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ChrisWerb

Japanese Type 10 MBT FCS

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One thing that has puzzled me for a long time is the lack of auto-tracking on MBT FCS. There are a few examples out there including the Merkava from 3 Baz onwards and the Japanese Type 10. We were discussing this over on tank-net and one respected poster who lives and works in Japan provided a bit of a description of the FCS which I thought was quite remarkable. I will paraphrase his description here for discussion.

 

The Type 10 is fitted with an FCS that will autonomously detect, classify and identify targets. It will select the appropriate ammunition to be loaded and aim the main gun at the best aim point on the vehicle (presumably taking hit probability and vulnerability into account). Not only will the system continue to track the target, but, should the target disappear, it will continue to calculate lead as if the target was moving and anticipate the target's reappearance at which point it will automatically reacquire.

 

Now the really interesting bit. A platoon/troop of Type 10s has what in naval parlance would be called "collaborative engagement capability". Their FCS talk to each other to prioritise the available targets within the platoon/troop, to ensure that the targets are engaged in order of the threat they present, but without more than one vehicle engaging the same target if enemy vehicles are equal or greater in number than the platoon/troop's. Given that shooting first often dictates the outcome of an engagement, this sounds like a game changer.

 

What surprises me is not so much that the Type 10 allegedly has these capabilities, but rather that other modern MBTs don't. I would have expected autotracking to have become pretty much universal. It seems incongruous that the M1 from at least M1A2 does not have it. It's pretty much ubiquitous on maritime and attack helicopters and MALE UAVs and even ATGW launchers including all Javelin CLUs and the latest SABER ground/vehicle TOW launcher have it. The UK had it on the Striker Swingfire ATGW vehicle for a few years before its premature retirement. I'm given to understand that the Pizarro, as modelled in SB, can auto-track. Why don't the majority of MBT's have this capability?

 

[Disclaimer: I was, until recently, a World of Tanks player]

 

 

 

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The lack of auto-tracking and other wiz-bang gadgetry can be almost exclusively attributed to the fact the the FCS' of most modern MBTs were developed in the early to mid 1970s and basically band-aided into what you see currently.

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Actually originaly M1A2 was meant to have autotracker, but for some reason it never happend.

I suspect it's just not worth the possible cost increase in FCS. I really doubt that such capabilities are needed in the end most time on battlefield.

 

It might happen in future of course, especially with crew reduction to 3 men.

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The two target trackers that I have personally seen so far left no big impression on me. They are based on simple image analysis based on a contrasting shape moving against the background. They will catch and track pretty much anything, occasionally even a target.

I'm not saying that it's a stupid idea in general, but unless the target tracking becomes a great deal better it remains a gadget that may be a great asset in 5% of all moving engagements, an annoying distraction in 2.5% of the cases, and indifferent in the remaining 92.5%. The question is, are the 5% worth it when you have to fight the tracker in five out of 200 cases.

 

Maybe the Japanese are much better at it than what the Israelis sell to the rest of the world.

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Aren't autotrackers also based on similiar tech as AA missiles with IR guiding system, they just follow the targets thermal signature?

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In the widest possible sense, yes. But a missile's seeker would simply aim for the brightest spot (which is why flying into the sun and then breaking, or why flare dispensers are effective against heat seeking missiles). Also, it's mounted on a platform that is rapidly closing with its target.

 

Not so with vehicle-based target trackers. Those that are working entirely passive by image analysis will simply look (in the vicinity of the crosshairs) for a contrast that is moving against the background. A dark tank amidst sand dunes is a perfect example. A well camouflaged tank that doesn't display a contrast against the backdrop (e.g. because it has Barracuda IR suppressor camo elements mounted, a not too dark appearance, and is moving within trees and shadows) would probably escape the tracker. And then you have situations where there is enemy AND civilian population that may be unaware of the impending engagement. You track a target until a white delivery van passes by, offering the highest contrast level, and zap! you're tracking the wrong target. Or it hangs up at a corner of a white painted building (because, contrast).

What you'd need would be sensor fusion - like tracking and analyzing the thermal and optical signature at the same time, maybe throwing in some radar signal as well. But then you'd no longer working with passive sensors, which is a big disadvantage.

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What I'd be more interessted in(and i'm really scratching my head on how its implemented) is the Leclerc's FCS.

