At the Annual Symposium of the US Army (AUSA) 2016, the US company General Dynamics has presented it's new Griffin light tank technology demonstrator. The Griffin is meant to demonstrate the abilities of General Dynamics to create a modern light/medium tank with technologies that could be utilized on upgrades for existing vehicles. It is apparently aimed at the US Army, but also at the British military, which originally planned to buy a direct-fire support version of the Scout-SV (ASCOD 2).
The Griffin is based on combined technology from the development of the Ajax version of the ASCOD 2, the Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) upgrade suggestion for the M1 Abrams tank and leftover technology from the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. It is designed to fit two Griffins into a single C-17; the weight of a single vehicle is less than 30 metric tons.
The Griffin uses a tracked chassis, which seems to be based on a composite fibre construction, a technology already tested during the 1980s and 1990s. It has been utilized in certain places on a few combat vehicles such as the K21 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The roadwheels and tracks are covered by a rubber flap, which reduces dust creation and can positively affect the thermal signature. The composite construction should reduce the noise generation and provide improved stealth characteristics. Alternatively the Griffin hull might still utilize a steel or aluminium construction and is only covered by some glass-reinforced fibre material for better stealth characteristics. The Griffin's chassis seems to be a modified ASCOD 2 (Ajax) chassis.
The Griffin is armed with either a 105 mm or 120 mm gun. It seems that the prototype might be fitted with a version of the XM360 tank gun. A coaxial machine gun is also fitted, based on the available ammunition it should be either a 5.56 or 7.62 mm machine gun. The Griffin is fitted with "world-class fire control" according to General Dynamics, but it appears to lack an independent commander's sight in it's current iteration. Instead it is only fitted with a gunner's sight apparently based on the M1 Abrams' Gunner Primary Sight (GPS).
The Griffin is manned by a crew of four. This means it is not fitted with an autoloader and instead a soldier loads the gun. The commander is provided with a large cupola for better situational awareness. Currently there is no remote weapon station (RWS) and no pintle-mounted machine gun for use against infantry and aircrafts.
As for protection and mobility, General Dynamics' information is currently very limited. The Griffin is capable of adopting an active protection system (APS). Most likely the Griffin is fitted with a MTU engine, Renk transmission and DST tracks (formerly Diehl tracks, but KMW bought the responsible subsidiary from Diehl), which have been used on all other ASCOD chassis designs.
|The ASCOD 2 Direct Fire variant|
Given the relatively low weight, the passive armor protection might be limited. The ASCOD 2 Direct Fire version proposed by General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) was fitted with Cockerill CT-CV 105HP turret with 105 mm gun and was expected to weigh some 30 metric tons. While there is a possibility that the steel hull of the ASCOD 2 might have been less weight efficient than the Griffin hull (which might made from glass-reinforced plastic fibres), the turret (with an autoloader and only STANAG 4569 level 3 or 4 protection) should most likely be more weight-efficient than the Griffin's three-men turret. The ASCOD 2 DF's hull was fitted with composite applique armor for protection against 30 mm APDS/APFSDS from 1,000 metres along the frontal arc (which is actually slightly below STANAG 4569 level 6, which calls for protection from 500 metres distance) and 14.5 mm AP ammunition at the sides. It seems unlikely that the Griffin will exceed this protection level.
The Composite Armoured Vehicle (CAV) and the Composite Armoured Vehicle Platform (ACAVP) of the UK utilized a hull made of glass-reinforced plastic and shows why the Griffin is believed to feature such a hull design. At 24 metric tons it provided all-round protection against 14.5 mm AP and frontal protection against 30 mm AP ammunition.
|CAV via ThinkDefence|