Army to Review M1 Engine Upgrades


On orders from Congress, the U.S. Army will review whether it makes sense to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank engine with a more fuel-efficient design.

The Army has about 6,000 Abrams, the service’s main battle tank made by Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. Thousands of the hulking vehicles, each weighing about 70 tons, sit idle at a depot in southern California.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno last year testified that the service has plenty of tanks to respond to any global contingency and asked for permission to temporarily stop buying newly refurbished versions to fund other priorities, such as helicopters and other vehicles being heavily used in Afghanistan.

Lawmakers denied the request. Now, they’re giving the service $90 million it didn’t want for the so-called upgrade program, according to a copy of the recently approved 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy and spending targets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

The tank funding “that the Pentagon hasn’t even requested” is an example of the way in which the legislation “is out of touch with reality,” William Hartung, an author and director of the Arms & Security Project at Center for International Policy, a research organization based in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

The bill, noting the Army and Marine Corps don’t plan to replace M1A1 or M1A2 versions of the tank, calls for the services to consider replacing “the current engine with a modern, fuel efficient power train.”

It directs Army Secretary John McHugh and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to submit a report to the congressional defense committees by June 1 “on a business case analysis and an investment strategy” to add a modern fuel-efficient engine and transmission for the M1, according to a copy of the legislation.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • S O

    It might actually make sense to replace the turbines in some battalions with diesel engines, but 90 million should be enough to actually replace engines in a few battalions, not just to study whether it makes sense.

    We already know there’s an export version with the EuroPowerPack (which in turn is known to be excellent).

    • Mitchell Fuller

      Diesel power packs would also increase the range of the tank and reduce size of supply train needed to keep them fueled and rolling = lower cost of operations / less vulnerability of supply train.

      • DBM

        The military has refused to sell Turkey M-1’s because they want to put conventional piston diesels in them. Easier for them to maintain and cheaper to operate.
        Notice how when you see pictures of Egypt when they deploy tanks to the cities for riots they send in the old soviet T-54/55’s and 62’s. Cheaper to operate and no loss if one gets knocked out.

    • HM Rodriguez

      yeah, but the way this administration think, they probably will want prius engines for the tanks, and it will be like everything else big talk no results SMH.

    • JCitizen

      I didn’ think a diesle would fit in the module bay? That turbin is pretty compact – unless the air filter space is considered – that may be a factor.

      • ronaldo

        It was done 10 years ago by GDLS for a demonstration for the Turks.

        Done deal. End of discussion !!

        • JCitizen

          Thanks ranoldo! Very interesting! This page says it is similar to the power plant on the Leopard – looks like an aluminum block V12?

          Sounds like it took a whole new track package to get it to fit – maybe I’m misinterpreting the article – Diehl 570P3 track design

          • DBM

            I will readily admit I am not a metallurgist or an engine designer but I do have a ton of maintenance experience on all types military equipment. I question whether an aluminum diesel tank engine can handle the stress placed on it. I especially wonder how it would hold up in extreme temperature environments. I know all of the connecting points and stress surfaces will have steel inserts but what about the engine block itself? Troops are notorious for not caring for their equipment AND since the turn in credit for engines doesn’t change whether its for an engine burning a lot of oil or an engine with a piston rod through the block how many more un-salvageable engines would we see?

            AND since the people pushing this engine must have forgotten why we stopped using aluminum on ship superstructures I must point out vaporized aluminum can kill you with one breath (as opposed to DU which MIGHT cause cancer). That means a tank hit in the ass with any modern anti tank weapon could be lethal to any soldier near it.

            The system would need to go through a lot of testing by INDEPENDENT agencies to ensure the results were accurate. Unlike the fabrications made for stryker.

          • JCitizen

            All I know is when I was working for Eaton, we saw huge advances in aluminum alloys. Also I’ve seen many TranStar, Ford, and other V8 commercial diesel aluminum alloy engines last 200,000 miles or more before busting a cap on the heads. Just seems to me like that kind of thing is behind us. Besides – aircraft take much more abuse and have used aluminum for almost 100 years, so I think the technology is actually pretty old by now. Some of these use another metal for the cylinders, but alloys can be variable there too.

    • Recoveryman

      The EUROPACK is an MTU engine and a Renk transmission. Neither supplier is particularly trustworthy, given the failed attempt to replace the M88 engine with an MTU engine and Renk reduction gearbox. What started out as a big cost saver turned into a nightmare of increasing development costs and delayed introduction.

      I wouldn’t trust either MTU or Renk ever again.

  • Considering the M1 is now over 30 years old and built with 1970s technology perhaps it’s high time to start development of a replacement – one more mobile, less pointed at a northern European battlefield and less vulnerable to down firing anti tank warheads.

    • S O

      The U.S.Army is 100% incompetent at getting a combat vehicle developed from scratch. They didn’t get any of their many attempts into production since the Abrams/Bradley developments, and those were already riddled with bad decisions.

      • DB-1

        I guess the Stryker and all those MRAP vehicles don’t count huh?

        • Nick

          Stryker is wheeled (read in a real war of movement it’s a liability), and the MRAP is too heavy to be deployed and the marines are giving them away to cops for free. So yeah, those are good examples too of incompetence.

        • S O

          I chose my words carefully.

          MRAPs are not “combat vehicles”, but transport vehicles.
          Stryker wasn’t “developed from scratch”, as it is based on a Swiss Piranha III 8×8 vehicle.

          Look at M8 AGS, Crusader, FCS.

          The Marines bureaucracy is even worse. Their recently cancelled “EFV” was the latest incarnation of a development going back to 1973. Their LAV was based on an early Piranha vehicle.

          • “Look at M8 AGS, Crusader, FCS.” You do realize all these systems were never adopted?

            As for choosing your words carefully… “As for the h The U.S.Army is 100% incompetent at getting a combat vehicle developed from scratch.” The history of the Pershing, Patton, M113, Bradley, Abrams put a big dent in that 100% claim.

          • S O

            “You do realize all these systems were never adopted?”
            Yes, that was the point. The Army is 100% incompetent at this.

            “The history of the Pershing, Patton, M113, Bradley, Abrams put a big dent in that 100% claim. ”
            Look up grammar. “is” signifies present tense. It’s not the same as “is and always was”.
            I made clear that they failed ever since they introduced Abrams and Bradley, and that they messed up in those programs already.
            Besides, the genesis of Pershing was not exactly flattering (it took too long) and Patton had serious shortcomings (such as road range). M113 was developed more as a transport than as a combat vehicle.

            You need to focus better, as you don’t seem to comprehend simple texts.

          • Obviously you don’t choose your words well enough. Read what you wrote not what you thought. “The U.S.Army is 100% incompetent at getting a combat vehicle developed from scratch.”

            The US Army has been around 238 years and designing tanks since the early 30’s. Try and find where you cited after the Abrams/Bradley or a period of 2-3 decades.

            Instead of talking about others focus you need to brush up on your own syntax and communicating skills…

          • S O

            “Try and find where you cited after the Abrams/Bradley or a period of 2-3 decades. ”

            You are trolling.
            IMMEDIATELY behind the part you quoted I wrote

            “They didn’t get any of their many attempts into production since the Abrams/Bradley developments, and those were already riddled with bad decisions. ”

          • Trolling? That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

            Periods mean something (they are part of syntax). They separate sentences/ideas.

