M908 HE-OR-T [High Explosive Obstacle Reduction Tank]
The M908 is fired from the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams tank, and is used to destroy concrete obstacles, permitting the rapid advance of infantry and armor. The M908 was developed against an urgent requirement from Korea in 1996 when the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle and its 165mm M123 demolition round was removed from the Army inventory, an action that threatened to leave Combat Engineers without a means to destroy, or "rubble" large obstacles that would otherwise impede advancing friendly troops.
In late 1996 tests were conducted by TACOM-ARDEC utilizing several 120mm ammunition items in inventory. It was found that a modification of the M830A1 high explosive multi-purpose cartridge (2-pound High Explosive warhead fielded in 1994) did as well as, if not better than, the 35-pound M123 warhead at reducing obstacles. The modification involved replacing the M830A1's proximity switch nose, used to defend against attacking helicopters, with a hard steel nose. The steel nose allows the projectile to "burrow" itself inside the obstacle before the warhead functions. This fractures the concrete block from the inside out, and was found to be more effective than detonating a much larger explosive charge on the surface of the block.
The M908 possesses effective capability against bunkers, concrete walls and light armored vehicles. The M908 is produced by modifying already-built M830A1 cartridges. As of 2003, more than 19,000 M908s had been converted by both Alliant Techsystems and General Dynamics-OTS. The M908 met an urgent Army requirement for Korea, and with other contingencies, it became a highly desirable item in the Abrams inventory, for both bunker-defeat and also for the urban battle.
The M908 (XM908 at the time) was originally Urgent Fielded to the Eighth US Army in Korea in December 1997.
PM-Maneuver Ammunition Systems and ARDEC chalked up another fielded item for the soldier when on 07 February 2003 the Army Type Classified-Standard the 120mm M908 cartridge; Full Materiel Release occurred less than a month later on 05 March 2003. This milestone marked the culmination of an intensive team effort of testing, reporting and document preparation that began less than a year earlier by individuals from PM-MAS, Close Combat Armaments Center, Quality Engineering Directorate, Integrated Logistic Support, Maintenance Explosive Ordnance Division and a host of other supporting organizations at Picatinny, along with the Army Research Laboratory and the Aberdeen Test Center located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Type Classification and Materiel Release approval changes the nomenclature of the cartridge from "XM908" to "M908." Achieving these acquisition milestones now permits the cartridge, previously only approved for use in Korea, to be shipped and utilized worldwide.
M908s were shipped to the Middle East to support troops in "Operation Iraqi Freedom." This could be the first use of the M908 in actual combat. The M908 was a superb example of the PM/PEO and ARDEC communities coming together to meet the needs of the Soldier. The PEO took care of the acquisition business, ARDEC handled the materiel release process. Concurrent with this, the JMC shipped and delivered just over 2,000 rounds to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is a success story.
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