ATK Building Next-Gen Abrams Ammo

FYI, the all-round big gun experts at ATK have neen chosen by the Army to make the next generation of 120mm ammo for the venerable M1A2 Abrams tank. The latest version of the tank’s main gun ammunition is designed to penetrate the explosive “reactive armor”found on modern main battle tanks as well as being effective “in Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), mountain, and nontraditional battlefields,” according to an ATK press release. The real feature here is that it can defeat reactive armor with one shot.

The round will allow for the use of fewer rounds and allow for faster enemy engagements – factors that will ultimately increase crew and platform survivability.

The company has been chosen to built the rounds under a $77 million three-year contract to “develop and qualify” the round, known as the M829E4 120mm Advanced Kinetic Energy (AKE) ammunition. Once this three-year period is up, the company is expected to win another contract for full production of the AKE ammunition.

  • John Moore

    I don’t get it u pay 77 million to develope it and then pay to buy it what happened to free enterprise like Mr Obamo said would replace the Shuttle?

    If it’s so good for nasa why don’t the defence people take that path and wait for someone to builid what we want?

    Of course I’m being sarcastic.

  • Lance

    They need a eqivilient of a 90mm canister round like used in Korea for use in Afghanistain if they had these in Wannat the battle would have been over in minutes.

  • blight

    Are we going to be fighting guys with ERA in the near future or what? I thought the future was mass production of MPATs, since we’ll probably be knocking down buildings with tank rounds in the near future.

  • blight

    Anybody have thoughts on how they can promise a KE round that can do well “in Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), mountain, and nontraditional battlefields”?

    My speculation is something like blended metal that fragments when it penetrates targets. Sabot plus spall is win? Not sure what other options there are.

  • czeroi

    ERA has little effect against KE rounds, it is designed to work against HEAT rounds. A KE round is effectively a big DU or tungsten dart traveling at high velocity

    • blight

      That was my impression too, but I will start reaching here and read between the lines.

      I think it means they intend to push their sabots to the absolute limit of range. At longer range, sabots lose effectiveness due to velocity losses from air friction, which would presumably give ERA a better effective capability against sabots. A new sabot would go a long ways to mitigate this, and allow them to hit targets even further away without compromising stopping power.

      I don’t know how they intend to extend sabot ranges, but considering the new trend seems to be guideable munitions, a guideable sabot lobbed at maximum elevation and sent gliding into the top of an enemy tank would be a fearsome capability indeed. Tanks mount little, if any ERA on top, as it’ll wound anyone out of the hatches and fighting buttoned-up is not always appropriate.

      • SJE

        I thought that ERA was at least partially effective against KE, with the moving plate shearing through the tungsten rod and providing sideways momentum that misdirects the penetrator.

  • J Hughes

    “ATK have neen chosen by the Army” They’ve NEEN chosen!

  • Mastro

    Am I the first to wonder if they stick with DU or use Tungsten? I love the idea of a politically correct kinetic energy penetrator.

    • blight

      The E4 has been listed elsewhere as a DU penetrator.

  • Skysoldier173

    Speaking of CG, it does fire a cannister round. Why the US does not issue more to front line troops is puzzling.

    • blight

      Because it is “old”. First produced in ’46, and we all know old stuff sucks (ignoring the fact that the .45 soldiered on from 1911 to the ’80s). That and it’s Swedish (ignoring the fact that we used Bofors products, and still do today).

      You know, I have no clue why we don’t use it.

      • SJE

        If anything, Cannister rounds go further back to cannon days.

      • SJE

        Echo that. For some reason USMIL does not like giving its troops bayonets, even though the Brits have found them essential at times. When the ammo runs out, you want a sharp pointy thing. Bonus trivia: the reason the Aussies have those hats that are turned up at one side is because they used to use long bayonets, something like a 12″

      • anon

        The only exception to this rule being the .50 cal browning M2.

        Although, that does have the advantage of being as American as apple pie

        • blight

          M2 dates from the ’20s, and hasn’t been replaced because nobody in NATO seemed interested in heavy machineguns. In Europe it was semi-automatic cannon (eg the 20mm Hispano-Suiza, Oerlikon 20, Mauser 20…), asides from Russia’s 12.7 and 14.5mm.

          And yeah, John Moses Browning used to guaranteed permanence in the military. It probably wasn’t because he was American (he partnered with FN Herstal too); but maybe that his designs were pretty awesome too. The FN MAG (our M240) is a reunion of Browning design in the American arsenal a long time coming.

    • DaveC

      A cannister round turns the main gun into a shotgun, the potential for collateral damage is pretty high.
      With the ROE they use these days it wouldn’t surprise me if that alone had everything to do with it.

      This here is a pretty amazing video of it in action:

      Stuff can cut up a horde like we saw in the Korean war pretty fast I’d imagine.

  • The innovation is ground breaking.What are the classications of armor on the main gun?

  • Dfens

    ATK (formerly Morton Thiokol of Challenger explosion fame) is guaranteed to get at least $77 million to develop a new tank projectile? It is a multi-billion dollar company, and they could not possibly afford to develop a tank bullet on their own nickle? Instead they are going to soak the US taxpayer for $7.7 million in profit to build a new tank bullet that they are going to sell by the millions of to the US Army and other foreign customers who won’t spend a dime on the development? Wow, what a sweet deal for ATK. The deal is even sweeter if the should just happen to run into problems designing this new bullet. I mean, hell, you never know what could happen. Pretty soon years turn into decades, millions turn into billions. I’m sure ATK would never let this happen on purpose, it just always seems to turn out that way for some mysterious reason, and the defense contractors just happen to benefit from the increased cost with increase profit. What a darned coincidence!

  • Douglas

    The 829E4 will be purely AKE for anti-armor applications. There is no Abrams Master Gunner writing this fourth page filler article. Typos are plentiful and it is apparent that the author is blending lots of information that was heaped upon them in an interview/press conference.

    The US Army has the M1028 Canister, the M830A1 Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank, the M908 Obstacle-Reducing, and M829 series of DU Sabot rounds. The M829E4 is merely evolution to defeat higher levels of both ERA and standard solid armor found on Tanks and Tank-like targets. Non-line of sight rounds could be a possibility, but under another nomenclature. Why not procure the LAHAT from the Israelis like the Germans have recently? As for purchasing millions of the round or sales to other countries, European Countries use Tungsten almost exclusively, and the current top of the line round, the M829A3, is not even offered to other nations yet. The Armor force is shrinking right now, only a blind man could miss it. There are still stockpiles of tank ammunition that does not yet need to be replaced. The US Military needs the round to be ready for the eventuality of a war with a well-equipped military, and a base stock of the round enough to supply the initial forces.

    As for the Abrams’ max elevation and depression, it is adequate and will work into mountiainous terrain like that found in Korea. Most Abrams tanks are in line to receive the CROWS system to replace the TC’s .50 cal mount. This gives a maximum elevation of 60 degrees with accurate, precise, and deadly fire with light-armor defeating capabilities. It also now allows the TC the option of firing buttoned-up, like he was able to do on the old M1A1s.

    There is no considerable weight difference between the M1 (105mm) and the M1A1/A2 series (120mm), let alone are there any remaining 105mm M1s in the US inventory.

  • jim

    gee, is anyone on these sites pro American and proud to be in this country? All I see is criticism. It seems that enemies of the United States are creating false accounts to create anti American propaganda. I am quite sure I am right in at least some instances. I mean look at the propaganda that Iran is spewing about weapons they obviously do not have. I am a veteran. Are any of you people a military vet? The United States has the best military in the world. Who does not think so?