The US Army’s M1A2 Abrams main battle tank upgrade efforts appear to have solid support among congressional committees in fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018), which could be a key year as the service prepares to introduce or develop a number of capability updates.
For the M1A2 Abrams, the FY 2018 Pentagon budget request was up approximately USD317 million (35%) compared with the FY 2017 enacted figure. This funding is important to continue to address the space, weight, and power-cooling limitations on the Abrams. The 30-plus-year-old tank also faces shortcomings in network capability, survivability, and lethality that engineering changes, modifications, and upgrades will tackle.
Budget negotiations are moving through Congress and nothing is certain, but the House Appropriations Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and Senate Armed Services Committees have all made positive recommendations for Abrams funding. Other programmes, meanwhile, such as Stryker and the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles, saw reductions in the FY 2018 request compared with the FY 2017 enacted figures.
The budget specifically includes the continuation of M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package (SEP)v2 that fully digitises the vehicle. SEPv3 funding covers increased protection, new diagnostics systems, and upgrades to Abram’s digital systems with a generic vehicle architecture. The Abrams SEPv3 will more easily accept future electronics, modifications, and upgrades due to the modular characteristics of the generic architecture.
One of the modifications, an Active Protective System (APS), was advanced in September when the army completed a USD9.9 million contract with General Dynamics to procure the Trophy- APS for one Armor Brigade Combat Team. Trophy has been fielded and used successfully in combat by Israeli Defense Forces aboard the Merkava Mk 3 and Mk 4 and Namer APC. Early testing revealed some balance issues with the Trophy, but these have been worked out and the systems are slated to be fielded for Abrams by April 2019.
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