Next Army Combat Vehicle May Feature Active Protection, Laser Weapons

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November 6, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: November 6 on

The Army plans to have a blueprint for its successor to the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle by 2022.

But for now, leaders have only a wish list.

The Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) needs to be smarter and leaner than its predecessors — and completely reimagined, said Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, who commands the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia.

“We don’t just want to built a better mousetrap. We could very easily fall back into building what we already know,” Wesley said during an address at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.

While the shape of the vehicle remains undecided, Wesley said it’s clear it needs new ways of defending itself, including active protection systems and new weapons — all with the goal of lightening the load and increasing maneuverability.

“We cannot afford to take another plate of steel and put it on the front,” he said. “We cannot afford to increase the weight of the Abrams, because it’s no longer mobile. You can’t get it across key roads and bridges; you can’t truck with it. Just adding passive armor is no longer sufficient.”

Active protection systems, which the Army is working to add in modular form to its existing vehicles, would allow the NGCV to operate lighter by creating a force field of sorts to defend against incoming fire before it makes contact.