodynamic transmission and its use only during movement on rugged terrain.

The electromechanical transmission can not operate, at least for the time being, on a par with a hydromechanical transmission because of a low efficiency factor. In the future, electromechanical transmissions may be installed in tanks with new layouts, where the layout "flexibility" of a transmission will play a key role.

The tank running gear will evidently feature a hydropneumatic suspension. It will enable the operator to not only change the tank's clearance and running trim, but also increase speed and smoothness of the movement over the terrain by changing the suspension characteristics according to the road and ground conditions. Such "adaptive" suspension will be of great value to tanks because in battlefield operations they move on cross-country terrain. Later on, such innovations may be incorporated to form a hull stabilization system which will enhance accuracy when firing on the move.

The adjustable automation of operating modes of the engine-transmission-running gear system will drastically simplify the tank's movement control, increase average speed, ensure stability during curvilinear movement and at high speed, and help maintain the preset speed or distanse to the tank ahead.

The number of controls will be minimal: a steering wheel, throttle pedal and foot brake pedal. This will allow the driver to concentrate his attention on the road, terrain, battlefield and therefore prolong his fitness for work.

The commander's steering system override will become a standard feature on tanks.


Tank crews rarely use the full extent of combat capabilities incorporated in a tank design while operating on the battlefield. Capabilities of tank subunits can be significantly enhanced by automation of all operations performed by tank crews inside their vehicles and control operations within a tank subunit, provision of tank crews and subunit commanders with requisite information and care for their comfort.

Three-shaft gas-turbine engine (diagram)

An onboard computer should provide for automatic fire, movement and tank protection control. The crew-members should be provided with information in a visual form presenting the combat situation at hand, tank capabilities and its present position. The tank commander should be able to visually orientate himself on the terrain without protruding himself from a hatch. All routine control operations should be excluded. The crew-members will perform a minimum of the required actions that stem from the logic of combat tasks.

The unit commander should at all times be aware of the situation and state of his tanks, and obtain ample information about the enemy deployed on the frontage and in depth. A helicopter or drone can be used for this purpose. Thus, the unit commander will be able to act in advance of a situation, quickly make decisions, quickly transfer the appropriate control commands and personally perform tank fire control, if the need arises. The complexity and dynamic nature of combat actions and poor visibility necessitate the installation in tanks of an IFF system.

All this will enhance the efficiency of tank subunits. These units will become more mobile and less vulnerable close combat firing systems that will "see" the battlefield, quickly and rationally respond to the changing situation.

The automation of the tank also provides an opportunity to create tank-robots that could be used in the foreseeable future for resolving special tasks, including disclosure of a hostile fire system, demolition of vital hostile installations, operation on the terrain with a high degree of radiation, etc.


Confused and rapidly changing battlefield situation and prolonged periods of severe combat actions urgently require tanks to become self-sufficient in terms of fuel, ammunition load and conditions of the crew's habitat. However, the tank must not be converted into a "depot" of ammunition and fuel. The tanks should be supplied from an advanced logistical unit that will have armored vehicles intended to carry ammunition, fuel and foods and load the supplies via mechanical means into tanks. It is necessary to provide proper ergonomic conditions for the crew. Tanks should be self-sufficient to operate efficiently on the battlefield during twenty-four hours of extensive combat actions or three days of combat actions with short respites.


Sophistication of design of future tanks by cramming them with electronics, automatics, hydraulics, etc., and striving after ever more compact arrangement of their main units and mechanisms, on the one hand, and severe conditions of their combat use, on the other hand, make the problem of their reliability rather acute.

I believe that this problem can be resolved successfully, provided the tank building industry will reach the expected level. Meticulous development of a tank's design, use of new materials and technologies, state-of-the-art methods of calculation and tests will ensure fairly high basic reliability indices: failure rate of 0.6-0.7 per 1,000 km and a total mileage of 16,000-18,000 km. This will allow tank crews to undergo combat training during peacetime, their participation in 2 to 3 deep combat operations and maintenance of combat readiness on the level of 0.9-0.95 during their execution.

Prevention of failures and effective troubleshooting will be ensured by an automated, information-diagnostic system alongside the incorporation of a modular design principle.


