Starting with the MGS. This is the first one that I've ever crawled over. Some surprises, some pleasant, some less so.
The regular autoloader, which is located in the turret itself, is just eight rounds. However, the replenisher in the back carries an additional eight, and can automatically replenish the autoloader without the crew having to leave their seats. So in effect, you get 16 ready-to-fire rounds, you just have to be careful about the sequence in which the various types are loaded and fired. The inventory system is carried out by a panel located between the TC and gunner, so either can see and control it. For all the jokes about the Russian autoloaders eating the gunner's arm, it seems that the only thing which keeps the turret crew's arms from being mashed is what the crewman called "NASCAR Netting", which is held in place by velcro and keeps the crewmen's limbs out of the path of the autoloading system. I can't say that the ammunition is particularly well armoured, or separated from the crew.
I am still not massively enthralled by the ergonomics of the gunner's station. There is a bit more legroom than in the gunner's seat of the tank or Brad, but I found it very difficult to get to the magnification switch: The Aux sight gets in the way. Granted, I have large hands, but it seems to be a choice between crushing your right hand between the GPS and Aux sight or looping your left hand all the way up and over your head. Charging the M240 is carried out by a good, old-fashioned cable which runs all the way up to the gun. The gunner can also attach additional 7.62mm link to the belt without leaving his seat: Spare ammo boxes are stowed in the hull, and can be accessed by a neat feature of sliding turret basket panels. On the downside, the ready bin is tiny: 200 rounds, plus whatever it takes to get to the gun. Apparently some units in Iraq are making a field modification using a 20mm ammo can tied to the turret roof. Can't be replenished from within the vehicle, but lasts a lot longer.
The CITV is located well to the rear of the turret, but has remarkably good range of vision, including excellent depression, particularly over the side. Daylight and TIS modes, but monochrome only. It's not armoured, but instead can descent into the armoured compartment.
And... the TC's pintle. Nothing dramatic.
This is Oshkosh's Bull.
It pretty much makes a Bradley look wimpy. Remember I'm 6'5, and my camera was at eye level. Note that getting in the driver's seat requires a seven-foot ladder.
The sales brochure. I note it doesn't prominently mention weight.
The sales rep said it has 17" of armour on each side, to deal with EFPs. I believe it. It's quite possibly the most bomb/blast survivable vehicle I've ever seen. I can't think of a practical use for it, maybe convoy escort, but it'll keep you alive.
The sales pitch says it carries six guys, but there are at least eight seats in the back. This isn't something which you can egress from quickly.
The smaller, 4x4 MRAP I pictured in the earlier post is apparently called a "Cheetah," by Force Protection. Haven't found out much more about it.
The small little roof windows are surprisingly effective, though possibly just because "a little bit of visibility" is a great improvement over "None." Has a fire detection and suppression system. From reading the brochures, it seems that the M1151A1/M1152A1/M1165A1 can come with optional "B" kits, the difference being that the 1152 has "B2" and 1165 has "B3", which are armour upgrades. The standard vehicle, per the brochure, underbody armour, rocker armour, lower windscreen deflector armour and energy absorbing seats. "B" kits add "perimeter armour", overhead armour and a rear ballistic bulkhead. You can also add the Frag kits: Frag 1 is side and door perimeter protection, Frag 2 is front cowl and wheel wells, Frag 5 is door and single movement combat lock. No, I don't know what they mean, I'm just typing from the brochure
The days of teambuilding exercises by getting a bunch of people to try ramming a gun tube may be over.
This bore brush is made of silicon carbide feelers, and spins around in the tube, cleaning it.
It runs off the slave port, and you can push it the length of the tube with just one hand.
Textron/Cadillac-Gage are still selling Guardian variants. Apparently this recon version (ASV RSTA)is built to Canadian specs. Don't know if it's a proposal or a sale, I thought the Canadians already had recon Piranhas.
It carries four dismounts in addition to the crew, the vehicle is lengthened by two feet.
This is the heavier ASV
Note the clamshell doors, which are power-assisted because of the weight. It's got a couple of inches of additional armour all around, and larger windows, but is the short-wheelbase version.
