The U.S. Army confirmed on Wednesday that it plans to develop a new version of its legendary Abrams tank.
According to a press release from the Army, the service will close out the M1A2 System Enhancement Package version 4 effort and develop M1E3 Abrams, which will focus on making the capability improvements needed to fight and win against future threats on the battlefield of 2040 and beyond.
“We appreciate that future battlefields pose new challenges to the tank as we study recent and ongoing conflicts” said Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team. “We must optimize the Abrams’ mobility and survivability to allow the tank to continue to close with and destroy the enemy as the apex predator on future battlefields.”
“The Abrams Tank can no longer grow its capabilities without adding weight, and we need to reduce its logistical footprint,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “The war in Ukraine has highlighted a critical need for integrated protections for Soldiers, built from within instead of adding on.”
The Abrams Main Battle Tank is a full-tracked, low-profile, land-combat assault weapon that enables Soldiers to dominate their adversaries through lethal firepower, unparalleled survivability and agile maneuvering. It closes with and destroys the enemy using mobility, firepower and shock effect.
Years of testing, analysis, Soldier feedback and maturing technology culminated in this strategic decision. The new approach balances costs with the Army’s needs and invests in the nation’s defense industrial base.
The development of the M1E3 Abrams will include the best features of the M1A2 SEPv4 and will comply with the latest modular open systems architecture standards, allowing quicker technology upgrades and requiring fewer resources. This will enable the Army and its commercial partners to design a more survivable, lighter tank that will be more effective on the battlefield at initial fielding, and more easy to upgrade in the future.
This modernization will enhance the efficacy and maneuverability of armored brigade combat teams in conflicts across the globe through a reduced sustainment footprint and increased operational and tactical mobility.
The Army will continue to produce the M1A2 SEPv3 at a reduced rate until production transitions to the M1E3 Abrams, and the Army will carry technologies forward into the SEPv4 Abrams modernization effort.
“The M1E3 Abrams nomenclature is a return to the Army’s standard use of its type classification and nomenclature system for our combat vehicle fleet,” said Dean. “The ‘E’ designation represents an engineering change to an existing platform that is more significant than a minor modification and serves to designate the prototype and development configuration until the vehicle is formally type classified and receives an ‘A’ designation. This is distinct from the ‘XM’ designation used for new prototype systems.”
Initial operational capability is anticipated in early the 2030s. As longer-range threats increase in both lethality and survivability, the M1E3 Abrams will be able to defeat those threats. The Abrams Main Battle Tank remains the most lethal, protected tank in the world.