As it is said to enable effective platoon/company fire control (avoiding 2 tanks knocking the same target while one unattended target can shoot back at you).

IMHO much more useful then an auto tracker...

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I suppose each tank has his GPS coordinates and knows the direction to the targets. Assuming that the fire control system has a list of angles stored, you'd need to exchange the list of bearings to each target, sort who can't see which target and assign targets with priority to those units that can see the fewest, then split up the remaining targets among the others.

 

That would at least require that some image analysis asks for a user confirmation that what it believes is a target really is. Or maybe it only works after everybody has lased "his" target, but that wouldn't be so great because (again) it would require active EM emission.

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I'm not sure I would base an assessment of Japanese abilities in the electronics sphere on Israeli achievements. I'm not knocking the Israelis, but the Japanese obviously have a pretty strong background in electronics themselves. It could be that the Japanese are claiming to have these capabilities as some kind of joke, but I have never really considered them to be particularly humorous about their defence forces or war in general. I can see ways in which such a capability would be problematic to implement, but I have been seeing western presentations showing non cooperative target recognition in a terrestrial environment for over a decade now, albeit in presentations about kit that never enters service. As one such presentation was about the RAH-66 Commanche, they must have felt it was possible about 20 years ago. This is a google translation into "Engrish" from the Japanese Wiki page, which is a lot more informative than its English equivalent. 

 

With regard to command and fire-control system, an automatic tracking function even while driving continue to direct the sight of the gun to the target, it is possible to fire a gun in the touch panel operation. Wireless communication, laser sensors, infrared, under the condition that all of the sensors to function perfectly, such as millimeter-wave radar, in the exchange of information of the type 10 with each other that formed a platoon, and simultaneous capture up to 8 target, simultaneous coordination to this shooting is possible. Platoon leader is, the liquid crystal display, which is equipped with 10 expression by operating the touch panel, or instruct the search operation area in each car, automatically allocates the optimal target in each car by pressing the display "automatic allocation", while avoiding Doshiuchi Chiya overlapping fire (overkill) has made it possible to fire efficiently target [15].


There is automatic search operation function is to 10, wherein the sensor and to detect the target, the type from such goal of the goals of the shape automatically identify (tanks, armored vehicles, non-armored vehicles, aircraft, fixed target, such as a human) a. FCS automatically makes a determination of the goals of the threat of that detection and identification, to be highlighted by color-coded targets on the display. These pieces of information, the situation of the platoon in each car (fuel, ammunition, fault conditions, etc.) it is possible to share in real time in the platoon. If the target is a high threat level has appeared, it is possible to vehicle length as well as the Type 90 tank is not only can override the gunner, platoon leader is to aim to forcibly override the FCS of the other platoon vehicles. When aiming automatically to precisely aim the goal of weakness site from the database. After the shooting, FCS is precisely measured to the location where you landed, perform effective decision. If the FCS is defeat of the goal was judged to uncertainty, FCS is recommending the Tsugidan shooting the passenger [16].


The equation (10) of the test item, given the excitation to simulate the running state of the straight and slalom in the new tank simulated turret part, there is the content of the performance test to obtain data about the fire control error. FY 24 FY Fuji comprehensive firepower exercises, was to demonstrate the "retreat march shooting" an accurate shooting while increasing while meandering to the left and right carried out between the exact march shooting "slalom shooting" and rapid retreat. Such as the Type 90 tanks, so far of the third in-generation tanks, but was possible to hit the target in the march morphism do the shooting while driving, it is between the relatively simple traveling, such as during the advancement of at a constant speed limited, it was not possible to provide sufficient precision shooting in the rapidly traveling to change the course, such as the slalom run. In addition, in was carried out in a smile super conference within 2 "talk show by type 10 developers", a high degree of difficulty than the slalom shooting with respect to the stationary target that has been showcased in the exercises, the infallible accuracy of the also in the slalom shooting against moving target it has been told to have [17].


Has been installed in the vehicle length for a periscope behind the high position, infrared camera unit of the vehicle length for a visit aiming device is possible the entire circumference turning, there is also such as the sharing of information by the C4I, Hunter killer to carry out search operations in cooperation with allies, to attack capacity is to be improved as compared with the 90 formula [9].

