The BAE Systems M8 Armored Gun System was an American light tank that was intended to replace the M551 Sheridan in the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as being expected to replace TOW-equipped Humvees in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2nd ACR). The Armored Gun System (AGS) competition was initiated and in 1992 FMC/United Defense’s vehicle was selected. The M8 project was eventually canceled in 1997. Its role in the 2nd ACR was eventually taken by the M1128 Mobile Gun System. The BAE Systems (which bought United Defense in 2005) is expected to offer a modernised version of the M8 in the competition for the US Army Mobile Protected Firepower infantry brigade light tank requirement. The BAE Systems has put forward an upgraded version of its M8 Buford Armored Gun System (AGS), called the Expeditionary Light Tank. This vehicle, weighing in at less than 20 tons in its lightest configuration, also features a turreted 105mm cannon as its main weapon.
The basic hull of the M8 is made of welded aluminum alloy, with a modular armoring system that allows the vehicle to be equipped according to requirements. The Level I (basic) armor package is designed for the rapid deployment role and can be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules and protects the vehicle against small-arms fire and shell splinters. The Level II armor package can still be carried by C-130, but must be airlanded and is designed for use by light forces in a more serious threat environment, while level III armor is designed for contingency operations and is supposed to provide protection against light handheld anti-tank weapons. Level III armor cannot be carried by C-130. All versions are air-transportable by C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III (five and three respectively).
The company said it has made significant improvements on the type-classified M8 Armored gun system and other previous development programs to create the fully integrated MPF system that is more lethal, mobile and boasts a longer life cycle. The M8 is armed with the XM35 rifled autoloading 105 mm cannon main gun with an M240 7.62 mm machine-gun mounted coaxially. The M35 has a rate of fire of approximately 12 rounds per minute, with a ready capacity of 21 rounds with 9 more in stowage. A Browning M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun is mounted in a manually-operated pintle on the commander’s hatch. Power is provided by a Detroit Diesel 6V-92TIA diesel developing 550 hp. The BAE Systems M8 vehicle will provide enhanced protections for ground combat units while delivering “overwhelming precision firepower” over multiple terrains and environmental conditions.