M1 Abrams Operations and Support
While the M1A2 SEP and M1A1D provide improved combat capabilities overmatch; the Army is working to improve reliability, reduce logistical footprint, and lower Operations and Support [O&S] costs for the tank. This effort is focused on two initiatives that provide the force with the biggest "bang for the buck" in terms of O&S cost reduction, readiness improvement, and sustainment of combat overmatch. These initiatives include the following Abrams Engine Campaign and the Abrams Integrated Management Overhaul Program (AIM):
The AGT 1500 engine has served the Abrams tank well. It afforded a significant combat edge due to its lightweight, power, and stealth. However, the AGT 1500 is getting old and the fleet faces problems in maintaining this workhorse. The AGT 1500 represents 1960s technology and has been out of production since 1992. Declining reliability causes the engine to account for around 64% of the Abrams tank reparable O&S costs. The Army is focusing on the engine as a major element in easing the maintenance burden for the force while substantially reducing O&S costs.
PM Abrams has developed a two-phased program to improve engine readiness and lower costs. The first phase makes innovative use of a partnership with PM/AMC/industry to overhaul the existing AGT 1500 engine/components. This program is termed PROSE (Partnership for Reduced O&S Costs, Engine). Under PROSE, the government will "team" with the original equipment manufacturer to reengineer the production process and improve field support. The contractor provides quality parts and expert technical support, and the government (our depots) provides the skilled labor and facilities.
The second phase of the engine initiative involves replacing the AGT 1500 engine with a new engine. There is great potential for improved tank readiness and long term O&S cost reduction in the implementation of this phase. This approach will not be cheap and will require a major decision by the Army. A 2 billion-dollar investment is required to replace the current engine with a new engine in the active component along, with a potential savings of 13 billion over the remaining life of the tank.
The PROSE process is expected to improve reliability by 30%. The benefits of the new engine are much more dramatic - the Army could achieve a 4-5 fold improvement in reliability, hopefully a 35% reduction in fuel consumption, a 42% reduction in the number of parts, and a 15-20% improvement in vehicle mobility. Life cycle engine O&S costs are projected to drop from 16 billion dollars over 30 years with the current engine to 3 billion dollars with the new engine.
The second piece of the O&S cost reduction strategy is the Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) program. The AIM process overhauls an old M1A1 tank to original factory standards, applying all applicable MWO's. The AIM Proof of Principle was completed in 1997, proving the cost-effectiveness of the concept and helping to define the scope. The AIM tank demonstrated an 18% O&S cost savings when compared to non-AIM tanks. The AIM overhaul concept is a cost-effective solution to address the problems of rising tank sustainment costs and increasing readiness concerns.
The Army initiated the innovative Abrams Integrated Management M1A1 rebuild program in 1999. In a partnership with the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama, General Dynamics Land Systems is engaged in a refurbishment program of more than 1,000 M1A1 Abrams tanks.
Under a unique partnership agreement private and public industry cooperate in the rebuilding the U.S. Army oldest M1A1's to a like-new condition by maximizing their core skills and capabilities. M1A1 tanks enter the process at Anniston Army Depot, Alabama, where the entire vehicle is demated and completely disassembled with each component cleaned, inspected and evaluated for rebuilding, refurbishment, or complete replacement. While many of the rebuild components stay at Anniston, other parts are sent to one of several rebuild sites. These sites include General Dynamics' facilities in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Muskegon, Michigan, as well as other Army depots. Turret and hull subsystems are first worked on at Anniston and then shipped to Lima, Ohio, where the tank is reassembled, tested and accepted back into the Army's fleet.
The first year production of 45 tanks was completed in June 2000. Since inception the program has returned over 275 M1A1 tanks -as of November 2002 - in a like-new, zero mileage condition. The U.S. Army plans to fund the program over the next ten years at a rate of 135 tanks per year.
The Army's Abrams modernization strategy includes a new tank engine program, the LV-100, the AIM program and a parts obsolesce program to reduce the operations and support costs and logistics footprint associated with the Abrams tank. These initiatives are funded by the Army to sustain its tank fleet over the next 25 years.
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