Edited by ChrisWerb

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PS: I have heard the argument made that active sensors put you at a disadvantage due to the possibility of being DF'd, even if it's an LPI radar which any used in such a role would more than likely be. The same argument mysteriously is not made for radios and datalinks which are used a lot. Radars also need not be turned on all the time. The same argument can be made with combat aircraft. With modern missiles and datalinks, an AWACS can send coordinates to the plane via Link 16 which then sends a missile, set to passive, which only goes active near the anticipated position of the target. In some instances, the AWACS can allegedly directly control the missile. No one, as far as I am aware, is suggesting that radars be removed from fighter aircraft. As with any sensor, however, they need to be used intelligently and with caution.

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13 minutes ago, ChrisWerb said:

PS: I have heard the argument made that active sensors put you at a disadvantage due to the possibility of being DF'd, even if it's an LPI radar which any used in such a role would more than likely be. The same argument mysteriously is not made for radios and datalinks which are used a lot. Radars also need not be turned on all the time. The same argument can be made with combat aircraft. With modern missiles and datalinks, an AWACS can send coordinates to the plane via Link 16 which then sends a missile, set to passive, which only goes active near the anticipated position of the target. In some instances, the AWACS can allegedly directly control the missile. No one, as far as I am aware, is suggesting that radars be removed from fighter aircraft. As with any sensor, however, they need to be used intelligently and with caution.

 

In case of data links, my friend said to me that good data link that is hard to detect uses directional antenna.

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Directional antenna with a two way datalink imply known direction of tranceivers at both ends. That works with something like a Tammuz missile or with fixed locations on the ground. AFAIK tank radios and BCS do not use directional antennae, but I could be wrong about that. I can't see how they can though when you are sharing info with vehicles all around you, infantry, higher echelons, units to your flanks etc.

Edited by ChrisWerb

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Yeah, that's true. I only know that for example AH-64E uses directional antenna that can rotate 360 degrees, it's mounted in the radar dome.

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EM emission is never a great idea. Unfortunately it is also often the only way to exchange information, so it's a necessary evil. Whenever I write "EM emission is bad" it's a shortcut for "it should be carefully considered if the tradeoff between the risks associated with some EM emission and the utility value that one gets out of it are worth it". Depending on what kind of adversary you have and his level of technological sophistication the net benefit can be enormous, mediocre, or negative. E.g. having a mm-wave radar switched on all the time as a part of an active missile defense system would probably have helped to save the lives of numerous Syrian, Saudi, and Turkish tank crews in their struggle with foes that have access to potent ATGMs ... and not much beyond those missiles.

Against an enemy who might set up a vast array of sigint sensors having a mm-wave radar buzzing all the time - be it to intercept the unexpected missile, be it to track targets in the vicinity - sounds like a very stupid idea. Even if the emission is not particularly strong: If an entire tank brigade does it while it's on a road march, it would eliminate the last hope of operational surprise and rather invite air and artillery attacks while they aren't even close to the front line.

 

So, I recognize that it's a tradeoff and not an absolute. At the same time all I'm asking for is acknowledgement that sophisticated gadgetry may underdeliver, or come with some weakness that a sufficiently sophisticated enemy may learn to exploit, somewhat diminishing the practical value of such a new technology (without saying that it eliminates the advantage completely).

A lot depends on how well the technology user interface integrates with the crew's procedures, how reliably it works, and how often it fails and annoys the crew. This is something that never shows up in the specs and feature lists, yet it arguably is the decisive factor. I have over time become a bit more cynical about the way how military equipment procurement works (without having abandoned all hope completely; there are good guys working in the field, but there's also a lot of BS to deal with). What I'm trying to say here is, just because a gadget gets adopted by an army doesn't mean that it has been super thoroughly tested in all kinds of tactical situations and been finally approved by experienced users before the procurement actually starts. That's how it should work, but usually it doesn't.

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29 minutes ago, ChrisWerb said:

Directional antenna with a two way datalink imply known direction of tranceivers at both ends. That works with something like a Tammuz missile or with fixed locations on the ground. AFAIK tank radios and BCS do not use directional antennae, but I could be wrong about that. I can't see how they can though when you are sharing info with vehicles all around you, infantry, higher echelons, units to your flanks etc.

Thats why radio disciplin is so important. You only send when absolutely necesarry.

