The Tech Trends Shaping The Next Wave Of Military Armored Vehicles

In much the same way that the modern battlefield doesn’t resemble the one from 50, 20, or even 10 years ago, the forces which drive combat vehicles forward is forever changing. Armored vehicles have seen some enormous advances in the past several years, and the giant leaps forward currently on the horizon makes this an exciting time for those who rely on this technology on a regular basis. 

From new types of smart connectivity to the next generation of on-board weaponry, here are some of four of the major trends currently shaping the next wave of armored vehicles:

Blast-resistant seating

There are plenty of challenges for modern Military Armored Vehicles to deal with. One is the proliferation of land mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which exist as an unfortunate but unavoidable part of modern asymmetric warfare. To protect the lives of the crew in these combat vehicles from their potentially devastating impact, vehicle designers have worked to create advanced blast protection systems able to survive deadly blasts. 

For example, Mobius Protection Systems produces lifesaving seating options for all crew positions — including commander, gunner, driver and troop seats. Their game-changing, life-saving seats are especially designed to be able to withstand a wide range of severe scenarios on the battlefield. They can even undergo drastic structural deformations and multi-hit assaults without compromising on performance. The seats, which are used in everything from armored personnel carriers (APCs) and main battle tanks to light armored vehicles, have been proven to be highly effective in combat environments. 

The name of the game, ultimately, is safety — and this is one trend that can’t be stressed highly enough for that exact reason.

A new world of sensors

Today’s Military Armored Vehicles are smarter than they’ve ever been. Outfitted with a plethora of sensors, the new generation of vehicles in this category achieve impressive levels of situational awareness, able to more astutely perceive what is happening all around them. These sensors are a combination of active and passive, designed to detect enemies wherever they might be. 

In addition to established technologies like radar, tools like LiDAR, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), millimeter wave technologies, and acoustic shot detection open up new possibilities in detection. Combine that with improved 360-degree cameras and video surveillance, and these sensors can alert crews of threats wherever they might appear. In addition, sensor arrays can also aid with communication. They make it possible to better interface with other friendly units, whether in the air or on the ground.

The importance of invisibility

This is the flipside to the rise of smart sensors which make it possible to detect the heat, radar, and other signatures of armored vehicles. That’s great if you’re on the side of the tracker, but how about if you’re the one being tracked? 

With that in mind, a whole lot of research is being carried out to find new camouflage technologies which can help guarantee the stealth and, therefore, safety of vehicles and their crew. The idea of turning a heavy armored vehicle invisible might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s territory which is well underway. 

For instance, BAE System’s ADAPTIV technology casts an “invisibility cloak” on armored vehicles that’s able to befuddle infrared sensors. It utilizes a modular, hexagonal honeycomb-shaped series of plates. These are designed to mimic the heat signatures of surrounding areas, thereby making vehicles appear invisible to such scanners. As smart sensors come up with more and new ways of tracking vehicles, so too will a key trend focus on ways to throw them off the scent.

New types of specialized ammunition and weaponry

Increased lethality is an important trend when it comes to modern Military Armored Vehicles. Some of this involves higher caliber ammunition such as Svinets-1 Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding-Sabot (APFSDS) rounds, boasting a tungsten penetrator. 

As well as bigger weapons, there are also plenty of new types of weaponry appearing (or about to appear) on the battlefield. For example, electromagnetic ammunition and thermobaric warheads promise to neutralize the inhabitants of an armored vehicle using shockwaves, rather than explosives. Similarly, an electromagnetic pulse could obliterate electronics in an enemy armored vehicle; potentially rendering it near-useless in doing so. 

Meanwhile, unmanned turrets, autoloading weapons, and stabilized weapons with computerized fire control systems promise to take some of the workload away from soldiers, while increasing accuracy and exposing crew to less risk. It’s highly possible that many armored vehicles will even move away from on-board crews altogether and focus instead on remote operation.

Jessica Foreman: