Here’s a taste of something that will get you drooling if you are a tank enthusiast like we are at 19FortyFive. The defense contractor behind the latest M1A2 Abrams upgrade package has something entirely new for a next-generation main battle tank. Called “Abrams NextGen,” General Dynamics Land Systems has four short videos of a newfangled tracked vehicle that only leaves you clamoring for more.
The overall design of the tank is difficult to make out as the camera quickly hovers over a black, shiny vehicle that highlights certain features. This gets your imagination primed for what’s in store.
The ‘Wow Factor’ in Full Effect
General Dynamics Land Systems split the preview into four clips. The videos are named “Legend Mode. The Next Generation of Dominance;” “Superpower. Cape Not Included;” “Brains and Brawn. A Lethal Combination;” and “Silent Strike.”
AI, Stealthiness, and a New Gun Could Be on the Way
The music is ominous and builds suspense. “Brains and Brawn” leads me to believe that there will be some kind of artificial intelligence and machine learning involved. “Silent Strike” could mean there is an element of radar evasion, perhaps with a stealth coating. “Superpower” would likely refer to a new main gun and probably a launcher for precision-guided anti-tank missiles. Plus, it looks like there will be a 30mm Remote Weapons System. Altogether you have a tank with many possibilities.
Ready to Coach Other Systems?
So far, it’s mainly the video that speaks to you – very little verbiage is involved to describe the new tank in the footage – aside from the titles listed above. There is another marketing photo that shows the NextGen Abrams in what appears to be a “quarterback mode” where it is linked to a quadcopter drone, a Stryker combat vehicle, and a multiple-launch rocket system.
Let’s Get Creative
This could be where artificial intelligence takes over to create a new “brain” on the battlefield. The Abrams NextGen may also be unmanned or have some of the crew members replaced with robots. This maybe sounds far-fetched, but I would say many sci-fi options are on the table for this tank.
Has the Modern Battlefield Rendered Tanks Obsolete?
The main improvement in the tank will have to be protection and survivability against shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles that have played such an outsized role in armored combat in Ukraine. How can these guided munitions be stopped? General Dynamics will have to answer that question, or all the hype goes for naught. Maybe the new tank can jam or shoot down incoming anti-tank missiles. What is gravely needed is more armor for the top of the turret – a tank’s weak spot – and better armor in general. This of course adds to the weight of the tank and the current M1A2 Abrams is already a heavy beast that can make it a no-go on some types of bridges overseas.
Add Missiles to the Firepower
Tank ammunition would be another way NextGen could add to efficacy. If the main gun could also fire anti-tank missiles, that would be a quality development. After all, Russian tanks such as the T-14 can fire Refleks laser-guided missiles from their main gun.
Teaser images for the Abrams NextGen. pic.twitter.com/lMq2DhSFcK
— bttr (@bttr01438851) June 15, 2022
Plug It In and Charge It Up
Could the new tank be a plug-in vehicle with batteries? Joseph Trevithick at The Drive “War Zone” believes the Abrams NextGen “may have a hybrid propulsion system of some kind. A commonly touted benefit of using hybrid propulsion on various types of military vehicles is the potential ability to operate in an extremely quiet all-electric mode.” This innovation would save on fuel.
You May See a Prototype in October
After this teaser, General Dynamics Land System may unveil some form of the NextGen mock-up or prototype at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting and military expo in Washington, D.C. on October 10. Promotional materials are already circulating with the date.
The Abrams platform is many decades old, so it is only natural that a next-generation tank is considered for the army. There is no mention of the price for each new tank in the videos or photos, so that is always an issue for the Pentagon and Congress. But it’s a fun parlor game to speculate on the NextGen Abrams, let’s hope the new tank lives up to its flashy marketing campaign.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.