Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: M1A1 AIM, M1A1 SA and M1A1M
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The United States of America M1 Abrams tank was designed to provide heavy armor superiority on the battlefield destroying enemy forces using mobility and firepower. Initially the US Army and the German agreed to develop a new heavy tank in the 1970s but the joint program split into the German Leopard 2 and the US M1 Abrams. It was deployed in the early 1980s replacing the aging M60 Patton main battle tank (MBT) within the US Army and within the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in the 1990s. It has been exported to the Armies of Egypt (M1A1), Saudi Arabia (M1A1 and M1A2), Kuwait (M1A2), Australia (M1A1) and recently Iraq (M1A1). Roughly 10,000 M1 Abrams main battle tanks were produced for the US Army, the USMC, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to its heavy armor, the M1 Abrams tank features Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection and a 1,500-hp AGT-1500 gas engine which allows high mobility on road and off road. The M1 Abrams 105mm or 120mm stabilized cannon can open fire moving or stationary, at night, in adverse weather against moving and stationary targets with a high probability of kill using depleted uranium penetration ammunition and its advanced ballistic computers, as well as its sensor package housed on the turret. The frontal part of the turret is protected using depleted uranium plates which are more resistant than steel. Export Abrams are not provided with the depleted uranium armor.
The M1A1 Abrams is an improved follow-on version of the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The A1 configuration features an M256 120mm smooth bore gun with 40 rounds, two M240 7.62mm machine guns and a roof-mounted M2 12.7mm machine gun which provides a short range air defense capability against helicopters and low-altitude flying aircraft. The first M1A1 was fielded within the US Army in 1985. This model retains the high mobility and increases firepower compared to previous M1 tank. The M1A1 was deployed in the Persian Gulf during operation Desert Shield in 1990. During operation Desert Storm, in 1991, the Abrams M1A1 demonstrated its capabilities destroying Iraqi armored vehicles, specially its soviet counterpart the T-72, while moving through its advanced targeting and fire control system. The M1A1 has been sold to Australia (M1A1 AIM), Egypt (M1A1), Iraq (M1A1 SA) and the Philippines.
The US Marine Corps awarded Raytheon a $32.5 million contract, with a total estimated value of $65 million with all options exercised, for the M1A1 tank Firepower Enhancement Program (FEP) on February 2, 2005. The contract included sensor kits and spares to be delivered to the US Marine Corps by July 2007. The FEP enhanced M1A1 Abrams were expected to reach IOC by 2006. Eventually, the entire USMC's M1A1 fleet (400+) could receive the FEP upgrade before October 2009. FEP focuses on improving accuracy at 24/7 all-weather conditions and the tank's engagement capability at extended ranges. Basically, FEP consists of Far Target Location (FTL) sensor and a second generation thermal sight which is an upgrade to the current M1A1 sight system. FTL sensor will enable USMC M1A1s to effectively warfighting beyond 2018. The same sensor was envisaged to be integrated into the USMC LAV-25s.
Under the Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) program the M1A1 Abrams tanks were completely disassembled and overhauled to a like-new, zero-mile condition. M1A1 AIM feature lower operational and support costs and report higher operational readiness rates. The improved M1A1 AIM provide the tank's crew with enhanced situational awareness and increased accuracy of the tank's commander .50 gun through a mission-critical technology package. The package includes: second-generation Forward-Looking Infrared, Far Target Locate, Blue Force Tracking (BFT)/Force Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2), a tank-infantry phone, a .50 caliber thermal sight, a power distribution box, a rear slave receptacle, an eye-safe laser rangefinder, and driver's vision enhancement. The US Army awarded the first production contract of the improved M1A1 AIM tank to General Dynamics Land Systems in August 2006. The contract was valued at $108 million for the refurbishment of 155 M1A1 tanks. Deliveries to the US Army were expected to begin in July 2007.
The General Dynamics M1A1/M1A2 Tank Urban Survivability Kit (TUSK) consists of Loader's Armor Gun Shield (LAGS), a Tank Infantry Phone (TIP), Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT), a Remote Thermal Sight (RTS) and a Power Distribution Box (PDB). This add-on crew enhanced survivability kit was ordered by the US Army for the first time in late August 2006 as a rapid response to the threat posed by insurgents to heavyweight tanks in Iraq. The order was valued at $45 million for production and installation of 505 tank kits. On 12 December 2006, the US Army awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a new contract worth $11 million for the supply of 250 TUSK kits for the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks.
The M1A1 Situational Awareness (SA) is a US Army version featuring several improvements such as the Gunner Primary Sight (GPS) 2nd generation FLIR and the Stabilized Commander's Weapon Station (SCWS). Other improvements are the Blue Force Tracking (BFT) command and control (C2) system, Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) affecting the engine and transmission, and improved armor at the frontal and turret side sections. The US Army upgraded all its M1A1 Abrams tanks to the M1A1 SA standard.
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