The M1A1 fleet remains the majority of the Armor Force. The M1A1D is a digitized M1A1 that provides improved situational awareness and far target designate capability. The installation of a digital appliqué command and control package on the M1A1 is necessary to achieve Force XXI required capabilities. Another planned improvement is replacing the analog Turret Network Box (TNB) and Hull Network Box (HNB) with new digital units to eliminate the associated obsolescence problems and to allow the introduction of a built-in-test (BIT) capability to support the Force XXI maintenance structure. Digital TNBs and HNBs also allow future electronic growth by providing unpopulated VME card slots.
In the survivability area the Army is working to develop and field a contingency armor package that is thin and lightweight, but with a high level of protection. These armor packages can be applied to either the side or front of Abrams tanks to provide additional protection as required by the mission. The Army is also seeking to fundo resource upgrades to the M1A1 fire control system with the same 2nd Gen FLIR package on the M1A2.
The Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) Overhaul Program is an innovative teaming of the prime contractor, GDLS, and Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) to refurbish the tank to a like-new condition. The AIM Overhaul is the Army's under-funded program to sustain the nearly 7,000 Abrams Tanks as part of the total recapitalization plan. AIM is funded at 135 tanks per year which translates into a 12-year rebuild cycle for the active component. As the M1A2 fleet ages, the Army must expand AIM to include about 90 M1A2 SEPs per year beginning in 2012. With a 20-year rebuild cycle for the reserve component, the Army must implement a 90 tank per year program beginning in 2006.
Exploiting the unique strengths of both the manufacturer and the Army depot, the tank is completely remanufactured resulting in a nearly new tank. AIM Overhaul increases readiness, reduces operations and support costs, standardizes configuration, and minimally sustains the Abrams industrial base. The first M1A1s are now 15-years old and will approach 50-years old by the time the Army ultimately replaces them. With old equipment, sustainment is only part of the challenge; the Army must also maintain combat overmatch.
AIM alone is a sustainment process and does not insert new technologies nor address obsolescence. However, by exploiting the synergy created by integrating the AIM program with a viable Abrams recapitalization program, the Army has a cost-effective opportunity to apply and field these high-payoff projects. The current high-payoff projects include 2nd Generation FLIR, frontal & side armor upgrades, Vehicle Integrated Defense System (VIDS), digital turret & hull networks boxes with built-in test, and a new engine.
The hulls and turrets are dismantled at ANAD with only the hulls being overhauled at ANAD. The turrets are stripped, prepared, and shipped to Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP) for final assembly. Once the hulls are completely overhauled they are shipped to LATP where the hulls are merried up with a turret for final assembly. The AIM Overhaul program is the optimum time/location to complete applied improvements. The AIM Overhaul program in its objective state will produce M1A1Ds. Currently the process applies many product improvemnts with some M1A1s receiving the M1A1D configuration retrofitted in the field.
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