The Abrams Tank provides the Army with mobile, protected firepower and will remain the cornerstone of the Army's counterattack and containment forces as the Army transforms to the Future Force. The Abrams tank provides soldiers with the lethality, survivability and staying power to successfully close with and destroy enemy forces on the integrated battlefield. The 120 mm main gun on the MlAl and M1A2, combined with the powerful 1,500-hp. turbine engine and special armor, make the Abrams tank particularly suitable for attacking or defending against large concentrations of heavy armor forces on a highly lethal battlefield and for other roles that require shock effect and mobile direct firepower to support Army mission requirements.
Three major programs are currently under way to maintain and recapitalize the Abrams fleet: the M1A2 systems enhancement program (SEP), the MlAl Abrams integrated management program (AIM) and the LV-100 Abrams repower engine program.
The M1A2 program provides the Abrams with the necessary improvements in lethality, survivability and fighting ability required to defeat advanced threats. It is the Army's first digitized, direct fire, combat vehicle. The M1A2 has a digital command and control system that provides situational awareness updates to all the other tanks in a unit. Vetronics architecture ties all electronic components in the tank together and provides increased survivability and supportability. The commander's independent thermal viewer gives it a hunter-killer capacity. The M1A2 also has improved onboard diagnostics that allow the tank to troubleshoot itself without any additional special tools or equipment.
Further M1A2 improvements, through the systems enhancement program (SEP), are under way. The M1A2 SEP is the backbone of the Army's first digitized division and the counterattack corps of the Army's Current Force. It is the only weapon system that can withstand the impact of high-energy warheads and remain lethal in high-mobility and sustained operations. It has integrated combat command and control (IC^sup 3^), which incorporates Force XXI battle command brigade arid below (FBCB^sup 2^) to provide command and control and situational awareness.
Its sights use the latest thermal-imaging system (second-generation forward-looking infrared or FLIR) for increased lethality and survivability. The M1A2 SEP tank takes advantage of computer /electronic industry advances by including improved electronics developed since the introduction of the M1A2. The SEP package includes an under-armor auxiliary power unit, a new computerized mass-memory unit, and color maps and displays. A thermal management system increases electronic reliability and decreases crew fatigue.
Production deliveries of the M1A2 SEP tank began in September 1999. The 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Hood, Texas, fielded 118 M1A2 SEPs in FY 2000-01, and the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, began fielding in July 2001.
The Army must sustain the readiness and reduce the operations and support costs of approximately 4,300 older MlAl Abrams main battle tanks in its active and reserve component units.
The Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) Program is the recapitalization program for the MlAl tank. Under AIM, MlAl tanks are completely disassembled at Anniston Army Depot, Ala. The depot refurbishes many of the tank's components. The assemblies are then shipped to Lima Army Tank Plant, Ohio, where General Dynamics Land Systems reassembles the tanks to a zero time/zero miles standard.
The AIM program has fielded tanks to units at Fort Hood, Texas, and in Germany. Annual production now stands at 135 tanks per year and will continue until 2012. AIM also serves as the venue to apply modifications and upgrades to the tank, including embedded diagnostics. AIM also serves as a means to combat electronic obsolescence by introducing improved line-replaceable units (LRUs) for those that face technical obsolescence. …