Video: New Armored Vehicles Replace Armor with Agility

GVX-TThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency released a video (below) of what its engineers have in mind for its next generation armored vehicle.

Army and Marine officials have said their service’s combat vehicle must get lighter but remain protected on the battlefield. Lightening armor has remained a focus for years.

DARPA wants to accomplish the goal of lightening armored vehicles, but not simply with next generation armor. The Pentagon’s research lab wants to design vehicles that can dodge tank rounds and RPGs within the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program.

In September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will host a proposer’s day to give potential contractors a more clear idea of what the Defense Department wants in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program.


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Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • B.Fett

    Looks cool but very lucky there are no obstacles on those nice empty roads it’s scooting round. Hull looks well designed to deflect blast from IEDs and mines but what will happen to it’s little leg wheels?

    • commenter

      Even an MRAP is basically dead (mobility kill) if it hits a mine/IED of a certain size. It’s just that the crew survivability is high.

  • Andy

    Now the Chinese will copy the IDEA…

  • notmyname

    I noticed it’s good a duck and cover, but it didn’t engage and destroy anything.

  • Bernard

    This is hilarious. I really hope we aren’t stupid enough to spend millions on this.

    *Looks at F35*
    We’re screwed. :-(

    Seriously, helicopters can already do this much better and they still get shot down with RPG’s. Also, dodging mach 5 tank shells is not going to be that easy. Bullets are much slower, so unless this thing is Neo from the Matrix, I don’t buy it.

  • Dfens

    More research for the sake of funding. Why doesn’t DARPA set up a reasonable test track with dummy IED’s and rocket propelled paint grenades. They could hold a competition and guarantee the vendor that shows up with the best vehicle prototype $100 million? It’s probably less than they’ll spend on doughnuts for this boondoggle. No, instead they’ll ask for an endless pack of lies and spend your hard earned money on the lie they most want to believe is true. Did I use that word, “competition”? Obviously I’m not an American from this century.

  • Lance

    This concept would not go well if we did goto war with Russia or China. They also have smart weapons and so less armor means a easy one shot one kill for them.

    • Andy

      Russia and China don’t have Squad.

  • Val

    Wouldn’t even need a “tank” like this if the Army adopted the M8. Just put an Active Protection system on a Light tank or stealthed IFV with a missile launcher instead of a turret or make it more like the PL-01.

    • APS isn’t really effective against kinetic energy systems. RPG, yes. Sabot, no.

      • ohwilleke

        Lot of military opponents don’t have heavy kinetic energy systems once air power takes out their tanks and artillery batteries or much of anything bigger than the .50 caliber bullet. Armor up to stop the light kinetic systems, use APS to address the explosive ones.

    • Nick

      I believe you’re correct about these types of platforms for a rapid deployment force involving Airborne or “light” units. There are going to be situations that will definitely require a heavier, more protected “tank”. However, the PL-01 concept absolutely needs to be addressed or we will be a victim of our own arrogant thinking regarding our “technological superiority”.

  • blight_qwerty

    An automatic bullet-based suppression function would be nice.

    • Chuck

      You mean like mini-CIWSs? Yeah, that would be great.

  • Nathan

    interesting concept, but the idea of the vehicle anticipating projectiles and shrinking to avoid them, as well as quick response acceleration like seen above, seems very ambitious. Lots of obstacles ahead if they are wanting to get this to work. One additional question, if these are hypothetically one day to replace tanks, what kind of weapons systems would they carry? hopefully enough to take out tanks like the one above. Yet another obstacle that would bog down weight.

  • rtsy

    I’m not sure anyone has taken into account the gee forces on the guys inside this high tech wheeled coffin.

    Evading an RPG or tank round would at the very least disorient the crew if not turn them into a bloody smear.

    This does however come off as a plausible design for a wheeled fully expendable drone.

    • rtsy

      As a side note: whats the deal with the huge slab of armour that materializes from nowhere?

      Are we supposed to believe that it folds away nicely to hide is shape AND mass when its not being instantaneously deployed?

