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BAE Systems looks to the future for ground warfare

A range of technologies could improve the effectiveness and fuel efficiency of current military vehicles, while laying the groundwork for future fighting vehicles

A series of presentations from potential suppliers, academics and even schools has helped BAE Systems to identify 47 technologies which could be applied to land-based military vehicles to improve their effectiveness and the safety of the troops they carry. Some of these technologies — whose origin includes systems used in aerospace — could increase fuel efficiency to 60 percent, the company claims.

The company set out to find new ideas for its Future Protected Vehicles (FPV) programme by hosting ‘Dragon’s Den’-type panels which looked at 567 technologies and 244 vehicle concepts, which had to fit only two criteria — the vehicle could weigh no more than 30tonnes, and had to carry an equivalent ‘punch’ to a Challenger 2 tank, the army’s current Main Battle Tank.

The FPV team, headed by Hisham Awad, has incorporated the best of the ideas into seven concept vehicles to show how future technology might shape land systems. While some of the concepts are earmarked for ‘far-future’ development, such as eCamouflage to project an image of what is behind the vehicle onto the front and rendering it far harder to detect, others are suitable for immediate deployment. ‘These technologies are ready for urgent operational requirement (UOR), and can be retrofitted into vehicles currently in the field,’ Awad said.

Among these technologies is an oil filtration system derived from one used on the Typhoon fighter. ‘This removes water, particulates and other impurities from the lubricant oil, which extends the life of the engine and reduces the need for oil changes,’ Awad said. Similarly, nano-additives to fuels and lubricants can enhance their efficiency which, Awad explained, is a serious issue for operations in Afghanistan, where fuel costs can be hundreds of times higher than pump prices, and where fuel convoys are major targets for hostile attacks; some 80 percent of attacks on US personnel are aimed at fuel convoys.

Other deployable technologies include thermoelectric power generation, where the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of the exhaust pipe is used to generate electricity. ‘The amounts are small, but if you have a lot of electrically-powered sensors distributed around the vehicle, it can make a real difference,’ Awad said.

The presentations took Awad’s team around the country, talking to 35 organisations. ‘We brought in 17 outside organisations we haven’t worked with before, including universities, small companies and other engineering manufacturers,’ he said. ‘That’s a big win for us.’

Pointer

The Pointer robotic soldier, aimed at carrying out dull or dangerous reconnaisance work in the field or inside buildings, can travel at high speed on horizontal tracks, or can ’walk’ on tracks in an angled configuration.

The seven vehicle concepts being developed by the FPV group are:

• Pointer: an agile remote-controlled armed robot which can take on dull, dirty or dangerous jobs such as forward observation;

• Bearer: a modular platform which can carry a range of mission payloads;

• Wraith: an unmanned, highly stealthy scout vehicle;

• Safeguard: a large infantry carrier or command/control vehicle, which can also carry other vehicles;

• Charger: a heavily-armed attack vehicle, designed for high lethality and armed with a reconfigurable missile system;

• Raider: a small, highly agile autonomous reconnaisance and attack vehicle which can carry a variety of payloads;

• Atlas: a retrofittable convoy system with automated systems for following the vehicle in front, to remove drivers from harm’s way.

scenario

Two Raider skirmishers (front) and a Charger attack vehicle provide protection for an Atlas convoy and two armed Safeguard troop carriers


Readers' comments (5)

  • And if these don't work, just throw some rocks and hit 'em with a big club...

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  • Raider & Pointer might almost be the same vehicle with different Payloads.

    Would be desirable that Raider is also manned vehicle.

    I miss some kind of aerial observer launched from Safeguard. Some kind of UAV but with the shape of helicopter with five miles range IR/CCD cameras and 2 hour autonomy.

    What about netware link requirements to manage all this stuff?

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  • UA helicopter systems for FOB operation and close surveillance, with Turbine or Electric power are developed and will be shown during 2011. These operate in 20kg flight ready with EO and IR systems, and extended flight duration.

    Developed for close surveillance an dmilitary forward viewing and ground activity support.

    UK Developed, and to be operated by small specialist expert unit.

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  • "I miss some kind of aerial observer launched from Safeguard. Some kind of UAV but with the shape of helicopter with five miles range IR/CCD cameras and 2 hour autonomy."

    Plisken - You are a mind reader or you know about our systems for show/launch in 2011. Range is 15km. Pilot controlled, Pilot Interupt, or Full Autonomous Flight.

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  • Perhaps BAE will succeed for the Brittish where Boeing failed the USA on its Future Combat Systems manned and unmanned ground vehicle programs.

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