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 Whatever happened to the 120mm Thunderbolt?
COLE-CARBINE  [Member]
7/12/2005 9:20:49 PM
I always thought the United Defense(now BAE) Thunderbolt had a lot of promise. I thought it really might find a home with the USMC,being a light chasis and using the 120mm gun. It looks like it would be a better option in tight urban areas than the M1(although the M1 has been admirable). The Thunderbolt with XM1028 canister round in Urban areas would be just the ticket. Anyone with better google-fu have any info?





Info on the Thunderbolt that I've been able to dig up

United Defense Unveils Thunderbolt 120mm Demonstrator

Thunderbolt Illustrates Rapid Integration of Devastating Firepower and Transformational Technologies into Existing Platforms

York, PA, October 6, 2003 - United Defense Industries, Inc. (NYSE: UDI), today unveiled Thunderbolt, an advanced armored gun system demonstrator with a 120mm main armament on a light chassis featuring a rugged hybrid electric drive package, an enhanced band track system, and a lightweight ballistic composite armor package at the Association of the U. S. Army’s annual meeting.

The Thunderbolt demonstrator illustrates the ability to deliver devastating firepower in a light package, and features transformational technologies that can be quickly integrated into current platforms to enhance soldier capabilities.

“United Defense designed, integrated and built Thunderbolt in 7 months by applying unmatched capabilities in the rapid design and prototyping of new platforms and technologies,“ said Elmer Doty, vice president and general manager. “Thunderbolt demonstrates that we can deliver significantly enhanced capabilities to soldiers quickly through the modernization of existing platforms.”

The company, which is currently developing manned ground vehicles for the Army’s Future Combat Systems, emphasized that Thunderbolt demonstrates near-term transformational technologies complementary to the current force.

“Thunderbolt combines United Defense’s unsurpassed expertise and focus on transformational technology development to increase the mobility, lethality and survivability of our forces,” Doty said. “It’s an exciting package that showcases our strengths and exemplifies our desire to support the Army’s mission, now and in the future.”

Prior to AUSA, United Defense fired Thunderbolt repeatedly from stationary and on-the-move positions, the first time a 120mm main armament has been successfully fired off a 20-ton weight-class chassis. Thunderbolt’s XM291 main gun is backed by an autoloader that handles both HEAT and SABOT rounds. The autoloader handles 120mm rounds with combustible casings and rounds of varying weight distributions, and it can eject stubcases. Thunderbolt delivers firepower that can defeat heavy enemy armor and destroy enemy targets such as bunkers and buildings.

“We believe that a 120mm gun integrated on a light chassis would provide unprecedented firepower, able to effectively defeat heavy enemy armor,” Doty said.

Thunderbolt Features Transformational Technology

Thunderbolt integrates a durable hybrid electric propulsion system that provides improved performance and fuel economy, enhanced reliability and reduced emissions. The propulsion system utilizes generator, inverter and traction motor components that have performed well in testing on the United Defense Transformation Technology Demonstrator.

Thunderbolt’s drive power is transferred through an advanced band track system developed for 20-ton weight class vehicles. The advantages of band track include improved ride quality, longer life, and reduced noise and thermal signatures.

The mobility package integrated on Thunderbolt delivers a range of 600 miles on gravel roads, with four miles of silent mobility capability. Conversion of a standard chassis to hybrid electric drive generates significant additional interior space that can seat additional soldiers, increase the quantity of stowed ammunition, or be applied to other mission requirements.

Thunderbolt is the latest United Defense platform to feature hybrid-electric propulsion, following the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon platform, the Transformation Technology Demonstrator and two demonstrators that were unveiled at AUSA last year: the Future Combat Systems-Tracked and Future Combat Systems-Wheeled platforms.

Thunderbolt’s advanced ballistic composite armor design offers enhanced survivability while reducing overall vehicle weight. The composite turret armor package is designed to provide 14.5mm protection all around, with 30mm frontal arc protection.

“We set out to demonstrate what critics said can’t be done – providing heavy firepower on a light platform, and quickly and effectively upgrading an existing platform with transformational technologies that can modernize the current force,” Doty said.

“United Defense developed Thunderbolt to demonstrate that we can quickly and effectively upgrade existing platforms with transformational technologies that can modernize the current force,” Doty said. “We believe we owe it to the soldier to demonstrate combat vehicle technologies that can support and enhance the Army’s ability to complete its missions.”

Thunderbolt was designed and built at the company’s research facilities in Santa Clara, California.

Daytona955i  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 9:28:06 PM
My cousin works for BAE. Aerospace though.
Stryfe  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 9:36:32 PM
The article referst to it as a demonstrator.
Seriously, what probably happened to it is that there were no takers.


