Main battle tanks are key military weapons as they provide direct fire and durability on the battlefield. Today, it’s common to see military units that consist of main battle tanks only, as these weapons are advanced enough to perform operations without other units. In modern years, their impressive development led to awesome machines with very powerful armor and high-tech systems.

Some top-class battle tanks are the Challenger 2 of the United Kingdom, the K2 Black Panther of South Korea, and the German Leopard 2A7. For many, the German tank wins any comparison, something that makes it the most powerful in the world. The best American of this kind, the M1A2 SEP, is not far behind the European masterpiece. The US Army battle tank is a part of the M1 Abrams line that started back in 1979.

M1 Abrams

M1A2 Tank
Via: US Air Force

The M1 Abrams are legendary tanks that started serving the US Army in 1980. They have proved countless times their reliability and effectiveness as they have served in the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and more. The manufacturing companies are the Lima Army Tank Plant and the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant (from 1982 to 1996). Their designer is Chrysler Defense, which have now the name General Dynamics Land Systems. In total, the companies built more than 10,000 units.

The M1A2 Abrams are third-generation main battle tanks and some of the heaviest in the world. Currently, there are three operational versions of the Abrams line: the M1, the M1A1 and the M1A2. The US Army was planning on replacing the tanks with the Future Combat Systems XM1202, but the project got canceled. Now, the the Army plans on maintaining the current Abrams and upgrade them in any possible way.

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Operational Abrams Versions

The MIA2 started production in 1986 and the first one started serving for the US Army in 1992. The M1A2 provides the tank commander with a thermal sight and can shoot two targets at the same time. The armor consists of second generation depleted uranium.

Then, the System Enhancement Package (SEP) upgrade came and changed the already improved capabilities of the M1A2. The M1A2 SEP is still today the backbone of the armored forces of the United States. In total, the US built 240 new M1A2 SEPs, upgraded 300 M1A2 thanks to the SEP version, and also upgraded 400 M1A1s to the MI1A2 SEP configuration.

The armor of the SEP version has upgraded deplete uranium components that makes it one of the best in the world. The Army can extend the level of protection by adding explosive reactive armor. The weapon of the tank is the 120 mm M256 that has a range of 2.5 miles. The weapon shoots M829A3 APFSDS ammunition and M1028 rounds. The second choice is an excellent ammunition against infantry targets at the range of 0.12 to 0.3 miles.

There is a modern and capable fire control system in the tank with a ballistic computer. The two thermal sights use second generation FLIR technology that also provides night vision capabilities. The main battle tank also features a digital battlefield management system that can distinguish friendly and enemy targets. The system display at live-time the location of nearby friendly vehicles. The crew of four includes the commander, the gunner, the loader, and the driver. The AGT 1500 gas turbine engines develop 1,500 hp and provides decent performance to the vehicle.