Ground X-Vehicle technology aims to break the ‘more armour’ paradigm for protection
For the past 100 years of mechanised warfare, protection for ground-based armoured fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armour equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armour, however, has advanced faster than armour’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 manoeuvre in theatre 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. 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 armoured fighting vehicles.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created the GXV-T programme to help overcome these challenges and disrupt the current trends in mechanised warfare. 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 armour, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries.
“GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle—it’s about breaking the ‘more armour’ paradigm and revolutionising protection for all armoured fighting vehicles,” said Kevin Massey, DARPA Program Manager. “Inspired by how X-plane programmes have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armoured fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.”
GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armoured fighting vehicles: Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50 per cent, reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 per cent, increase vehicle speed by 100 per cent; access 95 per cent of terrain and reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles.
DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015.