M1A2S Saudi tank program
The main advantages of the M1A2S tank program are that the RSLF are using its existing M1A2 tank fleet and equipping it with an improved hunter/killer capability with second-generation FLIR. Additionally, the M1A2S will reduce operation and support costs, continue to utilize U.S. logistics systems when required, and will maintain a high degree of commonality with the US fleet. GDLS would design, develop, convert, implement and test a hybrid configuration of the M1A1, M1A2 and M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) tank variants for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The vehicles would possess defined capabilities that increase lethality while limiting obsolescence.
Together with the US Army's Sustainment Acquisition Management Office (SAMO) and SmartBUY Program Management Office (SPMO), General Dynamics Land System [GDLS] pursued the KSA M1A2S program for more than five years. Rapid changes in the electronics industry, vendor attrition, and discontinuing production of many integrated circuit boards resulted in vehicle obsolescence challenges. Additionally, parts commonality between the KSA M1A2 and the US Army M1A2 diminished daily, resulting from the continued emphasis on US upgrades. The M1A2S tank program planned for the delivery, development, testing, modification and fielding of 330 safe, reliable and lethal M1A2S tanks to the Royal Saudi Land Forces through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales program. It will give the tank a new configuration with capabilities to accept growth and will allow for selected upgrades at the user’s discretion.
The KSA M1A2S is a complex and challenging program. It is slated to be carried out in several phases, focusing on designing, developing and converting both M1s and M1A2s to an M1A2S configuration -- all with the goal of increasing the vehicle’s lethality while limiting obsolescence issues. The M1A2S design effort preceded a planned-for U.S.-led build of 15 tanks. These 15 tanks will act as “seed stock” to support the anticipated modification of the existing fleet of 315 vehicles overseas. Induction was planned for the fall of 2010. Simultaneously, the KSA facility was readied in time to induct the first of 315 tanks slated for modification.
On 28 July 2006 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia of M1A1 and upgrade of M1A2 to M1A2S Abrams tanks as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options were exercised, could be as high as $2.9 billion. The Government of Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale and reconfiguration for 58 M1A1 Abrams tanks, which, together with 315 M1A2 Abrams tanks already in Saudi Arabia’s inventory, would be modified and upgraded to the M1A2S (Saudi) Abrams configuration, kits, spare and repair parts, communications and support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support.
This proposed sale consists of three phases: (1) engineering phase for 30 months, (2) purchase of and upgrade of 58 M1A1s to M1A2S (Saudi) configuration, and (3) tear down of the 315 M1A2 Abrams in Saudi Arabia’s tank fleet and upgrade to the M1A2S configuration. The Abrams Integrated Management(AIM) program was designed economically to rebuild and maintain the M1A1 Main Battle Tank (MBT) to a ‘like new’ condition to improve fleet readiness and reduce sustainment costs. The 58 M1A1s would undergo an ‘AIM-like’ process and will be upgraded to the M1A2S configuration in the United States. The 315 Saudi M1A2A MBT’s would undergo an ‘AIM-like’ process and would be re-configured to the M1A2S configuration. Vehicle tear down and final re-assembly would be accomplished in Saudi Arabia. The proposed sale and upgrade would allow Saudi Arabia to operate and exercise a more lethal andsurvivable M1A2S tank for the protection of critical infrastructure. This proposed sale/upgrade kept asubstantial number of tanks in the region that have a high degree of commonality with the US tank fleet. The M1A2S design is intended to take advantage of the digital capabilities of the M1A2 while limiting obsolescence challenges.
General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded $58.3 million on 10 November 2008 to design the new Saudi M1A2 (M1A2S) Abrams tank for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract was awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command for the Royal Saudi Land Forces. Under this engineering contract, the engineering work was performed in Sterling Heights, Mich. Related contracts were expected to be awarded through FMS under the multiphase Royal Saudi Land Forces M1A2S program that would fund additional engineering work, production and modification to vehicles, and plant retooling. The planned upgrade of 329 Saudi M1A2 tanks to a new M1A2S configuration called for 57 tanks to be upgraded in Lima, while the remainder were slated to be completed in Saudi Arabia.
GDLS employees supporting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia M1A2S program hosted representatives from the Royal Saudi Land Forces and the Saudi Arabia Management and Sword Program Management Offices for a plant tour of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center – Lima and a Critical Design Review. According to program officials, the events, held in mid-December 2009, paved the way for international program success within GDLS’ Ground Combat Vehicles organization.
Prior to the CDR, GDLS hosted SAMO, SPMO and RSLF to tour the JSMC in Lima, Ohio. The tour included the Abrams Integrated Management tank production line, the test and accept facility, final paint and shipping, and a remarkable tank test track demonstration. A large emphasis of the tour concentrated on the turret boresight. When the GDLS KSA M1A2S team, SAMO and SPMO subsequently completed the engineering CDR, Nabih Rizk, SAMO chief, said, “The Critical Design Review was met with great anticipation by all. This landmark design review sets in concrete the baseline of the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ next tank and the realism of execution for the next three phases of the program. GDLS’ execution of the CDR is no less than a remarkable feat given the complex and demanding circumstances embroidered into the program. “The KSA M1A2S is a complex and challenging program with unique constraints, requirements and schedule,” he added.
General Dynamics was awarded two contracts in 2011 worth $44 million for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s tank program. This work is part of a plan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to upgrade its entire fleet of 314 tanks. These contracts extend work started in 2008 to design, develop, convert, implement and test the hybrid configuration of the M1A1, M1A2 and M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) tank variants for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The first contract of $37.1 million was to provide materials and labor for the conversion of 42 M1A2 tanks to an M1A2S configuration for the Kingdom. The second contract, worth $6.9 million, would provide the tools and equipment needed to outfit a production facility in Saudi Arabia for future conversion of M1A2 tanks to the M1A2S version.
A video published on 19 March 2016 showed 3 Saudi M1A2S (US SEP [System Enhancement Program] Equivalent) being destroyed by Iranian Tosun (Tosan) ATGM (Soviet Konkurs ATGM upgrade). As of March 2016, a total of 6 M1A2S Abrams tanks were destroyed with the crews not surviving. Each tank has its own Pros and Cons, but no tank is "Indestructible".
The US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for M1A2S Saudi Abrams Main Battle Tanks and M88Al/A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (HERCULES) Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $1.15 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on August 8, 2016. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requested a possible sale of up to one hundred fifty-three (153) M1Al/A2 Tank structures for conversion to one hundred thirty-three (133) M1A2S Saudi Abrams configured Main Battle Tanks and twenty (20) battle damage replacements for their existing fleet. The total estimated value is $1.15 billion.
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