Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Future Cannon

We do seem to be making progress on the FCS tank replacement by developing a lighter 120mm gun whose recoil is not too great for a lighter platform:

The lightweight Future Combat Systems XM-360 120mm cannon -- designed to sit atop the new Mounted Combat System -- was test-fired here Jan. 22.

The XM-1202 Mounted Combat System is one of eight new vehicle types that the Army is developing through its FCS modernization program. The FCS vehicles will be lighter and more mobile than current Army combat vehicles; yet officials promise they will have greater lethality and survivability.

And we seem to be making progress on the light armor needed:

Lighter and more survivable vehicles are required to combat a growing array of new and more sophisticated threats, officials here said. Greater speed and mobility, coupled with better surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, can enhance operational effectiveness, while improving survivability, they said.

Composite FCS armor, for instance, which is being developed at Aberdeen, provides better armor protection at significantly less mass and weight.

This is good news. But even as the Army makes progress in building the wonder tank, I have to ask why we are lightening up so much? We can't airlift significant numbers of even 25-ton M-1202 vehicles. And if we are sealifting them, is 70 tons each really a problem compared to 25-ton vehicles?

And what will our vehicles face once deployed overseas to the combat theater?

Or maybe we will build the wonder tank. I've certainly been wrong before. Yet we assume that our enemies will have present day technology. But what if wonder tank technology grafted on to sheer size creates a high tech monster? Our enemies don't have to go far to fight us. We're the ones who have to go to them. We may worry about weight but our enemies don't. Will even a successful FCS be able to fight our enemies who copy our technology?

Because even if we make light armor strong enough to replicate M-1A2 Abrams protection on a chassis of less than 30 tons, couldn't an enemy put even more of this super armor on a vehicle and overmatch the M-1202 with their own 60 ton vehicle?