The M-1 Abrams family in World War III
First produced in 1979, after a lengthy gestation period dating from the failed MBT-70 program, the M-1 Abrams withstood journalistic and Congressional skepticism to emerge from the Third World War as one of the two top main battle tanks in the world (the Challenger being the other). Seeing service in all theaters, and with extensive postwar service, the M-1 family still serves the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, and also serves with several foreign customers. This work will cover the M-1 family that saw service in the war, and in postwar conflicts.
M-1: Initial production version produced 1979-83. Armed with a 105-mm L7 gun with 55 rounds, Thermal sight, laser rangefinder, Chobham Armor.
IPM1: Upgraded M1 with M-1A1 turret, thicker armor, turret bustle. Retained 105-mm gun.
M1A1: Produced beginning 1985, with Rheinmetall L44 120-mm gun produced under license at Waterlivet Arsenal, New York. Pressurized NBC system, improved armor. Combat debut limited in 1986 with its major debut at Wichita in 1987.
M1A1HA: Improved Chobham armor (including Depleted Uranium inserts),
M1A1HC: 2nd Generation Depleted Uranium inserts, digital engine controls. Primary USMC version.
M1A1AIM: Older units reconditioned to near zero-hour condition; digital engine controls, Blue Force Tracker, tank-infantry phone, improved thermal sight. Standard Abrams variant in National Guard and Reserve service.
M1A2: First “Digital battlefield” version with commander's independent thermal sight, Blue Force tracker added, 2nd generation DU armor inserts.
M1A2SEP: System Enhancement Package: Third Generation DU inserts added to armor, upgraded thermal sight and Blue Force Tracker. Standard U.S. Army version.
M1A3: Prototypes under development, initial trials FY 16. Lighter 120-mm gun, added road wheels, lighter track, current wiring replaced with fiber optics, improved armor.
M1AGDS: Air Defense Gun System with radar, Thermal Sights and laser rangefinder. Twin 35-mm cannon and 12 ADATS missiles for either anti-armor or antiaircraft use. Primary U.S. Army battlefield air defense system.
M1 Grizzly CEV: Combat Engineering Vehicle with multirole arm, dozer blade/mine plow, In U.S. Army service.
M104 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge: AVLB on M1 chassis.
M1 Assault Breacher Vehicle: Version with mine plow/blade, and MCLIC line charges for dealing with minefields. In U.S. Army and Marine service; exported to Australia
M1 ARV: Armored Recovery vehicle: planned replacement for M-88 ARV. In prototype status, with service trials set for FY 16.
U.S. Army: Combat in Texas and Arizona from the beginning of the war (M-1 and IPM1). M1A1 in wide use beginning Battle of Wichita 1987. M1A2 series primary U.S. Army MBT, M1A1 series still in ARNG and Reserve service, alongside remaining M-60A4-120 tanks.
U.S. Marine Corps: M1A1 saw limited use in USMC: first combat in the Kola raid. Replaced M-60 series after the war, though USMC M1A1s saw combat in liberation of Guam. M1A1HC primary USMC version.
Australia: Australian Army adopted the M1A1 in 1994.
Canada: Canadian units serving alongside U.S. forces were supplied with the M1, then M1A1.
Egypt: M1A1 supplied to Egyptian Army in 1990s. Production continues in Egypt today.
Kuwait: Kuwaiti Army supplied with M1A2 in 1997, after competition with Challenger and Leopard II.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Army supplied with M1A2 in 1995, after compatition between Leopard II and LeClerc. In both instances, the fact that the Abrams was combat proven was a key selling point.
Taiwan: ROC Army was the only wartime allied user: with M1 series tanks supplied to the ROC 1st Mechanized Division in the Southwest. ROC upgraded to M1A1 for duty on mainland in anti-warlord operations.