Next-Gen M1E3

Every time I see one of those spanking “new” M1A2 SEP V3’s, I wonder if this was one of the plain vanilla A1’s I worked on back in the 80’s, all rebuilt with that new tank smell

Weight, survivability and logistics: Army lays out priorities for M1E3 Abrams design



The above article (thanks Frenchy) answers some key questions, sort of…

“… it will “integrate” an active protection system into the design instead of strapping on Israeli manufacturer Rafael’s Trophy active protection system…”

“…will likely swap out the tank’s AGT1500 gas turbine engine for a hybrid-electric option.”

“Are we looking at autoloaders for the tank to potentially reduce the crew size or allow for members to do different tasks? The short answer is absolutely, yes.”…“What that solution looks like, is one of those series of experiments that’s ongoing right now.”

Every article talks about weight reduction, but like over fifty percent of Americans, says little about how to go about it, let alone do it. If we’re not careful we’ll get another Bradley scenario even with the best of intentions.
I believe there will have to be a major redesign in other areas than the turret and powerpack.

Carbon fiber road wheels. Five times stronger than steel.
Rubber tracks -not your granddaddy’s version. Kevlar (or other similar materia) reinforced rubber band track. Quieter (to go along with that new hybrid-electric option) and lighter - even replacement tracks will be easier to transport. Tanks could still have the option of going with steel track depending upon mission requirements.
I won’t even attempt to go into the exotic alloys that could be used for lighter, more effective armor.
I posted last week about a study done in the late 70’s regarding the M68 105mm tank gun - how they used composites fur the bore evacuator. Just such a change was made to the M1A2 Abrams,
More use of composites must surely be part of the equation. Everything possible - bustle rack, smoke dischargers, MG mounts, and an assload of internal parts in the driver’s compartment and turret.
And yes, of course it will increase cost. That’s something the US government has never cared about when it comes to weaponry for our boys.
If you took the weight of a B-2 bomber - and had that same weight in gold - the gold would not even be close to the worth of the two billion dollars we pay for the aircraft.
So even if we recognize some components of future M1 variants, they’ll be vastly different than they are today. They’ll have to be. You know the “final version” is going to have at least three more systems on it that haven’t even been mentioned yet. It would not surprise me if the good idea fairy were to come along and suggest every third tank had the new L3Harris’ Manned-Unmanned Teaming-Extended (MUMT-X) that’s being added to our Apaches. It’s just dumb enough…


I think it all depends on who is working at the US Army on this project and how “Radical” they want the M1E3/M1A3 to be.

As you know from Congress, there are a lot of Senior Citizens working in US government…and younger newbies that many consider inexperienced, radical, short tempered and short patience, etc.

So “old school ways” might still rule depending on how traditional things are with the US Army. The US Army hasn’t been very unorthodox sometimes whereas RD&E has been.

That said, the crew hull module and RWS turret has already been designed tested in concepts and the Future Combat System. These images were seen in The Learning Channel: crew in hull, diamond barrel stealth shroud, lower and broader turret, no side tool bins, no bar rails, etc.

People online said that these FMBTs (M1 TTB) are faked…plywood mock-ups and just tracks and an engine. But the design concept has existed for decades.

“If you were talking about the “Rust Bucket” towards the end, that is the M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) vehicle from the mid 1980’s. Unmanned 120mm armed turret and a three man crew in the hull.”
—posted by Tankrider, December 5, 2014.



And the two photos below the one you linked show just how fast the bare metal will turn to orange rust without the protection of the paint coats. And further down, the coiled track length shows how readily the exposed metal of the tracks will show rust if it’s not getting polished off by being driven.

Well that answers my query about the APS. It will be interesting to see how that influences the turret shape.

The original M1’s are not suitable for rebuilding into a MBT, so I’ve been told. Why; they never said. The basic hull is very over built for strength, and most components are simply modular bolt on’s. Somebody did their home work here. From day one on the drawing board the tank was built to constantly be upgraded. Cost a lot more money to start out with, but down the road saves huge amounts of time and cash. If you really take notice, you will see most major mods came thru the turret. I know of four different turrets that have at least been tested on the basic Abrams hull, and there are probably a couple I don’t know about.

From the very first Abrams design; crew survival was priority. The design met every bitch and moan head on with changes being made on the fly. Face it; nobody wants their kid in a death trap like the T72. The hull is too complicated to do a casting! That’s also one reason for it’s weight. Steel weighs much more than a casting.

I honestly thought they’d never go away from the gas turbine, and still think that’s better than the newer drive system. Still I’ll give the new idea a chance. It has not been to Alaska yet, so we’ll see.
The M10 went into production right after Labor Day, although the rate is minimal. The new Abrams X drive train is still being tooled up, and that’s going to be a mess. The M1E series is good to go right unless they are making mods to the power pack. The current Abrams uses the E series power pack since the mid 1980’s (the E series is not really new except for the electronics)- I can’t see the Abrams X coming forth till 2025 at the best, and probably 2026. The issue is the M1e taking up all the space.


your post makes a lot of sense, as they can’t build both power packs in the same plant. There is yet another alternative that is setting on the shelf gathering dust. Comes in at about 75% of the original cost and is also lighter in weight. Problem is that it doesn’t belong to TACOM (final drives as well), but uses existing tooling. This is the way I’d go.

As for the AGT1500 turbine. There is yet another option from Garrett, and it’s been inside at least one Abrams hull. Ran better but was killed by politicians in New York. There’s also one more developed by Allison and is manufactured by Rolls Royce, and it’s at least gone thru the 25,000 hour test without a hitch

That’s actually the M1e2 from around 1987. I saw them welding the turret in Lima. There was another M1e2, but used the older turret. Also the basis for the 140mm main gun system

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