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DARPA Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program aims to break “more armor” paradigm for protection
19 August 2014
DARPA announced a new program—Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T)—to develop revolutionary technologies to make future armored fighting vehicles more mobile, effective and affordable. The goal of GXV-T is to investigate ground vehicle technologies that enable crew/vehicle survivability through means other than traditional heavy passive armor solutions.
This is to be accomplished through research and development of novel ground combat and tactical vehicle technology solutions that demonstrate a significantly advanced combination of platform expeditionary mobility and survivability. These technologies will be developed in 24 months with the intent to incorporate these technology solutions into multiple classes of ground, tactical and support vehicles following the successful completion of this program.
GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:
- Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50%
- Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50%
- Increase vehicle speed by 100%
- Access 95% of terrain
- Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles
The GXV-T program provides the following four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives:
Radically Enhanced Mobility. Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions.
Survivability through Agility. Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor.
Crew Augmentation. Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits.
Signature Management. Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared (IR), acoustic and electromagnetic (EM).
Technology development beyond these four examples is desired so long as it supports the program’s goals. DARPA is particularly interested in engaging nontraditional contributors to help develop leap-ahead technologies in the focus areas above, as well as other technologies that could potentially improve both the survivability and mobility of future armored fighting vehicles.
|Artist’s concepts of GXV-T vehicles. Click to enlarge.|
DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015. The GXV-T program plans to pursue research, development, design and testing and evaluation of major subsystem capabilities in multiple technology areas with the goal of integrating these capabilities into future ground X-vehicle demonstrators.
For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, the agency noted, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: more armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.
The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited soldiers’ and marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace.
DARPA says that the US military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.
GXV-T seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries. This improved mobility and warfighting capability would enable future US ground forces to tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations more efficiently and cost-effectively.
GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle—it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles. Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.—Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager
To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of GXV-T, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers’ Day on 5 September 2014, at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Va.
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