US Army wants future tank with railguns, lasers, drone modes, and ultralight armor

General Mark Milley made clear he was looking for a “breakthrough,” not incremental evolution for the US Army’s next tank. This means the new tank will take a long time and have a lot of development costs.

* Active Protection Systems” – electronic jammers and mini-missiles to stop incoming anti-tank weapons
*– reduced crews with automated turrets found on Russia’s new Russian T-14 Armata
* the real sort of holy grail of technologies is new material for armor itself. A lot lighter in weight but gives you the same armor protection, that would be a real significant breakthrough.

He also highlighted two other technologies that could revolutionize armored vehicle design.
* electrically-powered weapons, such as railguns – which use electromagnets to accelerate a solid metal slug to supersonic speeds
* lasers – which fire pure energy at the speed of light

Milley also wants a tank that could be driverless, allowing the remaining crew to concentrate on fighting the enemy, or even completely crewless.

This is the Army’s third attempt to build a replacement for the M1. From 1999 to 2008, the U.S. Army spent $18.1 billion trying to create an entire family of vehicles to replace the Abrams tank, Bradley fighting vehicle, and other platforms only to have the program cancelled without a single vehicle being fielded. The program, called Future Combat Systems, was too technologically ambitious to be viable. A second program, the Ground Combat Vehicle, was cancelled in 2014, again without a single vehicle reaching operational status.

They will also leverage a lot more robotics not just for automated driving but also to coordinate with an armada of flying and driving drones.