Technology

Pentagon researches 'more mobile' hi-tech tank

concept tank
Image caption Researchers for the US military say they want to 'revolutionise' tank design

The research arm of the US military is looking at designs for new hi-tech tanks, focusing less on armour and more on mobility and speed.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) says it wants to "revolutionise" tank design.

The body says advancements in weaponry in recent years have made heavily armoured tanks less effective.

The next generation of tanks will instead be better able to avoid attacks in the first place.

"It's about breaking the 'more armour' paradigm and revolutionising protection for all armoured fighting vehicles," said Kevin Massey, Darpa program manager.

Image caption The next generation of tanks are expected to be smaller and faster than the current armour-heavy designs

"Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armoured fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable."

The agency is planning to award contracts to companies and researchers in these fields over the coming months.

It expects new tanks to be more mobile and agile, allowing them to dodge attacks, cover all types of terrain and avoid detection.

The objective is to make tanks half the weight and twice as fast.

It also wants more technology for tank crews, with aids like driver assistance and automation of some functions, "similar to the capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits".

Darpa says it hopes to start work on developing the new technology before April next year.

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