The U.S. Army has revealed more details about the testing of its latest version of Abrams tank at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.
The M1 Abrams is America’s sole main battle tank and is considered the best in the world. The M1 has been consistently tested at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground since first developed in the late 1970s because it is being continuously improved.
Currently, the new version of the legendary tank called the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Program Version 3 (SEPv3), is being put through its paces across the more than 200 miles of rugged road courses at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, all to ensure it functions as it should wherever in the world it could be called on to serve.
“We have multiple test courses here that simulate different types of roads we might encounter in different areas of the world,” said Robert Wilson, test officer. “We test these vehicles’ durability for thousands of miles across these various road surfaces.”
Except for the exterior, today’s SEPv3 would be almost unrecognizable to the tankers who served on its earliest incarnation. YPG testing has touched virtually every aspect of this behemoth, and in a variety of situations that simulate the less-than-ideal conditions Soldiers might encounter in combat.
“We put it in situations where the vehicle is on a slope that would cause all the fuel to settle on one end to see if the fuel pump can still pull fuel through the system and adequately restart it after sitting awhile,” said Wilson. “We run side slopes in a sinusoidal pattern and check things like the fuel pump and brakes.”
The list of improvements is lengthy: improved fire control electronics mean the SEPv3’s gun can shoot faster and more accurately; the engine, drivetrain, and tracks have been updated for higher performance and to support the platform’s weight increase; it may even sport hubcaps and road arms manufactured by way of 3D printing, a facet that is under test here at YPG.
“As the technology advances, the tanks have to advance as well,” said Martin Velazquez, test team lead. “The SEPv3s have a lot more onboard diagnostics than earlier iterations: they have removable screens that carry the tech manuals that can accomplish a lot of diagnostics on the vehicles without taking it to the shop.”
The newest Abrams is also more heavily armored than previous versions, which necessitates improvements in the power system and suspension.
“A lot of the extra weight is from the kits that get installed, such as the Abrams Armor Reactive Tiles that are installed in close-combat situations,” said Velazquez.
For all its dazzling technology, however, the newest Abrams remains true to its original conception: overwhelming power and overmatch against any adversary.
“The purpose of testing is to get it ready for combat,” said Wilson. Ultimately it is going to end up in the warfighter’s hands and we want it to be as perfect as it can be and perform flawlessly.”