Just to warn you all, I hate being serious. I even get told off in college when I write very sarcastically in my assignments. If you hate reading something about somehting that isn't super duper serious then this is not for you, though most of it is whatsername. Just so you all know, the latest version of Abrams that I believe can be implemented can be the M1A2. After this you decide what wepaon of war I will do next. In any case, enjoy. I had fun doing this.
The M1 Abrams, despite having been developed in 1980, is still the Main Battle Tank of the United States. Because the MBT-70 was just too expensive the Germans opted out of the development. It was decided that ‘Murica would design a tank of their own, as the M60 Patton was deemed too old and obsolete for the advancement of warfare, especially against the brand spanking new T-80s, which probably would bitch slap them into oblivion.
The first prototype of the Abrams was the XM803. while sounding awesome, it is just the prototype. This prototype was being undertaken just before the MBT-70 project was cancelled, as ‘Murica seemingly doesn't have the money to spend on a defence budget like that. The successful technologies of the MBT-70 were moved into the XM803 whereas the technologies that proved too problematic were left out or improved upon. Despite improvements, it still had similar characteristics to the M60, which, like stated earlier, would get bitch slapped into oblivion. In 1971, the MBT-70 project was cancelled and so therefore all the funds that would have otherwise been used on that, was instead referred to the XM803 which was later on renamed the XM1 Abrams, named after a famous General. The first prototypes were eventually completed in 1976 which carried the licenced British proven Royal Ordnance Rifled L7 105mm gun. The Chrysler Defence design was chosen over the General Motors design, and was then put into development under the name of the M1 Abrams. The Chrysler Defence design had a turbine powered engine which had the uncanny ability to guzzle fuel like a fat kid guzzles food at McDonalds. Between 1979 and 1985, a total of over 3,000 M1s were produced, with the tank entering service in 1980. In 1984 an upgraded version called the M1IP was briefly produced which came in just before the introduction of the M1A1. The few upgrades were a slightly modified turret with thicker armour at the front with 894 built for the US and some for Canada. The M1A1 was then introduced which had the brand spanking new Russian killing Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore gun, however the US version called the M256, uses a spring coil recoil system instead of the hydraulic system. This gun is of the 44 calibres, while the 55 calibre version won’t be used on any Abrams, even the M1A2 for reasons that I do not know. In any case, each unit (overall about 9,000 tanks) cost about $4.30 million each. By 1999, the tanks totaled about $5 million per unit due to more advanced technology and so on.
However, the tank was criticised because of its low fuel efficiency and very high cost in comparison to other tanks of the time, such as the Leopard 2 and the Challenger 1 (best tank in the world (except the Chally 2)), and the problems were never solved. Alongside the M60a3, it took parts in exercises to prepare in case a real war actually happened. Because if the soviet made T-72s, T-80s and T-90s rolled into West Europe, they want to know what to do, otherwise they would be annihilated with extreme violence. Because of this, most of the training took place in Europe and especially West Germany where most of the fighting would have taken place if war did ever break out, which thankfully, it didn't as we might possibly be royally screwed. They also took place in South Korea in case of a breakthrough of soviet forces from North Korea, which kind of happened many many years before. However, by 1991 the cold war was all but over so instead they were stationed in the Middle East which would later be used in the Persian Gulf War.
Until the Persian Gulf War, the Abrams had never truly been combat tested in a war, as if they did, it would be with the soviets and after that there probably would be no Abrams to speak of. During Operation Desert Storm, 1,848 M1A1s were used during the conflict. While fighting, it was found to be far superior to the T-55s and T-62 tanks as well as the T-72 tanks which was possibly very feared until we realised at how easy it was to turn them into nothing more that blood decorated burning pieces of junk. The main problem with the soviet era tanks is that they didn’t use any modern night vision and rangefinder equipment which put them at a huge disadvantage during night battles and ranged combat. They did use infrared systems and floodlights, but that would have tended to give their position away, probably screaming “COME AND GET ME!” and was probably greeted by a dozen 120 mm shells. Out of all of the Abrams used, 14 were damaged, and 9 destroyed and with proper US doctrine, 7 of those destroyed were by friendly fire, and 2 were destroyed to prevent capture by enemy forces. Also, these small amounts of losses to enemy fire helped because of the extreme ranges that they could engage at, which was well over 2,500 metres, which was well over that of the soviet made tanks, which could only effectively engage at 2000 metres. In desert operations, that is a massively huge advantage, as the landscape is generally flat up to many many kilometres and things tend to get deaded to death when faced against something that outranges them dramatically. In friendly fire incidents, the front armour and side turret armour could even take hits from APFSDS rounds and survive without difficulty, but the side and rear armour and rear turret didn’t hold up as it was penetrated multiple times. This proves that while their tanks are extremely tough, they will always find a way of destroying them. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, M1IPs and M1A1a were modified in theatre.
