Real-life Lego tank: BAE touts modular design for Army OMFV

BAE’s design for the future Optional Manned Combat Vehicle (OMFV) to replace the M2 Bradley (image BAE Systems)

The BAE design will replace the Reagan-era M2 Bradley aircraft carrier looks like very similar to sexy bradley. But inside, the company told reporters today, the company’s proposal for the future of the army Optional manned combat vehicle (OMFV) contract is radically different from its predecessor. For starters, you’ll have a hard time finding the engine.

RELATED: Lighter, hybrid and highly automated: the next generation of army armor

I like it the other four competitors are OMFV, the BAE car will use a hybrid-electric engine instead of a traditional internal combustion engine. While other companies are not disclosing details, at least not yet, BAE’s James Miller, vice president of business development, told reporters this morning that BAE’s design uses a “production” hybrid diesel-electric engine that is “distributed” across the armored body.

What does that mean? Traditional vehicles (APCs, APCs and infantry fighting vehicles, BMPs) have a single large engine in the front, where it creates a large heat signature on enemy infrared sensors, and can be disabled with the first shot to penetrate the area. armor But the BAE OMFV replaces one large engine with a series of smaller hybrid-electric modules along both sides of the hull. (BAE actually implemented this approach in the Future Combat Systems machines, which were canceled back in 2009.)

Military graphics

An old Army slide shows the hybrid-electric drive configuration in the canceled Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicle.

Advantages? Despite the production of whorated at 1,070 horsepower, the distributed drive spreads its heat signature along both sides of the hull, making it harder for a heat-seeking adversary to find and track. It is also designed to reduce noise levels, allowing the vehicle to power its electronics for nine hours with the engine off, known as the “silent hour”, or travel 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) on batteries alone without engine noise.

This is intended to reduce the risk of a single solid hit immobilizing the vehicle, something soldiers call “mobility killing.” It also reduces weight – although a vehicle with combat-tuned modular armor plates is still 50 tons, which is significantly heavier than a Bradley. Finally, a distributed engine frees up space inside the case, allowing designers more freedom to move components around, much like how kids play with Lego.

Photo by Sydney J. Friedberg Jr

General Dynamics’ Mike Peck shows the difference between the new 50mm round the Army wants to use on future amphibious assault ships and the 25mm round on the current M2 Bradley.

In fact, Lego’s design philosophy, which engineers call Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA), is mandatory for the Army’s OMFV program, and BAE has embraced it enthusiastically, Miller said. This approach is not unique to BAE: Archrival General Dynamics also emphasized MOSA and adaptability.

The idea is an easily upgradeable design, with all software and hardware connected to common interfaces defined by strict standards. That way, the Army could easily replace outdated systems, plug in entirely new ones, or even redirect a function mid-battle from a battle-damaged processor to a backup computer elsewhere in the vehicle, preventing a single lucky shot or crippling failure, such as fire control.

This adaptability is in stark contrast to Cold War-era vehicles like the Bradley, where every function was locked into specific hardware with its own proprietary software, making every upgrade a complex system integration nightmare.

In particular, the Bradley is highly taxed in terms of both weight and power, with some units in Iraq having to shut down one system, such as a sensor, to free up power for another, such as an anti-IED obstacle, for example. Adding an active defense system to shoot down incoming anti-tank missiles and shells was particularly difficult, although the Bradley is gradually getting the same Israeli-made Iron Fist APS used on new BAE design.

RELATED: Lynx Strikes Back: How Rheinmetall Can Win Army OMFV (ANALYSIS)

These modernization difficulties are a big part of why the Army — after four decades of modifying the Bradley — decided to go with an entirely new design for the OMFV. They wanted a built-in APS instead of one, better protection against both surface attack missiles and roadside bombs (conventional armor is heaviest at the front), a bigger gun (the 50mm MX913 autocannon vs the Bradley’s 25mm), a lot automation, and most importantly, plenty of room for growth.

