Key Points: The world's most powerful tank is getting even better.
The M1A2C, formerly known as the M1A2 SEPv3 is America’s most modern tank. The last major “version” of the M1A2 Abrams was developed in the mid-to-late 2000s, the M1A2 SEP v2.
This upgrade was primarily geared towards the urban combat the Abrams was facing at the time in Iraq. The SEPv2 added the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station to the Abrams to allow the commander to shoot at targets from the safety of inside the tank, and improved the side and front armor of the tank with standard mounts for the Tank Urban Survival Kit set of add-on armor. It also added a tank-to-infantry phone for better coordination with a tank’s infantry screen.
Now, the recent changes to the SEP v3 standard appear to signal a return to a conventional warfare focus against a peer enemy. The latest iteration of the SEP v3 has thick add-on armor blocks on the front of the turret face, additional armor improvements, and a Trophy Active Protection System (APS) to defeat anti-tank missiles and rockets.
(This first appeared in March 2019.)
But how has the SEP v3 changed since we first heard of it? Will it likely see more updates as the standard is applies to the current fleet of tanks?
One of the first iterations of the M1A2 SEP v3 was showcased at the AUSA 2015 defense expo. The SEP v3 showcased here was a relatively conservative upgrade, replacing electronics with newer and superior versions and upgrading other subsystems like the thermal sight and auxiliary power unit. The biggest change on the 2015 SEP v3 was the new ammunition data link that enabled the use of the new M829A4 and XM1147 rounds.