That said, to locate you omnidirectional radio transmission, you need to triangulate the source. But a radar"beam" directed at a target IOT autotrack or similar...well its very easy to detect and shoot at the source.

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Yes, as I said, you have to use emitters judiciously and there is a definite cost/benefit analysis to be undertaken in every instance of their use. I think we can take that as read. Also that technology breaks down, screws up, creates forseen and unforseen vulerabilities of its own etc.

 

AFAIK no one has objected to SPAAGs having radars, although the British army has gone to a non EM emitting mobile SAM system that looks pretty good, apart from being weather limited. Even the primary cueing device is passive. There was a programme to datalink it to the common air picture, but I think that either got canned or massively downscaled and it probably uses non directional comms. We are adopting a sensor agnostic SAM system that I am pretty sure will use directional datalinks to connect to the common air picture and its command and control system. Unfortunately, to be effective it will have to take its cue primarily from radars - we use the Ericsson Giraffe. The US Multi Mission Launcher is similar in concept and presumably uses directional datalinks, but it too is cued by radars - the AN/MPQ-64F. Those radars or on trailers, but can, I believe, be vehicle mounted. They will, however, be static most of the time. The Russians have moved on a step in survivability in that their latest SA-15 variant (Tor-M1-2U) can engage air targets on the move. Their latest counterbattery radar is meant to be able to operate whilst moving too. This is an obvious bonus, but then someone will turn around and say what happens when SPEAR Capability 3 or GBU-53/B are deployed which would have such systems high on their priority list. Recon vehicles are also often fitted with radars, despite their role being synonymous with stealth - the British army had ZB298 in service at least 40 years ago, and it was sold around the world.

 

Tanks may use radios to the minimum, but to have meaningful coordination it is likely you will use them enough for an enemy with decent ESM to know there is a tank platoon out there, where it is, and, over time, to work out a vector for it if it is moving. You can operate strict EMCON up to a point, but you can't simply give up radios. Ssnake makes a very valid point about active countermeasures. I would not be so worried about the enemy deploying anti radar missiles tuned to home in on them, although this is a possiblity (ARMs tend to be hideously expensive), but more on artillery being DF'd on to them. As such contermeasures would typically be active when the assumption would be that the enemy had eyes on you (they are mostly primarily designed to defend against direct fire threats, though indirect fire AT missiles obviously exist), they are likely not revealing the existence of the tank, nor giving a location more precise than the enemy may already have. Doctrine, as explained in the Steel Beasts user manual has you only remaining in LOS of the enemy for the absolute minimum time necessary to accomplish what you need to do - typically engage the enemy. You do not want to be sitting on a ridgeline in full view against even a moderately competent enemy as the Turks recently demonstrated yet again. If you have to remain in line of sight or potential line of sight, you can displace frequently. Even the Russians took around 10 minutes to put fires on Ukranian positions using UAVs to cue them. Incidentally, my understanding is that the source of a beam would also have to be triangulated unless you were using a weapon that homed on target. Even then you would need an idea of range in many cases. You can triangulate from one ESM sensor if that sensor is on a platform that is moving, but I would expect that even in this day and age triangulation is still pretty much essential in the case of ground-based ESM.

 

As to the question as to whether this technology even works, well the Japanese seem to think so. In the UK we entered WW2 with the idea that the planes they made were inferior copies of western designs made of bamboo and ricepaper and flown by buck toothed pilots with bottle bottom lensed glasses. That did not work out well for us. It could also be that this system only needs to be able to differentiate between a variety of large, radioactive monsters and robots - the only opposition the JGSDF has actually faced since WW2. However, a country that can make a robot that can walk around based on visual cues knows a little about AI and an intelligent platform's interactions with its surroundings. MMW images are highly detailed and the F-35 for example is meant to be able to ID kit down to model using fused radar, IR and visual spectrum imagery, so the capability is not unique. The camera on my android phone can tell if it is looking at a face (though I can draw well enough to spoof it). I would expect the system to assign a probability of ID, which in many cases may be less than 100%. Whether you accepted the less than 100% ID as a reason to open fire would depend on the context such as the nature of the conflict, the priority of the target, its proximity to civilians or civilian infrastructure etc. A machine cannot take every possible variable into account in a complex urban environment with lots of civilians around and most countries would not allow it to do so. However, if you're doing the battle of the 73rd Easting again, being stomped on by Kaiju, or landing on Klendathu, the system potentially becomes a lot more valuable/viable.

