Several main battle tanks, including the US Army’s M1A2 Abrams v4, Israel’s Merkava, Germany’s Leopard 2, and Russia’s renowned T-14 Armata, are all contenders for the title of the world’s best tank. Yet, a new contender is on the horizon – the AbramsX.
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The AbramsX, a creation of General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), is an emerging tank that could potentially outperform all existing models, granting it the title of the world’s premier tank, provided it lives up to expectations.
Unveiled by GDLS at the 2022 Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium, the AbramsX is an innovative armored vehicle packed with promising features. These include an unmanned turret, drone launching capabilities, course-correcting ammunition, 360-degree thermal sites, advanced AI-enabled command and control functions, and next-generation sensor data processing and integration.
While the US Army usually does not comment on specific industry proposals, the AbramsX was presented as a demonstrator for evaluation. Deputy of Army Futures Command, Mr. William Nelson, refrained from commenting directly on the AbramsX. However, he underscored the Army’s ongoing focus on how emerging armored vehicle and tank technologies might redefine requirements and maneuver formations.
More lethal and survivable
“We are aiming for lighter yet more lethal and survivable formations, along with heavy formations that are lighter and have a reduced logistical footprint. This is the future we envision, and it’s not something that can be achieved overnight,” Nelson shared with Warrior.
The AbramsX is designed as a 60-ton vehicle, aiming to be faster, more mobile, and more expeditionary than the current Abrams. This could significantly enhance its ability to cross bridges, navigate critical passageways, and keep up with maneuvering infantry and lighter vehicles. The weight reduction also seems to address the Army’s ongoing concerns about the Abrams tank’s weight, which at 70 tons, could potentially limit its mobility and deployability.
The 60-ton AbramsX: a speedier alternative
While the 70-ton Abrams tanks still hold significance, the introduction of the 60-ton Abrams X promises to revolutionize combat formations. But how does the Abrams X maintain the essential survivability and protection of its heavier counterpart? The details remain under wraps due to proprietary and security considerations. However, it is clear that the Army and industry developers are betting on “innovation” – the pursuit of groundbreaking technologies and disruptive discoveries through avant-garde research and study.
Could this mean the incorporation of lighter-weight composites, which are already finding their place across the force? Or perhaps the integration of high-resolution, longer-range, and more precise sensors than those installed in the Abrams v4? Most notably, the Abrams X is designed to deploy and operate attack drones while in motion, significantly expanding its lethality, surveillance capacity, and multi-domain, AI-enabled, networked target data identification and distribution.
The eco-friendly AbramsX: Hybrid-electric power
Furthermore, the AbramsX is powered by a hybrid-electric system, enhancing operational capabilities in numerous ways. With improved fuel efficiency, the need for heavy logistics and transporting large quantities of fuel is significantly reduced. This not only accelerates advancing forces but also minimizes the risk to vulnerable sustainment and logistical forces.
Additionally, the ability to control unmanned systems aligns with the Army’s vision to develop a robotic platform that can deliver supplies, ammunition, and fuel to high-risk areas without endangering manned crews. The hybrid-electric propulsion also facilitates a “silent watch,” allowing the vehicle to operate without emitting a thermal or acoustic signature that could give away its position. This ability to operate without generating a detectable engine signature significantly enhances stealth capabilities.
AbramsX: Equipped to counter RPGs
Working closely with partners, GDLS is integrating a hemispheric Active Protection System (APS) into the tank. This system is designed to detect, track, and neutralize incoming RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. The APS uses a combination of sensors, computer processors, and a fire control system to track approaching threats and release an interceptor to eliminate incoming enemy rounds.
Remarkably, the GDLS APS can protect the tank from top-down anti-armor attacks. The success of such attacks against Russian tanks in Ukraine has undoubtedly influenced the development of the GDLS APS.
Fueling innovation: The “Katalyst” IP protocol
All these innovations are largely possible due to GDLS’s use of an IP protocol known as “Katalyst.” This technical configuration uses open standards to facilitate the addition and integration of emerging technologies.
With “Katalyst,” GDLS and Army software upgrades to enhance sensing resolutions, targeting precision, and onboard command and control systems. Moreover, “Katalyst” can support interfaces using common, interoperable standards to facilitate information sharing both on the vehicle and among other players across multiple domains.
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