GOAT Tank? The U.S. Army's 'New' M-1A2C Abrams Is Ready for Battle

David Axe

David Axe

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GOAT Tank? The U.S. Army's 'New' M-1A2C Abrams Is Ready for Battle

Kennedy told Lima News the tank plant’s workforce has grown from around 500 to more than 600 since a hiring spree started in late 2018. He said he expects the workforce to expand to 700 by the end of 2019 and exceed 900 in 2020.

The U.S. Army’s newest tank has made its apparent operational debut at a multi-national exercise in Romania.

(This first appeared several weeks ago.)

The M-1A2C, previously known at the M-1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3, appeared in imagery that the U.S. Defense Department published to mark the May 29, 2019 commencement of Justice Eagle, a U.S.-Romanian war game at Romania’s Smardan Training Area.

The tanks appear to belong to 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, whose home base is Fort Riley in Kansas.

The new M-1A2C Abrams boasts new active and passive protection that could help to protect it from the latest enemy weaponry. The most obvious new features of the M-1A2C are the vehicle's Trophy active-protection systems and an additional slab of armor on the front of its turret.

Trophy uses a radar to detect incoming missiles and rockets then fires tiny projectiles to intercept the munitions. The Army also is back-fitting Trophy to some older M-1 models.

The bulky Trophy hardware is what gave away the M-1A2C’s presence in Romania.

The M-1A2C is the latest variant of Abrams to enter production. The Army in late 2017 accepted the very first M-1A2C Abrams tanks.

Congress in 2019 gave the Army $1.5 billion to buy 135 M-1s from General Dynamics, extending a program that began in the 1970s. The Army’s budget proposal for 2020 asks for 174 new and upgraded tanks.

After several years of production, the service has enough M-1A2Cs to equip an entire brigade. “We’re in the throes of getting that together,” Hank Kennedy, a manager at General Dynamics’ tank plant in Lima Ohio, told Lima News.

A U.S. armored brigade typically operates around 100 tanks. The Army has 16 armored brigades as part of a total force of 58 combat brigades.

The “first brigade is critical because we need to get [them] into the soldiers’ hands so they can get trained on it and everything else,” Kennedy said.

The first M-1 entered service with the Army in 1980. The original M-1 packed a 105-millimeter gun. The Army bought 3,300 of them. In 1984 the Army added thicker armor to a batch of new M-1s and called these 900 tanks M-1IPs. The U.S. military no longer uses these early M-1s.

A major upgrade in 1986 added a new 120-millimeter gun. This is the M-1A1. The Army and Marines bought 5,200 copies through 1992. Roughly a thousand M-1A1s still are in service with the Marines and Army National Guard. Another 3,000 or so are in storage.

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