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

M1 Abrams
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

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.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. RepublicansLovePutin&hateAmerica

    July 13, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    Russia can’t afford bullets much less tanks.
    US Army may as well start wasting money and move on the from the Sepvs to the M1a3 already.

    • Legionnaire

      July 21, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      You have no clue what you are saying. You read vague baseless statements from western media propaganda about Russia and take everything they say on faith. Most of it is omission of facts, or using sensational language. Doesn’t matter if you like Russia or not, its a fact that the Russian economy is barely effected by sanctions, they have almost no debt, huge reserves, and they experienced TOO MUCH deflation after sanctions. They are allIED or friendly with countries that make up the majority of the worlds popation and resources. There are some highly specialized industries which they never developed indigenously due to lack of necessity, but those gaps are quickly filled locally or with imports from friendly countries, which is something they should have done a long time ago anyway. In a recent poll, about 90% of Russians said sanctions have not affected their lives at all. The west is FAR and away more dependent of Russia than Russia is on the west.

  2. Jacksonian Libertarian

    July 13, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    Tanks are steel coffins, just waiting for a smart missile to cremate everyone inside.

    • RepublicansLovePutin&hateAmerica

      July 13, 2022 at 8:51 pm

      ANother stupid statement from jack libertardian who doesn’t realize that tanks also fire missiles.

      • Aaron R Kulkis

        July 15, 2022 at 6:33 pm

        Have you been watching what’s been happening in Ukraine?

        Tanks aren’t being defeated by cheap anti-tank weapons because they’re Warsaw Pact or Russian-made tanks. They’re getting defeated because modern infantry anti-tank weapons can defeat ANY current armored vehicle, INCLUDING any version of our M1 Abrams.

        I’m not being defeatist, I’m being realistic and objective.
        Tanks are currently unable to take on infantry who are prepared for them. The infantry can hide better, and, fire 10 missiles to take out a single modern tank and still win the exchange both from an economics perspective (10 AT missiles are still cheaper than a tank) and from a logistics perspective (in the time it takes to build one tank, dozens of AT missiles can be manufactured, and in the shipping volume to move one tank, you can ship about 100 (+/- 50%) AT missiles

    • DevilDog04

      July 14, 2022 at 3:43 am

      Yeah any Russian made tank’s that is, not American Abrams tank’s!! You cannot even compare the Abrams with any of the cannon fodder tank’s Russia builds and sends into combat in Ukraine or anywhere else for that matter!! Abrams tank’s are built specifically to absolutely dominate the enemy and protect the crew!! That’s why Abrams has it’s ammunition stored in a sealed blast proof blowout panel to save the crews lives if it where to take a direct hit from behind or a lucky shot somewhere else!! While Russian tank’s just have their ammunition either in the very very inadequately protected autoloader bustle or more commonly just laying around inside of the interior of the crew compartment at the crews feet!! That’s why Russian tank’s are far far less superior to American tank’s and why they go off like a roman candle as soon as they’re hit with anything bigger than a .50 caliber round!! They’re absolute junk and that’s why they are the real metal coffins just waiting for a missile to turn the crew into mangled blobs of goo and not even a smart missile is need to accomplish this on a Russian tank, even an old Soviet era RPG7 will penetrate and destroy any Russian tank’s they are fielding in Ukraine!! Or the special rifle (I forget the Caliber but it’s a big mofo) that the Ukrainians are producing themselves that will penetrate the Russian tank’s armor that’s being fielded in Ukraine right now so they can save their real smart missiles like Javalins, NLAWS, PANZERFOUST, etc for better more important targets like Russian comand post, artillery sites, etc!! That’s saying something when a big ass rifle can penetrate and knock out your tank’s, but that’s good old Russian engineering for you!!

      I haven’t even mentioned that the Abrams has an active protection system now called Throphy made by the Israelis (just until the American made active protection system is ready to be fielded) that makes any threat from any missiles, smart or not no more of a treat than a Russian tank would be for the Abrams!! Also starting with the 1st Abrams M1A2 variants the side and top turret armor was specifically increased to withstand any top attack smart missiles, that’s gotten much much better as missile technology advanced leading into the Abrams SEPv3 and SEPv4 variants which are pretty much invulnerable to any smart missiles even without the active protection system on them!! Basically their is NO comparison between the Russian made drath traps and the American Abrams, period!! I won’t even go into the other spectacular western nations tank’s out there, like the French LeClerc, the German Lepard, The British Challenger, all of which have either already been upgraded to or are in the process of being upgraded to the most modern protection systems and firepower that are on par with Abrams!!