    • W.R.Monger

      i was thinking the same thing, make it an RPV (or UGV if you prefer) any unused space within the hull can be used to retrieve downed combatants and resupply those still in the fight. it’s a fact that the fighter aircraft that we now have easily out fly the pilots, this appears to be the same. the vehicle could out perform any driver so why not make it unmanned? then the G forces wouldn’t injure whomever is driving and you could actually do some of those outlandish manuvers. also make it electric to silence it and make it quicker. the weapon system could be somehting like the Raven system. it can be done they just have to think outside the box.

  • Kostas

    dodging has a very specific limitation: the negative acceleration humans can survive and this is set in -3gs. Therefore I have significant doubts on whether dodging can achieve the necessary speed to avoid the incoming tank round.

  • KNO3

    Ah, the Battlecruiser theory is back and proposed for vehicles. An idea obsolete since what 1908 or so…

    DARPA IQ test fail!

  • Lurker

    It’s easy to mock and ridicule ideas like this, but this is DARPA’s job: To come up with crazy, high risk-high payoff ideas that sound absurd but could revolutionize and disrupt the status quo. Something could come out of this, or maybe nothing will. It could be a dead end or it could lead to a huge shift in how armored vehicles are designed and operate. I think anyone looking to advance armored vehicle technology should be congratulated, because something needs to break the current cycle of bigger explosives –> more armor that’s led to the hulking monstrosities we have now.

    • Barney Rubble

      But this idea is not at all a payoff idea…but a pay in blood idea

    • ohwilleke

      Lots of the most intense ground wars in the world are being fought with infantry in old school jeeps and pickup trucks. The vast majority of the MBTs owned by Russia and the US have been decomissioned and most of the new designs are 40 tons or less v. 70 tons for an M1A1 Abrahms MBT. There is something to the lighter, faster, more manuverable mantra. The trouble is that the analysis needs to have a better grasp of when and why it makes sense to make the tradeoffs, rather than doing so because it is the current fad.

  • Jeff

    This concept attempts to address that it’s simply not feasible to put every last unit in tanks. There is just simply too much opportunity cost and logistics cost associated with weight especially when you get into specific roles.

    The battlecruiser analogy: several people use this as justification for why mobility and agility fail. The counter-point is the dreadnought analogy: if we armor up every vehicle so heavily we end up with vehicles that limited in their deployability by being too costly to deploy in the necessary numbers to make up for the lack of responsiveness and are too expensive to risk otherwise.

    The human element: several people are saying the sudden acceleration and dodging are gonna do a number on the crew. Obviously that’s why it has to be researched but in the end even if the acrobatics are dangerous as long as it’s more survivable than a direct hit, it’s an improvement. Air bags are dangerous in a stationary car causing abrasions and burns but are better than having you face plant a stearing wheel at 50mph.

    In the end this is R&D and maybe it ends up not feasible for manned vehicles, but it could easily be rolled into a unmanned vehicle program. DARPA is about doing the crazy ideas to try and make the big leaps forward or to steer the incremental improvements by proving what may or may not eventually work.

    • GREAT points and I agree but you are forgetting what is driving these crazy expectations that makes vehicles too expensive to create or too heavy to deploy.

      We might want to accept that war gets people killed. Our risk aversion has become a strategic weakness. We’ve lost less troops in over a decade that we lost in the D-Day landing which has driven us to end combat operations prematurely.

      Instead some really expect war to be bloodless. Watch the Pres’ doomed plan to defeat ISIS from the air on Thur like that’s ever worked in recorded history.

      • ohwilleke

        The Pres’ plan is more along the lines of providing a decent air force to the Kurds and Iraqi forces and letting those guys make the sacrifices on the ground. If somebody’s got to get killed, let it be the other guy.

      • Jeff

        No reasonable person should expect a bloodless war. You also can’t ignore the most prevalent threats. The gist of this is the need for MRAP protectiveness without the sacrifices in the form of reduced mobility and greater silohette.

  • Alan Freeman

    It will be easy to tsap and I would not want to be inside it , they will just run you into an IAD and blow it to hell

  • A.g.

    “DARPA artits’s concept.”


  • Chris

    Seriously, can you create a vehicle that can detect, react to, avoid and survive an incoming (say) APFSDS round between discharge and impact?? Crazy, surely.

