The mysterious version of the M1 Abrams tank was spotted during the opening ceremony for multinational exercise Justice Eagle 19 at Smardan Training Area, Romania, May 29, 2019.
Justice Eagle is a bilateral exercise that builds readiness, increases interoperability and enhances the bond between ally and partner militaries.
During this exercise, the U.S. Army has unveiled an advanced version of M1 Abrams tank with what appears to be a new armor package on its turret. According to some military experts, this is modules of Trophy active protection system, which will help guard against anti-tank guided missiles and infantry anti-tank rockets. Also, they noted that the mysterious version of the M1 Abrams tank is called the M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 tank, or M1A2 SEPv3.
But later, the U.S. Army Europe officials said that the tanks in the imagery referenced are actually equipped with visual modifications to simulate having the Trophy active protection system mounted on the vehicles.
“They are not the M-1A2C, or M-1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3. The visual modifications, which are the same size and weight of the actual system, are being used so that the unit can provide feedback to the Department of Defense concerning the impact of the system on vehicle maneuver, crew situation awareness, and ability to engage targets,” noted by U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs.
Also added that the modifications are being used during Saber Guardian 2019, a multinational exercise co-led by Romania’s Land Forces Command and U.S. Army Europe, taking place from June 3-23, 2019, at various locations in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
As to M1A2 SEPv3, the newest version of the M1 Abrams tank is considered the most technologically advanced digital tank in the world with superior firepower, protection and mobility, Army’s officials said.
Improvements focus on power, management, counter-IED systems and improved, embedded training, and an ammunition data link. It is the most reliable Abrams tank ever produced, will decrease the Army’s logistic burden, and leads the Army in Enterprise-level connectivity to maintenance and supply systems.
The SEPv3 measures 9.7m-long, 3.7m-wide and 2.4m-high, and is manned by a crew of four, including a driver, a commander, a loader and a gunner.
In a 2017 report, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems said: “These vehicles are not just about assuring our allies, or deterring or coercing potential adversaries. They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle.”
According to the current information, the U.S. Army has plans to equip a big batch of M1A2 SEPv3 with the Trophy active protection system that eliminates enemy threats, such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles.