The U.S. Army is set to conduct a more extensive modernization of its primary battle tank, the M1 Abrams, than previously planned. By the beginning of 2030, it will be capable of transporting soldiers, as reported by Sarbaz.kz with reference to Breaking Defense.
"The Abrams tank can no longer increase its capabilities without increasing its weight. We need to optimise its materiel and technical equipment," said Major General Glenn Dean, Executive Director of Ground Combat Systems.
"We understand that future battlefields pose new challenges for tanks as we study recent and ongoing conflicts. We must optimize the mobility and survivability of the Abrams so that the tank can continue to close with and destroy the enemy as the primary predator on future battlefields," noted Brigadier General Jeffrey Norman, Director of the Cross-Functional Team for Next-Generation Combat Vehicles.
General Dynamics Land Systems and the Army have been exploring various options for the development of the current tank fleet for several years. Existing plans included an upgrade package for the Abrams version 4 (SEPv4) system, but a new common design or more aggressive upgrades were also considered. Ultimately, service leaders decided to terminate the SEPv4 program and assigned the announced development the name M1E3 Abrams.
Regarding the upcoming new development path, the service explained that the "E" designation represents a technical change that is more significant than a minor modification. The Army plans to take the best features of the M1A2 SEPv4 and integrate them with the latest standards of modular open systems architecture. If successful, this will enable the industry to rapidly incorporate new technologies over time to create a more survivable and lighter tank.
Last year, GDLS introduced the lighter 59-ton Abrams X as an alternative path for the Army, different from the one it is pursuing for SEPv4. This demonstrator will not be the final version of the M1E3. Variants of the upgraded tank were demonstrated, likely including those the Army will consider for the final new design.
"What 76-ton and 78-ton tanks do to armed forces is challenge their logistics, their ability to overcome obstacles in many countries we might have to fight in. The Abrams X was supposed to stimulate the focus on what the area of operation looks like. Potentially, it would lighten the tank, integrate hybrid electric drive capabilities and technologies for silent mobility and silent observation, which would significantly increase the lethality of this platform," said Taylor.