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Army Announces Plans for M1E3 Abrams Tank Modernization

DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. – The U.S. Army announced today the path forward for the M1E3 Abrams Main Battle Tank modernization program.

The Army will close out the M1A2 System Enhancement Package version 4 effort and develop M1E3 Abrams, which will focus on making the capability improvements needed to fight and win against future threats on the battlefield of 2040 and beyond.

“We appreciate that future battlefields pose new challenges to the tank as we study recent and ongoing conflicts” said Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team. “We must optimize the Abrams’ mobility and survivability to allow the tank to continue to close with and destroy the enemy as the apex predator on future battlefields.”

“The Abrams Tank can no longer grow its capabilities without adding weight, and we need to reduce its logistical footprint,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “The war in Ukraine has highlighted a critical need for integrated protections for Soldiers, built from within instead of adding on.”

The Abrams Main Battle Tank is a full-tracked, low-profile, land-combat assault weapon that enables Soldiers to dominate their adversaries through lethal firepower, unparalleled survivability and agile maneuvering. It closes with and destroys the enemy using mobility, firepower and shock effect.

Years of testing, analysis, Soldier feedback and maturing technology culminated in this strategic decision. The new approach balances costs with the Army’s needs and invests in the nation’s defense industrial base.

The development of the M1E3 Abrams will include the best features of the M1A2 SEPv4 and will comply with the latest modular open systems architecture standards, allowing quicker technology upgrades and requiring fewer resources. This will enable the Army and its commercial partners to design a more survivable, lighter tank that will be more effective on the battlefield at initial fielding, and more easy to upgrade in the future.

This modernization will enhance the efficacy and maneuverability of armored brigade combat teams in conflicts across the globe through a reduced sustainment footprint and increased operational and tactical mobility.

The Army will continue to produce the M1A2 SEPv3 at a reduced rate until production transitions to the M1E3 Abrams, and the Army will carry technologies forward into the SEPv4 Abrams modernization effort.

“The M1E3 Abrams nomenclature is a return to the Army’s standard use of its type classification and nomenclature system for our combat vehicle fleet,” said Dean. “The ‘E’ designation represents an engineering change to an existing platform that is more significant than a minor modification and serves to designate the prototype and development configuration until the vehicle is formally type classified and receives an ‘A’ designation. This is distinct from the ‘XM’ designation used for new prototype systems.”

Initial operational capability is anticipated in early the 2030s. As longer-range threats increase in both lethality and survivability, the M1E3 Abrams will be able to defeat those threats. The Abrams Main Battle Tank remains the most lethal, protected tank in the world.

By U.S. Army Public Affairs

16 Responses to “Army Announces Plans for M1E3 Abrams Tank Modernization”

  1. Bliss & Goss says:

    Let’s go Tanks!

  2. Joe says:

    One thing the Ukraine war is showing is that ine dude with a $1,000 drone or a $80,000 missile can destroy three dudes in a 5 million dollar tank.

    Drone swarms are the future, soon there will be semi autonomous anti-personnel drone swarms that you released by the hundreds and it’ll still be cheaper than a tank.

    Spend this modernization money on laser-based portable anti-drone ADA if you want to win the war 20 years from now

    • Yawnz says:

      Ukraine has shown that a drone can only do that if employed properly, and we knew this long before Ukraine.

      Drone swarms can’t hold territory either. This argument is akin to the whole “You’re AR-15 can’t fight an F-16” trash and is just as fallacious.

      • He’s not talking about drones holding territory, he’s talking about drones making tanks and AFVs obsolete – in which he is mostly correct, as long as those tanks and AFVs don’t have anti-drone weapons mounted on them – in which he is also correct.

        The problem NATO discovered in Ukraine is that their tanks are too heavy for the roads and bridges – this war ain’t Desert Storm. NATO can’t even move tanks on tank haulers over EU roads and bridges without damaging them. Do a Google search – the EU had to pass laws to allow NATO movements and to upgrade the roads and bridges. Russian tanks are lighter. Right now, the T-90 is the best tank in the world, demonstrated in Ukraine against western tanks and earlier Soviet tanks.

