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M1A2 SEPv4: The New Army Tank That Will Make Russia Sweat Bullets

M1 Abrams. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
The Abrams Main Battle Tank closes with and destroys the enemy using mobility, firepower, and shock effect.

Meet the M1A2 SEPv4: It has been nearly four years since the U.S. Army announced that it was renaming the M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) versions 3 and 4 to underline the importance of the upgrades. As of an August 15, 2018 memo from Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings – who had previously served as the United States Army’s Program Executive Officer Ground Combat Vehicles before retiring last year – the M1A2 SEPv3 and M1A2 SEPv4 variants were renamed to the M1A2C and M1A2D, respectively.

According to a past report from Army Recognition, deliveries of the M1A2C configuration (formerly SEPv3) began in October 2017 as part of a $92.2 million contract awarded to General Dynamics in December 2015 to convert an initial six tanks to the new standard. In December 2020, the Sterling Heights, Michigan-based General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. was awarded an additional $4.6 billion fixed-price-incentive contract to produce Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 main battle tanks.

The M1A2C configuration offers an ammunition datalink, improved ammunition, an improved forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, a low-profile common remotely operated weapon system, a new auxiliary power unit, and a new vehicle health management system intended to reduce maintenance costs. In October 2016, the U.S. Army also announced plans to buy one brigade set of Trophy active protection systems for tanks prepositioned in Europe.

The U.S. Army had further sought to outfit its tanks with second and third-generation weapon and sensor kits system enhancement packages (SEP) as part of an ongoing effort to keep the 1980s-vintage tanks on par with current allied and enemy technology.

M1A2 SEPv4 Enhancements

The Army has continued development of the “far superior” SEPv4 – aka the M1A2D – version of the Abrams main battle tank (MBT) with a goal for it to “fully emerge” by mid-decade.

According to the Army, the M1A2 SEPv4 will be the most lethal Abrams tank fielded to date.

It will feature 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 include an upgrade to both sights and will be common with other combat platforms. With the upgrade, the Abrams will 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.

“This program began early enough to onboard any technology the Army deems critical to the future battlefield to include artificial intelligence, autonomy, APS, or advanced sensors,” the service noted.

The M1A2D upgrade will also include improved slip rings that connect the hull and turret hardware, which can reduce the number of necessary “boxes” with equipment that provides communication between the various onboard instruments. Attention is also being paid to providing protection for this equipment.

Video: Here Comes New M1A2 SEPv4 the Lastest Version More Deadly of the M1 Abrams Tank

The M1A2D (M1A2 SEPv4) is still a few years away, but further details are expected to come into focus later this year.

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, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. 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.