            As well as the fact that NONE of the vehicles you listed were fielded. The XM8 wasn’t a bad little tank. Most of the FCS vehicles were never even prototyped. The Crusader just wasn’t needed anymore. Many nations never put concepts in the field. Except for the EFV, your examples aren’t indicative of a wholesale inability. The ASV combat vehicle and multiple MRAP programs actually show some pretty responsive development and fielding.

            When you get a chance feel free to start listing all those bad decisions you were talking about ref the Bradley and M1. I never liked the Bradley’s troop capacity but short of that one decision I can’t imagine anything would support your other trolling overstatement?

          • S O

            You can’t read properly because you’re too hostile, I get that. Why would it make sense to explain you something in written form then?

            You don’t know the basics about modern AFV history if you don’t know why Bradley and Abrams development were examples of “how not to”.
            You should learn to read attentively, then proceed with learning about Bradley and Abrams development history. All you need to know is unclassified.

            I’m not going to feed the troll by providing a list of the obvious.

          • Instead of critiquing, try and make your case.

            If the M1 and M2 were “already riddled with bad decisions.”, it should be easy to list them as opposed to accusing me of not knowing what you’re making up…

            I’m laughing, not hostile. I’m not making broad negative unsupportable accusations. You’re projecting because I’m pointing out the gaping holes in your argument.

          • orly?

            The only thing that comes to mind is “Pentagon Wars.”

          • If you’d like to jump in bring your list also…

            There was a time we use to teach in our schools a movie comedy isn’t a reference.

          • DBM

            The 113 was developed as a taxi. They screwed that up to by putting a gas engine in it and then had to retrofit a diesel into it

          • DBM

            SO- The styker is 8×4 which means it gets stuck easily in soft earth.

        • tiger
          • Mambo

            Tell that to the thousands of soldiers limbs that are still attached.

          • FreeAmerica

            Thought is usually a good thing before speaking.

        • DBM

          The Stryker is a piece of crap that failed every developmental test but was accepted anyway. It was originally developed in Belgium as a battlefield taxi and not as a combat vehicle.

          • William_C1

            The Stryker is based off the LAV III which was then the latest variant of the Canadian LAV family. The Canadian LAV was originally based off the Swiss MOWAG Piranha but has diverged somewhat since then.

            Stryker does what it was supposed to do.

          • DBM

            Not so much. First year it was in Iraq they stayed hidden because the army was afraid they would get hurt and congress wouldn’t buy anymore. They got so jacked up in Iraq just driving around they had to go to Bahrain to a rebuild facility there to be fixed before they were allowed to be shipped home for a total rebuild at Anniston because they were trying to hide how bad driving them around beat them up. Ever see the picture of the one taken out by an anti personnel mine? That one was priceless. Ever ask yourself why they had to drive the damned things 60 MPH everywhere they went? It was to keep them from being destroyed. The chassis is so weak when they fired an 81 mm mortar from it it bent the chassis. 4.2’s cracked the hull. In cold weather testing in Wainwright the thing would start for two days in a heated garage after spending one night out in -50 weather.

    • Benjamin

      It is 30 years old but is still very effective. What makes sense at this time is to look at components of the M1 and see if industry can replace them with more modern stuff. This will ease maintenance and logistics problems. An engine that gets .1 miles to the gallon more will save the Army a significant amount of money.

      • SJE

        Yep. One word: B52

    • blight_

      Top-down attack is going to be the great equalizer. It’s probable they will attach applique or ERA to the roof, and then accept anybody that isn’t buttoned up and fighting from open hatches is going to get wounded.

  • sharkey

    I wonder at the stilted point of view regarding tanks as an asset in future combat situations. If I were to enter combat anywhere with the proliferation of anti-tank anti-armor weapons which appear to be in the hands of nearly every fighting group I see in the news or on TV I’d be terrified. During WWII and other conflicts I remember reading the expected life expectancy of Tankers (crews) as being very short. What is it today? Further, with the development of drones and “lookdown shoot down” weapons do the existing tanks have any defense for that? All this coming from a submariner, me.

    • tiger

      I’d worry more about moving the tanks any place. With zero armor units in Europe any more, Your talking days to weeks to get MSC ships to a place you need a tank force. Spending money on new engines is a waste of funds. It is a tank, not a damn Prius.

      • DB-1

        To Sharkey If I had a choice I would rather be in a Tank that gets hit, than a Submarine that gets hit, atleast you have a chance of surviving and could make it out. How many people have gotten out of a stricken sub by a torpedo??? I’m pretty sure the odds are in the Tankers favor…

      • Nick

        Read up on how much a gallon of gas costs to get to fire bases in Afghanistan (hint, it’s $500 a gallon). Tanks that use less fuel will have a smaller logistical footprint which means fewer convoys running around dodging IEDs delivering gas. This isn’t tree hugging hippy shit, it’s logistics.

        • S O

          Actually, there were no Abrams in Afghanistan anyway and

          “The most telling characterization of fuel usage came from the Marine Corps 2003 Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Study. This study showed that almost 90 percent of the fuel used by MEF ground vehicles would accrue to tactical wheeled vehicles (TWVs), including HMMWVs, 7-ton trucks, and the logistics vehicle system. Moreover, the study showed conclusively that combat vehicles (e.g., M1A1 tanks, light armored vehicles, and assault amphibious vehicles), although fuel guzzlers individually, as a fleet consume a relatively minor fraction of the fuel. ”

          • tmb2

            It was late in the war, but the Marines had a company of tanks in Helmand starting in 2010. They may or may not still be there.

          • IronV

            The Canadians made real good use of their Leopards.

        • tmb2

          It was $400/gallon, but only for the most remote outposts where fuel had to be air-dropped.

        • tiger

          The price is due to politics & location. Land locked nation. No rail line or pipe lines. Need to use a dangerous truck route through Pakistan Who we keep pissing off with our drone war. If you think a M-1 is a gas guzzler, try a WW2 tank like a Sherman or Tiger.

        • Guest

          $500 a gallon isn’t too bad in light of the fact that a soldier’s meal costs over $300.

          • tmb2

            More like $50. Where did you get $300?

    • tmb2

      Sharkey, not to be rude, but your declaration that you’re terrified of being in a tank because of television and 60 year old anecdotes doesn’t help the discussion. Our tanks in WWII had the thinnest armor and smallest guns so yes casualties were kinda high. Every generation says tanks are obsolete until the next war where their mobility, firepower, and protection end up deciding battles. More tanks were destroyed in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war than the US Army possessed at that time. A great number of those losses were due to anti-tank weapons, but the tank itself was still a deciding factor in the war. The M1 was designed to be heavily armored and fast. We made tradeoffs in fuel economy and maintenance costs, but they’ve been worth it. Statistically, the M1 has been damn near invincible. Out of the 7000 built and the couple thousand that have seen combat so far, you can count on your fingers the number destroyed. Most of them were due to ridiculously large IEDs. For your last concern, if the enemy can put up aircraft with a reasonable chance of hitting our tanks, we have bigger problems. An F-16 can keep anti-armor missiles from the air, but it can’t keep a dismounted infantryman from getting shot.