        When the Abrams arrive in Ukraine – assuming Ukraine survives that long – they will burn like the rest against Kornets, Terminator’s missiles, drones, artillery, helicopters and glide bombs. They will have zero effect on the battlefield because there won’t be enough and they won’t be run by people who know how.

        • SSD says:

          The T90 hasn’t fought a US crew in an M1, so no, it’s not the best tank in the world.

          And no, Comrade Putin isn’t going to notice your support of the Russian Army.

          • Yawnz says:

            You don’t have to be a supporter of “Comrade Putin” to understand that the US gave Russia the green light to invade in 2014 and that, for all of the “counteroffensives” that the MSM keeps talking about, Ukraine has not been able to do more than stall Russia.

            On the more domestic side, you also don’t have to be a supporter of “Comrade Putin” to see the current problem for what it is: a massive money laundering scheme as well as an overall weakening of US military readiness.

            • SSD says:

              No, you don’t. But calling the T-90 the world’s greatest tank sure makes it sound like you love Putin long time.

              • Yawnz says:

                No it doesn’t, it means that you are aware of the current environment surrounding armored warfare in Ukraine.

                If anything, continually rebutting with “lolulovePutin” sounds more and more like projection. It doesn’t refute the claim made at all.

        • Asinine Name says:

          Cope harder, vatnik.

        • Yawnz says:

          And yet my point still stands. Drones haven’t made tanks obsolete even now and likely never will for the very points I have described. All of the problems you keep ascribing to tanks have nothing to do with them.

          “don’t have anti-drone weapons mounted on them”

          ” too heavy for the roads and bridges”

          “won’t be enough and they won’t be run by people who know how”

          So mount anti-drone weapons, build stronger roads and bridges, and don’t give tanks to press-ganged civilians.

          • Asinine Name says:


            • Yawnz says:

              Nothing I’ve said is wrong.

              Drones have had this capability for decades, yet tanks are still being used. Drones can’t hold territory. Drones can’t keep a population under control.

              No point that was brought up earlier illustrates a problem with tanks.

              If they don’t have anti-drone weaponry on them, you put it on them. Not hard.

              If the roads and bridges can’t hold their weight, you reconstruct them. Not hard.

              If there aren’t enough tanks, you build more. Not hard.

              If the operators don’t know what they’re going, you don’t give them tanks in the first place. Not hard.

              • Asinine Name says:


                • Yawns says:

                  Not wrong. If drones were as effective as you claim, Russia wouldn’t still be in Ukraine after a decade. Drones are just guided missiles and we’ve had those for almost half a century now.

  3. Linz says:

    ‘Drone Swarms’

    Read a novel: ‘Kill Decision’ by Suarez

  4. Nate says:

    That’s the whole point of the redesign.

    The M1 series has gotten fat and bloated with all of the capability upgrades grafted onto it. It needs better active protection system, which would also handle drone launched munitions, and other upgrades, to continue to be the best MBT in the world. It is 70 plus tons, and bolting more stuff onto it would make it untransportable and would effect it’s strategic and tactical mobility.

    We already have an enormous number of tanks in storage. They can rebuild these from the existing chassis and integrate the new systems better. The stated goal is to shave about 20 tons off the system while maintaining the current armor level and adding a number of capability and protection upgrades as an integrated series of systems, and not more bolted on stuff.

    An example I heard when they added APS to M1, it added about 5 tons to the tank even though the existing APS only weighs 1.5 tons because they had to counterbalance the system in the turret.

    Tanks aren’t going anywhere and this program will hopefully manage to increase the lifespan and the survivability of the M1 for some time. The Army has been surprisingly agile about quickly and quietly fielding new and upgraded systems over the last few years, in contrast to the extremely broken acquisition programs in some of the other branches.