M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank

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Product Type:

Main Battle Tank

Using Service (US):

Army and Marine Corps (USMC)

Program Status:

Vehicles are being upgraded and modified.

Prime Contractor:

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS)

The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank

About the M1 Abrams:

The General Dynamics M1 Abrams is the U.S. Army's main battle tank. The tank is powered by a single Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine with 1,500 hp. The M1, named after General Creighton Abrams,first entered service in 1980 and was produced for the U.S. Army from 1978 until 1992. The M1A1 entered production in 1985 followed by the the M1A2 in 1986. During operation Desert Storm, 2,000 M1 Abrams tanks were used. The M1 proved vastly superior and not a single tank was destroyed by enemy fire. Since then, the Army has modernized its M1 inventory with a series of upgrades to improve the tank's capabilities. More information about the Abrams upgrade/modification programs is provided below.

In total, 8,367 (3,273x M1 + 5,017x M1A1 + 77x M1A2) Abrams tanks were produced for the U.S. military. Foreign users include Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The M1 Abrams has a crew of four: driver, commander, gunner, and ammunition loader. The driver sits at the front of the tank inside the hull, while the commander stands inside the rotating turret. The gunner sits at his feet. Armored bulkheads separate the fuel tanks from the crew compartment.

The M1 is equipped with a laser range finder from Litton (now Northrop Grumman), which detects the targets position. The onboard fire control computer detects the elevation and angle of the gun + velocity. The Abrams can hit up to six targets per minute at distances of up to 2.5 miles (4 km) away. The M1A1 is fitted with steel encased depleted uranium armor.

The Abrams can be transported by the C-17 Globemaster III (carries one) and the C-5 Galaxy/Super Galaxy (carries two).

Abrams tanks can be fitted with the TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit), which is a series of improvements to the M1 Abrams intended to improve the vehicle's fighting ability in urban environments. Historically, urban and other close battlefields have proven to be the worst place for tanks to fight. TUSK provides add-on reactive armor tiles to protect against RRPGs and other shaped charge warheads. Also, a Transparent Armor Gun Shield (TAGS) and a thermal sight system are added to the loader's top-mounted M240 7.62 mm machine gun as well as a remote weapon turret from Kongsberg Gruppen carrying a .50 caliber machine gun is in place of the tank commander's original .50 caliber machine gun mount. Other TUSK equipment include a tank infantry phone (TIP), which is an exterior telephone that allows supporting infantry to communicate with the tank commander. The TUSK is a field-installable kit that allows tanks to be easily upgraded. TUSK entered service on M1A1/M1A2 tanks in 2007.

U.S. Army M1 Abrams Tanks are continuously upgraded and modified. The U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams SEP effort upgrades M1/M1A1 tanks to the M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) configuration in order to enhance tank survivability, the automotive power pack, computer systems, and night vision capabilities. The M1A2 SEP incorporates improved microprocessors; color flat panel displays and memory capacity; Soldier-Machine Interface (SMI); and a new operating system designed to run the Common Operating Environment (COE) software. Other improvements include frontal and side armor for enhanced crew survivability. Both the Gunner's Primary Sight (GPS) and the Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) on the M1A2 SEP tank include the improved thermal ranging capabilities of the Block I 2nd Generation Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) technology. The M1A2 SEP is also equipped with the Total Integrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) engine and upgraded transmission for improved reliability and durability.


The M1A2 Abrams is equipped with a 120mm XM256 smooth bore cannon (main gun) from Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, two M240 7.62mm machine guns, and a single M2 Browning .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine gun for the tank commander.


The M1A2 Abrams serves as the U.S. Army's main battle tank and provides mobile and protected firepower for battlefield superiority against heavy armor forces.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - M1 Abrams DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), General Dynamics, and Honeywell.

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