U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participate in a Virtual Experiment in the Army’s Optionally Manned Tank program at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich., Sept. 15, 2020. The Soldiers provided input that will help to inform the development of the next tank for the Army.
U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participate in a Virtual Experiment in the Army’s Optionally Manned Tank program at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich., Sept. 15, 2020. The Soldiers provided input that will help to inform the development of the next tank for the Army. (Photo Credit: Dan Heaton) VIEW ORIGINAL

Today’s armor Soldiers are helping to inform early development and engineering decisions on the Army’s next tank through Virtual Prototyping.

A company of Soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, spent a week in September at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan, conducting a virtual experiment to provide input for the Optionally Manned Tank (OMT), a project in the early stages of development by the Army. Engineers, designers and subject matter experts from the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center and Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team, both based at the Detroit Arsenal, led the experiment.

Ultimately, the OMT program seeks to explore options for a possible future main battle tank through virtual prototyping. Virtual prototyping is a process the Army is using to create and assess multiple OMT vehicle concepts. The concepts are informed by Soldier Touch Points and enhanced modeling and simulation (M&S). The input from Soldiers helps to drive requirements and science and technology investment. The OMT experiment this month is the culmination of a 12-month effort that started with a blank slate and a room of Soldiers and Engineers.

During the Virtual Experiment, the Soldiers “virtually fought” multiple computer-based tanks with their associated M&S performance characteristics to assess four key areas:

1. The ability of the proposed OMT configurations to conduct combat operations.

2. How do each of the OMT key technologies impact the vehicle's operational utility?

3. The tactical behavioral impacts and lethality of using differing primary weapon systems.

4. OMT crew control team performance impacts including the ability to conduct key combat tasks

“Gaining the insight from our current Armor Soldiers, the ones who best understand what they have in the field today and what they want to see tomorrow, is of critical importance to this process,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the NGCV CFT. “Here, before we have bent a single piece of metal, we are getting Soldier input on caliber size of ammunition, optimal speed requirements and more. Engaging in these Virtual Experiments is part of our campaign of learning that allows us to refine the technology and ensure the best, most current technology is integrating into the final design.”

With the completion of the Virtual Experiment, the Detroit Arsenal team will now review the collected data to refine and update the OMT virtual prototypes based on the 1st CAV Soldiers’ feedback.

“Additional experiments are scheduled to occur in FY21/22”, said Steve Pinter, program manager for Warfighter Experimentation at GVSC. “Upcoming experiments will provide further insights into the development of the OMT based upon refined learning objectives and lessons learned from previous experiments. The experiments will also be conducted against a simulated near-peer adversary in an operational environment to better understand and develop future vehicle requirements.”

The Army plans to make a decision in 2023 on possible options to develop a new tank.