Creeping weight of Abrams tank concerns Pentagon’s chief weapons tester
WASHINGTON - The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tank is heavier than previous iterations, and that extra weight affects the Pentagon's main weapons tester. However, the Army's Abrams Programs Office told Defense News that the newer version of the tank can continue to function like the current fleet.
"The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 upgrades raise suitability concerns," the director of operational testing and evaluation wrote in a recent report that covered the program's full functional testing and evaluation and some live fire tests. “The increase in weight limits the tactical transportability of the tank. The M1A2 SEPv3 cannot be transported with current recovery vehicles, tactical bridges or heavy machinery. "
However, according to the service's program office within the Program Executive Office's Ground Combat Systems, the version is "recoverable, bridgeable and transportable, with no new restrictions on the current Abrams fleet".
Nonetheless, the Army is striving to "further increase the margins for further growth and security on each of the supporting systems that enhance the successful deployment and use of all combat systems on the battlefield," said a statement from the program office.
The weight of tanks and combat vehicles is especially important when considering the operational challenges in European theater, especially on the eastern flank. Roads and bridges have weight restrictions that make moving American combat gear a challenge. The heavier the vehicles, the greater the challenges.
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The Army has carefully exercised the ability to bring these large armored vehicles into the region for exercises. Should a crisis arise, the tank brigade combat teams would likely have to cover a lot of territory and react quickly and effectively against an opponent like Russia.
The service began in the fall of 2020 with the deployment of Abrams SEPv3. The upgrades to SEPv2 include improved power generation to support future technologies, compatibility with the Joint Battle Command network, Next Evolution Armor and more protection against improvised explosive devices, a new ammunition data link and better energy efficiency through a new sub-armor add-on.
According to the DOT&E report, the army will begin deploying the SEPv4 in the first quarter of fiscal 2025. These upgrades provide an improved primary target for riflemen and commanders with 3rd generation predictive infrared and a better laser rangefinder and color camera. The fire control system of this version is compatible with the Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) round and offers improved shooting accuracy with a meteorological sensor.
The Trophy Active Protection System is installed on both the SEPv2 and SEPv3 tanks and is used in four brigade sets for prepositioned army supplies. The trophy on Abrams was wielded during the discounted Defender Europe in 2020.
The APS system alone adds roughly 5,000 pounds to Abrams tanks.
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