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M1A2: The U.S. Army Might Just Have the Best Tank Ever

M1A2 Live-Fire
Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, conducts platoon live-fire gunnery qualification Feb.14, 2019, at the Orchard Combat Training Center.The Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers are preparing for the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s upcoming rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., later this year.

Sure, over the past few years there have been many new tanks that promise amazing power and performance on the battlefield. And yet, it seems the might M1A2 Abrams main battle tank is always considered the best of all tanks. Here, we try to answer the question of why: 

In the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, the U.S. military possesses one of the most capable tanks in the market. Manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the M1A2 Abrams is one of the most advanced main battle tanks in the world. It is the third production variant of the main battle tank after the M1 Abrams and M1A1 Abrams.

The M1A2 Abrams main battle tank is armed with the 120mm XM256 Smooth Bore Cannon that can reliably and accurately hit targets more than 3,000 meters away; for secondary weaponry, the tank has a 7.62 M240 coaxial machine gun and a 50 caliber M2 Browing heavy machine gun.

Powered by a gas turbine engine that can produce 1,500 horsepower, the M1A2 Abrams has a crew of four, can reach speeds of 42 miles per hour, and has an effective operational range of approximately 270 miles.

Although both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps used to operate the main battle tank, the latter’s decision to deactivate its armor formations means that the Army is now the only user in the U.S. military.

“Abrams is a platform that adapts new technologies while minimizing development time and cost. This superbly engineered and battle-tested design continues to meet the challenges of new and emerging threats associated with the next generation of warfare. The Abrams M1A2 Tank is built to confront and destroy enemy forces using unrivaled firepower, maneuverability and shock effect. With its manually loaded, 120mm M256 smooth borecannon, the M1A2 can fire a variety of different rounds against armored vehicles, personnel and even low-flying aircraft. A heavy exterior armor provides outstanding protection to its crew of four,” General Dynamics Land Systems says about the M1A2 Abrams.

The Army is working with General Dynamics Land Systems on further upgrades for the M1A2 Abrams.

The U.S. military was considering replacing the M1A2 Abrams with the Future Combat Systems XM1202 program.

The Future Combat Systems XM1202 program wanted to create a whole new family of closely related main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers. But in the end, the Department of Defense decided against the program and has since continued to maintain and upgrade the M1 Abrams fleet.

Interestingly, the Russian military had the same idea, but instead of canning the project as the U.S. military did, the Russian brass went ahead with it. In the early 2010s, the Russian military and defense industry launched the Armata Universal Combat Platform, which includes the T-14 Armata main battle tank, T-15 Armata infantry fighting vehicle, BMPT “Terminator-3” armored fighting vehicle, and 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled gun. However, none of these armored vehicles has seen action in the war in Ukraine.

M1A2 Abrams and The Relevancy of Tanks Today   

The conflict in Ukraine has shown that tanks are very much still relevant in warfare. Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have deployed thousands of tanks in the fighting. And the Ukrainians claim to have destroyed more than 1,300 Russian tanks.

Despite the prevalence of tactical unmanned aerial systems and anti-tank weapons, both sides rely on tanks to capture and hold territory.

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 InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise 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.