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BAE Systems releases details of hybrid tank


November 22, 2012

Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV

Artist's concept of the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV

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BAE Systems has released an infographic outlining the features of its hybrid Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). A joint venture between BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman with other partners, the GCV proposal is part of a US Army competition to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which entered service in 1981.

The BAE/Northrop Grumman GCV is one of a number of proposals intended to replace the Bradley within seven years. Like the Bradley, the GCV is an armored troop transport intended to quickly move soldiers into a combat zone and provide support fire. This particular design was created from the ground up and is intended to be upgradable, with a projected service life for the technology of up to 40 years.

The GCV carries three crew and nine squad members inside its steel-core hull and boasts an integrated electronic network capability and embedded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. However, the centerpiece of the vehicle is its simplified drive train. The GCV is propelled by an Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) developed by the partnership. It puts out 1,100 kW of electricity, has fewer components, and lower volume and weight than current power plants. Being an electric drive, it generates high torque at start, smoother low-speed operation and can run silently – an advantage in night operations.

The partnership makes a big thing of the GCV’s 20 percent fuel savings while running – additionally, however, it burns only 4.61 gallons (17,45 liters) per hour while idling, as opposed to 10 gallons (37.85 liters) per hour for a 70-ton vehicle. This idling rating is important, because military vehicles spend a lot of time sitting still while powering the electronics. Unfortunately, this hybrid still isn't exactly a fuel sipper, at only 0.73 mpg (322 l/100km). Its top speed is 43 mph (70 km/h) and it can do 0 to 20 mph (32.18 km/hr) in 7.8 seconds.

The Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) used by the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman hybrid GCV

One drawback of the GCV in its current design is that it's almost twice as heavy as the Bradley, with a vehicle weight of 70 tons (63.5 tonnes) compared to the Bradley’s 30.4 tons (27.5 tonnes). This is due in part to the GCV carrying three more squad members, but mostly to the need to provide full protection for crew and squad. This meant extra armor – enough to provide more protection than a RG-33 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Unfortunately, the Pentagon didn't specify a weight limit in its Request for Proposal (RFP), so the GCV came out a bit on the heavy side.

The budgeted cost for the GCV is set at US$13 million per vehicle.

Source: BAe Systems via Defensetech

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

70 tons? That's as heavy or heavier than an M1A1/2 tank.


I guess they are betting that the thing will never be attacked from behind? It is also very heavy, eh?

Elmar Moelzer

322l/100km? This thing must have a huge fuel tank! Imagine having to fill that thing up? It would take ages standing at the pump. (humour)

I would wonder if the added complexity of a hybrid drivetrain (in terms of electronics / computers) would make it less reliable in combat than a diesel. Maybe they could ask Honda to come up with an engine for them? They've brought out some really good diesels recently.


Hybrids are not new in the tank world. Porsche were building them for the Nazis in WWII


Stephen Colbourne

I think that the motivation for this was o reduce complexity. This kind of powertrains are used in diesel-electric locomotives and mining trucks. The diesel engine works only as a generator, without driving the wheels, and the electric engine drives the wheels directly. The main motivation for this kind of transmission in diesel-electric locomotives and mining trucks was to get rid of the heavy and failure prone mechanical transmission. Keep in mind the required torque load required to move a train or a fully loaded mining truck, it is hard to build gear sets durable enough for that. Applying this concept to a 70 ton tracked vehicle seems quite obvious.


Which environment would this be suited for. It's heavy and slow. Armour is good to an extent but does take damage. The solution for troop transport is first aerial superiority, then low level Hovering UAV surveillance, then ground level with occasional helicopter support to know the way is clear and then the troop transporters in between the formation. Or even just transport by helicopter if the cargo is so important assuming the sky has been cleared. Ground fire support vehicles make sense, but this vehicle may showcase technology, but it is in the wrong direction. It's too heavy for war on terror and too slow and heavy for for cold war like scenarios. Whenever troops need to be transported, it's always urgent, that would be helicopter. Otherwise it's always a build up to the situation. Being heavy this too can get stuck and most of the power will be used to climb out of the shallow depressions it will create by itself on the ground. Roads it could ruin. Of course it can display drive train technologies, but speed is required. The solution is the full convoy as described above unless it's a commando reconnaissance mission.

Dawar Saify

It's far too heavy, particularly since this makes logistics a nightmare. They can hardly be carried by any strategic lift asset in the US military. To compound the problem, with weight approaching 84 tons at full load, plenty of bridges and infrastructure won't hold this massive machine. Clearly the Army needs to change their requirements, maybe go back to a smaller squad, so these vehicles aren't such big heavy targets. Sure they burn less fuel than a 70 ton vehicle, but at $200 per mile to support, that's a big increase over the $45 per mile Bradley. Even two Bradleys are a lot less per mile, while carrying more troops and bringing two guns into the fight. Granted, not the same protection level, but it seems like for the same money and protection level, two smaller vehicles could be built. Matter-of-fact, I know they could.

Tyler Totten

This was probably a good design at one point, before several rounds of committees did their thing and turned another mouse into an elephant. Another piece of equipment to fight the previous war, at any rate. Concentrating troops inside a single slow moving surface vehicle remains a target of opportunity for an adversary.

