Hello readers, my name is Shadyrush, your average Dutch university student who lucks out by having access to a database filled with awesome reports and documents. While I have been lurking around TAP for a while, this will be the first article I’ll be writing for you guys. And hopefully, many more will come.
This article will be about (you guessed it) the Future Combat System or FCS for short. The FCS project is currently suspended, but after looking into it, it can be said that the US MBT philosophy was shifting to the one Germany had in the 1950’s. To explain what I mean by this, I’ll take you into the project itself.
The FCS was the U.S. army’s multiyear, multibillion-dollar program that had the intention of replacing current systems like the M1 Abrams tank and the M2 Bradley AFV. The project was brought to life by observing the role of armored vehicles in the more recent conflicts. Notable events were the destruction of over 200 Russian tanks by Chechen Guerillas and the slow mobilization of the US M1 Abrams in the Kosovo conflict.
Because of these examples the U.S. Army demanded a lighter MBT with superior mobility while still retaining adequate armor. “Power is increasingly defined not by mass or size but by mobility and swiftness,” then-presidential candidate George W. Bush said at the Citadel military academy in September 1999.
The project was formally launched in 2003 and with it development started on a universal chassis for Infantry Carrier vehicles, Command vehicles, a Mounted Combat System, A Recon vehicle, non LoS mortars, artillery and a medevac vehicle. In this aspect it could be considered the US Armata.
While I could write an essay about all of these vehicles, today I’ll focus on the Mounted Combat System.
The MCS is the “MBT” of the bunch, while not nearly as armored or heavy as current MBT’s it does have some redeeming qualities. While the exact weight is unknown, it should be about 24 to 26 tons. The light weight is a gift for the mobility and as you’d expect, this baby can shift.(in theory anyway) There are no exact figures concerning mobility, but my sources state 60 to 70 km/h. Fortunately the MCS has more qualities, it was planned to pack a whopping 120mm smoothbore. This gun was allegedly able to penetrate the Russian T-90 at ranges up to 8 km.
So, it scores good in the mobility and firepower categories, there must be a downside now right?
Well, yes and no. While the armor isn’t very good for a MBT it isn’t nearly as bad as you’d expect for 26 tons.
The MCS can provide all-around protection against mines, which is a big plus for the crews. It’s also able to stop even the newest types of RPG’s and it can stop quick-firing cannon shells up to a caliber of 30 mm. In fact, The front protection is better than the sides of the Abrams. The tank won’t bounce the Russian big boy 125 mm, but it’ll do fine against aged tanks and most standard AT equipment.
But what advantages does such a light MBT have? Well, these tanks were planned to be transported to the battlefield using C-130 transports. The weight allowed one tank per plane. The plan was to pick them up, fly them to a dirt strip near the battlefield and let them drive to the fight. This proved to be highly impractical, it would take all C-130’s in service to lift a single armored brigade. Why? Because parts had to be removed and flown to the battle separately on the heavier variants like the MCS.
In 2009 this project was indefinitely suspended. While the U.S. saw potential in these vehicles, they proved too impractical and expensive for mobilization. I type mobilization and not production, because the production would have been quite cheap. The reason it was so expensive was because one transport plane was needed for every produced tank. So, if the U.S. decided not to produce extra transport planes, they would be left with the problems they wanted to fight.
So, in the end the project failed and only one prototype lived to see testing. While I doubt the possibility of this project seeing any further development in real life, it might be interesting enough to be put in games like WoT 2.0 in the future. Only time will tell…
Thanks for reading,