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New armoured vehicle concept: lessons from Ukraine


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Following the long discussions on tanks and modern warfare in the Ukraine thread, I have proposed a new vehicle concept as per these images. The idea borrows a lot from @The_Capt and others on that thread so thanks for the discussion. 

All of this can be done with todays technology. Some development would be required for some of the "harder" aspects such as shooting down ATGMs with a chain gun (it is similar to CWIS), but that is not central to the concept. 

The really radical part is the Hunter concept, but it is actually quite simple. Reduce the size/signature/expense of a vehicle by putting most of the crew in another vehicle, while optionally having one crew to pull it out of the mud/take over during heavy EW etc. This means the Hunter can be pushed aggressively towards the enemy to push back their ISR bubble and screen your own force. If you lose a few Hunters it is not a big deal since they are relatively cheap and you can use them uncrewed in more dangerous situations. 

The other emphasis is lots of drones (like 4 in the air per platoon, plus replacements) with operators in vehicles using big screens and reliable comms rather than squinting at a phone in a field. These drone operators can have a birds-eye view on one screen while commanding the Hunter on another for maximum situational awareness. I anticipate a lot of help from AI visual recognition to spot enemy signatures too. 

Given you now have borg-spotting and your enemy doesn't, the lack of heavy armour doesn't matter so much. I still see a use for modern MBTs as hyper-specialised breakthrough vehicles, but the Killer fills all the other roles of the tank on a much lower logistical/visual footprint. 

Let me know what you think!

Doctrine sheet.png

Hunter Datasheet.png

Killer Observer Datasheet.png

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Interesting concept. I would argue though that the "Hunter" vehicle seems overengineered and you'd get more bang for the buck by mostly substituting it with  lots and lots of Toyotas and quad bikes carrying portable missiles, small loitering munitions and micro UAVs.

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22 minutes ago, Der Zeitgeist said:

Interesting concept. I would argue though that the "Hunter" vehicle seems overengineered and you'd get more bang for the buck by mostly substituting it with  lots and lots of Toyotas and quad bikes carrying portable missiles, small loitering munitions and micro UAVs.

You could do both as a high/low mix? Your suggestion helps with screening but I would anticipate a peer enemy would bring a LOT of drones to the fight and a technical is not great at keeping them away from you. A truck is an unstable firing platform for AA guns and firing even cheap missiles at quadcopters not an economic first choice to defeat them. 

I actually expect you would need some sort of truck with a MANPADS on it to support the system above because more advanced drones can stay out of range of the 20mm cannon but layered air defence starts to move into another topic!

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Interesting concept, but some questions:

Is it technically feasible to make a vehicle proof against 30mm cannon and have it run on battery power? I'm in general a big fan of electric vehicles, but I'm not sure battery power is enough here.

Why can each support vehicle only support two hunter vehicles? Does this assume that each hunter has to be manually controlled by a human operator? Or could they mostly run on AI?

45 minutes ago, hcrof said:

Given you now have borg-spotting and your enemy doesn't, the lack of heavy armour doesn't matter so much.

What do you do when the enemy also employs this kind of system? It seems to be designed to fight armies that are one or two steps down on the tech ladder, and that's probably not an assumption that's safe to make...

 

And an idea to maybe add to your concept:

How about killer drones? I've always thought it would be more effective that instead of having duct-taped drones drop a couple of imprecise hand grenades, a military grade "assassin drone" could be equipped with a lightweight rifle controlled by a computer.

The drone could then pick off enemy troops from above. If you hit someone accurately from relatively short distance, you wouldn't need a big heavy rifle barrel. And the drone and the rifle might be sound dampened in a way that current drones are not, allowing them to get closer to the enemies. It's a very disgusting concept, I think, but it might be very effective.

(I realise that in your concept, the hunter vehicles would be there to screen against such drones too)

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3 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

Is it technically feasible to make a vehicle proof against 30mm cannon and have it run on battery power? I'm in general a big fan of electric vehicles, but I'm not sure battery power is enough here.

