The US Expeditionary Tank Background
The 82nd Airborne Division is an active airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute landing operations. Their role is to deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification to conduct Forced Entry parachute assault, Airfield seizure, Airborne & air assault operations, which means they have a need for Armoured Fighting Vehicles capable of providing fire support.
These vehicles have to be air-transportable/deploy, which means they have to be small and light, which rules out a Main Battle Tank. The M551 Sheridan was a light tank designed in the 1960’s and had proved troublesome, so in the 1980’s the US Army held the Armored Gun System competition.
Cadillac Gage offered its Stingray light tank with the traditional four-man layout. FMC offered the Close combat Vehicle Light (CCVL) with a three-man configuration. Teledyne offered its Expeditionary tank which had a two-man layout with an experimental unmanned turret. In 1992, FMC’s design was selected and type classified as the M8 Armored Gun System aka M8 Buford.
Sadly the Army cancelled the Armored Gun System programme in 1996. Instead it now uses the 8×8 wheeled Stryker M1128, which is a hybrid using the standard Stryker APC with the Expeditionary Tanks turret.
Development of The US Expeditionary Tank
Development of the Expeditionary Tank began in 1982 and the chassis of the first prototype was completed in December 1983, followed by a complete turret in mid 1984. The turret and hull were finally combined in April of 1985, and displayed in public for the first time in the US Army Armour Conference at Ft. Knox.
About the The US Expeditionary Tank
It had an unmanned turret, housing the M35 rifled 105mm (Calibre Length52) Low-Recoil main gun. It was fed by an autoloader and the 3 man crew were located in a main fighting compartment in the hull. It was constructed of hardened steel proofed against machine gun fire and artillery shell splinter. Appliqué armour may very well have been added if required. The vehicle was transportable by C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
The US Expeditionary Tank Spec’s
Weight: 19 tonne
Dimensions: Length (gun forward) 7.49m / Hull length Unknown / Width 2.69m / Height 2.8m
Armament: Rifled 105mm Main Gun (35 rounds stored) & x1 7.62mm Machine Gun
Turret Traverse: 360 degrees
Engine: 495hp Cummins VTA-903T diesel
Top Road Speed: 80km/h
Operational Range: 480km
Side slope: 40%