While not specifically referring to the T-14s unmanned turret or Russian plans for an autonomous capability, Army Ground Combat Systems weapons developers did say it is conceivable future armored vehicles may indeed include an unmanned turret as well as various level of autonomy, tele-operation and manned-unmanned teaming.
While, quite naturally, the range and particular technical capabilities of the US Army’s emerging tank sights are not available for security reasons, several Russian news reports – such as GRU Pycckoe ( site here ) – report that the new Russian T-14 Armata’s thermal targeting sights are able to discern tank-size targets during the daytime at ranges out to 5 kilometers. The same reports state the nighttime sights can reach 3.5 kilometers.
Additionally, the 48-ton modern T-14 tank is widely reported to be able to reach speeds of 90-kilometers per hour; it is built with an unmanned turret, without a “fume extractor” and is designed for a 3-man crew surrounded by an armored capsule. While much has been made of the T-14 Armata’s cutting edge technology, including its active protection, 12-round per minute firing rage and 125mm smoothbore cannon in numerous public reports and assessments, it is not at all clear that the T-14 in any way fully outmatches current and future variants of the Abrams tank – at least according to available public information.
(This first appeared several months ago.)
Nonetheless, while not discussed much by US tank developers, Abrams modernization efforts are without question being designed to meet and exceed any dangers posed by rival nation tanks, such as the T-14. Concerns about the threat posed by the T-14 Armata are, without question, informing US tank and weapons developers.
The Army is working on a new SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, is being specifically engineered as a “lethality” upgrade to position the platform as the world’s most advanced and threatening main battle tank.
(Army officials of course explain that many of the details of the next-gen systems for the future tanks are not available for security reasons)
The new tank will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser +warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round,senior Army weapons developers have explained.
A recent news report from Sputnik reported that tank-maker Uralvagonzavod has developed a "remotely-detonated" 125mm shell for the T-14 Armata.
The US Army’s Multi-Purpose 120mm tank round, to integrate onto the v4, is now being engineered to integrate several different kinds of ammunition into a single, tailorable round.
Without offering much detail, Army developers explain that the lethality upgrade, referred to as an Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, is centered around the integration of a higher-tech 3rd generation FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared imaging sensor.
The advanced FLIR uses higher resolution and digital imaging along with an increased ability to detect enemy signatures at farther ranges through various obscurants such as rain, dust or fog, Army officials said. Further details are not available, developers say.
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Improved FLIR technologies help tank crews better recognize light and heat signatures emerging from targets such as enemy sensors, electronic signals or enemy vehicles. This enhancement provides an additional asset to a tank commander’s independent thermal viewer.
Thermal targeting sights, as demonstrated during now famous Gulf War tank battles including Abrams tanks against Russian-built T-72, can create range mismatches enabling tanks to destroy enemy tanks without themselves been seen.
A report in Popular Mechanics earlier this year, by Kyle Mizokami, says the T-14s new, now-in-development 3UBK21 Sprinter missile can hit ranges more than 7 miles, basically tripling the current 2.48-mile range of an Abrams 120mm round, according to the report. The Armata’s current round, the 9M119 Reflecks, has a range of 3.1 miles (roughly comparable to the current Abrams) and can penetrate up to 900 millimeters of armor, Popular Mechanics writes.
It goes without saying that the lethality of a round is, by any assessment, contingent upon the range, accuracy and fidelity of the sensors and targeting technology in place to provide guidance; accordingly, exact range of fire may be far less important than the range and relative resolution of on-board sights and sensors.
Furthermore, not only will the Abrams v4 improve range and lethality of the tanks main gun, but it will also bring long-range laser detection and rear-view sensors. Also, newly configured meteorological sensors will better enable Abrams tanks to anticipate and adapt to changing weather or combat conditions more quickly, Army officials said.
“Meteorological sensors are being integrated into the fire control system. It provides information into fire control algorithms that help increase the accuracy and precision of your weapon system,” Ashley Givens, spokeswoman for the Army’s Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems, told Warrior Maven in a written statement last year.