Two words: Father time.
A History Like No Other Tank
Originally conceived in the 1970s, the M1 Abrams tank is a lengend. There are three main operational Abrams versions—the M1, M1A1, and M1A2—with each new iteration seeing noticeable improvements in armament, next-generation electronics, and protection.
“(Abrams) provides the lethality, survivability and fightability necessary to defeat advanced threats well into the future. The Abrams tank is the Army’s primary ground combat system,” the U.S. military’s news release states.
“The Abrams Main Battle Tank closes with and destroys the enemy using mobility, firepower and shock effect. The Abrams is a full-tracked, low-profile, land combat assault weapon possessing unmatched survivability, shoot-on-the-move lethality and a high degree of maneuverability. The Abrams tank sends a message to those who would oppose the United States as to the resolve, capability and might of the U.S. Army,” it continues.
According to Military.com, the “M1A2 represents the U.S. Army’s technological improvement of the basic M1A1 design and the most modern battle tank in the world. Outwardly similar in appearance to the M1A1, the most notable exterior changes on the M1A2 are the redesigned Commander’s Weapon Station (CWS) and the addition of a Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer) on the left side of the turret forward of the loader’s hatch. Internally, however, the M1A2 has been radically redesigned to take advantage of newer technology,” it wrote.
“Most notable of these improvements is the addition of the Inter-Vehicle Information System (IVIS.) The IVIS system allows for the automatic and continual exchange of information between vehicles. By incorporating information provided by an on board Position/Navigation (POSNAV) system, unit commander’s can track the location and progress of subordinate elements automatically, without tasking vehicle crews,” it continued.
Not to be outdone, “enemy positions can be identified, plotted and disseminated, while reports and artillery requests can be automatically formatted, transmitted, and processed. Lastly, map graphic control measures and operational orders can be rapidly distributed via the IVIS system.”
Future of Abrams Tank: Beating Back Father Time?
While clearly showing its ages, this piece of armored history somehow keeps getting better and better with time.
According to the U.S. military’s release, the M1A2 SEPv4, considered the most modern of all the Abrams tanks, is already deep in development. It writes that “the cornerstone technology is the third generation (3GEN) FLIR, which will provide tank crews much greater lethality. The 3GEN FLIR will be an upgrade to both sights and will be common with other combat platforms.”
After receiving this next-generation upgrade, “the Abrams will integrate a color camera, Eye-safe Laser Range Finder and a cross-platform laser pointer to facilitate multidomain battle into the commander’s sight.” In addition, the M1A2 SEPv4 will feature “full-embedded training to maximize crew proficiency of the system.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.