Military

BAE Systems releases details of hybrid tank

BAE Systems releases details o...
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
The BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV infographic
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The BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV infographic
The Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) used by the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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The Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) used by the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
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Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV

BAE Systems has released an infographic outlining the features of its hybrid Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). A joint venture between BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman with other partners, the GCV proposal is part of a US Army competition to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which entered service in 1981.

The BAE/Northrop Grumman GCV is one of a number of proposals intended to replace the Bradley within seven years. Like the Bradley, the GCV is an armored troop transport intended to quickly move soldiers into a combat zone and provide support fire. This particular design was created from the ground up and is intended to be upgradable, with a projected service life for the technology of up to 40 years.

The BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV infographic
The BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV infographic

The GCV carries three crew and nine squad members inside its steel-core hull and boasts an integrated electronic network capability and embedded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. However, the centerpiece of the vehicle is its simplified drive train. The GCV is propelled by an Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) developed by the partnership. It puts out 1,100 kW of electricity, has fewer components, and lower volume and weight than current power plants. Being an electric drive, it generates high torque at start, smoother low-speed operation and can run silently – an advantage in night operations.

The partnership makes a big thing of the GCV’s 20 percent fuel savings while running – additionally, however, it burns only 4.61 gallons (17,45 liters) per hour while idling, as opposed to 10 gallons (37.85 liters) per hour for a 70-ton vehicle. This idling rating is important, because military vehicles spend a lot of time sitting still while powering the electronics. Unfortunately, this hybrid still isn't exactly a fuel sipper, at only 0.73 mpg (322 l/100km). Its top speed is 43 mph (70 km/h) and it can do 0 to 20 mph (32.18 km/hr) in 7.8 seconds.

The Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) used by the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV
The Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) used by the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV

One drawback of the GCV in its current design is that it's almost twice as heavy as the Bradley, with a vehicle weight of 70 tons (63.5 tonnes) compared to the Bradley’s 30.4 tons (27.5 tonnes). This is due in part to the GCV carrying three more squad members, but mostly to the need to provide full protection for crew and squad. This meant extra armor – enough to provide more protection than a RG-33 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Unfortunately, the Pentagon didn't specify a weight limit in its Request for Proposal (RFP), so the GCV came out a bit on the heavy side.

The budgeted cost for the GCV is set at US$13 million per vehicle.

Source: BAe Systems via Defensetech

17 comments
Wombat56
70 tons? That's as heavy or heavier than an M1A1/2 tank.
Elmar Moelzer
I guess they are betting that the thing will never be attacked from behind? It is also very heavy, eh?
Scion
322l/100km? This thing must have a huge fuel tank! Imagine having to fill that thing up? It would take ages standing at the pump. (humour) I would wonder if the added complexity of a hybrid drivetrain (in terms of electronics / computers) would make it less reliable in combat than a diesel. Maybe they could ask Honda to come up with an engine for them? They've brought out some really good diesels recently.
Stephen Colbourne
Hybrids are not new in the tank world. Porsche were building them for the Nazis in WWII http://jalopnik.com/242406/early-porsche-hybrid-the-ferdinandelefant
flame_can
I think that the motivation for this was o reduce complexity. This kind of powertrains are used in diesel-electric locomotives and mining trucks. The diesel engine works only as a generator, without driving the wheels, and the electric engine drives the wheels directly. The main motivation for this kind of transmission in diesel-electric locomotives and mining trucks was to get rid of the heavy and failure prone mechanical transmission. Keep in mind the required torque load required to move a train or a fully loaded mining truck, it is hard to build gear sets durable enough for that. Applying this concept to a 70 ton tracked vehicle seems quite obvious.
Dawar Saify
Which environment would this be suited for. It's heavy and slow. Armour is good to an extent but does take damage. The solution for troop transport is first aerial superiority, then low level Hovering UAV surveillance, then ground level with occasional helicopter support to know the way is clear and then the troop transporters in between the formation. Or even just transport by helicopter if the cargo is so important assuming the sky has been cleared. Ground fire support vehicles make sense, but this vehicle may showcase technology, but it is in the wrong direction. It's too heavy for war on terror and too slow and heavy for for cold war like scenarios. Whenever troops need to be transported, it's always urgent, that would be helicopter. Otherwise it's always a build up to the situation. Being heavy this too can get stuck and most of the power will be used to climb out of the shallow depressions it will create by itself on the ground. Roads it could ruin. Of course it can display drive train technologies, but speed is required. The solution is the full convoy as described above unless it's a commando reconnaissance mission.
Tyler Totten
It's far too heavy, particularly since this makes logistics a nightmare. They can hardly be carried by any strategic lift asset in the US military. To compound the problem, with weight approaching 84 tons at full load, plenty of bridges and infrastructure won't hold this massive machine. Clearly the Army needs to change their requirements, maybe go back to a smaller squad, so these vehicles aren't such big heavy targets. Sure they burn less fuel than a 70 ton vehicle, but at $200 per mile to support, that's a big increase over the $45 per mile Bradley. Even two Bradleys are a lot less per mile, while carrying more troops and bringing two guns into the fight. Granted, not the same protection level, but it seems like for the same money and protection level, two smaller vehicles could be built. Matter-of-fact, I know they could.
Russ Jata
This was probably a good design at one point, before several rounds of committees did their thing and turned another mouse into an elephant. Another piece of equipment to fight the previous war, at any rate. Concentrating troops inside a single slow moving surface vehicle remains a target of opportunity for an adversary.
Slowburn
They have said that some of the advantages of the electromotive system are instant power and the ability to move silently. How much of the weight is batteries? I would rather see them substitute remote control turrets that do not extend into the passenger compartment and add mine rollers onto the Bradley. I don't like the Bradley
Australian
Sheesh - some harsh critics. Until we can rule out wars altogether, there will always be a place for Ground Combat Vehicles such as the Bradley. They were never designed to avoid massive munitions. That's what bunkers are for, and until we can get motorised bunkers.......well..... you get the picture. It is a move in the right direction to increase fuel efficiency. It would be good if they could be powered by a multi-fuel gas turbine like those which power the Abrams Tank. Having a turbine operating at maximum efficiency while driving a generator is hard to beat in overall efficiency stakes. It would mate very well to an electric propulsion system with a battery bank.