Updated June 1st, 2024 at 15:21 IST

New M1E3 Abrams Tank to Feature Hybrid Power and Advanced Protection Systems

The U.S. Army has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a contract to initiate preliminary design work on the new M1E3 Abrams tank.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
M1E3 Abrams tank | Image:US DoD
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Washington: The U.S. Army has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a contract to begin preliminary design work on the new M1E3 Abrams tank. The contract aims to create a lighter, more technologically advanced tank, enhancing battlefield survivability. Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, head of combat vehicle modernization, shared insights with Defense News, highlighting the Army's aspirations for the new variant.  

Norman expressed the Army's hope to align the M1E3 tank's development with the M30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle's timeline. "There would be real goodness for the Army if M30 combat vehicles and M1E3 tanks could be fielded simultaneously to an armoured brigade combat team," he stated. The alignment will depend on factors like technology maturation and budget constraints.  

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Competition and Selection Timeline  

The Army is conducting a competition between American Rheinmetall Vehicles and General Dynamics Land Systems to develop the XM30 vehicle. This vehicle will replace the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. According to Norman, the Army plans to select the winning design by late fiscal 2027 or early fiscal 2028. This selection timeline is critical as it may influence the M1E3's development schedule.

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In parallel, the Army and General Dynamics Land Systems will refine the M1E3's requirements and capabilities. A more defined timeline for the M1E3's development is expected to emerge by fall. The Army's decision last fall to pursue a significant modernization effort for the Abrams tank over upgrading existing variants underscores the project's importance. This decision ended the M1A2 System Enhancement Package version 4 program, shifting focus to the M1E3. 

Technological Advancements and Design Goals  

The M1E3 will incorporate several new technologies to enhance its performance. Over the next 18 months, the Army will explore autoloader capabilities, systems to enable full crew operation from within the tank, alternate power trains, and active protection systems. These efforts aim to create a prototype that meets the Army's stringent requirements.

The Army intends to reduce the Abrams' weight to under 60 tons, down from the current 73 tons. Norman acknowledged this goal as ambitious, suggesting changes in crew configuration and the potential for a remote or optionally manned turret. These modifications could save significant space under the tank's armour, contributing to weight reduction.  

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Power trains featuring hybrid capabilities are also under consideration. These would offer reduced fuel consumption and the desirable silent watch and silent drive capabilities, improving stealth on the battlefield. Despite these advancements, the power train must still achieve high dash speeds, ensuring the tank's operational effectiveness.  

The M1E3 will feature an integrated active protection system, crucial for vehicle survivability. This system will be a core component of the tank's design, reflecting the Army's commitment to enhancing the Abrams' defensive capabilities.  

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The collaboration between the U.S. Army and General Dynamics Land Systems marks a significant step toward modernizing the Abrams tank fleet. By integrating cutting-edge technologies and addressing current battlefield challenges, the M1E3 aims to set a new standard for armoured combat vehicles. 

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Published June 1st, 2024 at 14:40 IST