|M1A1 Abrams of the 1st Armored Division during Exercise Ready Crucible, Germany|
|Type||Main Battle Tank|
|Length||9.76 m (32.02 ft)|
|Width||3.66 m (12 ft)|
|Height||2.44 m (8.0 ft)|
|Armor||Chobham modular ceramic matrix, RHA, Depleted Uranium plating, Kevlar anti-spall liner.|
|Primary amament||120mm/44 M256 smoothbore gun,|
|Secondary armament|| 1 x .50 in (12.7mm) M2HB machine gun|
2 x M240 7.62mm machine guns
|Max. road speed||72km/h (45mph)|
|Max. offroad speed||48km/h (30mph)|
|Operational range||465.29 km/289 miles|
|Engine||Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine|
|Power output||1500 hp/1119 kW|
|Transmission||Allison X-1100-3B Hydro-Kinetic Automatic; four forward/2 reverse gears|
The M1 Abrams is the Main Battle Tank of the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps. In the 1970s, Chrysler Defense Inc. developed this front-line battle tank to fight outnumbered against Warsaw Pact mechanized divisions. In 1982, Chrysler Defense sold to General Dynamics, which still manufactures the tanks to the present day, some speculate until the year 2040. Significant variants give the tank new life and new models numbers; M1, M1A1, M1A1D, M1A2, M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) . The current modification is M1A1 SA, incorporating second-generation forward-looking infrared thermal sight, a driver's vision-enhancer thermal viewer and Tank Urban Survivability Kit (TUSK) improvements, providing better crew shielding, improved situational awareness and a Remote Weapons Station for the .50" HMG which can be operated from under armour. The aim of the upgrade is to make the tank more effective in urban warfare environments. Modifications will take place at General Dynamics plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Florida and completed in 2011.
On February 28, 1980, the first M1 tank rolled out of the government-owned Lima Tank Plant in Lima, Ohio. It was designated the M1 Abrams, in honor of General Creighton Abrams, a commander in Vietnam. Over 9,000 Abrams tanks have been manufactured.
The Abrams Tank System Program has been using Depleted Uranium armor since the 1980s. Also, incorporating a modular designed Honeywell 1,500 HP smokeless gas turbine engine, easily removed, serviced and upgraded. The Abrams tank has a governed top speed of 45 mph, with a range of 265 miles. Speeds of up to 60 mph have been reached with the governor removed, but this results in damage to the transmission and generally makes the tank unservicable quite quickly. Following a series of critical reports beginning in 1990 and gaining urgency after the 2003 Iraq campaign, the US Army are considering a number of options for replacing the gas turbine with a conventional diesel engine. The main problem is the very high fuel consumption (twice that of an equivalent 1,500 hp tank diesel) which both reduces the tank's range and increases the logistics burden. The high-temperature jet exhaust is also an issue, as it both creates a large thermal target and is dangerous to infantry working close to the tank, which is a serious issue in urban operations. The fire control system allows the gunner to fire accurately while moving against either stationary or moving targets. The commander's station of the Abrams M1A1 is equipped with six periscopes, providing a 360° view. The tank weighs nearly 70 Tons making it one of the heaviest in the world. The US Army is currently trying to develop a lightened 60 ton variant providing the same level of protection by using advanced materials such as Dorchester armour. The original M1 was armed with a Royal Ordnance Factories 105mm L7 rifled gun built under licence as the M68, but in the M1A1 and later this was replaced with a Rheinmetall L44 120mm smoothbore gun licence-built as the M256. All original L7-armed M1s have now been upgraded to at least M1A1 standard or have been retired.
These tanks have seen significant combat experience in the first Gulf War as well as the current Iraq deployment. Here they have shown to be a true force to be reckoned with and have one of the best combat records of any modern tank.
During the war the US army rolled over Iraqi T-72Ms (An export model of the T-72 which lacked many features such as composite and reactive armor, adequate penetrator's and no modern optical range finders as opposed to their main line Soviet counterparts) with huge success. Their success against Iraqi armor in the first gulf war caused many nations to reconsider their armored forces, realizing that their force of communist made vehicles was inferior. However, post-war analysis determined that the Iraqi armored forces were using less capable penetrator rounds, insufficient propellant for tank rounds, inferior armor materials, a lack of modern optical and range finding equipment, and utilizing hold-over tactics from their eight-year war with Iran that were woefully inappropriate for maneuver warfare.
- General Dynamics Wins $198 Million Iraqi Tank Contract, Fox Business, January 04, 2010
- Lima Army Tank Plant (LATP), GlobalSecurity.org
- M1A1 / M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, USA, Army-technology.com