 

Incidentally Snake, I used to work in government procurement. You can read into that what you will, but you can take it for granted we probably had many similar experiences. :)

 

 

 

Edited by ChrisWerb
Sheer pedantry and numerous typo corrections. :)

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Just a BTW, but looking at whether active defence systems would be useful in line of march, there was an occasion in Libya on 15 December 2011 where an enemy armoured column was hit by two Tornado GR4s with legacy BRIMSTONE.  The two aircraft fired 22 missiles, 12 of them from one aircraft. Obviously, had they had active defence suites, they would probably eventually have been hit by something else, but, in the air environment prevailing (coverage by Senitinel and other ISTAR assets) and given the terrain and need to move, I doubt the active systems would have given them away to any greater extent than simply existing did.

 

Incidentally, Textron Systems have announced they are ceasing production of CBU-105 following not getting the necessary export licences for Saudi. They claim that no longer making this weapon will make their stock more "ownable" by ethical investors world-wide. No more "cans of whupass" for the USAF and Indian Air Force then, although I'm sure the Russians will sell them (the Indians at least) an equivalent.

Edited by ChrisWerb
Brain fart.

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Another aside, you can, in many circumstances, substitute LIDAR for RADAR. LIDAR may be more weather limited, but it can penetrate foliage surprisingly well and it is not DF'able in the way an EM emitter is. It could be cued by passive visual and TI sensors and networked offboard sensors - even a on the ground with an LRF/position locator at the end of an expendable cable. The thing is, if you CAN deploy a system that can rapidly ID and prioritise targets, is a tank even the best thing to put it on? Why not put the sensor on an extendable mast on something like a Unimog and/or on small, expendable GCVs and use it to cue relatively cheap inertially guided EFP warhead equipped munitions with STRIX-like IR sensors and laser profilers for additional verification on them (what you have on SMART submunitions now). Those missiles would impose very little weight penalty and could be mounted on virtually anything - eight of them would fit on a quad bike trailer. In a defensive context, containers of them could be widely dispersed and linked via fibreoptic cable to relatively expendable directional datalink nodes.  An enemy tank company moves into the open - it may or may not detect one or two FOs that can leg it on quad bikes or similar positioned in defilade. With essentially nothing to retaliate against and with no emissions other than highly directional ones from widely dispersed expendable emitters, it finds itself being showered with copper slugs from EFP firing missiles detonating outside its APS hard-kill engagement envelope. I need to go and lie down now. My nurse is on the way with my medication...

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SPAAG SOP was to NOT use the radar most of the time. In some cases even prefering optical means to detect and engage their targets.

 

Also there is a HUGE differenrence between using  radio/datalink or a targeting/observation radar.

One is of low power and directed away from the enemy, the other has more power output and is pointed directly AT the enemy. One needs EW assets to triangulate, the other provides means of INSTANT detection and counteractions.

 

PS: producing 3 posts mixing up different topics in a row, makes it hard to respond/ communicate on a topic...

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5 hours ago, Damian90 said:

AFAIK when it comes to Leclerc, what information I found in the past, is that there is no real autotracker there, but some sort of gunner aiming assistance system.

 

Maybe @Froggy or @lavictoireestlavie can explain this in greater detail.

 

According to Froggy: "


The FCS can't elaborate solutions for 2 differents targets (and it has never been clamed).
FCS helps gunner with the semi auto-tracking: The lead is automaticaly added on mobile targets, and the gunner commands are filtered, eliminating parasitics imputs.
Ie, you aim a mobile target:
You track it with the laser button pressed, starting the learning phase of the target speed. When you release the button (you nedd only 1s to have a good target speed), the turret will automaticaly turns at the speed rate you gave it, and your efforts on handles will be reduced, permiting to make small adjustements with greater handles movement. Even if you put the handles in neutral, the turret will still follow the target for 2s, before starting to slow down.

the lead is continually updated (100 times per sec) after lasing, but the command are less sensible than before lasing, permitting fine aiming.

It's the easiest FCS I had to deal with (Leclerc, AMX30B2, Leo2A4, Challenger 2)

Gunner and TC have exactely the same handle on Leclerc."

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