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Mounted Combat System (MCS)

The Mounted Combat System (MCS) provides direct and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) offensive firepower capability allowing UAs to close with and destroy enemy forces in support of the operations plan. The Mounted Combat System (MCS) delivers precision fires at a rapid rate to destroy multiple targets at standoff ranges quickly and complements the fires of other systems in the Unit of Action (UA). It is highly mobile and maneuvers out of contact to positions of advantage. It is capable of providing direct support to the dismounted infantry in an assault, defeating bunkers, and breaching walls during the tactical assault. The Mounted Combat System (MCS) also provides Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) fires through the integrated sensor network. Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) fires from a Mounted Combat System (MCS) provide in-depth destruction of point targets up to 8 kilometers away from the target. This capability significantly increases the options available to the Unit of Action (UA) commander for the destruction of point targets through the integrated fires network enhancing SoS lethality. The Mounted Combat System (MCS) will consist of the common Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) chassis and an autoloading line of sight and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) capabilities.

The Future Combat System Mounted Combat System (MCS) is an assault vehicle that will employ a 120-mm weapon. The Mounted Combat System (MCS) provides Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) offensive firepower capability allowing BCTs to close with and destroy enemy forces. The MCS delivers precision fires at a rapid rate to destroy multiple targets at standoff ranges quickly and complements the fires of other systems in the BCT.

It is highly mobile and maneuvers out of contact to positions of advantage. It is capable of providing direct support to the dismounted infantry in an assault, defeating bunkers, and breaching walls during the tactical assault. When employing the Mid-Range Munition (MRM), the MCS also provides BLOS fires to destroy point targets through the integrated sensor network. This capability enhances SoS lethality and significantly increases the options available to the BCT commander for the destruction of point targets through the integrated fires network. MCS shares a common chassis with the other FCS Manned Ground Vehicles and consists of Light Weight (LW) 120mm Cannon and an Ammunition Handling System.

Analysis concluded that 105mm weapon systems could not provide lethality necessary to defeat the next generation Main battle tank; existing 120mm systems worldwide were too heavy and not integratable onto a preferred 20 ton class vehicle. The 120mm LOS/BLOS S&T ATD produced a Lightweight 120mm Gun Assembly. The Initial Proof-of-Principle Gun designed, built, fired in 13 months, compared to 24 month average. The Gun Assembly Weight was ~4200 lbs. as compared to M256 Abrams 120mm main armament weight of 6800 lbs. It reduced gun firing impulse for integration in 20 Ton class vehicles, 5300 lb-sec vs. 7000 for M256. It had the ability to fire both current & developmental 120mm rounds - 5 current rounds + 3 new rounds. The program developed enabling fabrication techniques, such as a new steel w/ 20% higher yield strength. The integrated muzzle brake, saved ~200 lbs in gun weight. The Lighter Composite over wrapped gun tube (lower weight without loss of pressure containment, over 35% lighter than the M256. The Gun Technology was demonstrated on over 730 rounds of live fire testing on various iterations. Successfully completed in FY05 and transitioned to LSI.

This will be the primary weapon for the Mounted Combat System. It provides direct fire in support of forces in the Unit of Action (UA). It has a Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) capability to 12 km with Medium Range Munitions (MRM). All the Performance of Current 120mm Cannon in a Light Weight, Compact Design. Over 2,000 lbs lighter than 120mm Gun used on Abrams Tank. Muzzle Brake & Recoil System Design Enables a 120mm Gun to fire from a 20 Ton Vehicle.

United States Army armor companies equipped with M1-series tanks are currently conducting stability and support operations following a period of high intensity conflict in Iraq. Simultaneously, the United States Army is pursuing its transformation to the Future Force. The general trend in both Department of Defense and U.S. Army transformation efforts calls for lighter, more deployable units to meet the demands of the future operational environment. This trend is evident in the armor company equivalent of the future-the Mounted Combat System company. MCS companies will have lighter and fewer vehicles as well as fewer personnel than current tank companies. These factors will make the company more readily deployable, while anticipated technological windfalls are to ensure that the MCS company is capable of full spectrum operations. The windfalls purportedly will enable forces like the MCS company to attain a level of situational awareness that allows units to develop situations out of contact and kill enemy targets at extended ranges.