A genuine leap forward to enhance the tanks's efficiency and survivability can be made by introducing a principally new layout, because the conventional configuration with a gun mounted in the rotating turret arranged in the center, accommodating the commander and gunner, driving compartment arranged in the front of the hull, and engine-transmission compartment in the rear is no longer efficient. The use of the automatic, electronic and remote control systems allow a three-man crew to be accommodated in the front part of the hull in a special armored module outfitted with comfortable automobile seats and an air conditioning system. It is tempting to arrange the power plant in the lower front part of the hull, in front of the habitable compartment, which will provide additional protection for the crew. Similar configuration of a 50-ton tank will radically enhance protection of the tank and its crew, increase ammunition load and fuel distance, create excellent ergonomic conditions, and allow for the mount of a gun of more than 125mm caliber.

Transmission (variant)

Two gas-turbine engines coupled with electric transmission generators can be arranged in the hull's above-track space, thereby allowing the inner space to be utilized more rationally. Other layouts can also be used.

The combination of modular layouts with the high degree of unification will provide for the prompt conversion of the production facilities to manufacture infantry combat vehicles instead of tanks on the tank's chassis.

The new layout, without a high ballistic gun and even without a turret, can become a reality only when the reliable jamming immune guided reactive weapons with more compact ammunition produced at reasonable cost are created to effectively encounter various targets. Projectiles will be fired through the roof of the combat compartment.

This will reduce the overall weight by 12-15 tons which can be used to enhance the vehicle's protection.

The tank's weight is unlikely to exceed 60-65 tons due to the dimension and weight restraints for the transportation of equipment by rail and on trailers.

Automation of the crew's operations will reduce its number to two men. However, proceeding from functional considerations it is expedient to retain the three-man crew to allow one of them to focus his attention on the battlefield, enemy and cooperating tanks, orientated on the terrain and maintain communication with superior commanders.

Thus, analyzing probable trends in the development of tanks and their armament in the first quarter of the 21st century and taking into consideration the feasibility of advent of fundamentally new means of armed struggle, it is possible to assume the following:

The concept of the tank as a mass-produced, ground-based tactical weapon operating on the first-line that is equally effective both in the offensive and defensive operations will remain basically intact. This weapon will constitute the core of the combat power of general-purpose forces which will continue to exist while there is a need for the armed forces in general.

The system of armament intended for armored vehicles will be further improved. Other combat vehicles featuring the same level of protection as tanks will cooperate with them while operating in the first echelon. To carry out mobile operations, mobile echelon combat vehicles (amphibious and air-transportable) will be used.

As regards the appearance of the tank, it may be drastically changed against a background of extensive science and technology progress. Most changes will occur in its layout, provision with required data on the battlefield, automation of fire control, movement and combat activity, reliable detection of small-size targets even in adverse weather conditions and use of new methods to enhance protection and create good ergonomic conditions for the crew.

Articulated Tracked Armored Vehicles (ATAVs).

Issue 30. November - December 1998


Vladimir Kovalev, Vladimir Batenin, Mikhail Starostin

We continue to publish materials about the tanks of the future (see Military Parade issues #3/97, #4/97 and #2/98). In this article, the representatives of the Russian Armor Academy propose an uncommon approach to designing a tank that would serve in the 21st century. Their proposals are based on investigations conducted to this effect and on patents for relevant inventions.

One of the goals of Russia's military and technical policy is to develop and manufacture highly effective tanks capable of operating in any combat environment, in different climatic and geographical conditions, and in all types of military operations, including local conflicts.

In Russia and abroad, all of the existing tank types were designed on the "crew and systems in one hull" principle. Each tank was designed as an entity combining all combat (firepower, mobility and armor protection) and maintenance capabilities. Later tanks were equipped with more sophisticated systems, caliber of their guns became larger and their armor protection, engine power and transmission output increased. But the tank's overall dimensions remained unchanged. All this reduced the intertank space thus affecting the crew's comfort and its working efficiency and made it impossible to boost combat effectiveness as a whole.

Investigations show that the combat potentialities of a modern tank are realized by not more than 70 percent and that further upgrades to enhance its overall effectiveness are practically useless, i.e. the traditional approaches used currently to devise tanks do not allow designers to materially improve their performance characteristics.

The combat effectiveness of tanks can be considerably improved if the following requirements are fulfilled.

First, while designing new tanks one should remember that in action the tanks are normally employed within sub-units that are assigned missions differing to some extent from those assigned to a single tank. Generally, missions assigned to army units are to defeat (annihilate) enemy manpower, armament and equipment, and capture (occupy) a certain area.

Second, a "system-centered" approach should be used, whose main purpose is to take the most advantage of the systems employed in the tank rather than focus on the enhancement of technical capabilities of new vehicles and creation of comfortable conditions for the crew.