The XM-8 kind of fell off the radar too.
I think the decision was made some time ago to go with Bradleys or armored Humvees as required.
HeavyMetal  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 9:38:50 PM
Somebody needs to get Vito in on this. I am sure this is a question of his caliber.
Rem700PSS  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 9:42:20 PM
I bet that'd take down a few birds.
Kharn  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 9:43:20 PM

Thunderbolt’s drive power is transferred through an advanced band track system developed for 20-ton weight class vehicles. The advantages of band track include improved ride quality, longer life, and reduced noise and thermal signatures.
The death knell of the system is right there. One hit to the hydraulic line and you're done.

The XM1028 canister shell is undergoing testing, last I heard.

Kharn
COLE-CARBINE  [Member]
7/12/2005 10:02:39 PM

Originally Posted By Kharn:

Thunderbolt’s drive power is transferred through an advanced band track system developed for 20-ton weight class vehicles. The advantages of band track include improved ride quality, longer life, and reduced noise and thermal signatures.
The death knell of the system is right there. One hit to the hydraulic line and you're done.

The XM1028 canister shell is undergoing testing, last I heard.

Kharn



I'm not sure what you mean by that? How would this be any different than a regular tank? From my understanding the band track is essentially a rubber version or some synthetic instead of metal tracks.
This is to offer a better ride from what I can gather. IIRC, I think the 82nd airborne was requesting 4 of the M8 armored gun systems(105mm cannon) to come out of mothballs.
jd1  [Member]
7/12/2005 10:04:45 PM
IIRC, that is the M8 AGS. If so, the Stryker happened to it. It lost out, for whatever reason, to the Stryker system.

jd1
COLE-CARBINE  [Member]
7/12/2005 10:07:41 PM

Originally Posted By jd1:
IIRC, that is the M8 AGS. If so, the Stryker happened to it. It lost out, for whatever reason, to the Stryker system.

jd1



Basically it is the M8 AGS with some improvents and of course a 120mm cannon. The reason I'm posing this question is the Stryker 105mm MGS system is still having troubles yet this thing is sitting on the sideline with a 120mm cannon and the ability to use the same current M1 ammo.
NightWatchman  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 10:13:49 PM
They built 4 105mm versions. There was some recent talk of bringing a couple of those into service with the airborne but I don't think it ever happened.
Stryfe  [Team Member]
7/12/2005 11:34:24 PM

Originally Posted By jd1:
IIRC, that is the M8 AGS. If so, the Stryker happened to it. It lost out, for whatever reason, to the Stryker system.

jd1


Was the M8 even in the running. What I'd read was that it was cancelled during the Clinton administration. Did they roll it back out to compete with Striker?
Kharn  [Team Member]
7/13/2005 8:16:10 PM

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
I'm not sure what you mean by that? How would this be any different than a regular tank? From my understanding the band track is essentially a rubber version or some synthetic instead of metal tracks.
This is to offer a better ride from what I can gather. IIRC, I think the 82nd airborne was requesting 4 of the M8 armored gun systems(105mm cannon) to come out of mothballs.

Band tracks require a hydraulic system to put tension on one of the wheels, to stretch the rubber/synthetic track and keep it in place. If you lose hydraulic pressure, you lose the tension and the band pops off. You're now dead in the water and not going anywhere, unlike with conventional tracks which require no such system since the track pieces are a fixed size.

Kharn
COLE-CARBINE  [Member]
7/13/2005 8:20:24 PM

Originally Posted By Kharn:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
I'm not sure what you mean by that? How would this be any different than a regular tank? From my understanding the band track is essentially a rubber version or some synthetic instead of metal tracks.
This is to offer a better ride from what I can gather. IIRC, I think the 82nd airborne was requesting 4 of the M8 armored gun systems(105mm cannon) to come out of mothballs.

Band tracks require a hydraulic system to put tension on one of the wheels, to stretch the rubber/synthetic track and keep it in place. If you lose hydraulic pressure, you lose the tension and the band pops off. You're now dead in the water and not going anywhere, unlike with conventional tracks which require no such system since the track pieces are a fixed size.

Kharn


Thanks for the clarification. In your opinion would band track be better than, say, the wheeled Stryker MGS? Or is band track tech neither fish nor fowl?
Kharn  [Team Member]
7/13/2005 8:41:11 PM

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
Thanks for the clarification. In your opinion would band track be better than, say, the wheeled Stryker MGS? Or is band track tech neither fish nor fowl?

