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HSTV-L Light Tank
United States of America


HSTV-L Light Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
HSTV-L Light Tank
Former Prototype
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Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.


The HSTV-L (High Survivability Test Vehicle – Lightweight) is a former prototype, sometimes described as either a light tank or reconnaissance vehicle or Airborne Assault Vehicle.

The HSTV-L development started as not only a requirement to replace the US Armies M551 Sheridan, but also to provide an armoured fighting vehicle that could be air-dropped as part of the US Army Rapid Deployment Force (RDF).


Despite the M551 being manufactured in high numbers during the 1960’s, the development of its replacement started in the 1970’s due to reliability issues.

Developed by the AAi Corporation under the direction of the US Armies Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), the platform featured several technologic advances, which focused on rapid detection and engagement of the enemy.

The fire control system featured a Commanders Independent Sight, allowing the commander to scan for targets independently of the gunner using his own sight.

Both sights featured a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) channel for night times operations. The FCS featured a ballistics computer relying on information from the laser range finder, wind sensor and muzzle reference sensor.

The main gun was the 75mm ARES XM274 smoothbore. The gun’s design focused on two key areas (i) moving away from HEAT ammunition (as it was feared at the time that a new armour would be developed to defeat HEAT) in favour of Kinetic Energy penetrators (SABOT rounds) and (ii) rapid, automated firing.

This was achieved by opting for an automatic loading system. Rather than the typical horizontal loading mechanism commonly seen in Russian tanks, the XM274 used a swinging breach mechanism that would face vertically upwards when being loaded from the magazine below (which would push the spent casing of the previous round out of the breach) that would then swing horizontally closed to the barrel ready for firing.

This automated firing system could achieve a fire rate of 2 rounds a second, which was limited to 1 round per second. However, the crew and fire control system could not keep up with this rate in terms of detection and engagement.

In addition to the KE rounds aka Fin Rounds aka Sabot rounds, the XM274 fired a High Explosive round used for light skin vehicles, infantry, and buildings.

The turret aka “The Universal Turret” was manned by the commander only. The gunners and drive were located in the hull. This type layout afforded the designers the ability to move the ammunition and loading system nearer to the swinging breach, which also aided in the guns remarkable rate of fire.

The reduction of the crew to three, contributed to the vehicles smaller size, increased mobility and reduced weight for air-deployment.

Trials started in 1982 and continued into the late 80’s. The vehicle did not enter service and the export version developed by AAi Corporation; the RDF/LT also failed to attract any orders. This was due to the fact that the 75mm calibre rounds becoming obsolete.


Main Gun
75mm ARES XM274 smoothbore
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun
Ammunition Storage
x60 75mm
650hp Lycoming 650 gas turbine
Automatic x4 speed
Top Road Speed
Road Range
Fuel Capacity
409 Litres
Vertical Obstacle
Water Capability
Trench Crossing
Side Slope
Length Gun Forward
336 inches
Length Hull
233 inches
110 inches
56 inches (hull top)
Ground Clearance
20 inches
14.5 tonne ?
NBC Protected
Standard Armor(s) Type
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
Commander, Gunner, Driver