      • tiger

        I’d rather drive than walk any day. Infantry is for the birds.

    • DBM

      The WW2 tankers lives we extremely short because the army fielded piece if crap of a so called tank. The Sherman was never intended as a tank on tank weapon but as an infantry support vehicle. Its armor was to thin and its gun was to small and to low velocity to go against even German Panther Tanks. The tankers died because the army bought a piece of junk and then changed its mission to one it could not fill.
      As far as look down shoot down goes tanks are armored according to their combat doctrine. Most armor is in the front (the part that is supposed to be toward the enemy) and the sides and rear have less. As the vast majority of threats a tank faces is lateral, very little armor is needed on top and the bottom. And with those surfaces being flat the amount of armor needed to protect them from every conceivable threat would make the vehicle immovable. At the end of WW2 the army rolled out a SP howitzer that could take direct hits from 155mm rounds and not be damaged. Unfortunately at about 100 tons it sank into the ground and got stuck when they tried to drive it cross country and destroyed any road it was driven on.
      Tanks survive by armor and mobility.
      Before the 73 arab Israeli war a lot of people were saying that the days of the tank was over. They were wrong as they still are. Tanks have very defined missions in war and cant be used as general patrol vehicles, at least not in the configuration most are in. Too heavy and expensive to operate and repair. For general patrolling and light combat operations such as we have been involved in the Israeli tanks are best. The US needs to field a light tank or upgun the Bradley. As an example the Russian BMP-3 mounts a canon and a chain gun while still being a troop carrier.

  • ronaldo

    I worked on a new engine program for the M-1 about 10 years ago. The objective was to have a common advanced turbine engine for both the M-1 and the new Crusader mobile 155mm gun vehicle. Of course the Crusader program was cancelled and unfortunately the common engine program went with it. I believe the selected turbine was also supplied by (now) Honeywell.

    Can any of you shed any light on this recent history ?

    • muzzledlr

      The LV100-5 engine was designed and tested for the Crusader and the M-1 between 2000 and 2004. Development was nearly complete, when the Crusader program was cancelled, then upgrading the M1A1’s was cancelled, which only left the M1A2’s to upgrade. The program was no longer cost effective. The whole program was based on the fact that the LV100 was so much more fuel efficient than the AGT1500, that the fuel savings alone would pay for the development ad production of all the engines needed. The Army can’t make up its mind if they want to keep their main battle tank.

      • ronaldo

        Many thanks Muzzledlr !

  • Bernard

    Why are we wasting money on something the Army doesn’t want? Even if you improve it’s fuel efficiency it’s still a 70 ton tracked vehicle. Supporting it on the battlefield is a huge logistical undertaking regardless of fuel needs.

    • tiger

      Because somebody in DC wants a Pork project making new engines.

  • DB-1

    To Bernard: The survival rate in IRAQ and Afghanistan wars is very impressive for Tankers if you and anyone on this Blog think Tanks are out dated. I beg to Differ ask anyone with first hand knowledge and they will tell you… or go ask an insurgent who thought like you.

    • Tanker

      Roger that, 22 years as a tanker..M48..M60 series as well as M1 series, they are not outdated in any way, as long as they are used properly and are still needed. Yes the M1 series is a little hard on fuel due to the turbine engine, but we have had them so long and they can be worked on without learning a whole new system..

    • ricky robertson

      as a tank mechanic, i KNOW how does IN-THE-KNOW admins. get the idea TANKS are useless? if you want to KNOW ask a grunt or any other soldier if a tank is useless.

  • hibeam

    I’m working on an inflatable M1-A1. It has the same carbon footprint as a hippie.

    • Howe

      hopefully you don’t use any other hippy traits, othersise the enemy will smell you coming from miles away!

      • Really?

        Deodorants are cheap. You can find brand new, unused deodorants in the trash across the country as most Americans don’t use them.

      • SJE

        Coming from a family of infantrymen, I can attest that a few weeks in the field has a smell all of its own.

    • Not possible, hippies are really dirty.

  • tmb2

    Our fleet as a whole needs to do better on fuel economy in the future. An M1 gets something like half a mile/gallon and the most heavily armored humvees get around five mpg. It’s a matter of physics that more armor= more fuel, but there are engine technologies allowing us for better fuel economy without sacrificing too much power. It’s worth the expense to explore those options. The line about “the Army didn’t want this” probably has more to do with budget priorities than anything else. The former GCV competition was to involve a hybrid drive to deal with such issues.

    • tiger

      But even the Army says this low on the priority scale. Yet the pork money for something they did not ask for is going to 6000 tanks that spend most of life in storage? Not using fuel at all. The real goal if there is any, is to cut the logistical train. I doubt a tank will ever turn into a econobox.

      • SJE

        True, but conversion of some of them makes sense.

        • tiger
          • 45K20E4

            At any one time? Probably not…but having a large number of usable hulls means we can build/rebuild those same units over time, and avoid the need for a totally new platform for another decade or two.

  • john

    Most re-engine programs pay for themselves with the fuel they save. A modern design should also be more dependable. Based on this and the reduced supply train costs for the fuel a program with these goals makes sense. A link with information would be helpful to see if this program has the same goals. Also how does this match up with the modernization program that the army is planning for this tank at the end of this decade?

    • Really?

      Really? I don’t think so.

      No “re-engine programs” can save that much fuel to pay for the cost of the replacement program. Besides, we are not facing any land war threats. We are already spending more on the military than the next 20 countries put together. All done without any real threat.

      It’s all about fattening the wallets of special interests.

  • I’m afraid if the military starts getting rid of tanks, my local police department will start using them.

    I wonder where the next war will be? Will it be on the seas with China, the plains of Europe against Russia, or the middle east? And if it’s the middle east, will the next dictator we need to take out stand by like Iraq’s Saddam Hussien and let us ship half of the US’s war inventory to the middle east UNCHALLENGED!

    Please… I just don’t think we need a lot of new tanks. Sell the to Europe and India.

    • Really?

      Really? of course not!

      Thanks to guidance of Russian field advisers, many in the ME know how to exploit the weakness of these tanks and crack them with RPG’s.

      • Most of them burning today are Russian tanks…

        • Guest

          links and pictures?

        • DBM

          The Russians had to pull the T-64’s and 80’s out of Chechnya and replace them with T72’s because the so called top of the line Russian tanks have weak places everywhere in the armor.

          • blight_

            Kooky, since the -64 was for Soviet consumption and the -72 was for export (until they consolidated on the -72 and the manufacturing infrastructure built on export).
            The T-80 indeed was a fast, cruiser-style tank ill-suited to getting peppered with RPG’s. Waiting on that T-90 to show up…

          • DBM

            The biggest reasons for consolidating on the T-72 was cost to build the 64s and 80s, both have massive weak areas in the hull and turret armor and they just cant seem to get their turbine engines to work properly. My guess that despite a probably damned good design they continued to build garbage. AND I don’t think turbines like to run on the shit for fuel the Russians want to feed them. The Russians use Bunker for fuel and a low grade of that.
            The T-90 is nothing more than an upgraded T-72. Its primary improvements are the ability to change main gun barrels without having to remove the gun turret and the ability to fire an anti tank rocket through the main gun which will give it an alleged range of about 3000 meters. Main Gun still has a max engagement range of about 1700 meters. The Russians said the poor performance of the tank rounds in the middle east was due to defective old rounds. Bull sheetrock comrade. The engine I think was given a horse power upgrade but its still a copy of a 1930’s Detroit Diesel. As far as Russian tanks go its pretty good and probably the best a 3rd world country could hope to be able to use and maintain.