  • DGR

    Most current gen MBTs can put a round down range every 8-10 seconds as standard (if you have a good loader you may hit 4-5 seconds). So now add 2 tanks, now your dodging a round every 2 seconds….. Um, ya that just isnt going to last very long….. May as well just focus on hypersonic land vehicles that can outrun a incoming round.

    • Jeff

      This isn’t meant for a next gen MBT, so it’s as much a bad idea with this as it would be with a Stryker or other light armored vehicle. Think about what your saying, if it takes two MBT’s to gun this down you’re talking about needing $10M worth of armor to gun down something in the same class as a $3M vehicle. The goal isn’t to build a panacea for the battlefield, it’s to build a more survivable vehicle that isn’t weighed down to achieve that. Other armies have converted MBT’s into transports and they’ve learned the cost is shorter more costly operational ranges and an increased likelihood of collateral damage.

      • Maybe you shouldn’t send Strykers against tanks?

        • ohwilleke

          Maybe you should blow up all of the enemies tanks before you move ground vehicles in.

          • Killing tanks from the air before you get there has always been the preferred course of action. Unfortunately it is not available in all cases nor has ever been so effective as to eliminate the threat at best maybe 30% and that against an enemy that’s moving with no air defense capability.

            I love air-power except that its enthusiasts have written/writing checks they cannot cash. Check out Congressional Armed Service Committee Report of Intelligence Success and Failures in Operations Desert Shield/Storm… p18-21 for starters.

    • blight_qwerty

      More ominously, when they have guided tank rounds you’ll be in for a treat. Combine the target recognition of a Javelin (or user laser guidance) with the high velocity of a tank main gun round.

      Russians use ATGM’s fired from their tank main guns to do accurate long range killing…unsure how they think this agility will outpace a guided weapon. (as far as I know, the tank-fired ATGM’s have not been used on western tanks).

  • Mark

    A better proposal for self defense would be engineering a frame dragging field where lines of force are all bent away from the vehicle. A fancier use would be to bend it back onto itself. It would not be entirely necessary to opperate with the field perminately on but only in the area recieving the projectile/explosion dependent on speed of field readiness. This would be dependent on the validity of Dr. Martin Tajmar’s research.

    • Yeah, or we could put Magneto from X-men in every armored vehicle.

    • ohwilleke

      General relativity simply isn’t going to solve this problem. A frame dragging effect is far too weak to have a measurable effect at this scale no matter what you try to do. You need planet sized objects moving at orbital and rotational speeds rivaling those found in the solar system to get frame dragging effects big enough to measure with the most precise instruments known to man. EM fields to deflect bullets a la Magneto, maybe. Applied gavitomagnetism, forget it.

  • jamesb

    “Shields Scotty….SHEILDS’

  • Humvees

    How will it deal with land mines and IED’s if its purpose is to not upgrade with more armor?

  • Max

    Instead of ducking, how about shields? It’s rumored that we already have the technology, just not on land vehicles…

  • Mark

    Here is an article covering electromagnatism shielding.

    • ohwilleke

      Basically the concept of the SF show Continuum. Use a magnetic field to screw up the trajectories of income ferrous metal rounds. Query how much of a power plant it takes to build a magnetic field that powerful in the real world, however.

      • Mark

        The article covers that question on how much power is needed.

  • KNO3

    Ah, yes, the upgunned cruiser tank theory. The Tiger tank and IS-2 tank put that theory to rest.

    Not in favor for another lightly armored Sherman tank.

  • Dfens

    Has anyone ever heard of the Xprize? Their slogan is: “Making the impossible possible.” Competition has always brought out the best in man. Damn, how smart do you have to be to know that, and if you’re so stupid you don’t know that, then why should any of us think you’re qualified to spend our money?

  • Cueball95

    If the army buys this Im going AWOL

  • Aleksandar011

    This “tank” strongly resembles the Leopard security vehicle, used by Rhodesian’s:

  • Ode to FCS

    Love child of FCS andf JLTV!

  • amauyong

    Wonder if an ied or an un-detectable land mine under the ground will do to this GTX vehicle…

    Or it is also capable of jumping like that Kanga tank from the battletech universe..O.o

    If designing this to complement existing mechanized/armor doctrine….it is fine…but replacing all your heavies with this GTX….really a bad idea to me…

  • KNO3

    What? No love for the Sherman Tank LIte doctrine?

