It seems strange that a tank designed in the 1970s is the most dominant tank today and perhaps of all time. And, somehow, the M1 Abrams continues to dominate the battlefield. M1A2 SEPv4 builds on that powerful legacy: Is the M1A2 SEPv4 Abrams tank coming soon? The U.S. Army’s M1A2 Abrams tank is the most advanced main battle tank in the world. And, as the war in Ukraine is proving beyond doubt, tanks are very much a part of modern warfare.
To be sure, tanks have become more vulnerable as other capabilities have emerged, particularly unmanned aerial systems, but in order to be captured, an enemy city will still need a tank to support the mechanized infantry.
M1A2 SEPv4 and The Different Faces of the M1 Abrams
Over the decades, the weapon system has gone through three main versions. Everything began with the M1 Abrams. Then followed the M1A1 Abrams. Next came the M1A2 Abrams, which received a major upgrade with the System Enhanced Package (SEP)v3.
The manufacturer had the foresight to build the main battle tank in a way that welcomed future improvements.
“The Abrams has been around since [the] early 80s, and the original designers were forward thinking to build in the provisions for continual upgrade. Over the years, there have been significant improvements in sensor capabilities, power generation, mobility, lethality, survivability, armor and situational awareness,” Donald Kotchman, Vice President, Tracked Combat Vehicles, General Dynamics Land Systems, had said in an interview back in 2018.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams is currently the most advanced version of the main battle tank and the most sophisticated tank out there.
This upgrade of the main battle tank gave the M1A2 Abrams additional electrical power from an auxiliary power unit, elevated its network capabilities, gave it stronger armor, including explosive reactive armor mountings and improvised explosive device (IED) countermeasures, for greater protection against strikes of all types, provided a better ammo data link to interface with advanced shells, such as airburst munitions, and condensed the maintenance required to upkeep the main battle tank.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams is an extremely capable platform, and it started to enter operational service only two years ago, in 2020.
But when it comes to weapon systems, the U.S. military is always thinking ahead on how it can improve its existing arsenal and meet the threat scenarios of the future. As such, the U.S. Army has been developing the fourth version of the venerable M1 Abrams.
M1A2 SEPv4 – What The Future Might Hold for the M1 Abrams
In conjunction with General Dynamics Land Systems, the manufacturer of the M1 Abrams, the Army is looking to add another upgrade to the main battle tank. The upgrade, presumably a System Enhanced Package 4 (for a M1A2 SEPv4)—and not a new main battle tank, which is being developed separately—would add the following features, according to reports.
New sensors, including meteorological sensory equipment that would help with target acquisition and engagement in various weather conditions, laser rangefinder technology, ammunition data links, an improved network, and a generally more efficient structure. In addition, the M1A2 SEPv4 Abrams will have the capability to fire more advanced 120mm munition.
The Army wants to have the capability by the mid-2020s.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.