      So you should either do your research and check your facts or be much more specific about the tank’s that you are referring to before you go off and make a retarded ass blanket statement about all tank’s like in the idiotic comment that you posted saying “tank’s are just steel coffins just waiting for a smart missile to cremate everyone inside” Jackoff Libertarian!!

      One more thing, one of the only countries in the world that still thinks of itself as a “superpower” or at least “a great power” that still makes their tank’s out of just primarily RHA steel is Russia artard!! Because 1st they don’t have the technological know-how to build them out of anything else but simple RHA steel unlike the US and it’s western allies that have been using chobham composite armor and depleted uranium (mainly the US uses DU along with chobham composite armor) for their tank’s armor, NOT JUST SIMPLE RHA STEAL like the Russians!! 2nd Russia just simply cannot afford anything else but mainly simple RHA steel for their tank’s even if they could make halfway decent composite armor (which they can’t) for their tank’s because their entire government and military is so rife with corruption, stealing all of the Russian militaries R&D funding to build themselves vacation home’s on the black sea or wherever, building or buying luxury yachts, buying luxury vehicles, and just basically making themselves filthy rich off of all of that stolen money that was/is supposed to go to the militaries R&D equipment projects funding and modernization!! One perfect example, the supposed Russian answer to the American Abrams tank, the supposedly world beating T14 Armata!! Yeah it was a world beater alright, that’s why Russia only made a hand full of them and instead Putin just one day decided to completely cancel any new orders for or production of the supposedly world beating match for the American Abrams, the T14 Armata in favor of the much older and much cheaper T90 tank, why do you think that was?? It’s because for one it wasn’t a world beating tank after all and was rife with problems and two they couldn’t afford it in any kind of meaningful numbers because the Russians were already going broke back then because of the massive corruption and international sanctions from their 1st go round with Ukraine back in 2014!! The point of this comment is that the only tank’s that need fear any kind of missiles are the garbage ass tank’s that Russia is fielding in Ukraine and exporting to the poor bastards that are buying their death traps!! Abrams has nothing to fear from Russia or anybody else for that matter, why do you think everyone in Eastern Europe wants the Abrams tank all of the sudden?? Because they know it can take hits, stay in the fight, and the crew won’t be “cremated” inside of the Abrams!!!!

      • Panther2November

        July 14, 2022 at 6:46 pm

        From a former U.S. Army Intelligence soldier that served in an M1A2 battalion. This is all straight up facts.

      • Alexander Kordick

        July 15, 2022 at 5:33 am

        Good comment, dog. Saw in Paris the new KF 51 Panther from Germany. Another furious battle machine and most likely the best MBT out there.

      • Aaron R Kulkis

        July 15, 2022 at 6:46 pm

        While all of that is true, well-prepared infantry (i.e. adequately supplied with modern, yet comparatively cheap anti-tank missiles) can take out an equal sized element of tanks or even one size larger (squad of men with anti-tank missiles vs a platoon of tanks, or a platoon of infantry vs a company/troop of tanks) BEFORE the armored unit even realizes they are being engage. Yes, active countermeasures can take out a missile, but not likely 3 fired at the same time from widely spaced locations.

        Any defensive system can be overwhelmed by volume of fire.

      • Greg Chalik

        July 19, 2022 at 2:12 am

        DevilDog04, it is obvious that you understand exactly 0 about design of combat gun systems, aka ‘tanks’.

        There is a formula that governs all weapons engineering design which says the design has to be: Affordable, Available when needed, Appropriate to intended use, Elegant (simple), Efficiently deployable and Effective in use (combat).

        Red Army, Soviet and Russian tanks tick on all of the above. The Abrams, and the M60 for that matter, do not.

        The T-72, still a very capable tank at 40t was deployed in 1972, when the XM70 prototype was barely entering trials.

        In 1980 when T-80 began to be issued to units in the Soviet Army the M1 went into pre-production testing with the 105mm gun, and would be manufactured as such for the first batch of 1,000. It was issued in Europe in 1983, the year before the 1984 scare, and only three years before Gorbachev-Reagan meetings.

        The Soviet tanks cost a lot less than US tanks, because Soviet Army expected to produce a certain *operational* force scale.

        As such, the Soviet tanks are designed for operational manoeuvre warfare, supporting the manoeuvre motor-rifles in BTR vehicles seeking operational reach penetrations/exploitations.

        This is why they are designed to 40t weigh limit, to maintain pace on road shoulders with the road-bound wheeled BTRs. BMPs that Bradleys were designed to upstage are of course NOT Infantry vehicles.

