The M8 Buford light tank was developed by FMC to participate in the Airborne Gun System (AGS) programme. The aim of this programme was to develop a light air-droppable tank for the airborne troops, intended to replace the M551A1 Sheridan. The first prototype - XM8 was built in 1985. This tank won the competition, unfortunately the Armored Gun System programme was canceled in 1996 and the M8 Buford did not entered US Army service, leaving airborne forces dangerously low on firepower.
The M8 Buford uses combined aluminum and steel armor. Modular titanium add-on armor, including ERA packages can be added if necessary. The front armor with add-on packages protects the crew from 30-mm armor-piercing rounds. The M8 Buford is a relatively thin-skinned vehicle, designed to support infantry from covered position and to fight in areas where it is not going to run into main battle tanks.
Vehicle is completed with a fully-stabilized M68A1 105-mm rifled gun, or a Rheinmetall XM35 gun, fitted with an autoloader and fire control system. Fire control system is similar to that, used on the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. Autoloader holds 19 to 21 rounds and provides a maximum rate of fire in 12 rounds per minute. Other projectiles are stowed near the driver. Gun can be loaded manually in case of emergency. During the trials it appeared that the ammunition compartment failed to contain the reaction of the ammunition, when hit by anti-tank weapons.
Secondary armament consists of a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun, and 12.7-mm MG, mounted on top of the roof.
The M8 Buford has a crew of 3, including commander, gunner and driver.
Vehicle is powered by a Detroit Diesel 6V-921A turbocharged diesel engine. The M8 Buford can be airdropped from a C-130 transport aircraft or larger. The C-130 can carry one vehicle, while the C-141, C-17 and C-5 can carry two, three and five respectively.
Chassis of the XM8 was also intended to serve as a platform for the LOSAT (Line-Of-Sight Anti-Tank) missile system.