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Expeditionary Tank
United States of America

Expeditionary Tank

Expeditionary Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
1985
Expeditionary Tank
Status
Former Prototype
Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Table of Contents

Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Introduction

The Expeditionary Tank is a former light tank that was developed as a private venture by its manufacturer, Teledyne Vehicle Systems (part of General Dynamic Land Systems since 1996) and would find itself as one of the contenders for the US Army “Armored Gun System” program. Its unique turret was later used on other demonstrator vehicles and the M1128 Mobile Gun System.

Background

Entering production in 1966, the M551 Sheridan was developed for the US Army and was initially described as a Light Tank, which was later changed to Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle.

Despite 1600+ M551 being built, TACOM (Tank-automotive and Armaments Command) started to seek a replacement for the vehicle in the 1970’s.

The 75 and 76mm Gun Light Tanks

The HSTV(L) Prototype

The initial vehicles included the HSTV-L by the AAi Corporation and a loosely based series of prototypes known as RDF/LT (Rapid Deployment Force Light Tank) also developed by AAi in the late 1970’s and trialled in the early 1980’s. The vehicles never progressed beyond the prototype stage due to the size of their main guns being inadequate at defeating future Soviet tank armour.

US Army Rapid Deployment Force

In 1979, a new requirement was added to the M551 replacement, the creation of the US Army “Rapid Deployment Force”. It was felt at the time that the deployment of its conventional Armoured and Mechanised forces would take to long to be shipped and deployed in a potential conflict in the Middle East or Pacific region.

The RDF would therefore feature more lightly armoured vehicles and infantry that could be air-transported and dropped into a “flash point” within 96 hours, before the conflict escalated into full blown war.

The RDF was matured into the RDJTF in 1980 and in 1983, it was replaced by “The United States Central Command” (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM).

The 1980’s and 105mm armed Light Tanks

M8 Armoured Gun System

During the 1980’s, several US Defence contractors started development on a number of light tanks armed with the more capable 105mm Rifled M68 main gun as used at the time on the M1 Abrams. The M68’s ammunition was deemed capable of defeating Soviet armour.

These Light Tanks were the Close Combat Vehicle, Light (CCVL) by FMC Corporation (1983), Cadillac Gage’s Stingray light tank (1985) and the Teledyne Vehicle Systems, Expeditionary Tank (1985).

The next program for the M551’s replacement was the “Armoured Gun System”. The Expeditionary Tank was submitted to the program in 1992.

Expeditionary Tank Status

The first hull was completed in 1983 and the Low-Profile Turret (LPT) in 1984. Both were married together in 1985 ready for trials. At least three different prototypes with main gun reconfigurations were documented.

The Expeditionary vehicle was deemed to be to heavy for the AGS program. Other issues included the effectiveness of firing on the move and limitation of all round situational awareness from the commanders cupola due to the main gun.

The eventual winner of the AGS program was the CCVL, which was then designated the M8 Armoured Gun System. However, despite a contract being awarded to FMC Corporation in 1992 for the M8, the AGS program was cancelled in 1996 and the M8 did not enter serial production.

Firepower

The Expeditionary Tank featured an unmanned Low-Profile Turret (LPT) that was armed with a 105mm rifled main gun. The 105mm model changed on different prototypes. The initial and middle prototypes used the M68. When General Dynamics joined the project, the EX-35 105mm rifled main gun was installed on the final prototype. This can be identified by the muzzle brake having multiple holes in it.

The vehicle used the ARCS autoloader located in the bottom of the turret. It featured a nine-round magazine, which was fed by two ten-round transfer drums, giving the vehicle an impressive total of 29 rounds of ready to fire ammunition. In the rear of the vehicle was an additional 13 rounds, which would have been loaded manually.

The computerised fire control system was considered by the US Army to be as accurate as the one used on the M60 A3 Main Battle Tank. A coaxial Machine Gun was added on the middle prototype and a Machine Gun mounted on the commanders cupola.

Protection

The vehicles layout gave the crew additional protection. The commander (right) and gunner (left) were located below the turret ring, making it impossible to hit them or knock out the turret whilst in a dug out. Added mine protection came in the form a double spaced hull floor.

The hull was constructed of hardened steel with some type of composite, which offered the crew protection against heavy machine gun fire and artillery shell splinters. An Appliqué Armour package capable of withstanding up to 23mm chain gun ammunition over the frontal arc could be installed if required.

 

Mobility

It was fully air-transportable and could be air-dropped by several different aircraft including the C-130. It benefited from the usage of shared parts to reduce maintenance and operating costs such as the M56 main gun as used on the M1 Abrams and both the same transmission and 500hp engine as used on the M2 Bradley. The vehicle reportedly had an impressive power to weight ratio, giving it great acceleration and agility.

Variants and Marks

Centurion LPT Demonstrator

Centurion LPT Tank Demonstrator

After loosing out to the M8 on the AGS Program, Teledyne decided to target the export market, namely countries operating out dated tanks, but using the L7 (or copies) 105mm rifled main gun. Installing their LPT system in dated platforms like the M60A1, Leopard 1 and even older, the Centurion would modernise the vehicle with the latest in firepower technology and protection at the fraction of the cost of trialling and purchasing new Main Battle Tanks for the operator.

Teledyne built a demonstrator using a Centurion Mk5 tank. The vehicles hull was visibly different and featured new armour and reportedly a more powerful engine. Despite the many advantages of the proposed upgrade, no orders were placed and the project ended in the 1990’s.

GDLS Canada LAV LTP

Not to be confused with the LAV 600 or LAV 150, the LAV ATP was a project to integrate the LTP system into an 8×8 LAV-II (the basis for the USMC LAV-25) during the 1990’s.

The vehicle would provide any potential operator of the LAV-II an anti-tank version to support the standard Infantry Fighting Vehicle version.

General Dynamics married the ATP to a LAV II in 1997 for trials later that year. The project was aimed for existing LAV operators such as the USMC, Canada and Saudi Arabia, but failed to attract any orders. The vehicle was the perfect test bed and may have influenced the development of the M1128 Mobile Gun System.

ASCOD Pizarro with LTP

ASCOD LTP Turret
ASCOD LTP Turret

The Austrian ASCOD Pizarro Infantry Fighting Vehicle has a modular capability and proven capable of being married to a number of modular turret systems, including the LTP turret.

M1128 Mobile Gun System

M1128 Mobile Gun System

The Low-Profile Turret (LPT) was used on the M1128 Mobile Gun System, which was the winner of the Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) program, which was the program that followed the cancellation of the AGS. The vehicle was developed using a modified LAV-III 8×8 vehicle married to a modified LPT Turret. A total of 142 vehicles were built for the US Army but were withdrawn from service in 2022.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
105mm rifled M56 / EX-35
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Commanders 7.62.mm Machine Gun
Ammunition Storage
x42 105mm Ammunition
Engine
500hp Cummins VTA-903T diesel
Transmission
HMPT-500 hydro-mechanical
Top Road Speed
50 mph
Road Range
300 Miles
Fuel Capacity
170 Gallons
Vertical Obstacle
0.83m
Water Capability
1.21m
Trench Crossing
2.56m
Gradient
60%
Side Slope
40%
Length Gun Forward
7.49m
Length Hull
?
Width
2.69m
Height
2.8m
Ground Clearance
?
Weight
21 Tonnes
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Composite
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Laminated
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Driver