reply posted on 8-5-2006 @ 12:44 PM by ch1466
First off, it's not 'stealth' anything until you mask or remove the multiple surface breaks and in particular the running gear discontiguities. Because these cavity and density variables are about 90% of what makes a tank more or less detectable once you've Angled-RAM removed the 'quills' of major surface-plane Mie speculars. Something like the Barracuda MCS system points the way towards 'getting there' with tread-skirts and thermal sheeting camouflage but the fact that this tank is not fitted with it may be suggestive of how little they trust it to be fitted with 'hangers and bangers' on what may well be fragile or limited load bearing composite surfaces. I know from aerospace that drilling multilayer aluminum/composite fastener holes is a crack and fracture process waiting to happen on wingskins.
In particular MMW and I2R both are natural material emitters native to mass interferometry and background 'color' intensities so I doubt highly whether this vehicle is invisible so much as unmapped (at best). Of course the APG-78 on a Longbow or the APY-8 on a Predator have roughly 15-30km worth of range at best so vulnerability in the search mode may still be reduced but /predictability/ (driving down a road, engaging other forces etc.) is still going to be high in a cued search.
Such being one of the key differentiators between vehicles and aircraft that the ranges of weapons system effect vs. environmental/terrain types in which they can be found are such that it is often harder to see a fleeting airframe target which is lethal at 80nm than it is a clunky vehicle buried in surface clutter.
Of course a sector swath mode on the APY-3 covers a lot of ground but the MP-RTIP is looking to speed the rate at which individual patch maps can be taken, down from minutes to seconds so that you should be able to use FOPEN techniques to at the least 'pull out the negative image' effects by which the 'invisible' tank is defined by the phase and amplitude texture variables around it.
Second, Vickers is and has been, since WWI known as 'V3' or Vae Victis Vickers. A company notorious for exporting high leverage gun, armor and naval technologies to damn near everybody who could afford to pay up. Since this tank is almost certainly a 'foreign technology joint venture' under the now defunct FCS-
As a scout followon to the Bradley, one has to wonder how much the 'next generation' will be funded and facing rather than fielded by U.S..
Third, I've seen what splintered fiberglass looks like and the only descriptives that comes to mind are 'porcupine swallows handgrenade'. Whereas steel is a skin-as-bone = patch-and-drive welders fix, once truly damaged, FG is virtually impossible to repair because damage propogates up and down linearly as well as through the material so that it's structural loadings are destroyed over considerable distances via microfracturing. Aluminum oxide armor substrates may stiffen things somewhat to prevent frangible sheer forces from migrating any distance but then you have the problem of skin-over-bone = multi-specialty repair work. I also DO NOT trust hybrid composite:metallic structures to remain securely bonded under severe vibration and 'bounce' loadings and once you start sluffing off segments of inner and outer composites, it's likely that the life of the vehicle will be over. Phenolic resins are also notoriously hard to work with and create massive hazardous materials problems in both depot and field repair conditions. For a mere 4 ton weight savings, I find the entire concept to be questionable.
Fourth, While the notion of 'many tanks, one hull' may seem delightful; the fact is that it rarely works. As we've seen with the AGS and Stryker systems attempts to stuff tankrifles and heavyweight armor + systems into limited space; either the principal structure (turret race and limited traverse) fails under operating loads or the automotive systems do under the sheer weight increase. Add to this the fact that you need ALL vehicles in a combat team to have EQUAL transportability and EQUAL mobility and things just get nasty because the principle reason APC/IFV hulls are 'adaptable' to various _non_ gun-platform mission needs is because they are basically a box enclosing MANPRINT (highly inefficient) volumes. While what makes a tank survivable is it's ability to front (al arc) load everything on a beefed up suspension with MINIMUM internal volumetric waste. And a lot bigger powerplant/transmission system. Myself, armor as a designated-target (recognizable silouhette) in unconventional combat where you cannot define a threat axis isn't worth the anonymity and speed of conventional vehicles. SOF agrees with me. OTOH, in both OOTW and main-force encounters, man is too slow to debus and begin maneuver driven combat compared to the simplicity of annihilating with effects based systems all local points of contact. Preferrably with over the horizon systems.
As such, I am less and less convinced that an 8-10 man troop compartment is a good thing. Even as I am absolutely _certain_ that air mobility with an 18-24 tone system is a complete joke for sortied delivery rates and available range
latform inventory numbers (intra vs. inter theater airlift being in constant competition with other logistic support missions for things like airpower). While I am sure that the best 'tank' is one which can be deployed in numbers (10-20 per plane) and maneuvered with literal abandon (70mph on a 3-4ft hull silouhette). Thus leveraging it's target lethalities towards strapon mission systems like heavy ATGW for anti-armor while doing the majority of it's work with light cannon and guided mortars in the SSC and COIN missions.