Before the appearance of a machine in metal, and even more so mass production, it is still far away, but the direction of engineering is interesting, which is strongly influenced by events in Ukraine.
First, the Pentagon no longer considers tanks a relic of the past. Secondly, they came to the conclusion that tanks urgently need to be improved, and the most advanced technologies and design ideas should be used for this.
One of the conclusions - tanks should become quieter - tipped the scales in favor of a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system. The US Army has long been eyeing hybrid engines in the civilian automotive industry. The gas turbine power plant currently used on the M1 Abrams family of tanks requires a lot of fuel, is too expensive to maintain and is very noisy. The use of these tanks in combat operations is almost impossible without reliable supply chains. The experience of using modern means of striking at great depths underlined this weakness of American tanks.
The hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system is more independent of the vicissitudes of war. Solar oil can be brought even in a barrel. In addition, on an electric course, a 50% reduction in fuel consumption is expected and it is possible to sneak up on enemy positions relatively quietly. The effect of surprise will give a significant advantage.
The possibility of shifting a possible theater of operations to more northern latitudes, where the state of the soil varies greatly depending on the time of year, prompted the designers to reduce the weight of the Abrams. They didn't think about it before. In hot countries where one had to fight, the soil is always hard or, in extreme cases, sandy. The weight of the M1A2 SEP v 3 tank, the most modern model currently in service, reaches 73.6 tons. This is 10 tons more than the M1 of the first modification.
This weight, combined with its physical size, also places limits on how many tanks can be transported on ships or aircraft. And the Pentagon today is striving to increase the mobility of the US armed forces, believing that they will have to fight a lot and in different places at the same time. The latest version of the Abrams is too heavy for transportation and also for many bridges, especially in Europe.
Therefore, in an effort to reduce the weight and increase the mobility of the tank, General Dynamics significantly changed the appearance of both the turret and the hull. Apparently, they also attracted industrial designers - the new machine will not only have to fight, it will, first of all, be sold. "Toy" should be aesthetically pleasing.
The number of crew in the new tank is supposed to be reduced to three people. The US Army followed the tradition - the crew of the main battle tank consists of four people: commander, gunner, loader and driver. Now, overseas, they decided, after all, to follow the European and Russian designers and reduce the number of crew. The company was silent about who would be removed. However, this is clear without explanation - the loader, who will be replaced by the machine gun. This will reduce the size of the tower, which remains habitable on the AbramsX, and, accordingly, reduce the overall weight and dimensions of the tank.
However, the corporation is also working on the possibility of the machine functioning offline. To do this, the tank is planned to be equipped with a large number of sensors and artificial intelligence.
In this regard, cameras and sensors will now take their place throughout the hull of the tank to provide the crew and artificial intelligence with data throughout the hemisphere. The collected data will go directly to the screen of the helmet of the tankers, by analogy with the pilots on the F-35 fighter. The crew will be able to see the environment in real time, but also use augmented reality technologies to help make decisions.
Which systems are being considered has not yet been reported, but today the Israeli company Elbit, which is developing the Iron Vision system, has achieved the greatest success in this direction.
Of the weapons, only the RS6 remote-controlled station with a Kongsberg Protector 30-millimeter cannon, which is located at the top of the gun turret, is mentioned so far. The installation of the Norwegian system on the AbramsX should provide the tank with additional firepower to deal with small air threats, drones, and various ground targets.
Several options are being considered as the main weapon. First of all, the American advanced 120mm cannon. But the company also does not exclude the use of a larger caliber gun currently being developed - 140 millimeters.
As an active defense of the tank, the Israeli Trophy system or in Hebrew “Meil Ruach” (“Windbreaker”) is still being considered. The system creates a controlled hemisphere around the tank. A special detector determines where the tank is being fired from, then the on-board computer calculates the trajectory of the ammunition flight and instructs the vehicle's firepower to destroy anti-tank missiles on approach. The disadvantage of the system is that there is an uncontrolled funnel up from the tank about 70 degrees in size.
The new tank is also expected to be equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles for advanced reconnaissance and, possibly, pinpoint strikes.
M1 AbramsX was shown along with new projects of armored vehicles for various purposes StrykerX, Stryker Leonidas and TRX Breacher.
StrykerX is a demonstrator of a new armored infantry vehicle. It is also planned to be equipped with a hybrid diesel-electric power plant.
The Stryker Leonidas is a variant of the Stryker armored vehicle equipped with a powerful microwave directed energy emitter. The Leonidas system is already being field tested. It is designed to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles.
TRX Breacher is an unmanned ground vehicle that will use loitering ammunition in combat, in particular, the Switchblade family. To do this, the car was equipped with 13 launch tubes for Switchblade-600 drones and 24 more for launching Switchblade-300.
All vehicles will have an electronic interaction system, which will allow organizing effective support for tank units during offensive operations and in defense.