      • DBM

        Really(sarcasm) Ever hear if the one single M-1 we lost to enemy RPG fire in Iraq ? It broke down and was locked up and left behind by the crew. It was hit by 120 RPGs before one got a lucky hit and ignited fuel.

      • DBM

        That’s pure BS and poor quality. The only M-1 that the insurgents took out with an RPG was broken down and left behind. Took 120 RPG hits to finally set off the fuel;

  • SJE

    This actually makes sense. For every tank crew member that we save by putting them in 70 tons of armor, there are many more drivers of fuel trucks that are being killed trying to feed these beasts. The Taliban doesnt attack our M1s, but attacks the fuel convoys riding through the Khyber pass. Supply chains are the classic weak points in any protracted conflict.

    Plus, perhaps troops can actually walk behind the tanks without being fried by turbine exhaust.

    • tlp

      We refueled our track vehicles in Vietnam mainly with bladders lifted by Chinooks.

  • moondawg

    We don’t know where the next war will be and with who. We can be sure there will be a next war and it will probably be a land war. Those 7000 M1s may be invaluable. More fuel efficient ones are a win win. Addressing what the Army wants is another matter. What the Army wants isn’t always what the Army needs. The Army wants to spend tens of millions of $$ on camouflage uniforms de jour. In WWII prior to D Day, the U.S. had a heavy tank ready to go into production. The Army didn’t want it and refused it. They though the obsolete Sherman was OK. They even turned down the up gunned Sherman the Brits were using. Consequently, the German Tigers, Panthers, and up gunned MRK IVs destroyed Shermans by the thousands and we literally ran out of tank crews. by the end of 1944 we were making infantryman instant tankers. Read “Death Traps” by B.Y. Cooper, a tank officer in the 3d Armored Div.

    • I’m not so sure it was Infantrymen. There was an extreme shortage of Infantrymen in the ETO to the point that units at home were cannibalized as were air defense units and a slew of other specialties were pressed into duty as Infantry sometimes with no training.

      You make a great point that sometimes what the Army needs isn’t what the Army wants. That is profoundly true.

      • jsallison
      • Riceball

        I’ve heard that it was artilleymen that were being pressed into service as tankers as well as tankers from light tank/scout tank crews although I have nothing to verify this.

  • Stan

    I think we had a jet engine in a tank long enough, it’s time to upgrade to a rocket engine. I figure F1 might do the trick. The tank will of course carry about 1/1000s (give or take) of a second worth of fuel but that should be enough for a 200 mile trip. Maneuvering might be an issue.

    • tiger

      Skip tanks, move on to Gundams…..

  • phil

    How about sticking a VW TDI engine in them ;-)

  • Big-Dean

    How about sticking a Toyota Prius engine in there, that way all of the tankers can then act like pious jerks ;-P

    It’ll be called the P3 (Pious Prius People) engine

    • Guest

      No. Just drive it the Flintstone way.

      • SJE

        Just as soon as we get leopard skin SAPI vests

  • Chuck

    Congress wants the military to put money into the main battle tank — i.e. the tip of the spear. The military wants to put money into pie-in-the-sky, overbudget aviation programs.

    Which group is out of touch with reality, again?

    • Bandit

      How many tanks have saved lives vs aviation in the last ten years?

      • They are both important. The next enemy might have MANPADS and if so you won’t be seeing a bunch of helicopters all the time.

        Like said recently, we need to get passed thinking every future conflict is going to be like the last ten years. they may be but I doubt we are going to try and rebuild any countries any time soon but we may need to react to an adversary attacking an ally or even conduct a punitive expedition.

        • DBM

          In the current conflicts we lost a ton of aircraft to RPGs and none to the non existent MANPADS. We lost more helo’s to RPG than tanks

          • Don’t be so sure we haven’t lost ANY aircraft to MANPADS. Enough said…

            This enemy doesn’t have a lot of MANPADS. Imagine one that has RPGs AND MANPADS. The current fight isn’t the only one we’ll ever see.

            Not getting the point about the focus on aviation. a diesel engine is a fraction of the cost of helicopter. What is out there to make helicopters RPG proof? Armor? Kind of heavy. APS? All the friendly fire issues and not good for rotor blades or turbine engine intakes…

      • tmb2

        In the first 18 months of OIF – A LOT. Besides, the primary purpose of the Abrams and the Apache isn’t to save lives – it’s to take the enemy’s. When we need them to do that they do it brilliantly. Saving friendly lives is a nice by-product.

  • Adam
  • As has been said by moondawg, sometimes what the Army wants isn’t what the Army needs. The M1 is an outstanding tank whose greatest shortcoming is that it uses almost as much fuel idling as it does at full speed across the battlefield. This is a fundamental reality of a turbine engine. An M1 equipped with a diesel that provides similar performance would ease a bit of the logistical tail. For a military that must deploy to the fight, this is a critical need. We cannot rely on an enemy that allows us time to build a force on the border.

    • tiger

      Hate to be the party pooper with the check book, but….. The Army has other rebuilding needs. to spend on.

      • No problem but it’s only by listing those competing concerns/costs can a prioritization occur.

        What ever competitive priorities are listed refitting the active and maybe reserve Abrams (we don’t need to refit all 7000 tanks right now) with a different diesel engine is very likely to be less than a whole new weapons program. The one caveat being I can see no reason for another turbine engine…

    • muzzleldr

      A 1500 horsepower diesel engine wouldn’t fit in the engine compartment of an Abrams tank, it would weigh much more than the turbine, and you can hear a diesel for miles.

      • Not true. They tested a diesel engine in 2000 with no loss in performance.

        Technology has moved on since 2000. The Leopard, Challenger and Merkava 4 use 1500 hp diesel engines.

        Diesel tanks can be head for miles but tanks are not known for their stealth. It would admittedly be a sacrifice for cheaper engines, maintenance and better fuel consumption shrinking the logistical chain. A May 2001 study by the Defense Science Board “More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden” noted that fuel makes up 70% of the cargo tonnage needed to position the US Army in battle. The study said that if M1A1 tanks were 50% more fuel efficient , the Persian Gulf War buildup could have been 20% faster and ground forces ready to fight one month sooner. They noted that a fuel delivered by ocean tankers costs only around $1 a gallon at the port, but transporting it inland can drive the cost up to $50 a gallon.

        • blight_

          Diesel would be economical, and if we had money to burn, R&D on diesel-electric hybrids. But we don’t have the money. Guess that will have to wait.

          • We are a L O N G way from batteries efficient enough to move 70T. Green energy is commendable. The current over enthusiastic push for it often hides its limitations.

          • blight_

            True. But we’ve done diesel-electric on trains and ships. I doubt we’ll have the energy density to give any of the three modes of transportation (tank, train or ship) the ability to move solely on electrical power.

