The U.S. Army’s ‘New’ Abrams Tank Is Far from Obsolete (For Now)

The U.S. Army’s ‘New’ Abrams Tank Is Far from Obsolete (For Now)

Dan Goure

Technology,

How will it end?

For the next few decades at least, the solution to the Army’s problem of ensuring decisive lethality in its main battle tank is to continue the process of upgrading what is still the best tank in the world, the Abrams.

The U.S. Army is on an intensive quest for an array of new technologies with which to design and build new armored fighting vehicles, particularly a replacement for the long-serving Bradley. However much it might yearn for a new tank, the Army lacks the critical technologies that would justify the time and expense pursuing such an objective. Moreover, it doesn’t need to make the effort. The Army’s current main battle tank, the Abrams, is the tank of the future.

The Army is just beginning to receive the first of the latest Abrams upgrade, the System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), with additional upgrades in development. Instead of searching for the elusive Holy Grail of ultralight armor or laser weapons, technologies that would justify building a brand new tank, the Army would be best served by aggressively pursuing a major redesign and improvement program for the Abrams, an M1A3.

The leadership of the U.S. Army is taken with the idea of transforming how and with what the Army fights. They particularly want new armored fighting vehicles. And not just another family of metal boxes with a turret and cannon. Technology enthusiasts, including many in the Army’s new Futures Command, wax eloquently about the potential for hover tanks that shoot laser beams and are autonomously guided by artificial intelligence housed in quantum computers.

Brigadier Gen. Ross Coffman, the leader of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team (CFT) responsible for the Bradley replacement and a future tank, is determined to think outside the box regarding what a future tank might look like and the capabilities it might incorporate. According to General Coffman, it might not be a tank. The CFT has been thinking about “everything from a ray gun to a Star Wars-like four-legged creature that shoots lasers. But the reality is that everything is on the table. We have to get away from these paradigms that we created that decisive lethality must come from a tank.”

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