In March and April 2004, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) ride motion simulator (RMS) was used to simulate the effects of gun firing shock on a Hybrid III instrumented anthropometric test device capable of measuring neck force and torque and head acceleration. The RMS was used to simulate the dynamic motion of two MCS crew positions during weapon firing scenarios: the driver and the gunner. Firing scenarios ranged in azimuth from 0 to 180 degrees and in elevation from -10 to 30 degrees. The raw data for this project were collected by the Motion Base Technologies Team of TARDEC and their contractors. The data were sent to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) Human Research Engineering Directorate for analysis. Biomechanics researchers at ARL were tasked with relating the neck force and torque and head accelerations to establish injury criteria for the neck and head. Data from the Hybrid III manikin were compared to the standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Based on the standards used by NHTSA, the acceleration of the head and the forces and torques experienced by the driver's and gunner's necks during weapon firing are less than the injury criteria for the 50th percentile male. Resulting injury rates were nearly zero for head injuries but were as high as 0.13 (13%) for moderate neck injuries and as high as 0.023 (2.3%) for critical neck injuries. It is important to note that the injury criteria being applied are based on single impulse events, such as a vehicle hitting a tree, and are not necessarily appropriate for multiple impulse events such as repeated weapon firing, which is a major limitation of this study.

Crew size has become a critical issue in military vehicle design. To meet the goals of the Objective Force vision, FCS must be responsive, deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, and sustainable (Unit of Action Maneuver Battle Lab, 2003). These characteristics, in turn, suggest smaller, lighter weight vehicles. The change in vehicle design has led system designers to propose a reduction in FCS crew size. Crew size is a critical issue for FCS systems, specifically the mounted combat system (MCS) platform, because of the deployability constraints of using the C-130 aircraft (Unit of Action Maneuver Battle Lab, 2002). With space and weight at a premium, minimizing crew size without sacrificing operational capability is critical to stay within the C-130 dimension constraints.

It is also important to acknowledge that FCS will require crew members to be very responsive and to perform multiple mission functions. If the crew workload exceeds their capability to perform their assigned tasks, performance of the FCS may decline and the requirements of the Army's Objective Force vision may not be met. Therefore, system analysts must determine the optimum number of crew members, the best allocation of tasks among those crew members, and how technology can assist those crew members in their mission.

The MCS mission profile shows that the MCS crew could expect, on average, 15 line of sight (LOS) engagements and 31 beyond line of sight (BLOS) engagements during a 72-hour high intensity conflict scenario (Unit of Action Maneuver Battle Lab, 2003). If the BLOS capability is unavailable for Increment 1, then LOS missions could increase. Also, if the enemy can develop tactics, techniques, and procedures to mask their forces from U.S. sensors, dismounted enemy "hunter-killer" teams are proliferated on the battlefield or if the network is not working, limiting the common operational picture (COP), then LOS engagements for FCS MCS platforms could increase. Therefore, this study focused on the crew size and operator workload of the LOS engagement, which could be considered one of the most dangerous FCS missions.

If one crew member in a two-soldier crew design is functioning as a driver, then the other crew member must perform all the commanding and gunning functions. The two- versus three-soldier issue then becomes an issue of whether the other crew member can perform these functions successfully and concurrently. Motivated by the needs of organizations such as the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity and the Future Combat System (FCS) lead system integrator, Boeing-Science Applications International Corporation, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) decided to take the initiative to investigate this issue. The focus of this trade study was to determine the viability of transitioning to a two-soldier crew for the line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) platforms in the early FCS force designs for Increment 1. The LOS-BLOS platform is now called the mounted combat system (MCS).

The two- versus three-soldier crew analysis was conducted with task-network models built with the computer simulation tool, Improved Performance Research Integration Tool (IMPRINT). IMPRINT was developed by ARL to evaluate possible system performance by calculating the mental workload associated with each operator to complete a specified mission. Within this trade study, these missions were simulated with networks of functions and tasks representative of possible missions that would be performed by FCS MCS crew members. This study focused on the LOS engagement portion of the MCS mission.

The initial IMPRINT models were developed from existing IMPRINT models of other combat platforms. While the MCS platform should have greater capabilities than its predecessor, the functions of driving, shooting, and communicating are fundamentally the same. FCS concepts seek to equip the MCS crew with technology to enhance their mission performance. These initial models were to be the baseline concept, and the desire was to add technology to the models as applicable. Unfortunately, technology that could affect operator workload such as the ability to off-load driving during dynamic combat operations were not mature enough to allow for accurate model depiction and will not likely be available for FCS Increment 1. Therefore, this functionality was not included in models.

Results of the modeling efforts show that a two-soldier crew for the MCS platform would create a high risk of not meeting necessary system performance requirements. For vehicles whose primary mission is not a combat mission, such as the command and control vehicle, reconnaissance and search vehicle, non-line of sight cannon or mortar, and infantry carrier vehicle, the two-soldier crew may be a lower risk. The results of this study were influential in changing the FCS MCS crew member requirement from two to three in the operational requirements document (25 Nov 2002). This change is also reflected in the operational and organizational plan (25 Nov 2002).




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