            Edit: I suppose “hybrid” comes with the connotation of a battery mode. But it’s unlikely anything heavy will be a hybrid that can use batteries.

            I suppose the other possibility is diesel paired with a CVT.

          • Again, FWIW, what we really give up with turbines is the very quick access to power. M1’s have unparallelled acceleration. That may be one of the pluses of diesel electrics that we’ve tested in HMMWVs and M113 test beds (under 15T) where the batteries can release their energy to increase dash speeds as well as less demanding battery ops.

            Trains don’t need to accelerate quickly and I don’t know of warships running diesel electric (hybrid) engines besides submarines which rely totally on batteries when submerged and are greatly limited in endurance at both speed and range compared to nuke subs (but they are a heck of a lot cheaper and can be quieter).

          • JCitizen

            Thanks for the links to that conversion project! Very interesting!

            About now batteries are obsolete – Volvo announced a few weeks ago that they will be building ultra-capacitors that actually make good body panels as well. I can see this as something that could be integrated into the Chobham armor in the ceramic layers. It can be made with carbon fiber as well, which can be ballistic resistant on its own. The electric motor could be placed upfront to enhance ballistic protection there, and would not need a transmission, as motor controllers do this now.

            My SUV has a 60KW electric motor that can peel all four tires on the street without a ICE running at all. Electric motors have enormous torque; but the primary use in my mind is that it is used for idling power, so the ICE can be shut down when not moving. Much of the energy of all that weight is wasted every time the tank stops or accelerates. The hybrid would reduce this and actually turn it into a benefit, because of the great weight of the vehicle and the resultant kinetic energy.

            I can go 5 blocks at 20mph without ICE power all, completely on electric with what is a pretty tiny nickle-metal hydride battery. The motor only comes on for about a minute and a half to recharge the battery and continue for another 5 blocks. I save tremendous gasoline cruising this way. I can actually afford to goof around town, with very little dent in my wallet. But the new ultra capacitors can be energized instantly. It would actually be faster to “fill” up the tank with electricity than diesel, but I still think it is fantasy to think that even with this concept the diesel unit could ever be replaced. It could be made much smaller, and run only long enough to charge the ultra-capacitor system, but would be powerful enough to move off the battlefield for repairs if the electric motor got hit, or incapacitated. One tank could power an entire field Army base when used as a generator set, while in static mode guarding a road – for example. I’ve used my truck to run welding machines, or power a large remote camping areas.

            One of the exciting ideas of this kind of development is the reduction of weight of the vehicle, as ultra-caps weight much less than standard ceramic, when constructed of carbon fiber. Combine that with an active protection system and you can shave off more armor weight, as getting a good hit with any attacking projectile would be greatly reduced. It might even be an answer for an air deliverable light tank, that we’ve discussed here before. What weight the tank did have would be put to more efficient use, and multi-purposes.

          • Your SUV weighs 5000 lbs. An M1 tank weighs over 140000 lbs. Your SUV is 3.5% the weight of an M1. Scale is important otherwise we’d have hovertanks.

            APS does not stop kinetic energy rounds, mines or IEDs.

            All interesting concepts, just injecting a dose of reality into the whimsical “what if’s”.

          • JCitizen

            I used to work on factory floors where electric motors moved metal weighing way more than a tank with ease, just sayin. I would thing that the present armor really doesn’t stop kinetic energy rounds, mines, or the those Iranian IEDs either – maybe it lessens the damage, but the damage I’ve seen doesn’t really seem to matter as a comparison.

          • No doubt we have electric motors that do wonders. The electric motors you observed did not run on batteries. There are turbines that power cities but they don’t fit in a tank nor (and MOST importantly) do the batteries required to run them. Just sayin…

            In over a decade of war very VERY few M1 Abrams have been lost to mines, absolutely HUGE IEDs (multiple 100lb 152mm shells) and Iranian EFPs. You can count on one hand and have a finger or two left over. NONE have been lost to enemy kinetic energy rounds. Kinetic energy rounds have been fired at M1’s and except for a US 120mm have not penetrated the 70T of armor on the M1.

            The heavy armor of the M1 has worked at defeating kinetic energy and almost all HEAT, Mines and EFPs. What you may have seen are either not M1s, multiple pictures of the same M1 or Russian tanks. The facts contradict what you are thinking.

          • JCitizen

            Thanks majr0d – that is good to hear; I had seen some pretty horrifying after action photos, and seen some high-speed film footage damage; but I new it was pretty hard to defeat that M1 combination – especially with depleted uranium inserted in the armor.

            This new utlra-capacitor tech is capable of storing massive amounts of energy, but one would still have to have a substantial 2mode diesel system on board. Just adding the carbon fiber based ceramic would lighten the armor considerably – but because of a total redesign requirement and no appetite for new developments at DOD these days, my speculative thinking is pure fantasy anyway. I just can’t stop thinking about new ideas, though – Thanks for the input!

          • pete

            Electric motors pound for pound are more efficient and powerful than an internal combustion engine. Problems comes in when amps must be delivered to achieve that power. that is where the 2 separate. One relies on an external power *(battery of some sort) source and the other is self contained. The battery thing is going to be a problem with electric motors for a while as far as I know

  • Hunter76

    Re our last 3 semi-major wars (the 2 “Gulfs” and Afgan):

    Does anyone think they would have gone differently without the M1?

    (Does anyone else think it’s ironic that the “Gulf” wars had essentially nothing to do with the Gulf?)

    • SJE

      What? Iraq is at one end of the Gulf, had invaded one of them, and threatened other Gulf nations.

      • Hunter76

        Come on. The 1st “Gulf” War was exclusively about Kuwait and is more accurately described as the “Kuwait War” (which should include the Iraqi invasion). The other Gulf states were not explicitly threatened (though they, like the non-Gulf allies, drew their own conclusions about the threat from Iraq). The only real naval action was a feint (had to make the Cong people happy about their long-obsolete battleships). Of course, in both wars the Allies projected plenty of missiles and planes from ships, but the Gulf itself was not contested.

        The 2nd war was about Iraq (or perhaps more accurately, the desire of the Neo-cons to project Am power) and is better called the Iraq War. Iraq has almost no Gulf coastline. There was no naval action, not even a feint.

        • SJE

          The oil markets at the time don’t agree with you.

          Saddam explicitly threatened the Gulf nations, and started by invading one of them. His strategy was not entirely military, but by offering to replace local emirs and kings with Baathist rule. While that seems bizarre now, a number of the local kingdoms were run worse and were less progressive than Iraq.

    • Benjamin

      They probably would have ended with the same result but more casualties in both of the 2 “Gulfs”. More so in the first by a factor of 2 or 3.

  • john
    Info on the upgrade and saveings about halfway down

  • whoszat

    I wonder what an unmanned tank design would look like.

    What is the appropriate armor/speed/weapon balance when there are no crew to kill?
    What is the right size and geometry when there is no crew compartment or driver?

  • Big-Dean

    Hey, I’m not a tanker nor an Army dude. But from this Navy’s guy’s perspective, even though the turbine engines uses a lot of fuel, the turbine engine is one of the greatest strengths of the M1, it makes it : very fast, very low noise signature, no black smoke and generally low maintainance.

    The gas turbine engine has lots of advantages, and as you know almost the entire Navy fleet is gas turbine powered: low maintenance, quick ramp up to speed, etc.

