Thursday, November 30, 2023

With the new Abrams M1E3, the US Army wants to fundamentally rethink its battle tank

Deputy Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo indicated that a new version of the M1 tank, designated Abrams M1E3, and aimed at making the armor lighter while increasing its survivability, was now under study. The M1A2 SEPv4 version, and its 67 tons in combat, has been suspended.

The American M1A2 Abrams tank is today, incontestably, one of the most powerful armored vehicles in service, and one of the best protected. However, like the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, its contemporary within the US Army, it has become significantly overweight over the years and successive versions.

If the first Abrams had a combat mass of less than 55 tonnes at the end of the 1970s, the M1A2 SEPv4 which was to begin arriving last spring within American tank units, will exceed 67 tonnes on the scale, under the the effect of successively added equipment and shielding.

With its AGT1500 turbine and 1,500 horsepower, the Abrams still has a power-to-weight ratio of almost 23 hp per ton, giving it high performance on and off-road. However, the constraints generated by this mass now seem to exceed the benefits expected in combat from these successive developments.

The 67 tons of the Abrams M1A2 SEPv4 pose problems for the US Army

Thus, American tanks are increasingly confronted, due to their mass, with constraints in using civilian infrastructure such as bridges, severely hampering their mobility. Likewise, they tend to get bogged more easily on unstable terrain, muddy or otherwise, than lighter armored vehicles.

M1A2 abrams alt e1611932071198 MBT battle tanks | Construction of armored vehicles | UNITED STATES
The M1A2 Abrams has experienced successive weight gains, leading it to flirt with 67 tonnes in combat

Finally, and some would say above all, this mass creates very significant logistical constraints, particularly in terms of fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on certain mechanical elements.

Until recently, tanks were used in restricted environments for which additional protection, means of detection and firepower represented the greatest added value, even to the detriment of mobility. This was especially the case during the American forces' engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The return of the risks of engagement in the Eastern European theater, the emergence of the Chinese threat in the Pacific, as well as the lessons of the war in Ukraine, however, led US Army planners to change their point of view on the subject .

This is, in fact, what emerges from the revelations made by Undersecretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo , to the specialized site Defense News, during a conference organized by the latter on September 6 in Arlington, Virginia.

The Abrams M1E3, a reboot of the American tank

LOGO meta defense 70 MBT battle tanks | Construction of armored vehicles | UNITED STATES

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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