BAE Systems, responding to the US Army’s call for a new light tank, has brought back a vehicle that was scheduled to go into service in the 1990s.
The M8 Armored Gun System is meant to provide a firepower boost to light infantry forces, particularly paratroopers. It was originally set to go into service in the 1990s after the retirement of the U.S. Army’s M551 Sheridan. The Sheridan, which was never really considered a success, was retired after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But the M8 lost funding and the Sheridan was never replaced.
Several months ago the Army told its industry partners it was looking for a new Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle—essentially a light tank—to beef up its light infantry forces. General Dynamics responded with its Griffin Technology Demonstrator, while BAE has brought back the M8. Here’s a YouTube video with a BAE rep discussing the vehicle’s return:
The M8 was a tracked vehicle with a 105-millimeter gun and a crew of three. It did away with the traditional fourth crew member—the gun loader—by incorporating an automatic loader. It has a modular armor system that allows the crew to adjust the level of protection—and correspondingly the vehicle weight from 19 tons to 24 tons. This allows the vehicle to get down to a more airdrop-friendly weight and then bolt on extra armor once it’s landed in enemy territory.
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