The US Army accelerates the tempo for the replacement of the Abrams tank

There is no doubt that General Dynamics Land Systems' AbramsX demo tank will have been the undeniable star of the AUSA 2022 show held last week in the suburbs of Washington. Is it because of the existence of an American alternative, or of the pressure which made weigh the Chinese announcement concerning the development of a new generation battle tank "at least as powerful as the Russian armada", but it seems that the question of replacing the heavy battle tank M1 Abrams has experienced a certain acceleration in recent days. Indeed, for Major General Glenn Dean, overseeing land combat systems within the US Army, the time has come to think about the future of the Abrams, and even its replacement in the relatively near future.

Asked by the specialized American site Defense News during the AUSA exhibition, General Dean confirmed that the next evolution of the Abrams, the M1A2 SEPv4, would enter service as soon as 2023. However, he also indicated that all options were now on the table for the continuation of this program, that it is a possible SEPv5, or the development of a new American tank. Indeed, the US Army collected numerous feedbacks during an analysis mission in Europe, but also during the conflict in Ukraine, showing that from now on, the paradigms constituting the modern Abrams were no longer as efficient as they could be so far. In particular, the mobility of tanks represents (again) a critical issue, in particular to exploit the weaknesses of the opposing system, an area in which the excessive mass of the M1A2, more than 68 tons in combat, now represents a real handicap. Beyond mobility issues, tank protection can no longer be satisfied with armor alone, and must incorporate new generation systems to counter shells, but also missiles and lurking ammunition.

M1A2 Trophy Defense Analysis | MBT battle tanks | Russian-Ukrainian conflict
The Abrams tank went from 57 to 67 tons over its evolution, hampering its mobility and transportability

However, these new imperatives do not sit well with a new evolution of the Abrams, and the hypothesis of a replacement for the famous tank, hitherto postponed beyond 2025, now becomes much more pressing, in particular if China actually developed a next-generation tank. Indeed, if one could reasonably think that the consequences of the war in Ukraine would further slow down the Russian Armata program, and permanently alter the ground offensive capabilities of the Moscow armies, allowing the US Army to develop the replacement for the Abrams by 2035, just like the European MGCS, the announced emergence of a new Chinese model is reshaping the cards in depth, all the more so as Beijing would have no problem producing the armored vehicle in mass, this one being effectively ready for industrial production. And if Washington keeps Russian technological advances under surveillance, those coming from Beijing have a completely different impact, at the Pentagon as well as at the White House and on Capitol Hill.


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