Main Battle Tank MBT - United States
The M1 Abrams was followed by the M1A1, with the first production example being completed in August 1985 and continued until early 1993. General Dynamics Land Systems began delivering the first of 299 FY90 M1A1 MBTs in April 1991. Delivery was completed by September 1991, after which tank assembly ceased at Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant. The main features of the M1A1 are new suspension, various transmission modifications, improved armor protection, and the redesigned M1A1 turret gun mount and bustle rack, among others. The M1A1 is the standard main battle tank of the U.S. armed forces, a total of 4,796 M1A1 tanks were built for the US Army and 221 for the US Marines. The first export customer for the M1A1 Abrams MBT was Egypt. The sale of 555 M1A1 MBTs to Egypt has been agreed and final deliveries were made in 1998. In March 2004, the Australian Army announced the purchase of 59 US Army M1A1 tanks to enter service from 2007. The contract was signed in November 2005 and the first five were handed over in February 2006 at GDLS in Lima, Ohio. In July 2008, the Iraqi Government requested the sale of 140 M1A1 tanks to be upgraded to the M1A1M configuration. The Iraqi Army received the final shipment of five M1A1 Abrams tanks in August 2011. On July 2022, Poland signed a deal with the United States to acquire 116 second-hand M1A1 Abrams tanks.
M1A1 Abrams main variants:
- M1: First production variant. Production began (at Chrysler) in 1979 and continued to 1985 (at General Dynamics) (3,273 built for the US). The first 110 tanks were Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) models, still called XM1s, because they were built prior to the tank being type-classified as the M1.
- M1A1: Production started in 1985 and continued to 1992, pressurized NBC system, rear bustle rack for improved stowage of supplies and crew belongings, redesigned blow-off panels and M256 120 mm smoothbore cannon (4,976 built for the U.S. Army, 221 for USMC, 755 for Egypt, 59 M1A1 AIM SA sold to Australia).
- M1A1 AIM (Abrams Integrated Management): A program whereby older units are reconditioned to zero hour conditions; and the tank is improved by adding Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) and Far Target Locate sensors, a tank-infantry phone, communications gear, including FBCB2 and Blue Force Tracking, to aid in crew situational awareness, and a thermal sight for the .50 caliber machine gun. General Dynamics has been awarded contracts by the U.S. Army to supply this variant.
- M1A1 SA (Situational Awareness): Upgrades similar to AIM tanks + new 3rd generation depleted uranium armor components.
- M1A2: Production began in 1992 (77 built for the US and more than 600 M1s upgraded to M1A2, 315 for Saudi Arabia, 218 for Kuwait). The M1A2 offers the tank commander an independent thermal sight and ability to, in rapid sequence, shoot at two targets without the need to acquire each one sequentially, also 2nd generation depleted uranium armor component.
- M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package): Has upgraded 3rd generation depleted uranium armor components with graphite coating (240 new built, 300 M1A2s upgraded to M1A2SEP for the USA, also unknown numbers of upgraded basic M1s and M1IPs, also 400 oldest M1A1s upgraded to M1A2SEP).
- M1 Grizzly Combat Mobility Vehicle (CMV): This has been designed to clear minefields, neutralize obstacles, demolish berms and fill in anti-tank ditches for highly mobile forces.
- M1 Panther II Mine Clearing Vehicle: a specialized mine detection and clearing vehicle, based on the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The turret was replaced with a small superstructure. Two arms were mounted at the front for mine rollers or mine plough attachments.
- M104 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge: consists of an MLC 70 (Military Load Class) horizontally launched bridge integrated onto a modified M1 MBT chassis. When opened out, the bridge is 26 m long and can be used to span gaps of up to 24 m.