    As for the concern that “idling” uses a lot of fuel, that’s simple, turn it off and use the APU to power electronics and a AC while your sitting. You only need to have the main engine running if you in a hot shooting situation and need to move quickly.

    • Jacob

      Well, I guess that’s why the Army is “reviewing” its options to weigh the upsides and downsides of an engine switch. Nothing’s been decided just yet.

    • As an Infantry guy with a bunch of mechanized experience the difference is when in combat the tank often can’t turn off the engine because of the amount of time it takes to get it started again. This could get you killed.

      It’s very uncommon where a ship has to fire its weapons multiple times in a day unless supporting an amphibious assaults while armored battles can go on for days with tanks having multiple engagements. Think Desert Storm or the early days of Iraq vs the last ten years where we could position bases all over Iraq (and tanks weren’t used as much).

      • Big-Dean

        Hey majOd, perhaps you can educate me a bit. The way I see it, the only time the tank needs to be moving quickly is when it’s facing other equal threats i.e. tank on tank battle, where speed, maneuver, and positioning are so importing. But in urban warfare, it you’re hit by an RPG, it doesn’t matter a lick if you moving or not, the round will have the same influence (good or bad. In urban warfare, it’s more about position and presence, and not speed nor maneuver-is that correct?

        • You are right about speed in the tactical perspective when in contact but there is also tactical out of contact situations and the operational level. Moving armor long distances quickly has its advantages. It allows you to mass armor against the enemy where it wasn’t expected it also increases the impact of exploiting penetrations or the speed of advancing getting you inside the enemy’s ability to react or even know what’s happening.

          Armor can be effective in urban warfare but it is almost exclusively a supporting arm of the Infantry. A tank’s ability to move quickly or accelerate is largely neutralized in the urban environment. Except if you’re in a tank getting hit by RPG fire that takes time to get started . That puts you at a disadvantage where ever you are

  • IronV

    Much to everyone’s surprise, the M1 distinguished itself in URBAN combat in Iraq–so much so the Army went a step further resulting in the SEP and TUSK upgrades aimed at static, urban combat. The M1 was a real life saver in Iraq. Quite literally.

    • ronaldo

      There’s lots of nits to pick with your statements, but the SEP origins had nothing to do with Iraq other than coincidence. TUSK is Iraq experience driven. But what you do not mention has nothing to do with the tank itself.

      It was the GD Armament Systems case shot. That’s right, a real 120mm shotgun with tungsten balls. The normal sabot and HE shells were worth practically nothing in the urban environment but a crash development for the case shot did make a difference.

      • IronV

        You’re right. Although I stand corrected, those are indeed nits. My larger point was the Iraq experience directly contradicted the conventional wisdom that tanks were both a) obsolete and b) certainly had no place in urban combat.

        My nits notwithstanding, I stand by that proposition.

      • DBM

        Back in 73 the army decided that tanks were for anti tank warfare only and took the HE rounds from them. In Iraq the tanks we used at first for mobile MG positions for urban combat. The army decided finally to refield HE rounds and then canister rounds. Those rounds were developed and used by the Israelis for at least 10 years.

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    Nothing beats another armoured main battle tank than having your very own…in quality and in great quantity.

    Better to have them now then “regret” not having them or sooner.

    • Hunter76

      “In great quantity” is a big rub. The M1 ate the T72s and other Sov tanks Iraq had in field. But so did helos, planes, and even much lower vehicles armed with appropriate missiles.

      Besides, where do you Tankers think we’ll fight the next major tank war? Europe is flooded with anti-tank weapons. East Asia?- S Korea is the only toehold we have on the mainland.

      Middle East?- We would be well-advised to keep out of big entanglements; let the parties there provide and pre-position their own tanks (including the Isrealis).

  • Vitsing

    The Land Warfare folks supporting GD have deep pockets and Lobbyist to get funding even if the Army does not want it. Likewise, the folks supporting UDP (M-2 also do well with their Lobbyist.

  • The Honeywell-GE LV100-5 gas turbine was to offer improved reliability and greatly reduced fuel consumption on move and at idle. If nothing else the LV100-5 showed the capability of a new technology turbine engine.

    In Feb of 2013 the latest version of the XM360 120mm main gun hit a milestone goal of 16Mj muzzle energy. That would be a significant upgrade over the 120mm L/55 and more than the possible 140mm gun upgrade. The XM360 is also planned to be a couple tons lighter than current M256.

    Advances in lightweight composites for use in Abrams armor panels and the use of fiber optics over wire in Abrams are intended to help lower overall weight of vehicle.

    More potent main gun, improved fuel economy and reliability while keeping advantages of gas turbine, reduced weight and enhanced sensors and C3

    • ronaldo

      Did the LV100-5 work well or…..?

      Thnks in advance !

      • The LV100-5 was cancelled with the Crusader SPG project but Honeywell has been continually developing the engine and its now being looked at as a possible upgrade power plant for the M1A3.

        The LV100-5 is supposedly much more fuel efficient (25% better in operation and 50% better at idle). It was designed to replace AGT1500 in M1A2 and XM200 Crusader SPG. The AGT1500 was originally designed in early 70’s as a competitor engine for the UH-60 and AH64 but lost out to the GE12 (T700) and was later adapted for vehicle use.

    • DBM

      We wouldn’t even be thinking od a gun upgrade if they left the DU rounds alone. The army successfully tested a beyond line of sight system for the abrams using drones for targeting info and round still retained sufficient energy to take out a tank at well beyond 3 miles. The Russians have nothing that can touch us now and their best tanks have all kinds of weak spots on their turret and chassis.
      I can’t help but believe the true reason for anyone even considering going to a 140 mm gun would be because the next gen Russian tank will have a 152mm (dick measuring contest, we got the Bradley because the cav generals were envious of the Russian BMP and the styker because of the Russians BTRs) ) which is probably a cross between wanting to overmatch the abrams armor and the desire to use them more effectively as direct fire artillery for infantry support. Wouldn’t be surprised if they cam out with bot short and long barreled versions. Long barrels on tanks tend to make them suck at urban warfare to hard to maneuver and travers the gun to get at unexpected close targets.

      BTW back to the screwing up of the army procurement of equipment, back in WW2 the army realized that SP Artillery assets could not keep up with tanks and had a hard time keeping up with infantry at times. Since then the goal (supposedly) has been to field an SP artillery vehicle that can keep up with the mech forces. When the M-1 was first being fielded their was even talk of converting a bunch of the M-60’s into 155 SP howitzers. Except in open desert thunder runs the M-60 could easily stay up with M-1’s and M-2’s which is true.
      BTW The gun ports on the M-2 came from the soviet vehicles which turned into another fiasco. First we realized back in the 70’s that a big reason the soviet forces were getting their butts kicked was because Soviet troops refused to dismount, close with and kill the enemy. They wanted to stay in the perceived safety of the vehicle. Putting the gun ports on the M-2 made it necessary to make shorter barreled weapons to be able to maneuver in the troop area but it also shortened the range of the weapon (remember grossly pre A2 days) and added substantially to the developmental and production costs.
      The hummer was another fiasco. after extensive testing when they first fielded to the 82nd they found that the brake pedals broke off during hard braking and they were to wide to drive down the logging trails in Germany so we had to pay the germans hundreds of millions to cut down the trees and for future lost tree production. In Schwienfurt they built a brand new tank maintenance facility for the base to support the M-1s to be fielded. They opened the facility the day the Div officially accepted the M-1-s and then someone suddenly realized that the bay doors were to narrow for the M-1 and the floor and maintenance racks wouldn’t support the weight of an M-1. Everything had been built to spec for the M-60.