Russ Jata

They have said that some of the advantages of the electromotive system are instant power and the ability to move silently. How much of the weight is batteries?

I would rather see them substitute remote control turrets that do not extend into the passenger compartment and add mine rollers onto the Bradley. I don't like the Bradley


Sheesh - some harsh critics. Until we can rule out wars altogether, there will always be a place for Ground Combat Vehicles such as the Bradley. They were never designed to avoid massive munitions. That's what bunkers are for, and until we can get motorised bunkers.......well..... you get the picture. It is a move in the right direction to increase fuel efficiency. It would be good if they could be powered by a multi-fuel gas turbine like those which power the Abrams Tank. Having a turbine operating at maximum efficiency while driving a generator is hard to beat in overall efficiency stakes. It would mate very well to an electric propulsion system with a battery bank.


Good points by Stephen Colbourne 22nd November, 2012 @ 06:50 pm and flame_can 23rd November, 2012 @ 01:35 am

The first really heavy earthmoving equipment was electric wheel drive:


"...In 1953, LeTourneau sold his entire earthmoving equipment line to the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.

He then applied his ingenuity to the development of the electric wheel drive concept. In 1958....offering ........ a range of high capacity earthmoving, transportation, and material handling machines based on the revolutionary electric wheel drive system he had developed. ..."


It also costs 13 million (estimated) compared to the Bradley that costs about 3.1 million. The M1A2 is a pretty large and sophisticated machine and 6.2 mil (but still lighter than this).

The military already moved some tank divisions to the the smaller/lower maintenance $4.9 mil, 20 ton Stryker that can be loaded into a C-130.

It is interesting research but the likelihood of the them getting funding for that platform is pretty slim.

Disclaimer: I've been on M1 (105 mm), M1A1, and M1A2's (120 mm) but my former tank battalion was re-tasked.


All well and good till the first burst of EMP and then you will have a statonary container to get out of the sun. Keep it simple stupid.

Roger Fairbairn

Diachi: Stryker is not transportable by C-130 by any mean, its almost two times heavier than planned. Only C-5 Galaxy can move it. You'll have to disassemble one into two pieces to transport it by Hercules. Stryker itself is a big fail.

And this new 70 ton monster is even worse than Bradley + Stryker together. Too heavy for roads, not to mention any terrain. And who expects quality roads on battlefields?? Which bridges can hold it? Very high ground pressure = vehicle will stuck almost everywhere.

Too big, that even half-blind fighter with RPG can aim on it and hit it. And dual-head would still penetrate it for sure.

Hybrid engine is too complex to take any maintenance in field. Fuel consumption is brutal thanks to horrible weight of this monster.

Machine has same little inefficient cannon like Bradley.

Flat armor on sides both preventing access to tracks and also provides perfect target for shaped charges.

Turret usable only for 250° of rotation is useless.

Resembles philosophy of german nazi Ferdinand SPG from second World war - too big and heavy to be used efficiently.

Bradley was failed design and this new vehicle goes even further in failure.

Buy some Russian BMP-3/4 instead. They can swim, they are fast all-terrain, mobility is outstanding. Their hull is well protected by composite armour. They are well armed with doubled cannons (100mm cannon/guided rocket launcher + 30mm autocannon). They are much lighter, so they can be air-transported in mid-size aircraft. Fitted with arena they are well protected against incoming missiles too. And price is nowhere near to these useless western corrupt-products.

Michal Nicak

Is there some massive ground army that this is designed to go up against? What era battle is this designed to fight? If it's to fight in the next Kursk type tank battle or fend off the soviets invading Europe it might be useful. It sounds like a huge waste of money, and 13 million, really? Once the project gets going that will balloon to 45 million per vehicle, if the history of procurement in the US military is any indication. At 70 tons it can only be transported by a C-5, the US military should stick with the double V hull variant of the Stryker and and devote the time and money saved for smaller things that can help troops in the field. Don't let this become another XM2001 Crusader Mobile Artillery Gun - 11 billion US dollars and nothing to show for it...

David Payson

This GCV should have at lest two more road wheels per side. the overhang at the rear is stupid. At 70 odd tons this ridiculous monstrosity can be carried by the C-17 with her 85.45 ton capacity. Bigger guns are not always better and no worries it will be carrying anti-tank missiles if it gets purchased. The new USofA infantry carriers should be able to outrun M-1 tanks in full sprint mode retreating infantry carriers shouldn't be slowing the retreating tanks down. Strikers can be carried by C-130s and are a much better idea than than this monstrosity. There are large, competent, armor heavy armies in the far east.


At $6 million (Estimated for the 2012 Columbia purchase ) each Merkava 4 MBT carries a 5 - 8 man infantry team with each tank, 2 of which would surpass the 9 man capacity of the GCV with vastly superior protection plus the ability to go tete a tete with the best MBT's in the world. The added advantage of the Merkava 4 is that it can use its spaced armour as a fuel tank, also it has a separate auxiliary generator for those electronics - so the engine is not 'idled', I believe most tanks do now for IR supression reasons anyway.

$13 million for something that weighs more, does half the job at twice the price is the BAE way. Good luck with your purchase US !.

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