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Equipping the Next Generation of Armored Vehicles

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Employees at RDECOM ARDEC Benét Laboratories are working on the primary weapon assembly for the Mounted Combat System.
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The MGV common chassis

The Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program seeks to transform Army forces into smaller, lighter, more deployable units that will be able to meet the challenges and demands of future operational environments. The Mounted Combat System (MCS) is one of the variants in the FCS family of vehicles that will share a common chassis; the Manned Ground Vehicle. MCS will feature the XM360 120mm gun as the primary weapon assembly, which will provide direct fire in support of direct assaults, as well as Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) fire to influence the battlespace up to eight kilometers away. This gun will incorporate several new technologies to enable Soldiers to defeat a full spectrum of threats on the battlefield.

During the Systems Design and Development phase, the U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems delegated responsibility for systems integration, fielding and sustainment planning to a Lead System Integrator (LSI). The LSI, in turn contracted for the MCS variant to General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). After an exhaustive worldwide search, GDLS selected the Army Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) Benet Laboratories XM360 Gun as their primary weapon assembly for the MCS.

The XM360 will provide the MCS with the capability to defeat the next generation of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and provide direct support to dismounted infantry during the tactical assault by destroying bunkers, and breaching walls. These capabilities will provide the battlefield commander with a wide range of options during combat operations.

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The MCS will provide line of site (LOS) and beyond line of site (BLOS) offensive firepower capability

Some of the challenges the designers faced in developing a gun system for the MCS were weight and lethality. The lighter weight 105mm weapon systems could not provide the lethality to defeat the next generation of MBTs, and some of the existing 120mm systems were too heavy and not capable of being integrated onto a 20-ton vehicle. By developing new high-strength steel and using a composite overwrapped 44 caliber tube assembly, designers at ARDEC were able to create a gun that is more than 2,000 lbs lighter than the 120mm gun on the M1 Abrams tank. The XM360 also employs a new muzzle brake design to reduce the firing shock to the vehicle and the crew while minimizing blast overpressure on the vehicle hull. Another system advancement is the automated ammunition handling system, which reduces crew fatigue, enhancing crew performance and sustainability.

The XM360 will be able to fire all current 120mm rounds as well as those currently in development, including the Mid-Range Munition (MRM), which will provide lethality at BLOS ranges; the Advanced Kinetic Energy (AKE) munition, which will provide the MCS with an unguided direct fire Line of Sight (LOS) fast response to defeat current and future threat MBTs with explosive reactive armor; and the Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) munition, which is effective against various targets including personnel, bunkers, artillery, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Army plans for the first FCS unit to be equipped in 2014 and initial operational capability in 2015.

For further information contact:
Office of Research and Technology Applications
Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, 07806-5000
(973) 724-7953

Picatinny, Home of American Firepower