      Any of you guys old enough to remember the M-9 procurement and how the came apart or blew up in peoples faces at almost exactly the 200th round fired? They ordered the wrong ammo from Israel. They ordered the ammo loaded for the full sized Uzi which was to powerful for use in a pistol.

      How about the M-249? First the army removed the pressure switch on it that was needed to increase gas pressure temporarily to blow out carbon fouling. However it upped the cyclic rate to 900 rds per minute and the brass said army soldiers didn’t have the discipline to keep it at 700. Then they shortened the stock to a point of uselessness. To compound the problem the army had started buying aluminum mags where soon became known as the number one cause of feeding failures in M-16s. They screwed up the ammo loading machines for the 249 linked ammo so had to use mags for the first 6 months. Major problem: The 249s won’t work with aluminum mags as one use spreads the retainers and causes double feeds. They started buying steel mags and then went back to aluminum mags again and cant figure out why troops love PMAGs. The list goes on and on.

      • Experts have guesstimated and brainstormed what features and abilities will be in next gen Soviet Armor. It is estimated that US and NATO will need about 16Mj muzzle energy to penetrate the next gen Russian or Chinese armor. One way to reach this goal is increasing size to a prior NATO agreement of 140mm. The other way is a very high impulse 120mm gun such as the US XM360. Last I read test firings of the then latest XM360 version had surpassed the 16Mj muzzle energy goal. The XM360 is compatible with the M1 chassis and fires all standard NATO 120mm ammo.

        • Replied to SPG part in separate reply.

          Not sure what you are referring to about not being able to keep up. The main US SPG in WW2 was the M7 Priest which used M3 Lee chassis. When M3 Lee was phased out of US Army in 1944 105mm Sherman variant was developed with 105mm main gun in Sherman turret. Maybe not keeping up is in reference to M12 chassis with 155mm main gun and M40 with 8in main gun. M12 based on M3 Lee chassis and M40 based on M4A3 with HVSS suspension. M40 mostly too late to see service in WW2.

        • DBM

          I hear what your saying but the so called experts are full of bullshit. Its an excuse to try to develop the flying tanks they wanted as kids. Currently and for the foreseeable future they can’t build the so called new generation tank. They don’t seem to be able to get past the recoil problems with the 152 they want to mount. And I doubt they can come up with an armor tough enough to stand up to a western tank round. Besides they are locked into a soviet WW2 mentality and all the armor will be in the front leaving the sides and back easily defeated.
          The T-80 was supposed to be a super Boogie Man tank but it couldn’t cut it in Afghanistan (suspension is to delicate and breaks quickly) and in Chechnya they had to pull it out because it was so easily destroyed by RPGs and roadside mines.
          And although the Russians design first rate stuff they still build junk when they can still build anything. It took them almost 10 years to build the 7 bombers you see flying around the world pretending to be relevant.
          A good indicator of their capabilities to actually build something is foreign military sales. In military sales contracts as a rough number for large expensive items the selling country usually wants at least 50% of the product made in their country and at most 50% made in the purchasing country (if they have the capability to make it there) a few years back Russia sold India I believe 200 T-90 tanks. Of that number only about 20 were to be made in Russia and delivered to India. The rest (except for the engines) are being produced in India. You would think that those other 80 tanks would have been built in Russia for the jobs alone. But Russia has serious supply train problems caused by massive corruption. They are also hampered by a constitutional mandate to keep open and ready for production hundreds of weapons production plants which by some estimates costs Russia 50% of its military budget. Remember Russia promising to give Iran the S-400 missiles? They backed out quietly because they could not build enough to meet their own security needs.

  • Lance

    Never got why the Army if they see the performance of the Abrams slip make a new tank??? We wasted Billions on ICC GCV and JLTV while we may need a new tank. Shows Army brass don’t think past there personal pocket check books.

    I dont see a problem for a new engine as a stop gap upgrade for the Abrams. Why not we don’t need GCV scrap it upgrade the Abrams and Id say Bradley as well.

    • Big Daddy

      I agree, even with the Bradley. The problem is that the Army always wants one thing to do everything, it makes everything cost more and not work as well. Maybe some day they will figure out it’s best to have overlapping systems that do one thing well and others just OK. A tank is a tank, an APC is an APC and so on. We do not have a real Recon vehicle, that is what is needed. As a former Scout I can say the last true recon vehicle was a M114 and it was terrible but they were on the right track so to speak. The Bradley is a horrible recon vehicle.

      • blight_

        Did the M114 do any better in Western Europe than Vietnam?

  • TonyC.

    The M1 is very thirsty and that creates the need for thin skinned logistics to support it.
    The best idea to upgrade the M1 is for to increase the fuel efficiency. The tank itself is still relevant and even though the design is 30 years old, the US adversaries still can’t counter it.

    • SJE

      I’m not so sure that adversaries CAN’T counter it, rather that they might prefer a different mix of size, cost, etc as counters. The Iraqis were not able to destroy M1s, but could cause serious brain injuries with IEDs. Taliban attack the supply convoys. etc.

      • If the enemy in Iraq could destroy our tanks they would have for the propaganda value alone.

        We need to get passed thinking every future conflict is going to be like the last ten years. they may be but I doubt we are going to try and rebuild any countries any time soon but we may need to react to an adversary attacking an ally or even conduct a punitive expedition.

  • Tony S

    I read quite a few posts, but not all. I think everyone has missed the mark. This isn’t about making the Army do something they didn’t request or to get better fuel economy. This is about awarding a new contract to GM or Chrysler. Now that the Government has dried up on giving free money to the 2 car makers, a new way need to be invented to feed cash to the Government owned Auto Makers. Sorry Ford, you aren’t invited to this buffet!

    • I didn’t see GM or Chrysler mentioned in the story and they aren’t known for being heavy equipment engine manufacturers. If you are going to speculate Cummings would have been a better guess.

    • blight_

      Chrysler spun off its military programs a long time ago.
      For large diesels, it’s Cummins, Caterpillar…any of the manufacturers of large construction equipment would be viable competitors for the task.

      Komatsu makes engines, but clearly un-American.

  • Zspoiler

    Its just more pork . They should pay for equipment we need and pay and benefits..Not on redesigning new uniforms etc.

