Raytheon Technologies and American Rheinmetall Vehicles will use artificial intelligence (AI) to operate the LYNX Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) with two soldiers and a third virtual crew member. It looks like a regular fighting vehicle: but it’s a lot more than that.
The companies are developing an IFV that can conduct close-combat operations, survive modern threats like anti-tank guided missiles and cyber attacks, and use AI to help the crew make split-second decisions. If there’s a crew at all, that is; it can also be operated remotely.
The vehicle, Rheinmetall’s LYNX KF41 IFV, will be the foundation for the team’s proposed design to the US Army for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV), which will replace the aging BRADLEY fleet. The design is built on decades of experience in key combat programmes and user feedback. It includes a US-manufactured chassis produced by Textron Systems and a next-generation transmission by Allison Transmissions.
“The future battlefield calls for a digitally-connected fighting vehicle that can outpace the enemy,” states Pat McCormack, a former Army BRADLEY master gunner and now a capability analyst at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
BRADLEYs traditionally have a three-soldier crew: commander, gunner and driver. The new OMFV will have two soldiers and an AI-powered virtual third crew member to help the humans on board think, decide and act faster. “We will design a vehicle where artificial intelligence detects, identifies and tracks a target, but leaves the engagement decision to the soldier,” McCormack explained.
Modern automation will allow a two-person crew to manoeuvre across the battlefield and watch for threats. When the system finds a threat, it will classify it and assign it a priority, after which soldiers can decide whether and how to engage. This reduces their cognitive load and number of simultaneous demands. The vehicle will be similar to a sophisticated semi-autonomous car, with computers and algorithms doing lots of analysis but people making the final decisions.
“Artificial intelligence is a big leap forward with any fighting vehicle,” stated Brad Barnard, Director of the OMFV programme at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Not only will AI assume a role, it will increase situational awareness and survivability.”
The LYNX IFV is a next-generation, tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed to address the critical challenges of the future battlefield. The LYNX team is using digital engineering to build detailed, accurate computer models to ensure that new capabilities, such as aided target recognition (ATR), are compatible with the vehicle. It allows them to connect multiple points of model data into one database, also called a ‘single source of truth.’
“We will virtually build, analyse and refine the LYNX design as we progress,” said Wes Kremer, President of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “And we’ll ensure digital technology enablers, like AI-enabled aided target recognition, provide soldiers every advantage on the battlefield.” The team will install ATR or other technologies virtually, to iterate and assess impacts on the entire system. This reduces integration efforts and risk before manufacturing prototypes or installing hardware.
A computerised testbed allows them to create the vehicle virtually — testing it on different terrains and modelling combat simulations — then export the digital model to build a physical version.
That’s only the beginning. The team will look to install other automated programmes on the OMFV, in which AI will help spread the workload. As part of the assessment, the team will examine how effectively AI assumes a portion of a crew member’s tasks. AI is driving a revolution in the way military systems are designed and built, and it will change the way soldiers carry out missions.
“Designing and testing virtually in a digital environment is revolutionising our rapid learning,” Kremer said. “The results are dramatic; we can give our front-line warfighters advanced capabilities that allow them to face whatever challenges the future fight entails.”
The Army plans to have its BRADLEY replacement in the field in 2028.