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M1A3 Future Tank

The ongoing M1 Abrams tank Block modernization program in the late 1980s had initially expected to integrate electrothermal or electromagnetic weapon systems into the M1A3 (or M1 Block III) tank. But it was subsequently determined that these weapon system technologies would not be available to meet threat-driven timelines.

The US Army does not yet visualize a change in the central role of the tank on the future battlefield. While recognizing the importance of UAVs, digitization, and helicopters, the need for a tank-like system remains a high priority well into the next century. Foreign advances in protection and gun/ammo combinations that are already in evidence indicate that by approximately 2015, the Abrams may be surpassed in its world #1 ranking by a new tank, perhaps Russian, if no new improvements were added to the Abrams M1A2 SEP tank.

An assessment of the Armor modernization strategy in August 1995 by the Armor Center concluded that a holistic approach to Armor vehicle modernization was needed, that existing plans were unaffordable, and that the science and technology base for Armor was not aligned with 21st Century battlefield needs. The realization of these shortcomings led to the Atlanta Caucus Initiative on 22 November 1995.

A second Armor Caucus was held during the June 1996 Armor Conference. Senior Armor leadership reviewed the key points of the previous caucus and were briefed on the current status of the Armor Modernization Plan. Caucus leadership determined that the M1A2 SEP tank with high payoff improvements may be called an M1A3, but would not include a new turret or 140mm gun.

At that time, the next upgrade of the Abrams Tank, the M1A3, will sustain lethality overmatch while increasing its survivability on a more lethal battlefield. The M1A3 will incorporate the most advanced fire control of any tank, combined with the punch needed to defeat any tank it would encounter. The M1A3 will-be the last upgrade of the Abrams line, allowing the Army to retain maneuver dominance on the battlefield in the near future, while positioning tank development for the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT), a leap ahead in technology. RDTE for the M1A3 was to begin in FY02, with procurement tentatively programmed for FY05. M1A3 would be fielded to FP1 units beginning in FY07 and will complete fielding to forward deployed units in FY15.

A careful search of new technology failed to show a breakthrough for tank improvements before 2020. Several technologies could bring improvements to the Abrams family, but no such technology was on the horizon that would make it necessary and cost effective to opt for a new tank, or Future Main Battle System (FMBS), before 2015.

When the Army pulls vehicles back in from down range, they are not resetting them back to their old standard, but resetting them to the modernized standard of the Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) tank and the M1A3 system enhancement program (SEP) tank. This new equipment is perhaps some of the best the Army has. The command control is very much improved, the sites are better, and everything is just more advanced, giving passengers in the vehicle more situational awareness. The entire inside even has all digital systems. They just took an already really good tank and made it even better.

Army chief of staff GEN Ray Odierno testified before the House Armed Services Committee in early 2012 that the Army had more than enough tanks in the field and wanted to shut down production and halt upgrades for several years. The Armys proposal would have closed down production of the main battle tank from 2013 through 2016. Production would resume in 2017 but on the M1A3, a newer version with advanced technology. This three-year moratorium on tank production and upgrades would have saved taxpayers more than $3 billion, according to General Odierno.

Not unexpectedly, the champions of continued funding for the Abrams tank were Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), all three hailing from the Buckeye State where the tank is produced.

Modernization of Abrams allows transition and interoperability with GCV and the future HBCT. Abrams Modernization is essential to maximize the effectiveness of a GCV equipped HBCT. Abrams provides the ability to dominate land operations for the HBCT now and through 2050. As the most advanced Tank in the world, the Abrams MBT is the backbone of the U.S. Military. Abrams modernization is vital to maintain dominance on the battlefield, ensure synchronization with the Armys strategy-based priorities and guarantees a quick response to changes in operational environments and adversaries. Through Independent Research and Development (IRAD) activities, the demonstrators provide the Abrams with a rapid prototyping platform, development integration, testing and demonstration of technologies and capabilities. These demonstrators quickly validate new technologies and demonstrate concept hardware; capture user feedback; and provide potential solutions to the Warfighter in less time.

VEM DDU FBCB2 Appliqu
  • DDU Hardware
  • Blue Force Tracker (BFT2) Upgrade
  • Joint Battle Command Platform - (JBC-P S/W)
  • Embedded Training/Command/
  • Common Embedded Training - (S/W) (ET Port/CERTS)
  • Vehicle Health Management System
  • Mounted Soldier System Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS)
  • Noise Reduction Hydraulic and Fan Noise
    Ammo Data Link
    Power Improvements
  • 1000 Amp Alternator
  • Slip Ring
  • Support Hardware
  • SWaP C Buybacks and Obsolescence Management
    ABRAMS HULL DEMONSTRATOR
  • Abrams Dieselization
  • MTU-833 CRI 1500 Hp Diesel Engine
  • Allison 5250MX Hydrokenetic Transmission
  • Allison Final Drives built by LOC
  • Dehil 570 P Series Track and Road Wheels
  • L-3s Hydropneumatic Suspension Units
  • TURRET DEMONSTRATOR FEATURES
  • Display and Crew Station Modernization
  • 360 Situational Awareness
  • Switchable Vision Blocks
  • Embedded Training
  • Mounted Soldier System
  • FUTURE ABRAMS INTEROPERABILITY Computing Architecture
  • Network Integration Kits
  • Warfighters Information Network - (WIN-T Increment 2)
  • Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)
  • Survivability
  • Active Protection System (APS)
  • Environmental Controls Armor



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