  • Jaime Kinkelwicz
  • CaptainDoc

    the thinking of saving money by upgrading the engines is pure nonsense. the tank is a tank at 70 tons what do you expect? fuel savings if the engine tripled the mileage would not pay for the new upgrade in 20 years. just do what the machine was designed for: a tank. it is not a Toyota or Chevrolet it is a tank. tanks get good mileage considering what they carry, what the initial weight of and what the missions are. in other word just don’t do anything to it, just use it when needed. if not needed then store them, they will not become obsolete. the tanks will only become obsolete in someone’s mind. the m1a1 and m1a2 are the best in the world(look at how many are sold to other governments)” if it works don’t fix it “. there are very few retrofits to ANY military equipment that in the end make a better piece of equipment they just upgrade some ones bank account

  • DBM

    The bottom line here is that as rare as it is the congress is right on this one. We shouldn’t have any A1’s left in the inventory. They should all be upgraded. Additionally with only one tank building facility left in America shutting its doors for 4 yrs as the army wants is the same as closing it permanently. Guess the army wants to outsource tank maintenance and building to china to save money. We already can’t build anything without them anyway.

  • Big Daddy

    Great tank, I worked with them when they were first deployed while in the 11th ACR. We could not keep up with them, we had the M113 series of vehicles. The M60s were being called Tankasorous or something like that when compared to the M1. It is a great tank for sure but does need a new powerpack without a doubt. No it’s not a perfect design but as good as it comes. The weak link is the need for fuel, if they can replace it with another engine and transmission (only 4 forward gears) that requires less fuel and retains at least the same performance the savings will pay for it and the lives not lost will be worth it. As long as we have to fight on other shores anything that will help with resupply costs of men and money is a good thing, don’t ya think?

  • Pork. Military Industrial complex up to it’s usual SOP. Then again, there may be some members in Congress who are so super smart they came up with this on their own. But I bet if you drill down to who introduced the Bill and Co-sponsors you’ll find them benefiting. All these jerk offs just throwing OUR money around to each other for personal gain. As far as they are concerned, the actual Military Benefits, if any end up being realized, are a nice addition but aren’t necessary to their end game, which is sucking the Treasury for every penny they can get. If I could only get my Representative to introduce a Bill funding my camouflage condoms R&D……

  • 45K20E4

    It’s not all about fuel economy. Remember that the turbine can run on just about any fuel that can be atomized. I always got a kick out of the label warning “Do not engage smoke generators when using jet fuel”

    Also, we saw far more failures of piston engines than we did the turbines. Durability goes a long way on the battlefield.

    • DBM

      I don’t take much stoke in failure reports. They are fudged to much to increase readiness ratings reports. Turbine engines are more expensive to replace so they aren’t reported as down until to many go down.

      Yes turbines can run on just about anything but wouldn’t recommend putting gasoline in them or the crap fuel that the russkis use. They use Bunker (or something south of it) and that’s probably one of the many reasons why they can’t keep their turbine engine tanks operational for long.

  • Drew

    I question the author’s numbers of 6000 M1 in the field. Considering that the Army is standing down one HBCT for the Active Component, that leaves only 174 per Active Component division (1st ID, 3rd ID, 4th ID, 1st Cav, 1st AD (just one HBCT) plus the 11th ACR. The ARNG has the 276th, 116th, 30th, 155th, 1st BCT/34th ID, as well as a few other units. Considering the total M1 fleet is 58 (56 + 2 ORF) per BCT, the number is closer to 1,300 rather 6,000 even including the prepo fleet. There were almost 6K made not 6000 actively fielded.

  • 2468bodw
  • Redleg65

    As a former Tanker (NCO) and Officer in the Artillery, we really need to maintain our M1 variant fleet of tanks. Sure we should also have a secondary lighter “Big Bore Gun” The Stryker (Very expensive) fits this need but again the Generals made a “All in One” Machine. I saw upfront Soviet models and Chinese models and while shorter and reliant on active armour, I strongly believe wars are won by maneuver and air support. Tanks have a major impact on the battlefield and Congress needs to reconsider the Artillery system (current system based on the M109) is over 55 years old. The Crusader would have helps in Afghanistan (without a doubt-tora bora) and help quick fire support for Infantry and armored units elsewhere. Air Support (Helicopters-Apaches/F-16’s/F-18’s etc) are not readily available and may never deploy, but Artillery can fire 24/7 with no weather issues. Artillery round $2k vs $800k for a cruise missile vs $80k for a Hellfire. Support the tank and Artillery and spread the love.

    • blight_

      A towed version of Crusader’s gun might’ve been interesting, but the thing was heavy. What are our options in towed-artillery-land?

      • tmb2

        We’re still fielding the new M777.

  • gt350

    It seems we all agree that we have a great tank, so upgrade it and have it support a new weapons system, because its old doesn’t mean its not useful , how many country’s would want a M1 as back up!

  • JJC

    A new high speed Deltic Diesel may be worth considering. Napier’s engine once had the best power/weight ratio around. 36 pistons, no cylinder heads or valves. With modern design tools, materials and diesel combustion advancements – it may outperform the turbine and have superior efficiency.

    • blight_

      Almost as intriguing as a Wankel.

      At the end of the day, it’s R&D. Wankel and Deltic will remain niche for some time…

  • W.S. Newman

    We are 17 trillion dollars in debt and they are still looking for ways to spend our money! Those tanks sitting there are not disabled or unserviceable, they are just not needed right now. Why not just let them sit there and do routine maintenance on them, as we would have to do, with a new engine or weapons system or something else? Use the savings to pay retired veterans and run hospitals for all those wounded warriors who were not lucky enough to have a “70 ton beast” to protect them. Semper Fi!

  • Peter Barker
  • There is little wrong with any government departments that is not the fault of the Congress. Those whores are so far into the arses of the defense industry they couldn’t pull out even if they wanted to. Every major decision by Congress is based on “Will it be good for me”, rather than will it be good for the nation or service.

  • Sarge

    I don’t like the way budgets (politicians) control the type of warfare we have. Tanks will be needed for the next decade, or until we build a “super laser” weapon. But then our lawmakers will be afraid to use the new weapon, and we’ll be back in the tanks. Our present fleet of M-1’s is old, and we have nothing in the budget for new ones. The only option is to provide our soldiers with a tank that is fast, up-to-date, and equipped with the latest weapons. Upgrade the tanks. When has our government ever worried about fuel cost, except to control the American people?

  • DBM

    What we need is a smaller lighter tank that is more easily transported to where its needed. We don’t need new or improved strykers.

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  • SFC 11M40J3

    I am a retired Army Platoon Sergeant and a Bradley IFV Master Gunner. During Desert Storm it pissed me off to no end that the tanks had the privilege of getting topped off during the ROM’s (Refuel on the Move). Then they would figure out how much fuel they had left, and ration the remaining amount to everyone else. When First Cavalry Division made the dash from Wadi Al Batine to VII Corps Breach (a drive longer and done faster than Patton’s relief push to Bastogne) the Bradley’s sometimes were running on fumes to the next ROM where once again the tankers got all they needed.
    We seriously need to diesel engine the M1. If it works for the Leopard and the Challenger why not the Abrams? Logistics are a bitch with out throwing in the need to pamper a prima donna vehicle.

    • DBM

      The army refused to sell Turkey M-1s because they wanted a diesel piston engine in it.
      Easier to maintain, a lot better fuel economy and deisel is a lot easier to come by than JP-4 and cheaper too.

      BTW Egypt has a ton of M-1’s produced locally under licence but have you noticed that you never seen them perform any of the population control operations? I’ve seen some M-60’s and a ton of T-55 and T-62s. They don’t have to constantly be idling to keep the batteries charged so don’t suck a lot of fuel.