Since it was now time for a newer version, the M1A2 was introduced. It was a huge leap forward, introducing a commander’s independent thermal viewer, a weapons station, position navigation equipment, a set of controls and displays that is all linked to a digital data bus and an improved fire control system.
The M1A2 SEP (System Enhanced Package) implanted digital maps and FBCB2 capabilities. The FBCB2 is a system that allows the commander to have situational awareness on the battlefield by having real time information about enemy and friendly vehicle locations on a map like screen, allowing the commander to make far batter judged decisions. The package also included a better cooling system to better cool off all the new equipment in the vehicle as it generates quite more heat. By 1987 and onwards, all M1A1 and later variants would receive depleted uranium armour, which although very heavy (it is 1.7 times denser than lead), it is incredibly hard, adding incredible protection against anti-tank weaponry. Earlier variants of M1A1s got a system overhaul which restores them to near new condition to save them from being retired from service, which is good as it would be a shame to get rid of thousands for perfectly good tanks.
With the Iraq war, the Abrams now saw a chance to get into conflict again. From 2003 to 2005 80 Abrams tanks were taken out of action due to enemy intervention. One example of a tank battle was between multiple T-72s in a skirmish of under 50 metres, with 7 knocked out with no Abrams lost. However, due to that the Abrams would have to be used to kill things in urban environments, crews were given AT-4 rocket launchers as the main gun would usually not be able to wing around with all the buildings in the way, something most tanks seemingly have problems with. As a way to not kill each other again, Abrams were given combat identification panels which produced a very identifiable infrared signature. Some tanks had a storage bin on the rear which allowed crews to carry more supplies and personal belongings, quite possibly a teddy bear.
Some Abrams that could not be recovered were simply destroyed, sometimes by other Abrams. Some Abrams in action were destroyed by AT rockets that hit the tracks and immobilising them, being hit in the rear and top armour which all of you know is the weakest parts of the tank that all designers seem to forget about. Somehow, some were taken out of action when struck by heavy machine guns…somehow. However, most of the Abrams that were taken out were by IEDs which are difficult to find and can be as powerful as you can make it, such as adding a few heavy shells to it. By the end of 2006, over 530 units were taken back to the US for repairs most of which, for some reason which I will never know, were not caused by friendly fire.
Because of the realities of the tank in urban combat, the TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) which adds armour to the side and rear armour to greatly improve protection, especially from RPGs. Despite this, technology to kill the thing that was designed to protect the thing before the thing that was designed to kill it will always catch up, and an M1 was reportedly damaged by an RPG-29 which uses a tandem charge. This is a 2 staged explosive which explodes the reactive armour, thereby allowing the HEAT charge to get to the armour unhindered. It was also cleverly designed to beat composite armour. The US considered it a high threat and refused to allow the Iraqi army to buy it, lest some be captured by insurgents.
The Abrams, despite being in wars before, has seen very limited service in Afghanistan, with some 15 going along with a company of 115 US marines.
It has been reported that an M1A3 is in the works. The main problem of the Abrams is that it is heavy, and I mean REALLY f***ing heavy. As of now it weighes about 72 tonnes, and they are planning to reduce that somehow to 60 tonnes while enhancing the armour but making the armour lighter, but the planned lighter 120 mm gun will help as well. It will also include a next gen advanced networking capability and added road wheels to improve suspension, long range precision armaments and infrared camera and laser detectors. Because who doesn’t like blowing stuff up in a 60 tonne tank in style? The new computer will replace the currently used traditional cabling with fibre optic cables, that will somehow be able to take off two tonnes. How can a bloody computer system have 2 tonnes of copper wiring? Prototypes are expected to be tested this year and fully enter service by 2017. The Abrams is expected to serve well until 2050, which by that point I am guessing countries will have simply infantry weapons capable of turning the Abrams into tinned food, a delicacy for terrorists.
Now then, we all know what sparks our interest in tanks that ISN’T the gun! And that is the armour! The armour is the British Chobham armour, because the US knows that when the Brits make stuff, it’s good stuff. Chobham is composite armour. The estimated front turret thickness against HEAT rounds is up to 1,620 mm of RHA (basically steel) armour, or up to 960 mm against kinetic energy penetrators. Reactive armour will also greatly increase protection against HEAT rounds, that is, unless it is the RPG-29. The inside is lined with Kevlar as to protect the crew against spalling which is what HESH is specifically designed to do. In comparison, the King Tiger has 150 mm of frontal hull armour and 180 mm in the late turret armour. Like mentioned earlier, after 1987 all Abrams had depleted uranium but although it is 1.7 times denser than lead, it is incredibly hard. Just this layer increased the effective armour of up to 610 mm of RHA equivalent. Even at close range other Abrams tanks that tried their best to kill each other were unable to penetrate even the side armour with “Silver Bullet” APFSDS rounds, even when one tried to kill an abandoned one intentionally as it was stuck in the mud. It also took multiple direct hits from Lion of Babylon tanks while presumably laughing in their face then blasting them to bits.