  • rat

    Ha ha ha ha! It’s Inspector Gardget’s car!

    I suppose the USMC will need a VSTOL variant, and the Pentagon will want a less stealthy version for export.

  • Nick987654

    A more simple idea would be a vehicle with one pilot in an armored cockpit. The pilot would both drive the vehicle and shoot thanks to a helmet interface. Something similar to the F-35 helmet. The sensors and weapons are mounted on a small turret and are cued to the helmet. All the vehicles are connected by datalink and all the informations would be displayed on a large screen to improve the SA of the pilot.

    The IR signature of such a vehicle would be quite small and could be further reduced with new stealth technologies.

    • You work for Lockheed right? ;)

    • Riceball

      What good would that do for a HWMMV replacement if you can only acomodate one person, the driver? For a tank it’s been prove that a 3 man crew is the smallest that you can practically have because having a tank commander act as a gunner is terribly ineffective, making the workload very high, and you want to add a third duty as a driver? Even with computer assistance that’s going to be an impossibly high workload for any one person to handle.

  • Snidely

    The more things change, the more they star the same.

    Anybody else remember the M551 Sheridan “Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle”. It was an aluminum bodied vehicle with a steel turret. Only, it couldn’t be air dropped because everything broke. And it could be killed with a hard look. Please, please, PLEASE, somebody fire all the whiz kids and bean counters.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Agility is dandy…until you get pinned and hit.

    • Did you see that video where the football player hit his fiancee?


    the golden spider silk interface with appropiate engineering astrophysics code practical implementation will no doubt stop APFDSS ROUNDS.

    • Spiderman could make it happen. Remember, he’s got the “spidey sense”. :)

  • Stan

    I think MGM and Warner Bros. called this idea in their cartoons 60-70 years ago.

  • jg cat

    nice cartoons but not a practical answer.

  • Kostas

    This is still a wheeled vehicle with al the inherent limitations of the wheels, I don’t see how it will meet the mobility requirements.

    This vehicle needs electric motors inside the wheels, otherwise the transmission would be too complicated and heavy. Probably it can have the batteries and a small engine to charge the batteries externally and the engine fuel internally. This way it will greatly minimize the necessary internal volume of the vehicle, thus enabling a high level of protection on a lighter vehicle. Electric motors also offer a silent approach.

    • Great! The vehicle doesn’t wake up the neighbors, the explosion does. Very considerate for the locals. :)

    • ohwilleke

      Weapons designers like tracked vehicles travelling off road. But, in recent conflicts, U.S. troops have spent the vast majority of their travel time on roads, despite knowing that there is a serious IED threat. Off road capabilities have their place, but have consistently been more of a niche capability needed by a small percentage of the force, rather than something that every vehicle needs to have in most theaters.

      Electric motors are a good idea for the reasons that you identify and because they are low maintenance.

      • How do you drive off road in a city or on a mountain? I mean really think about it.

        The reason the enemy has been as successful as he has been is because we are limited to road networks in cities and if you want to use a vehicle in mountainous terrain.

        You are making the age old mistake of believing the next war will be like the last one.

        “Off road capabilities have their place, but have consistently been more of a niche capability needed by a small percentage of the force, rather than something that every vehicle needs to have in most theaters.” NOT a niche capability for the combat arms forces. (You did notice this is supposed to be a combat vehicle?) Cross country capability is a requirement for the combat troops which is what the whole article is addressing. Otherwise I agree but not as true if you don’t have secure rear areas. We aren’t designing a supply truck here.

  • Kostas

    I don’t believe that ASFDS or HEAT rounds fired form MBTs would be the main threat for such a vehicle.

    MBTs have a huge radar signature and they would have been destroyed by airplanes (e.g. F35 detects them with the SAR function of APG-81 and engages them with SDB II). Even if a MBT has survived, it would be difficult to hit this small, agile vehicle from a distance greater than a km. And the MBT would have only one chance to hit the vehicle, because the launch signal would mean the instantaneous incapacitation of the MBT by automatic engagement systems that have already been described.

