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U.S. Army Wants A Parachuting Tank

• http://www.popsci.com

After years of service in wars -- from Iraq to Afghanistan to Iraq again -- the Humvee is on its way out. Officially named the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, (HMMVV) its acronym and stature is so iconic that it launched a series of commercial vehicles. Now the Army wants to fill its light and fast shoes, and to do so, they looked at three different vehicles last week during exercises in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Together, the vehicles would enable the Army to do "forcible entry missions," which is Pentagonese for "land and operate in a hostile place." The first vehicle is, in essence, a light tank. Creatively titled "Mobile Protected Firepower" (MPF), it's an armored vehicle that can be dropped from cargo planes. The United States hasn't had a light parachutable tank since they retired the M551 Sheridan in 1996, and even then its performance was underwhelming; armor light enough to drop isn't very protective. (Earlier attempts at flying tanks proved less effective.)

The next vehicles is the ultra-lightweight combat vehicle (ULCV). The ULCV is, in essence, a turbo jeep. It will carry a full nine person infantry squad along with their equipment, up to 3,200 pounds total. The vehicle itself will weigh no more than 4,500 pounds, making the fully loaded and crewed vehicle under 8,000 pounds. It has to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, so that the crew can drive right in or out, and the vehicle should drive for at least 250 miles at full weight, while also being able to survive a rollover.

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