Elbit Systems of America unveiled its Future Fighting Vehicle Demonstrator (FFVD) at AUSA 2019 this week. The vehicle, designed to be part of the US Army’s manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) project, is capable of demonstrating advanced capabilities and technologies: it is not meant to be fielded as it appeared on static display.
The genesis of the FFVD was the company’s initial interest in examining whether a notional three-person crew on many ground vehicles could be reduced to a two-person crew – and still be as capable. William Nuckols, Director of Ground Combat Systems at the company, explained during a media event “we have demonstrated that operationally you can do it – the vehicle can be just as effective, lethal and survivable with a two-man crew. This examined the realm of the possible and it is possible.” Artificial intelligence, autonomy, augmented reality and other technology enablers allow the crew to meet the industry team’s expectations.
Nuckols, formerly a US Army career armour branch officer, then called attention to the onboard systems, emphasizing the “truly impressive thing that we have done with this vehicle is fully integrate the onboard technologies into a system of systems.” To that end, the FFVD on display was equipped with 45 individual sensors – many familiar to MON readers – to provide increased levels of situational awareness. “It is not feasible for the US Army today to put 45 sensors on every one of its combat vehicles – our intent is to showcase these technologies to US Army to pick and choose.”
Of interest, many of the FFVD’s onboard systems are mature designs, already fielded to global land forces, among them the UT30MK2 turret, an operational turret now in service in several nations. The IRON FIST series of active protection systems (APS) is being fielded on the US Army’s BRADLEY and will be carried on Netherland’s CV90 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The IRON FIST was reported by Mr Nuckols to be the “lightest weight, most capable hard-kill APS available today around the world.” Another operationally tested, onboard system is the Commander Open Architecture Panoramic Sight, said “to be fielded worldwide.”
The FFVD’s architecture is also modular, as evident in the armour and onboard weapons systems.
The demonstrator vehicle was put through its paces for the US Army in Israel two months ago. “We’ll likely be doing a demonstration with US Army next year – this has not been announced yet,” Mr Nuckols concluded.