This week, General Dynamics Land Systems officially unveiled its AbramsX main battle tank (MBT) at the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting & Exposition, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. At the trade event, the defense contractor had on display a technology demonstrator of its next-generation AbramsX MBT. It features reduced weight for improved mobility and transportability, while according to the company, it can still deliver the same tactical range as the M1A2 Abrams with 50 percent less fuel consumption.
What Is AbramsX?
According to GDLS, “The AbramsX’s hybrid power pack supports the U.S. Army’s climate and electrification strategies, enhances silent watch capability and even allows for some silent mobility. With a reduced crew size and AI-enabled lethality, survivability, mobility, manned/unmanned teaming (MUM-T) and autonomous capabilities, AbramsX can be a key node in lethal battlefield networks and serve as a bridge from Abrams SEPv3 and SEPv4 to a future tank.”
“The AbramsX technology demonstrator will undoubtedly gain significant traction amongst US Army procurement officials as its unique features enable several key improvements and capabilities,” explained Tristan Sauer, land domain analyst at international analytics firm GlobalData.
“The integration of an AI-enabled unmanned turret with an autoloader streamlines operations by reducing the vehicle crew down from four to three while reducing platform weight and providing more room for additional subsystems,” Sauer said via an email.
The Army is Going Green
The AbramsX is part of the U.S. military’s efforts to go green – and not just with Army’s new “Pink & Green” uniforms. Earlier this year, lawmakers in Washington introduced legislation that would force the Pentagon to aggressively speed up efforts to adopt more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Efficiently is also a major consideration, as is the ability to make a quieter tank – both which should be seen as serious benefits for the crews.
“The AbramsX features a hybrid-electric power supply which replaces the fuel-hungry turbine engine with a diesel ACE engine, reducing fuel consumption by 50 percent,” added Sauer. “The electrified power supply also enables ‘silent watch’ and ‘silent mobility’ operations in contested environments. AbramsX is also more digitized than its predecessors, as all systems are integrated via the KATALYST Next Generation Electronics Architecture (NGEA) which will greatly facilitate hardware and software upgrades throughout the platform’s life cycle. This creates opportunities for industry partners to develop and market innovative capabilities for the future MBT market.”
The hybrid tanks will also benefit from the latest SEPv3 advances, as well as the forthcoming SEPv4 upgrades. While it will still be an Abrams, it would have the capabilities of a fourth-generation MBT.
“The AbramsX also features several novel technologies which are being integrated throughout the US Army’s vehicle fleets,” Sauer continued. “These include Active Protection Systems to intercept hostile missiles, Augmented Reality heads-up displays for improved situational awareness, and Manned-Unmanned Teaming capabilities to enable vehicle crews to operate and coordinate groups of unmanned systems.
The integration of multiple advanced and emerging technologies risks increasing per-unit costs too far to warrant widespread adoption warned GlobalData.
“Nevertheless, those advanced features reflect the rapidly evolving nature of modern ground combat, and General Dynamics has demonstrated flexibility and strategic forethought in developing the AbramsX,” said Sauer. “As the Army begins to implement the SEPv4 upgrade for its current M1A2 Abrams fleet, the AbramsX may provide the next logical step in the platform’s evolution.”
Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, 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.