The Abrams has been around since the 1970s, and it’s still going strong.
Key point: This is the latest Abrams version to enter production.
The U.S. Army’s newest tank in the summer of 2019 should enter service with the first large unit to use the type.
The Army in late 2017 accepted the very first M-1A2C Abrams tanks. Nearly two years later the service has enough of the new vehicles to equip an entire brigade.
“We’re in the throes of getting that together,” Hank Kennedy, a manager at General Dynamics’ tank plant in Lima Ohio, told Lima News.
The “first brigade is critical because we need to get [them] into the soldiers’ hands so they can get trained on it and everything else,” Kennedy said.
A U.S. Army armored brigade typically operates around 100 tanks. The Army has 16 armored brigades as part of a total force of 58 combat brigades.
The M-1A2C is the latest variant of Abrams to enter production. Congress in 2019 gave the Army $1.5 billion to buy 135 M-1s from General Dynamics, extending a program that began in the 1970s.
The Army’s budget proposal for 2020 asks for 174 new and upgraded tanks.
The new M-1A2C Abrams boasts new active and passive protection that could help to protect it from the latest enemy weaponry. The most obvious new features of the M-1A2C are the vehicle’s Trophy active-protection systems and an additional slab of armor on the front of its turret.
Trophy uses a radar to detect incoming missiles and rockets then fires tiny projectiles to intercept the munitions. The Army also is back-fitting Trophy to some older M-1 models.
The first M-1 entered service with the Army in 1980. The original M-1 packed a 105-millimeter gun. The Army bought 3,300 of them. In 1984 the Army added thicker armor to a batch of new M-1s and called these 900 tanks M-1IPs. The U.S. military no longer uses these early M-1s.
A major upgrade in 1986 added a new 120-millimeter gun. This is the M-1A1. The Army and Marines bought 5,200 copies through 1992. Roughly a thousand M-1A1s still are in service with the Marines and Army National Guard. Another 3,000 or so are in storage.
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