The unification of armored combat vehicles on the chassis and other components can significantly simplify and reduce the cost of operation, and also ensures the growth of basic technical characteristics. The highest results of this kind can be obtained when developing unified families on a common basis. However, so far such ideas have received only limited distribution and are far from always fully realized.
Combat vehicle complex
The idea of BBM families based on common components appeared long ago and developed over a long time. For example, in the Russian Bulletin of Armored Vehicles in 1991, the concept of a “front-line combat vehicle complex” (KBMPK) was described. She proposed the construction of five armored vehicles with a common chassis and different functions.
KBMPK included a tank with all the characteristic features and capabilities, a heavy and well-protected infantry fighting vehicle, a fire support vehicle, a self-propelled anti-aircraft defense complex, as well as a reconnaissance and control vehicle. They should be based on common components and have similar mobility and protection characteristics that ensure efficient work at the forefront.
Also, at different times and in different countries, other KBMPC options or similar concepts were proposed. All such projects had a common feature: it was proposed to build the equipment on a common base chassis, which initially takes into account the requirements for specialized samples.
However, the implementation of such ideas in practice proved to be quite complicated. Even now in operation and at the development stage, there are only a few such families of technology. However, not all of them provide for the construction of a full range of BBM of the main classes. First of all, this is due to the technical complexity and high cost of such projects. In addition, you need to remember the requirements and needs of the armies.
The idea of a complex of unified BMPKs has been worked out in the USA for several decades. In the XNUMXs, it was implemented as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. Part of the latter was the Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV) project, during which a whole family of armored vehicles for various purposes was created.
The MGV was based on a universal tracked chassis. Due to the specifics of the application, it had a front-engine layout, which allowed freeing up volumes in the center and rear of the hull. It was proposed to use the available free compartments for the placement of weapons, landing, special equipment, etc.
On such a chassis, it was proposed to build nine different combat and auxiliary armored vehicles. The XM1201 project included the construction of a combat reconnaissance vehicle with advanced surveillance tools and a small-caliber gun. Product XM1202 was to become a new version of the main tank. On the chassis built self-propelled guns XM1203 with a gun caliber 155 mm. There was also a project for the XM1204 self-propelled mortar. The simplest component of the KBMPK FCS / MGV was to be the XM1206 armored personnel carrier. On the same chassis, it was planned to build the command post vehicle XM1209, repair and recovery XM1206, as well as sanitary XM1207 and XM1208.
The most successful in practical terms was the project of self-propelled guns XM1203. During the FCS program, eight prototypes of this type were used, which were used in the tests. Other BBM families did not leave the testing stage of individual units.
Despite the obvious positive qualities, the FCS program was criticized. The reason for this was the complexity and excessive technical courage, as well as the associated high cost. In 2009, after much debate, the program was closed. Subsequently, another attempt was made to create a new BBM family for the US Army, but it also failed. As a result, the US military still has to use a large fleet of vehicles of different ages and with limited unification between samples of different classes.
The concept of KBMPK has been studied in our country for quite a long time and by now it has even reached practical implementation. Moreover, several unified platforms for various purposes with different characteristics were created at once. At the same time, the Armata platform is the most versatile, allowing you to build a wide range of armored vehicles, from tanks to auxiliary vehicles.
The development of “Almaty” began at the turn of the last decades and was carried out by the forces of NPK Uralvagonzavod. The aim of the project was to create a unified platform of a heavy class, suitable for use as a basis for a tank, self-propelled guns, heavy infantry fighting vehicles, etc. By the middle of the decade, the first samples of new equipment were built, and on May 9, 2015, their first public demonstration took place.
The platform is made in the form of a caterpillar chassis of a classic tank layout with an engine capacity of 1500 hp. The power plant and chassis use some new components. An interesting feature of the project is the possibility of "reversal" of the chassis. So, the T-14 tank, the T-16 BREM and other samples are built on the chassis in its original form, and the T-15 TBMP uses an “inverted” platform with a front-mounted power unit.
To date, the main tank T-14, TBMP T-15 (in several configurations), BREM T-16 and ACS 2C35 “Coalition-SV” have been developed, built and tested on the Armata platform. The appearance of a fire support combat vehicle, a heavy flamethrower system, engineering equipment, etc. is expected. In the future, the Armata platform should become the basis for the armored forces, which makes special demands on the composition of the family at its base.
To date, the main work on some versions of "Almaty" has been completed. In mid-2018, the first contract for the supply of T-14 and BMP T-15 tanks appeared. In the near future, new models are expected to appear on a unified platform - later they will also go into series.
Also in the world, other KBMPKs are being developed on a unified basis, but these projects may be of less interest. Due to various restrictions, these projects provide for a reduced family composition, not including samples of some basic classes.
For example, General Dynamics, in the interests of the British Army, is developing the Ajax family of armored vehicles. It is proposed to build an armored personnel carrier and infantry fighting vehicles, BRM, KShM, BREM and other models on a universal tracked chassis. At the same time, restrictions on dimensions and weight did not allow introducing large-caliber carriers into the family weapons - MBT or self-propelled guns. The most powerful weapons of the Ajax are small-caliber guns and guided missiles.
It should be noted that this approach to creating the Ajax family is mainly related to customer requirements. The British army wants to radically renew the fleet of light and medium armored infantry fighting vehicles, but so far does not plan such a modernization of tank units. Existing MBT Challenger 2 will remain in operation, although they will undergo modernization, and other equipment will be replaced.
Of particular interest in the context of the KBMPC is the Israeli Carmel program, which currently involves all the country's major defense enterprises. The goal of this program is to create promising BBMs of different classes with a number of fundamentally new features. The issues of automation of the main processes, reducing the load on the crew while reducing it, the introduction of unmanned systems, etc.
At the moment, several prototypes of different shapes have been built and are being tested under the Carmel program. In the future, full-fledged armored vehicles should appear on new platforms with all promising instruments and capabilities.
A possible version of the future BBM Carmel. Drawing Army.fresh.co.il
As part of the Carmel project, BRM and BMP are being created on the basis of a unified chassis. Heavier vehicles will probably not go into this line. While the niche of the MBT is closed by the Merkava family of vehicles, and its timely modernization allows us to continue the service. With a view to the distant future, another tank project is being developed.
Benefits and Challenges
It is easy to notice that the idea of families of armored combat vehicles on a common basis in the form of a unified chassis is quite popular, but not all such proposals reach practical implementation. Such results are directly related to several factors of various kinds.
First of all, the wishes and requirements of the customer affect the prospects of the idea of KBMPK. Not all armies now see the need for the creation and putting into service of entire BBM families. Among other things, the customer’s opinion can be determined by the complexity and high cost of developing and manufacturing such equipment. However, even having an order does not guarantee a positive outcome. A vivid example of this is the American FCS program - it was launched, brought to the test of experimental equipment, but was eventually closed.
However, the failure of some projects does not cancel the development of others, which also show the desired results. Obviously, leading countries will continue to develop unified platforms, and over time, samples of this kind will take their place in the army. The first such examples are expected in the near future.