        To ‘kill’ a tank, doesn’t require another tank, it is true. There is such a thing as a mobility kill, that can be caused by damaging track and wheels. In theory this can be done with an anti-armour 12.7mm ammunition, BUT….

        To stop an Operational Manoeuvre Group, one has to find it, and INTERCEPT IT.

        And that is why it isn’t possible to compare the M1 with any Soviet tank design since 1953.

        The M1 is a HEAVY tank, designed to replace the M60 HEAVY tank rebadged ‘main battle tank’ to prevent idiot Congress asking US Army why they needed another HEAVY tank if they already had the M103.

        As a HEAVY tank it follows design thinking of the IS-2, Tiger I/II, and KV-1/2 tanks that were designed as breakthrough tanks to deal with then still popular fortified regions, e.g. the Stalin Line.

        When the Tigers were finally ready for combat in Winter 1942, they utterly failed at the siege of Leningrad, and again at Kursk in Summer 1943. After that they were never in the right place at the right time, and resources expanded on one Tiger could build two Panthers of four Panzer IVs, or six T-34s. So they were unaffordable also, never mind their overengineering and difficulty of moving operationally because of weight.

        M1s have a lot in common with Tigers in the above respects, but primarily because they were designed for TACTICAL beakthrough combat on narrow sectors, while Soviet tanks are designed for multiple OPERATIONAL EXPLOITATIONS on a wide front.

        Not the Armata though. It is designed as a specialist urban warfare tank (lessons of Grozny), hence low production numbers and atypical approach to design departing past trend.

        Now the upgraded M1 it seems is only being bought as 54 vehicles, one battalion set. Even if it was sent to Ukraine, it would take AT LEAST six months to train the crews, and the Ukrainian front is over 2,000km. Where would one send such a battalion? And who would support its operation to break through the Russian lines, and…who would exploit such a breakthrough? Ukrainian T-72s and T-80s escorting BTR vehicles….without air cover.

        And God forbid Russians capture an upgraded M1 intact.

        But not to fear, the upgraded M1s are not going anywhere except maybe as displays at various bases. They are too valuable to send into combat with the 82d and 101st light infantry, and he US Army has no way of deploying them efficiently anywhere else by ship.

        And so this article is “tank porn”, probably paid for by GDLS.

        Actually the real stupid design though is the Griffin II at 38 ton. The released photo has the AA of the 82d over it so that is the reason for 96 production units, an M551 replacement using as many Bradley components as possible because GDLS don’t change, having used LVTP-7 components to make the M2/3. Cheap!

        The problem though remains of no airborn infantry armoured vehicles, so the US Army makes 0 doctrinal progress since the Vietnam War.

        And Griffin II doesn’t swim either, so don’t expect the USMC reactivating its tank units that dumped the M1.

        And obviously no US general was good enough to have this tank named after 🙂

        And so the US Army continues to flounder in armoured vehicle design.

      • Vladimir

        July 19, 2022 at 11:09 am

        Hi pal. Hello from Russia!!! You had written a lot… May be you are right about Abrams… may be… But you are not familiar with russian tanks for sure.. 1. Composite armor is used onto russian tanks from 1962… It is not “chobhem” but has several specisal steel layers and different materials in between… 2. Yes – the ammuniton located on the floor but this is not that much dramatic as you had written… Of course on every promo video “Javelin” destroys every tank with no problem but in reality in Ukraine only 10% really of heats make some damages… 3. At the moment our T-90M being 10 times cheaper then Abrams is actually 10 times more efficient which is solidly proved in Ukrain.

  3. Randy Stock

    July 15, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Russia wont sweat bullets at all…. The current administration is too chicken shit to do anything, or we would be in Ukraine right now.

    • Army Vet

      July 15, 2022 at 3:22 pm

      Do you think the previous administration would have sent troops and started war with Russia?

  4. Aaron R Kulkis

    July 15, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    No tank is going to make anyone sweat bullets because current infantry anti-tank weapons are cheap, easy to hide, and can kill every piece of armor on the battlefield.

    The lesson from Ukraine is that a platoon of infantry can destroy a platoon of tanks before the tanks are even aware that they are in danger.

  5. Howie

    July 16, 2022 at 8:25 am

    And what is the total qeight of the M1 v4 upgrade? 70tons..? goid luch not getting stuch on open fields where Russian/Ukraine MBT around 45tons get stuck all the time

  6. Omega 13

    August 1, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Whatever you say, Vlad. lol

  7. Omega 13

    August 1, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Geez, did you guys hire some clown from Buzzfeed to write your headlines? I’m surprised you didn’t put the word “badass” in there.

    smh

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