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A real-life Lego tank: BAE touts modular design for Army OMFV

 A redesign already trimmed the troop compartment from nine passengers to six, BAE says. Want to upgrade the engine? Load new software? Add a drone-killing laser? Unlike on the old Bradley, there’s plenty of room.

BAE’s design for the Army’s future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) to replace M2 Bradley (BAE Systems graphic)

BAE’s design to replace its Reagan-era M2 Bradley troop carrier looks an awful lot like a sexed-up Bradley. But inside, the company told reporters today, the company’s proposal for the Army’s future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) contract is radically different than its predecessor. For starters, you’d have a hard time finding the engine.

RELATED: Lighter, hybrid, & highly automated: the Army’s next-gen armor

Like the other four competitors for OMFV, the BAE machine will use a hybrid-electric engine instead of a traditional internal combustion engine. While other companies haven’t divulged details, at least not yet, BAE’s James Miller, VP for business development, told reporters this morning the BAE design uses a “serial” hybrid diesel-electric engine that’s “distributed” throughout the armored hull.

What does that mean? Traditional troop carriers (Armored Personnel Carriers, APCs, and Infantry Fighting Vehicles, IFVs) have a single big engine, at the front, where it makes a big heat signature on enemy infrared sensors and can be taken out by the first shot to penetrate the armor. But the BAE OMFV replaces the one big engine with a series of smaller hybrid-electric modules along either side of the hull. (BAE actually pioneered this approach in the Future Combat Systems vehicles cancelled back in 2009.)

Army graphic

An old Army slide shows the configuration of the hybrid-electric drive in the cancelled Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicle.

The benefits? Despite producing a whopping 1,070 horsepower, the distributed drive spreads out its heat signature along both sides of the hull, making it harder for a heat-seeking enemy to find and track. It’s also designed to reduce noise, allowing the vehicle to power its electronics for nine hours with the engine off, known as “silent watch,” or drive 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) on batteries alone, with no engine noise.

It’s meant to reduce the risk of a single solid hit immobilizing the vehicle, what soldiers call a “mobility kill.” It also reduces weight — although the vehicle, with its modular armor plates configured for combat, is still 50 tons, considerably heavier than the Bradley. And finally, the distributed engine frees up space inside the hull, allowing the designers more freedom to relocate components, a lot like kids playing with Lego.

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. photo

Mike Peck of General Dynamics shows the difference between the new 50 mm round the Army wants to use on future troop carriers and the 25 mm round on the current M2 Bradley.

In fact, the Lego philosophy of design, what engineers call Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA), is mandatory on the Army’s OMFV program, and BAE has embraced it enthusiastically, Miller said. This approach isn’t unique to BAE: Archrival General Dynamics has also emphasized MOSA and adaptability.

The idea is a design that’s easy to upgrade, with all software and hardware connecting to common interfaces defined by strict standards. That way the Army could easily swap out obsolescent systems, plug in all-new ones, or even reroute a function in mid-battle from a combat-damaged processor to a backup computer elsewhere in the vehicle, preventing a single lucky shot or breakdown from crippling, for example, fire control.

ref: https://breakingdefense.com/2022/11/a-real-life-lego-tank-bae-touts-modular-design-for-army-omfv/


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