Land Platforms

Kuwait Abrams tank upgrade package announced

15 December 2016
Kuwaiti M1A2 Abrams tanks seen on 21 February 2011 during rehearsals for the parade marking the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the country in 1991. Source: US Army

Kuwait intends to upgrade its fleet of 218 M1A2 Abrams tanks to significantly improve their crews' ability to respond to infantry threats while remaining protected inside the vehicle by adding a remote weapon station (RWS) and a .50-calibre machine gun mounted externally on the main gun.

The plan was revealed by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 13 December, when it announced that the Department of State had approved the sale of an upgrade package estimated to be worth USD1.7 billion.

The package includes the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) II and Counter Sniper and Anti-Materiel Mount (CSAMM) for the Kuwaiti tanks.

The M153 CROWS II is a version of the Kongsberg Protector RWS that replaces the .50-calibre machine gun mount above the commander's hatch on the Abrams and can be fitted with a variety of weapons. Kuwait has requested the low-profile version that has less impact on the commander's field of view.

The CSAMM is a stabilised mount that enables a .50-calibre machine gun to be installed above the barrel of the tank's main gun to provide heavier firepower than the 7.62 mm M240 coaxial machine gun fitted inside the turret.

The package outlined by the DSCA includes 240 .50-calibre M2A1 machine guns, 480 7.62 mm M240 machine guns, and unspecified number of replacement barrels for the 120 mm main gun.

The optics on the Kuwaiti tanks will also be replaced with the installation of unidentified gunner's primary sights and second-generation thermal sights, and the package includes 1,085 sets of AN/PVS-7B night vision googles.

The DSCA listed "Special Armor" as part of the upgrade, suggesting it will include an applique armour kit to provide additional protection.

Other aspects of the upgrade include 240 AN/VRC-92E radios, embedded diagnostics, upgrade/maintenance of the tanks' engines and transmissions, and an improved thermal management system.

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