Honestly I don't know. In the art I left room for a lot of batteries (1/3 of the total volume!) but maybe a hybrid system would be better. I see this being quite heavy for its size due to the batteries (a Tesla semi truck uses 5000kg of batteries apparently) 

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Why can each support vehicle only support two hunter vehicles? Does this assume that each hunter has to be manually controlled by a human operator? Or could they mostly run on AI?

I am trying to keep the sci-fi aspect to a minimum so I see it 95% controlled by humans at first, although obviously that can change in the future. The support vehicle can tow and carry supplies for 2 Hunters so I thought it was a decent number. If you increased the numbers of Hunters per support vehicle I guess that burden would fall somewhere else on the logistics system, but of course you have fewer vehicles in the combat zone. I guess someone would have to test out what the perfect ratio is!

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What do you do when the enemy also employs this kind of system? It seems to be designed to fight armies that are one or two steps down on the tech ladder, and that's probably not an assumption that's safe to make...

Its a fair point - I actually posted it here for people to find the counter to this so I can improve it!

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How about killer drones? I've always thought it would be more effective that instead of having duct-taped drones drop a couple of imprecise hand grenades, a military grade "assassin drone" could be equipped with a lightweight rifle controlled by a computer.

Agreed; I think these could be nastily effective if they can defeat those anti-drone rifles reliably (and my guess is yes they can). You could supplement them with tiny drones the size of your hand that fire a single bullet at very close range (say 10m). Deploy them like cluster munitions and clear trenches/woodlines in seconds. 

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6 hours ago, Der Zeitgeist said:

Interesting concept. I would argue though that the "Hunter" vehicle seems overengineered and you'd get more bang for the buck by mostly substituting it with  lots and lots of Toyotas and quad bikes carrying portable missiles, small loitering munitions and micro UAVs.

I was going to say the HSV should support more than one Hunter, but I like this.  And I'd expand it to having HSV-H, HSV-T, HSV-Q to have a bunch of slightly different configurations of HSVs that would be mostly identical but have different kit for the mechanical/fuel/repair support of the different categories of hunter-type vehicle (Hunter, Technica, Quad).

And there should be a swarm of tiny drones that take out enemy drones by crashing into them with a small explosive charge, and maybe have long strings dangling to foul propellers.

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5 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

How about killer drones? I've always thought it would be more effective that instead of having duct-taped drones drop a couple of imprecise hand grenades, a military grade "assassin drone" could be equipped with a lightweight rifle controlled by a computer.

The drone could then pick off enemy troops from above. If you hit someone accurately from relatively short distance, you wouldn't need a big heavy rifle barrel. And the drone and the rifle might be sound dampened in a way that current drones are not, allowing them to get closer to the enemies. It's a very disgusting concept, I think, but it might be very effective.

Anything fired from a lightweight drone (and probably even fairly heavy drones) is going to need to be recoilless unless you want the drone spinning around like a cartoon creature.

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I put this in the "How Hot" thread, but it seems appropriate for this one as well.

Great video from Ukraine's Border Guards showing coordination between a UAV team, command center, and artillery unit. You can see the guys in the command center are able to take the time to strategize what to do and how to do it.  This is much harder to do with a single junior officer or NCO peering over the shoulder of a drone operator and making calls that way.  Mind you, there is a lot of need for that sort of thing, but there are benefits to having a more comprehensive view of the battlefield being used to direct fire.

 

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Very slick, almost like a training exercise. 

I think having people together to discuss is useful if you have time. You could also speed up decision making by including bluforce tracking and/or some other battlefield management system to display additional context. Not just positions of units but maybe also artillery vectors and CEP with various types of ammunition 

I know that the US is working on image recognition for this kind of thing too - the outline of a vehicle, fresh vehicle tracks, smoke etc. That would speed up identification a lot and allow one operator to control multiple drones. 

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