A couple of pics of the Bradley technology demonstrator.
They had considered making the CITV elevatable instead of having the mast in the back, but it's too heavy to raise as it's armoured: This mast in the back can be much lighter as it retracts all the way into the compartment. The turret access hatch is much bigger than on the previous vehicle, but as it was a bit of a kludge I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the internal turret layout being the final answer. Seems to be they're settling on a crew of four (BC, GNR, DVR, SensOp) and three dismounts. However, we know that's not going to be a cavalry vehicle from the intended cav plan. They've put an aux sight next to the 25mm, right where the GAS is on the tank. Of course, it's actually a TV camera with an independent power source.
Also asked what the plan was for keeping the cameras clean on the corners if it got muddy. Was told "Well, we drove it around NTC and didn't seem to suffer any degradation in visibility..."
Right next to them was a stand for "360 SA", which is an interesting idea which uses a single camera mounted on a pole to provide complete 360 degree visibility by use of hemispherical mirrors, optics, and some clever computing. Gives excellent visibility coverage.
This is what the Marines are putting on the loader's station of the M1.
In fielding, they've decided to get rid of the joystick and have moved to a playstation-style controller on a cable. Mainly, I'd say, because it takes up less room.
One of the Kongsberg RWS counterparts.
Full stabilisation, and I was highly impressed by the capability of the camera. Excellent range of focus both in (colour) TV and TIS modes, and everything controlled from the handle.
Closeup of the CSAMS system, with a co-ax spotlight as mounted on the A2 Tusk. The TC has his own hand-held spotlight.
The new driver's seat. Seems to be by the same company that did the impact-resistant seats for the Leopards.
Upgraded RWS for the M1A1 AIM (SA)
The TC's x3 sight has been replaced by a relaxed viewer for this thermal (x4 or so), and they've installed a camera in the old sight periscope to allow daylight viewing, switch between the two on the viewer. The RWS itself retains the power/manual traverse and hand-crank elevation.
Other SA features include the tank telephone (They didn't seem to like my suggestion of putting a 'doorbell' on the outside of the box, just to say "Don't go in reverse, I'm trying to open the box and get to the handset!"), the M1A2 SEP's FLIR with Far Target Locate (i.e. lase to target, it gives you a grid), and the driver's thermal imager. Honeywell are doing the current batch of engine rebuilds, they're calling it the "TIGER" engine. In addition to rebuilding to a like-new state (including building a lot of spare parts) it also incorporates minor redesign features to improve serviceability and reliability. Only problem is that the tank they have on the advertising brochure isn't of an (SA). It's not even a Heavy Common: It was my platoon sergeant's tank. I think they saw the BFT and said 'what the hey! Who can tell?' I say, "Ha!"
Can't decide if you want a rifle or a 12-gauge shotgun? Get both!
I think this stand won the "My jaw dropped" award. PEO Soldier.
The sight on the rifle is a thermal sight. It's a lot smaller than the ones which I thought were pretty damned cool when I deployed in 2004. Another company had a similar one which would pick up footsteps on the carpet. But the piece de resistance is the monocle on the helmet. It's another thermal imager. Not only that, it's a fusion sight, it has image intensifier ability as well, and both can be combined into one picture. Looking through it is just.. well.. jawdropping. Excellent resolution. Currently being fielded to the SOCOM guys. I'll bet it costs stupid amount of dollars apiece. Probably well worth it, it makes PVS-14s, which I thought were pretty decent, obsolescent overnight. You need to bring spare batteries, mind, but, damn.
BAE are still flogging the AMTV.
They are claiming that the Vice Chief had stated that he wants all M113 variants to "Go away" by a certain date. That's a hell of a lot of M113s. That said, there's no doubt that this Brad variant is a lot more capable than the M113 ambulance.
Re-verified with Raytheon about Wireless TOW, and sure enough, that's all they're making now. There is no change required to the launching platform, there is a transceiver mounted on the launch tube itself, so the firing platform doesn't actually know the difference. The problem is that the tube is now a different shape, so the missile racks in a Brad, for example, can no longer hold them and need modifying.