I'd rather have wheels, but my experience is with a different Stryker variant than the MGS. The Stryker has run-flats (and some have driven home with more than four out of eight flat in Iraq), while if a band track is out you're not going anywhere since the drive sprocket doesnt touch the road. Of course, if I could have conventional metal tracks, I'd take those any day over either of the above options.

Kharn
Stryfe  [Team Member]
7/13/2005 10:01:33 PM

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Of course, if I could have conventional metal tracks, I'd take those any day over either of the above options.

Kharn


Even convoy duty on paved roads?
Special-K  [Member]
7/13/2005 10:31:05 PM

Originally Posted By Kharn:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
I'm not sure what you mean by that? How would this be any different than a regular tank? From my understanding the band track is essentially a rubber version or some synthetic instead of metal tracks.
This is to offer a better ride from what I can gather. IIRC, I think the 82nd airborne was requesting 4 of the M8 armored gun systems(105mm cannon) to come out of mothballs.

Band tracks require a hydraulic system to put tension on one of the wheels, to stretch the rubber/synthetic track and keep it in place. If you lose hydraulic pressure, you lose the tension and the band pops off. You're now dead in the water and not going anywhere, unlike with conventional tracks which require no such system since the track pieces are a fixed size.

Kharn



I know it's not quite the same thing, but on M-113's we had to adjust the track tension with a hydraulic type cylinder and a grease gun. If we lost one of these, or the zirk fitting came out or failed (which happened) you loose track tension and then you ake a chance of throwing the track.

-K
Ross  [Member]
7/14/2005 6:26:03 AM

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Originally Posted By jd1:
IIRC, that is the M8 AGS. If so, the Stryker happened to it. It lost out, for whatever reason, to the Stryker system.

jd1



Basically it is the M8 AGS with some improvents and of course a 120mm cannon. The reason I'm posing this question is the Stryker 105mm MGS system is still having troubles yet this thing is sitting on the sideline with a 120mm cannon and the ability to use the same current M1 ammo.



Understand that the only people saying the 120mm Thunderbolt is ready to go and the bset thing since sliced bread are the same people trying to sell it. The guys trying to get the MGS to work say the same PR stuff about their product too.

Alot of folks read something on the net from sales material, or some guy posting what he's read from sales material, or saw it on Discovery channel, so that's the way it must be. Rarely does anything military EVER work out that way. Usually when the question is why didn't the Army buy this?...there's a pretty good reason. Maybe just economics, maybe performance, maybe logistics, whatever, but usually there's a reason.

Ross
Kharn  [Team Member]
7/14/2005 6:34:08 AM

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
Basically it is the M8 AGS with some improvents and of course a 120mm cannon. The reason I'm posing this question is the Stryker 105mm MGS system is still having troubles yet this thing is sitting on the sideline with a 120mm cannon and the ability to use the same current M1 ammo.

There's no reason to use 120mm ammo just for commonality, the Stryker Brigades have their own supply chains and arent intended to operate with the Heavies for most of the time. There's also warehouses full of 105mm shells we havent used, so the Army wants to use them up.

And the MGS is a lot closer to acceptance than the M8 ever will be, the Army brass wants the MGS, they dont want the M8.

Kharn
COLE-CARBINE  [Member]
7/14/2005 12:53:04 PM

Originally Posted By Ross:
Understand that the only people saying the 120mm Thunderbolt is ready to go and the bset thing since sliced bread are the same people trying to sell it. The guys trying to get the MGS to work say the same PR stuff about their product too.

Alot of folks read something on the net from sales material, or some guy posting what he's read from sales material, or saw it on Discovery channel, so that's the way it must be. Rarely does anything military EVER work out that way. Usually when the question is why didn't the Army buy this?...there's a pretty good reason. Maybe just economics, maybe performance, maybe logistics, whatever, but usually there's a reason.

Ross



Ross, thanks for your reply. I agree that if you believed everything read in a press release every weapons system would be perfect... and I've got some ocean front property in Arizona. IIRC the M8 was pretty much ready for prime time but the Clinton regime's cutbacks forced the Army to dump it. The thing I found intersting is that the Stryker MGS was having trouble handling the recoil of the 105mm but UD is able to get a 120mm to work on a 20 ton chasis. Intially I thought this system would make a pretty good "urban tank" until FCS comes along, an interim measure if you will. The technology has been developed and UD/BAE can obviously still manufacture them so I thought this might be a good solution of good enough now is better than perfect later. Your right that .mil proll'yhas a good reason for either pursuing or dropping a project but I was just fishing around for some hear-say on a interesting demo. On ARFCOM you just never no what a reply might be!