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DARPA developing faster, more agile armored vehicles

DARPA developing faster, more agile armored vehicles
The United States military’s research arm is developing plans for tactical ground vehicles that come with less armor and more agility in order to counter advances in weapon technology.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is seeking to revolutionize armored vehicles, which in the past, the agency says, have suffered from burdensome weight and overall inefficient designs based on the necessities of modern warfare.

“The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited Soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments,”DARPA wrote Monday in announcing its Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program.

The new breed of armored vehicles must be based around “tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost.”

“GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle — it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles,” said Kevin Massey, a DARPA program manager.

“Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.”

DARPA is set to award contracts to both weapons manufacturers and researchers “on or before April 2015.”

Criteria for the GXV-T program include: reduced vehicle size and weight by 50 percent; reduced onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 percent; increased vehicle speed by 100 percent; ability to access 95 percent of terrain and reduced “signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles,” DARPA outlined.

In addition to increased agility and mobility, the new design must offer crews automated assistance tools "similar to the capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits.”