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m1a2 tank

The new Abrams tank: what is it and how does it compare to other leading tanks?

The US Army is currently in the process of building its first prototype of an upgraded, next-generation version of the heavy armour Abrams tank.

Having first emerged in the 1980s, the Abrams tank has been upgraded so extensively since its inception it is now an entirely different vehicle. In fact, the Abram’s basic design is exactly what has enabled it to remain robust enough to accept new technologies as engineers develop them.

With leading computing, electronics, targeted technology, armour protections and sensors, the Abrams is set to remain superior for years to come and shows that in the US Army, heavy armour is here to stay.

But what makes this new tank so special? How does it compare to other heavy armoured tanks? And when is it set to enter the field? We investigate the new Abrams tank below

The new Abrams tank: Everything you need to know

About the M1A2 SEP V4

The M1 Abrams is a third-generation American main battle tank that first entered service with the US Army back in 1980, before being adopted by the Marine Corps and overseas partners such as Australia.

Nobody expected the tank to still be in service four decades later, but thanks to a process of continual improvements and upgrades (unlike, for example, the British Challenger 2) the Abrams of today is far more lethal and survivable than its initial version.

The latest M1A2 SEP V4 variant is set to continue the continual transformation process too, incorporating a series of transformative upgrades to ensure its continued combat performance.

Of course, some of the information about the upgrades isn’t available for security reasons, but what we do know is that adjustments are related to sensor technologies.

The new technology will integrate a new generation of Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) targeting sensors with improved image resolution, range and image processing.

Other innovations include a new colour camera adaption, laser rangefinder technology and meteorological sensors, as well as fire-control and weapons sights improvements. 

Finally, the new high-tech tanks will also feature a new Ethernet switch to streamline information flow throughout the vehicle.


Along with other modern tanks such as the V3 Abrams tank, the V4 will fire an advanced type of ammunition known as Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) round.

This advanced technology enables the crew to pick and adjust a specific blast effect from a single round via a variable fuse, ammunition data link, and airburst technology.

How does it compare to the M1A2 SEP V3?

The latest version of the M1 currently in service around the world is the M1A2 SEP V3.

With a .50-caliber machine gun, improved protection from remote-controlled roadside bombs and a data link that allows the crew to issue specialist commands to main gun rounds, the M1A2 SEPV3 came into service in 2020 so is still incredibly new.

The 73.6-ton tank has a crew of four and can reach speeds of 42 mph on roads and 30 mph cross-country.

Poland is set to purchase the V3 tanks in 2022, whilst Australia has just locked in its purchase of 75 M1A2 main battle tanks from the US, showing the Australian government’s commitment to an advanced fleet of armoured vehicles despite acquiring submarines, jet fighters and long-range missiles in recent years.

The new Abrams tank is set to replace the army’s 59 Abrams M1A1s, which were bought in 2007 but have yet to see combat.

When will the new Abrams tank be ready?

With lots of prototypes and a wide range of testing to go through before it is ready, it will be a number of years before the M1A2 SEP VA is ready for the field. However, it is expected that the first prototype should be ready around June 2022.

Opportunities with M&E Global

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of working on tanks as a heavy equipment mechanic, you’ve come to the right place!

From Europe to the Middle East, we work with a US military client and have extensive opportunities for heavy equipment mechanics who are interested in contracting abroad and want to work on exciting equipment such as M1 Tanks, Challenger Tanks and even Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

In fact, why not check out the roles we are currently working on here or contact our team to find out more?

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