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How the US Military Keeps Making the M1 Abrams Tank Even Better

M1 Abrams Tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
M1 Abrams Tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

What Do We Know About the M1A2 SEP Version 4 of the M1 Abrams MBT? – In March 2022, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Baszczak signed a deal worth about $4.75 billion to buy 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 from the United States. Deliveries are expected to begin later this year, with upwards of twenty-eight tanks entering service with the Polish military.

The procurement of the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) will allow Warsaw to replace its outdated Soviet-designed T-72 and Polish-made PT-91 variant MBTs with a new tracked vehicle platform.

Poland has operated the T-72 and PT-92 since the late Cold War, but it has also adopted the German-made Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks for use with its military – largely to counter the Russian flagship T-14 Armata tank.

The announcement from Warsaw came just after the Australian military also closed a $2.5 billion deal with the Pentagon to acquire seventy-five of the SEPv3 Abrams and other armored support vehicles.

The Latest M1 Abrams

Also known as the M1A2C, the EP version 3 (SEPv3) remains the current production model of the Abrams tank that was scheduled for First Unit Equipped in the fiscal year 2020 (FY20).

The improved version was meant to rectify many of the space, weight, and power issues identified during Operation Iraqi Freedom and it would be the foundational variant for all future incremental upgrades.

In addition to having improved survivability, the Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 was developed to host any mature technology the United States Army deems operationally relevant.

Improvements have so far focused on increasing the electrical power margin, Vehicle Health Management Systems, integrated counter-improvised explosive device protection, a new Auxiliary Power Unit enabling silent watch, embedded training, and an Ammunition Data Link.

It has been described as the most reliable Abrams tank ever produced, minimizes the U.S. Army’s logistic footprint, and leads the Army in enterprise-level connectivity to maintenance and supply systems.

More Improvements to Come

Even as the U.S. Army is introducing the SEPv3 – the models that Poland and Australia will acquire – the Pentagon has been looking ahead with the M1A2 SEP Version 4 (SEPv4)

“The most lethal Abrams tank is now in development, featuring the third generation (3GEN) FLIR the cornerstone technology that will provide tank crews the ability to identify enemy targets farther than ever before. The 3GEN FLIR will be an upgrade to both sights and will be common with other combat platforms,” the U.S. Army noted about the SEPv4.

With the upgrade, the Abrams will also integrate a color camera, Eye-safe Laser Range Finder, and a cross-platform laser pointer to facilitate multi-domain battle into the commander’s sight.

In addition to a lethality upgrade, the M1A2 SEPv4 will include full-embedded training to maximize crew proficiency of the system, the Army also announced.

M1 Abrams Tank

An M1 Abrams Tank fires off a round as a demonstration during 1st Tank Battalion’s Jane Wayne Spouse Appreciation Day aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., April 3, 2018. The purpose of the event is to build resiliency in spiritual well being, the will to fight and a strong home life for the 1st Tanks Marines and their families. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Rachel K. Porter)

US Army Putin

US Army M1 Abrams Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

M1 Abrams

M1 Abrams Tank. Image Credit: US Marine Corp.

M1 Abrams

U.S. Soldiers assigned to 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, sit ready to engage targets in an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank during Combined Resolve XV live fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Feb. 9, 2021. Combined Resolve XV is a Headquarters Department of the Army directed Multinational exercise designed to build 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Divisions’s readiness and enhance interoperability with allied forces to fight and win against any adversary. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Randis Monroe)

This program was reportedly developed to “onboard” any technology the Army deems critical to the future battlefield to include artificial intelligence, autonomy, APS, or advanced sensors.

With these advancements, the M1 Abrams will remain an effective battle tank even after four decades in service.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.