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M1A2 SEPv4: The New U.S. Army Tank That Could Change Everything

M1 Abrams Tank History
Image: Creative Commons.

SEPv4 Is Coming Soon: The United States Army is now beginning to make the transition to the latest upgraded variant of the Abrams main battle tank (MBT) – the M1A2 SEPv3 (System Enhanced Package). Developed by General Dynamics, SEPv3 is the latest modernized configuration of the Abrams MBT, which first entered service more than four decades ago. It features technological advancements such as improved armor, communications system, sustainment, and fuel efficiency. SEPv3 further offers improved forward-looking infrared for more efficient target acquisition, identification, and engagement.

M1 Abrams SEPv4

M1 Abrams Tank. Image Credit: U.S. Army.

The Army’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, the “Spartan Brigade,” based out of Fort Riley, Kansas, has become the first unit to begin the transition.

However, SEPv3 should be seen as an intermediary upgrade, as the defense contractor is already working on the next iteration – SEPv4. It will include an integrated color camera, an 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 also promises to include full-embedded training to maximize crew proficiency in the system.

According to the United States Army’s Acquisition Support Center, “The most lethal Abrams tank is now in development, featuring the third generation (3GEN) FLIR the cornerstone technology that will provide tank crews the ability to identify enemy targets farther than ever before.” It added, “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.”

SEPV4: First Look

The Army is reported to be testing a prototype of the M1A2 SEPv4 in its Yuma Proving Grounds. According to a report from TheDrive, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, which is part 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Bridge Combat Team based at Fort Hood in Texas, had shared images on its Facebook page earlier this week before being taken down.

A tank was seen with “M1A2 SEPv4” emblazoned at least on the front end of the right side of its hull, along with “PV05 SEPV4” written in various locations on the hull. Those images have been widely shared across social media.

“First glimpse at the new M1A2 SEP v4 which is currently being tested at Yuma Proving Ground with the help of troopers from 2-12 CAV!!!,” tweeted the social media fan account for the M1 Abrams (@AllAboutM1A).

As detailed in a Pentagon Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation report from last year, the SEPv4 version builds upon the previous SEPv3 variant. In addition to the aforementioned upgrades, the SEPv4 will add a number of lethality improvements including the addition of a digital data link that can communicate with the Army’s new reprogrammable XM1147 Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) round for the tank’s 120mm main gun. In addition, it will incorporate a new onboard meteorological sensor that can collect various types of data to improve accuracy; as well as upgraded communications, data-sharing, and onboard diagnostics systems.

TheDrive also cited the Army’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request, which stated that the SEPv4, and other follow-on variants of the Abrams, could feature “other potential improvements [to] include vehicle smoke generation, survivability enhancements, signature management improvements, embedded training enhancements, 360 Situational Awareness cameras, and weight reduction efforts.”

Abrams NextGen

General Dynamics promo image of Abrams NextGen.

It is unclear at this point if the SEPv4 will be the final M1 Abrams update, but it was reported this week that General Dynamics is set to roll out a hybrid version, which will be on display at this month’s Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting & Exposition, scheduled for October 10 to 12, 2022, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

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.

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.

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