The M1 Abrams Tank...And Beyond Essay

1776 words - 7 pages

The United States military decided to develop a new tank that could compete with and defeat the tanks of the Soviet Union. They began several projects initially in an attempt to replace the dated M60 tank, which entered the service in 1960. After several attempts, the U.S. Army awarded a contract to General Dynamics for the production of the MA Abram tank. The M1 tank has been continuously improved and it has proven itself as one of the military’s most effective and important fighting vehicles in battle.
Introduced in the service in 1980, the M1 Abram Main Battle Tank (MBT) was named after General Creighton W. Abrams who was the Army Chief of Staff of Military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972 (Federation of American Scientist, 2000). The M1 Abram was the lightest of the three tanks weighing 60 tons and this allowed it to be the fasted being able to reach a max speed of 45 mph. The vehicle could travel 310 miles on a full tank of fuel. It took four soldiers to operate the tank with the main armament being a 105 mm M68A1 Rifled Cannon. The Abram was protected by a 350 mm hull, which made it almost impossible to pierce. The Commander was equipped with a .50 caliber M2 machine gun, the coaxial weapon was a 7.62 M240 machinegun, and the loaders weapon was a 7.62 M240 machinegun that was on a skate mount (Federation of American Scientist, 2000). The 7.72 M240 machineguns could be fired with the computer fire control system from within the tank. The 105 mm main gun was very effective as it was capable of lethally striking a target beyond 3 kilometers or 1.9 miles. All of the Abrams were equipped with a ballistic fire-control computer system that ensured the gunner a 95% accuracy rating (Federation of American Scientist, 2000).
The M1A1 were produced from 1985 until 1993 with the first one being fielded to the Unites States Army units in August of 1985. The M1A1 weighed 67.6 tons so the maximum speed was reduced to 41.5 mph and being able to travel 288 miles on a tank of fuel. The main cannon was upgraded to a 120 mm smoothbore, an NBC protection system was added, and the hull was upgraded to a 600 mm depleted uranium armor mesh (Federation of American Scientist, 2000). The depleted uranium armor was two and a half times more effective than conventional steel. They were also equipped with extra space for the crew’s gear. The commander’s station was upgraded with an independent thermal viewer (ITV) which allowed the commander to have a 360-degree view during the day and night. The system also came with a complete back-up fire control system (Federation of American Scientist, 2000). The gunner was given a primary sight line of sight (GSP-LOS) and a night vision thermal imaging system (TIS). The thermal imaging system allowed to gunner to fire within 10 meters of accuracy. There were also a number of packages available for fitting depending on the battalion’s mission. The U. S. Marine Corp gained interest in the M1A1 and purchased over 220 of the...

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