US light tank has high levels of toxic fumes firing the main gun

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WASHINGTON, US — The Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation [DOT&E] published in January 2023 its main report for the past year 2022. It featured a report on the Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] program, which involved the production and acquisition of a new light tank for the US Army.

Photo credit: US Army / Twitter

In 2022, several tests were done on the winner General Dynamics Land Systems’ [GDLS] Griffin II. The GDLS beat BAE Systems’ M8 AGS in the light tank race. In its report, DOT&E says the prototype is still immature. For this reason, operational tests have not yet been conducted.

Toxic fumes

Initially, however, a problem arose during one of the tank’s development tests. It turns out that the light tank has high levels of toxic fumes when fired with the main gun. DOT&E recommends in the report that GDLS continue to work on the prototype design to avoid this problem.

One possible reason for the presence of toxic fumes can be traced to the 105mm ammunition used, not the gun itself, experts say. The current ammunition used in the tests has a steel case. After firing the main gun, an empty cartridge case is ejected, leaving behind a toxic powder residue, people familiar with the process say.

Other recommendations were made to improve the design of the new American light tank besides eliminating toxic fumes. For example, the manufacturer needs to improve the cooling system in the tank. Also, the GDLS should improve the performance and accuracy of the tank on other targets outside of moving heavily armored vehicles. It’s about bunkers and walls.

About Griffin II

The US Army begins lethality and lives fire testing of GDLS-produced low-rate initial production-representative vehicles in FY23, the DOT&E report said. This means that in the current year, GDLS will have to solve all the problems described in the form of recommendations in the report. The USA plans to start serial production of its new light tank in 2025.

The GDLS Griffin II tank is armed with one 105mm M35 main gun. There is still no exact information on what the secondary armament of the tank will be. According to sources, it is assumed that it will be one 0.50 caliber [12.7 mm] M2HB heavy machine gun and one 7.62 mm [.308 in] M240B machine gun.

Photo credit: Twitter

The light tank weighs 38 tons. It is powered by a diesel engine and has a torsion bar suspension. The Griffin II design includes armor, smoke grenade launchers, blowoff panels, and automatic fire suppression intended to enhance survivability against direct/indirect fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and underbody threats.

Some good news

At this time, DOT&E considers progress on the development of the new light tank for the US Army to be satisfactory. There is a good minimization of the noise level says the report. The tank is designed to share information with other ground vehicles of the Lust, which will significantly improve the combat capabilities of the US military.

During the tests conducted in 2022, the firing of the main gun met the basic requirements of the American command. However, the shooting accuracy will need to be improved.

It should be noted that Griffin II shares many components of the structure of the American Abrams tank. For example, the turret of the Griffin II is similar to that of the main battle tank. This will allow the training of future Griffin II crews to train on Abrams simulators while the tank is being developed and entering serial production. Thus, the US Army will have personnel ready to take over the management of the first tanks to roll off the production line.


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