US Army scientists are aiming to reduce the weight of existing combat tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) by at least 40%.
During a recent combat vehicle lightweight science and technology campaign workshop, experts from the Research, Development and Engineering Command (REDCOM) stressed that the weight reduction goal will require both non-traditional approaches and new ideas from across the science and technology community.
US Army Research Laboratory Weapons and Materials Research Directorate director Dr Patrick Baker said it was necessary to implement a holistic approach, with researchers working on materials science, mechanisms, modelling and simulation, and manufacturing technology.
"How can materials foster a significantly lighter class of combat platforms? We’re going to have to do something different to get the advances that we need to make this happen," Baker said.
"We’re going to have to engage and participate with the outside community."
While previous efforts to lighten army vehicles focused on overcoming weaknesses in existing materials, the researchers are currently developing revolutionary laboratory materials with potentially extraordinary properties.
Baker suggests that, as new materials near completion, scientists and engineers should incorporate manufacturing science to enable tailored properties.
US military vehicle weights are believed to have increased during the last 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the wake of new and emerging threats.
The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is currently undertaking combat vehicle weight-reduction initiatives, including research in modular protection, lighter conventional components and adaptive protection, as well as under-armour volume and unmanned systems.
However, TARDEC research and technology integration executive director Dr Jennifer Hitchcock said a strategy to integrate advanced materials into vehicle design is needed to help the centre achieve the desired weight reductions.
Image: US soldiers move their M1 Abrams tank into a defensive position during a simulated battle at the Network Integration Exercise 13.2 in New Mexico, US. Photo: courtesy of Sgt Todd Robinson.