    The main danger is IEDs and mines and ATGMs.

    I really don’t see how dodging would protect it from a guided missile.

    I also don’t see how this rotating armor plate would make any difference against a modern AT missile, probably against a LAW (by offering protection with a function similar to chobham armor), but not against anything bigger.

  • Chris

    Never thought that “agility” can withstand a main gun round and a RPG…… “Lightening Armor” well hope so, but personally you would have to prove it to me…..

  • ohwilleke

    One thing that is different now than it was in the last wars that really defined ground combat is that, notwithstanding the video, defeating heavy armored vehicles in the opposition force has pretty much been removed from the mission list. Every war since the Gulf War and all the way through the latest scuffle with ISIS has demonstrated that slow, old school heavy armored vehicles (be they tanks, armored personnel carriers, or mobile howitzers) are best dispatched from the air. The same analysis applies to any fixed target. It is easier to take out a building from the air with a smart bomb or distant guided rocket launcher than with a heavy armored vehicle.

    Another hopeful development in the video is that the vehicle is not expected to be a Bradley/Stryker/FCS style APC. This vehicle is conceived as a mobile source of heavy anti-infantry firepower and patrol vehicle in situations where the infantry may have mobile or pickup truck/jeep portable anti-armor weapons, not as a troop carrier. This makes downsizing the system much easier.

    Of course, given the limits imposed by G-forces noted above, why not run the critter on remote control, rather than having a soldier in the vehicle itself. Autonomous ground vehicles turn out to be much harder than autopilot aircraft to build, but remote control ground vehicles are another thing entirely.

    The duck and cover, or pop out armor concepts are probably misguided. Active defense systems that work use either lasers or shot a bullet with a a swarm of bullets technologies to target incoming rounds. But, carrying around enough laser power source or ammo to make that work is going to hurt the agility. Agility is not useful mostly because it allows you to dodge incoming RPG rounds – it is so that you can continue to pursue your own prey, James Bond style, across terrain that conventional vehicles can’t cross (light or narrow bridges, narrow alleys, greatly varying heights, sharp turns) without losing them.

  • gunnygil

    Must be getting their ideas from Star Wars writers, producers, and director.

  • moondawg

    Has anyone thought about reducing or lightening the armour, and other stuff, the average infantry man carries, so that he can be more agile on the battlefield?

    • ohwilleke

      It’s been an issue that has gone in waves from one extreme to the other and back for at least the last 4000 years or so. And discussed ad nauseum by DARPA types with few concrete results.

  • Gamer321

    I’ve seen better vehicle design in actual video games…this simutlation looks like it came from mid 90’s…also the vehicle has a vague mechanical design that a 1st grader would make…lol

  • ken

    Only $100,000,000 each.

  • Dennis

    They practice swarm attacks with RPGs. I can see dodging one RPG (but not shells from tanks) but how about ten?
    To solve this issue they need to remake the video and have ten of these light armored vehicles working together. Each vehicle having complimentary weapons (one has a mortor, one has two 50cals, one has a TOW system….. they all have 240s for comanality and redundancy)
    Its how the Sherman won the western front in WW2.
    Complex? Yes, but one size fits all. Army and Marine. Light enough to parachute.
    Yes, IEDs would be an issue. But these would not be ON ROAD vehicles.IEDs only make sense if you have to be on the road. If that’s the case, MRAPS….

  • C.V. Compton Shaw

    While I was either riding APCs (armored personnel carriers) or humpin’ (walking) through the jungles of Vietnam, I analyzed what would be the type of combat vehicle which would be most appropriate for the combat environment._I came to the conclusion, after much thought, that maximizing the intelligence of the operator of the combat vehicle by making the vehicle as intelligent and adaptable as possible would make the combat vehicle most efficacious. The combat vehicle should be a one person vehicle, highly maneuverable, with light armor, a variety of weapons, high intelligence capability (many sensors), high command and control capability (computers integrated with sensors and other military units), and adaptable to a variety of combat environments (nuclear, gas, desert, water, cold, hot), and relatively light so that it would be easily transportable. Stealth, speed, intelligence, strategic use, survivability, and adaptable weapons systems would be the theme of this vehicle. The concept of the new armored vehicle as described in the original article comes close to the same. I, also, thought that the vehicle should be capable of being remotely operated for certain tactical situations.

