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

M1 Abrams
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The procurement of the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) will allow Warsaw to replace its outdated Soviet-designed T-72 and Polish-made PT-91 variant MBTs with a new tracked vehicle platform.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 Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Suciu is also a contributing writer for Forbes Magazine.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Anthony

    April 22, 2022 at 2:27 am

    We already know how powerful and reliable the Abrams is on the battlefield, and these upgrades add to the lethality of what is likely the greatest tank ever made. I was a Cavalry Scout, basics recon for the Abrams and other things, so I worked closely with these beasts. The most surprising aspect for me, was how quiet the Abrams is. Even as a extremely heavy tracked vehicle, the sound of the turbine engine was directional. It is nearly silent from the front, quiet from the side, and loudest at the rear, which is where the exhaust is. When it does throttle up, the engine remains relative quiet, making a whining or hissing sound, that can only be heard to short ranges. At the sides, the loudest part is the drive gear, which makes that familiar tractor sound, sort of a clack clack clack sound as it moves away.

    Anyway, much has been made of the supposed awesome greatest ever most advanced tank in history, the T-14 from russia. But nobody really knows what it’s capabilities are, or how it holds up to a sabot. The claim is that it is finally crew survivability rated, since the turret is now empty, and remote operated from inside the hull. This likely leaves the turret even weaker, since supposedly all the armor is meant to protect the crew in the hull. They have around 100 of these new tanks, but we notice these are nowhere near Ukraine. It’s likely that a top strike via Javelin or NLAW will destroy the wonder tank, and probably kill the crew too. It may survive a direct hit by a level attack, but only barely. The crew might survive, but the tank will probably be disabled and obviously unable to fire. The latest sabot being fielded by the Abrams is the most lethal yet. The dart now extends all the way to the back of the casing, is thicker and heavier than before. It’s very likely it can easily destroy the turret of the T-14, and possibly the hull as well, especially from the side.

    Like I said, it’s conspicuously absent from the war in Ukraine. The russians have apparently lost nearly a thousand tanks thus far, so why continue sending young men to die in outdated T-72’s? Why not give them a fighting chance? Likely it’s because the tank is overrated and putin wants to keep it that way. Just like the SU-57, it’s probably a dud.

  2. Alex

    April 26, 2022 at 2:11 am

    T-14 is not needed in Ukraine. Anthony – Mom’s couch warrior turned on the fantasy to the fullest.

    Slowly, in order to avoid unnecessary casualties, but confidently and kilometer after kilometer, the people’s militia of Donbass liberates Ukraine from Bandera Nazis. And all because this is the “whole world” with the Ukrainian regime:

    The West failed to turn much of the world against Russia after the military operation in Ukraine began, columnist Howard French wrote in an article for Foreign Policy magazine.
    According to him, many states did not support sanctions against Moscow, including such large countries as India and China.

    “In fact, when counting the population of these countries, it becomes clear that the states representing the majority of humanity have not taken a position in this conflict, seeing in it the familiar echoes of the former rivalry between East and West,” said French.
    According to the observer, the international political system that took shape at the beginning of the twentieth century from the very beginning gave the countries of the “third world” the status of second-class states. As an example, he cited the colonization of Africa by European countries.

    “It was the work of the enslaved millions of people who grew sugar and cotton in huge quantities, cleared the land and did all other unpaid work that made the American colonies profitable for Europe, and the so-called “Old World” new and rich,” the author emphasized.

    French urged not to ignore the heightened sense of justice among the former colonized peoples.

    • Jon

      May 9, 2022 at 1:51 am

      Russia is taking a beating. Nothing you spew changes the fact that Russia has lost scores of tanks, and now ships! Lots of helps going down to too. It’s enough to give a guy like putin colon cancer. It’s the stress you know.

      • Jon

        May 9, 2022 at 1:54 am

        Lots of helis* going down too..

  3. Russell

    April 27, 2022 at 10:28 am

    The article says upwards of 28 M1A2 Sep3 are being sold to Poland. Umm…it’s 250.

  4. Jon

    May 9, 2022 at 1:52 am

    Russia is taking a beating. Nothing you spew changes the fact that Russia has lost scores of tanks, and now ships! Lots of helps going down to too. It’s enough to give a guy like putin colon cancer. It’s the stress you know.

  5. Jon

    May 9, 2022 at 1:54 am

    Lots of helis* going down too..

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