- M1 ABV Assault Breacher Vehicle: Assault variant for the USMC. Based upon the M1A1 Abrams chassis, the Assault Breacher Vehicle has a variety of systems installed, such as a full-width mine plow, two linear demolition charges, and a lane-marking system. Reactive armor has been fitted to the vehicle providing additional protection against HEAT-based weapons. The turret has been replaced by a new smaller one with two MICLIC launchers at its rear. A M2HB .50 machine gun in a remote weapons station is mounted on the commander's cupola and a bank of grenade launchers are fitted to each side of the superstructure to cover the frontal arc are provided for self-protection
The main armament of the M1A1 Abrams is the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, developed by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH of Germany. The 120mm M256 gun of the M1A1 tank can fire various types of ammunition, as the M829A1 APFSDS-T ammunition (kinetic energy round with long rod penetrator, made of depleted uranium, with a muzzle velocity of 1,575 m/sec, and a maximum effective range of 3,500 meters, but engagement ranges approaching 4,000 meters were successfully demonstrated during Operation Desert Storm). A new generation of ammunition enters in service in 1994, called 120mm APFSDS-T M829A2. The 120mm APFSDS-T M829A3 is the third generation of depleted uranium armor penetrator tank rounds. It will replace the M829A1 and the M829A2 projectiles. A total of 40 of 120mm ammunition are carried inside the tank, with 34 in the turret bustle and six in a rear hull box. A 7.62mm coaxial machine gun is mounted to the right of the main armament and a similar weapon is available on the left side of the turret for the loader can be elevated from -30 to +65º, total traverse being 265º. The commander hatch is armed with a standard 12.7 mm (0.50) Browning M2 HB machine gun which can be elevated from -10 to +65º and traversed through 360º. This weapon has powered and manual controls for traverse and manual controls for elevation. The 12.7 mm machine gun has an electric power traverse and can be aimed and fired from within the turret. Six smoke grenade dischargers are mounted to each side of the turret. In addition to the smoke grenade dischargers, the M1A1 also has an engine-operated smoke-laying system.
|Design and protection|
The hull and the turret of the M1 Abrams are based on Chobham armor developed in the UK and give protection against ATGWs and other battlefield weapons. The Chobham is composite armor that uses ceramic technology and various materials with different hardness and elasticity, heat and shock-absorbing materials, layered and sandwiched together, to provide improved protection against specific threats, such as multiple hits of Kinetic Energy (KE), and Chemical Energy (CE) ammunition. The M1A1 includes also a depleted uranium (DU) plate which provides resistance against kinetic energy rounds. The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle in the center and operates the vehicle from a semi-reclining position when driving with the hatch closed. The commander and gunner are seated on the right of the turret and the loader on the left. The crew compartment is separated from the fuel tanks by armor bulkheads. Sliding armor doors and armor-protected boxes isolate the crew from the onboard main armament ammunition explosion.
|The M1A1 Abrams is motorized with a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine coupled to an Allison automatic transmission X-1100-3B with 4 forward and 2 reverse gears. The M1A1 Abrams Tank can reach a maximum speed of approximately 68km/h with a maximum cruising range of 426 km. The torsion bar suspension of the M1A1 Abrams consists of each side of seven road-wheels with rotary shock-absorbers at the first, second, and seventh road-wheel stations. The top of the suspension is protected by vertical armored skirts which hinge outwards to allow access to the suspension for maintenance. The drive sprocket is at the rear with the idler at the front and there are two return rollers. The M1A1 Abrams is able to negotiate gradient up to 60%, side slope to 40%, cross a water obstacle of 1.21 m deep maximum (1.98m with preparation), can climb vertical obstacles of 1.06 m, and can cross a trench of 2.74 m maximum.|
|Standard equipment of the M1A1 Abrams includes AN/VDR-1 (RADIAC) Radiological Warning Device, a chemical agent detector kit, a collective NBC protection unit, and personnel heaters. The M1A1 Abrams is equipped with a fire-control system including a laser range-finder, full-solution solid-state digital computer supplied by General Dynamics Canada, and stabilized day/thermal night sight. The commander can observe around the vehicle thanks to six-day periscopes which cover 360º. A day sight with a magnification of ×3 is coupled with a 12.7mm machine gun. The gunner has a primary sight (GPS) with dual day optics with a magnification of ×10 (narrow field of view), magnification of ×3 (wide field of view), close-in surveillance magnification of ×1 and a 18º field of view, thermal imaging night vision optics with a magnification of ×10 (narrow field of view), magnification of ×3 (wide field of view), sight stabilization in elevation and a Raytheon Systems Company laser range-finder. The gunner has also an infra-red Thermal Imaging System (TIS) that has been developed by the Raytheon Systems Company and produces an image by sensing the small difference in heat radiated by the objects in view. An automatic Halon fire extinguishing system in the tank reacts to the outbreak of a fire in 2 ms and extinguishes fire in less than 250 ms.|
|One 120mm gun, one coaxial 7.62mm, one top turret 7.62mm machine gun and one 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun.||Chobham armor and Uranium plates.|
|Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Iraq||62,000 kg|
|United States||68 km/h|
|Fire control system, laser range finder, night vision, thermal sight, NBC protection system, heater, automatic fire extinguishing system||426 km|
|4including Commander, Gunner, Loader and Driver||Length: 9.83 m; Width: 3.65 m; Height: 2.89m|
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