Initial “desired characteristics“were actually so wide, Miller said (with some exaggeration), “at one point you could almost put a pickup truck with heavy weapons.” BAE’s initial proposal, on the other hand, was a bulky brute, but their modular approach allowed them to quickly redesign the design to a more manageable 50 tonnes – still heavier than the most armored bradley — when the army made it clear that it wanted something else. Since then, all five competing designs have converged on similar dimensions and armament.

RELATED: OMFV race heats up: All 5 competitors bid to build Bradley replacement prototypes

BAE graphics

BAE’s design for the future Optional Manned Combat Vehicle (OMFV) to replace the M2 Bradley (image BAE Systems)

“Our vehicle was much bigger than this when we started,” Miller said. “We thought the army would need a full squad,” ie. nine fully equipped infantrymen in the passenger compartment. That’s what the Army insisted on in two previous, aborted attempts to replace the Bradley — The combat system of the future and Ground combat vehicle — and on the successful 8×8 Stryker. But for the OMFV, as the Army and five branch commands discussed possible designs, the service decided it could cut from nine infantry passengers to six and from three crewmen to two.

This forces an unprecedented reliance on automation and artificial intelligence. “You can’t do a two-person crew without AI support,” Miller said.

Thus, the tower construction c Israeli Elbit and armed with a Northrop Grumman XM913 50mm cannon and rocket launcher, is unmanned, but it has an army targeting AI called ATLAS. The Advanced automated targeting and lethality system doesn’t actually allow the algorithm to pull the trigger, which violates Pentagon rules about human control, but it can detect potential targets, highlight them on the screen, and fire the gun with computerized precision a person pressing a button. BAE’s design can also use another Army-developed artificial intelligence system, the Robotic Technology Kernel, to cross-country navigation – i.e. self-driving tank, making it an “optional” combat vehicle of choice.

RELATED: Could Army Robotics Programs Create Artificial Intelligence in Silicon Valley?

But BAE and its corporate teammates will surely have to develop their own software, rather than simply download the Army’s algorithms and hit install. One of BAE’s partners QinetiQa British company with extensive experience in the field of robotics and hybrid electric drive.

“We completely replaced the old manual transmission and gearbox with new ones EX-DriveMike Sewart, group CTO of QinetiQ, said on a call this morning. can be supplied by both, it can be supplied in the future. with hydrogen fuel cells – it doesn’t matter … we can power the vehicle.”

Another partner is Curtiss-Wright, which boasts extensive experience in modular open architecture design. “The requirements that came from OMFV represent a real paradigm shift in how we’re going to take open systems and really make them meaningfully impactful,” said Jacob Seelander, senior architect at Curtiss-Wright. “”The Army said MOSA is the law. This is not an offer.”

As a result, “the community can evolve to the same,” Silander told reporters during the call. “There is no one [company] solution development. [It’s]”How can we develop in such a way that we can bring together all these pieces from different places that use the same standards and approaches?”

BAE prides itself on its extensive armor expertise, Miller said, but “it’s not PIM program, that’s not it AMPV program, it’s not the predecessors where everyone saw BAE as a heavy metal bender… The world is changing and it’s about integration [the] software, open architecture’.

For example, the Army currently does not require a specific ability to combat drones on OMFV. But given how deadly drones have proven themselves on armored vehicles in Ukraine — and as a weapon in itself, and as gunners for artillery strikes — army magI don’t want to add that sooner than later. The BAE OMFV’s modular design will make this easy, Miller argued.

Even if the service wanted to add, say, a high-powered laser weapon, Miller said the design could be scaled up to provide 700 kilowatts more power than it does now. (Miller declined to reveal the current figure, but it’s likely at least 160 kW generated experimental hybrid-electric Bradley). In contrast, the Army is still fielding a A 60 kilowatt anti-drone laser on its own specialized vehicle, the Stryker variant.

“BMP [Infantry Fighting Vehicles] are in service for a long time, decades,” Miller said. “You have to start with a vehicle that can grow and adapt to new threats, new technologies.” Real-life Lego tank: BAE touts modular design for Army OMFV

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