    • Nick987654

      The entire vehicle wouldn’t need the same level of armor. The crew of one or two could be in a very armored container and the rest of the vehicle could have a basic protection against 12.7 MGs.

      The operator should have the ability to call the artillery at the flick of a switch, send targeting informations ( laser, GPS ) for artillery, NLOS long range ATGMs, etc…

      If could also be equipped with mini stealthy flying drones connected to the vehicle with fiber optics for jamming resistance. The mini-drone would be used to guide ATGMs coming either from the vehicle or from the artillery.

      The vehicle would use tactics to stay in NLOS from the enemy until most of their armored vehicles are destroyed. Then it can attack the enemy infantry in LOS with its own weapons and artillery.

  • ken

    Do we have the technology for this 30 ton hybrid robot? It would need inputs from the soldiers, weather conditions, enemy weapons, road conditions and direction of travel. There will be 15,000 lbs on each leg and wheel, imagine the strain and hydraulics necessary for them. It does not look like there is much room for gear, ammo, and fuel. The windshield looks nice but is it prudent? Is it impervious to mud? It looks like a video game to me to sell to the generals.

  • paperpushermj

    I know it’s me but are these Manned or Unmanned?

  • NAVYJOC1655

    Dear DARPA. Why don’t you develop a device that could receive a radio signal from a drone and deactivate the ignition electronics on US Military vehicles so they cannot be captured and used by whatever enemy we or our allies are fighting. Part II of it could be the option of triggering a thermite device attached to the steering, transmission, or electrical system of the vehicle. Part III Remotely release a stink-bomb. BTW..your concept vehicle looks like a loser.

  • juan

    Dislike this grass hoper is tripulated ‘? seemed a transformer is te most owfully thing what i see over the world !

  • isaac kallberg

    why don’t we focus on developing shields? someone in DARPA in all their absurd ideas has to of brought that up at sometime. I mean why develop something that is meant to duck and dodge just making the combatants waste there ammunition and just annoy the pi*s out of them when you could put a shield over a humvee and charging right into their line of fire sustaining no damage from projectiles instead of playing tag with tank rounds. or you could have a vehicle that projects a shield and moves with a regiment or a armored division allowing less energy consumption per vehicle and protects against air and artillery strikes but when you get in close let the shields down and let em have it while the combatant forces take heavy collateral and morale damage from your artillery and air power so by the time your regiments move in they have suffered little to no threats or obsitcles and are facing an enemy who is now in disarray and suffered heavy casualties allowing your ground forces to basically do the clean up work. then you could lighten armor or focus in on strictly counter ied armor instead of trying to make something that moves like a sports car but does damage like a tank or vise versa something that moves super slow and try to armor it like against every possible threat. I imagine it like a carrier formation except shield deploying vehicle does the defending of the forces surrounding it and the other ground forces do the offensive work its like a carrier formation turned inside out idk that’s what I would try to do instead of trying to accomplish such a fete so one vehicle can drive around you and do nothing more than be a unwanted nuance. it reminds me when they put those little four-wheelers in halo 3 they were great for charges and directing enemy fire away from your real offensive and maybe let the guy on back let off a couple rocket rounds to make the ground forces scatter but besides that it always ended the same way either a banshee or a scorpion end up blowing you to pieces.

  • Nick

    Wasn’t this the concept of the HMMWV? Wasn’t mobility going to save the day? Didn’t we then load them up sky-high with armor to stop RPG’s, IED’s, heavy machinegun fire and mines to keep our troops from being turned into chum??!! “If we do not learn from history’s mistakes, …” as the old saying goes. This is all well and good for a possible drone or unmanned vehicle, however, I’m positive that don’t I want my fellow soldiers to be guinea pigs to prove or disprove some moron’s theory regarding military progress.


    Is this the aluminum boat on land theory?….A machine that contemplates and responds, is there a human aboard?

  • Zspoier

    Who`s ” Bright Idea ” is this ? Stupid is Stupid does.How would it work with an aircraft with a rotary cannon like the A-10 ?