Third, while developing armored tracked vehicles for tomorrow's uses, one should take into account that tank units are likely to perform missions independently, away from the main forces. Moreover, the requirement of standardization of various-purpose vehicles and their components should be met. Consequently, support and auxiliary vehicles are to be designed simultaneously with armored tracked vehicles. Also a family of various-purpose vehicles can be developed from the basic vehicle.

The above-mentioned requirements could be met through developing new types of articulated tracked armored vehicles (ATAVs).

A configuration, consisting of a central section and two transport/recovery sections connected to the central section is proposed. The sections can be uncoupled from one another and used separately.

The main advantages of this configuration are:

- the main combat properties of the tank (maneuverability and firepower) can be used separately on the battlefield by employing the combat and two transport/recovery sections independently of one another. This can boost the tank's efficiency due to the purposeful and separate designing of each section. Using the above sections in such a way, units on the battlefield may change their tactics to achieve higher effectiveness and make the tactics more suitable to the type of combat actions and to the operational environment. This can be exemplified by operations in Bosnia, where all tanks were normally used as self-propelled guns while artillery systems were mainly employed from fixed emplacements;

- combination of standard transport/recovery sections with central sections outfitted with different war-fighting, support, and auxiliary equipment provides for the development of a family of such articulated vehicles as infantry combat vehicles, armored recovery vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, supply vehicles, medical evacuation vehicles, etc. The need for such vehicles stems from the fact that a great number of wheeled transport vehicles have to provide tank units with various supplies, including fuel and ammunition, as well as to repair and recover damaged tanks. However, the cross-country ability of wheeled vehicles is much lower than that of tanks;

- compared with traditional tanks, there is a greater vacant armor-protected space inside the central section of the articulated vehicle obtained because of the absence of a track assembly. The requisite facilities needed to support the crew for a protracted period of time, including sleeping places, can be arranged there. Thus, the standard requirements for ergonomics can be implemented in the design of the vehicles.

The combat tracked armored articulated vehicle consists of a combat section and two transport/recovery sections. The combat section is hinge-mounted between the transport/recovery sections. The hinges allow the transport/recovery sections to turn relative to the combat section in the vertical and horizontal planes and provide for their automatic articulation and disengagement. The hydraulic jacks located in the combat section lift or lower the latter to engage/disengage it with/from the transport/recovery sections.

The combat section turret accommodates armament and crew. The transport/recovery sections accommodate engines, transmission, and drivers' seats to independently use the transport/recovery sections.

The proposed configuration features certain advantages over the traditional design making it possible to enhance some of the combat and service characteristics of the new tank.

Greater firepower can be achieved by:

- varying the location height of observation and sighting devices by means of the combat section hydraulic jacks when the section is used independently;

- installing armaments in the transport/recovery sections when these sections are used independently;

- stabilizing the entire combat section.

The prototype's mobility is increased due to:

- a "pull-and-push" principle behind its straightforward motion;

- the vehicle's ability to move forward and back at the same speed without turning around;

- the vehicle's increased cross-country ability owing to a greater ground clearance (the height of the transport/recovery sections is increased since it doesn't produce any restraints on the total height of the vehicle);

- the vehicle's ability to change the direction of movement by two methods: the "like-a-tank" method, where the speed of one track differs from the other, and by the "like-a-wheeled-vehicle" method where either each of the two transport/ recovery sections turns independently of the other or both turn simultaneously relative to the combat section.

Better protection is provided by:

- two armored transport/recovery sections located in front of and behind the combat section;

- possibility of varying significantly the degree of armor protection from section to section (reasonable increase in the thickness of armor of the combat section at the expense of its reasonable reduction on both transport/recovery sections);

- possibility of reducing the vehicle's clearance.

Use of the armored articulated vehicles enhances the fighting efficiency of tank units due to their high maintainability. For example, one combat-ready vehicle can be assembled of the good sections of two disabled vehicles. Moreover, shipment of articulated vehicles by air is easy since each section can be carried and air-dropped separately.

Thus, the proposed configuration of the armored tracked vehicle would boost practically all of its basic performance characteristics, help the crew to perform to the best of their ability, and allow designers to develop a family of combat, support and auxiliary vehicles that would encourage commanders of all levels to develop basically new methods of employment of army tank units. We can say, in conclusion, that on the basis of the proposed tracked armored articulated vehicle, new-generation armored vehicles can be developed.

U.S. Army Military Review Acceptance of this Article for Publication



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