Here's your first look at the Army's new M1 Abrams variant

Military Tech
(U.S. Army photo)

The U.S. Army has revealed its newest tank.


The new M1A2C Abrams boasts new active and passive protection that could help to protect it from the latest enemy weaponry.

The first detailed image of the M1A2C appeared on Feb. 22, 2019.

The photo depicts one of the new fighting vehicles at the Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The most obvious new features of the M1A2C that are evident in the photo are the vehicle's Trophy active protection systems and an additional slab of armor on the front of its turret.

Trophy uses a radar to detect incoming missiles and rockets then fires tiny projectiles to intercept the munitions. The Army also is back-fitting Trophy to some older M1 models.

The M1A2C is the latest variant of Abrams to enter production. Congress gave the Army $1.5 billion to buy 135 M-1s from General Dynamics in 2019, extending a program that began in the 1970s.

The first M1 entered service with the Army in 1980. The original M1 packed a 105-millimeter gun. The Army bought 3,300 of them. In 1984 the Army added thicker armor to a batch of new M-1s and called these 900 tanks M1IPs. The U.S. military no longer uses these early M1s.

A major upgrade in 1986 added a new 120-millimeter gun. This is the M1A1. The Army and Marines bought 5,200 copies through 1992. Roughly a thousand M1A1s still are in service with the Marines and Army National Guard. Another 3,000 or so are in storage.

There are a bewildering number of subvariants of the M1A1, each boasting incremental improvements in drive-train, armor and electronics. The latest upgrade, the M1A1SA, has a factory-fresh engine, digital electronics and a top-secret armor blend that includes a thin layer of uranium.

The Army plans to retire all M1A1SAs by 2025.

The M1A2 appeared in 1992. It's pretty much a new tank, with better armor than the basic M1A1 plus a new internal layout and fresh sensors that together allow the gunner and the commander independently to search for targets.

The Army has acquired around 1,500 M1A2s and converted most of them to the System Enhancement Package Version 2 standard. The M1A2SEPv.2, which General Dynamics describes as a "digital tank," features high-end computers, a remotely-operated machine gun on the turret and a dozen batteries that allow the tank quietly to operate its sensors without turning on its engine.

The M1A2C in essence is a better-protected M1A2SEPv.2 that's also easier to upgrade. In addition to Trophy and more armor, the new tank boasts more electrical power, better diagnostic systems and a data-link that's compatible with programmable ammunition types that are in development.

"The Abrams M1A2C can host any mature technology the Army deems operationally relevant," the Army stated.

The latest version of the M1 arguably is the best tank in the world. For now.

Russia and China both are developing new fighting vehicles. Russia's high-tech Armata tank has run into development problems, but China successfully has fielded hundreds of new Type 99A tanks that roughly are similar to mid-generation, digital M-1s.

But China has struggled to adapt old-style doctrine to its new armor. In early 2019, the Chinese army's 81st Group Army, riding in Type 99As, lost a mock battle during a war game in Mongolia, Global Times reported, citing the state-run CCTV television news network.

"We rushed with the Type 99A too close to the frontline, which did not optimize the use of the tank's combat capability," CCTV quoted Xu Chengbiao, a battalion commander in the brigade, as saying.

"We only studied the capabilities of older tanks, but have not completely understood new ones," Zhao Jianxin, another battalion commander, reportedly told CCTV.

Anticipating the day when Russia resumes modernizing its tank corps and China figures out how to use its own new fighting vehicles, the U.S. Army already is planning a new M1 variant to follow the M1A2C.

The "cornerstone technology" of the M1A2D is a new infrared sensor, according to the Army. The newest Abrams will also sport a new laser range-finder and will be compatible with artificial intelligence that could make the tank more autonomous, the Army stated.

This article originally appeared on The National Interest.

More from The National Interest:

SEE ALSO: The Army's M1 Abrams Tanks Are Officially Getting A Major Upgrade

WATCH NEXT: Army Tank Crews Crush Cars

U.S. Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Dec. 6, 2006. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

An 18-year-old Army recruit at Fort Jackson died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill, according to an officials with the base.

Read More Show Less
Lance Cpl. Job Wallace (Facebook)

A Camp Pendleton Marine who was believed to be headed back to the base from Arizona on Monday, but never arrived, was found safe in Texas Saturday night, military officials said.

Read More Show Less
Guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) Sailors participate in a memorial for the shipÕs namesake, Robert D. Stethem. Navy diver, Steelworker 2nd Class Robert Stethem, who was returning from an assignment in the Middle East, when he was taken hostage aboard TWA 847 commercial airliner. The flight was hijacked by terrorists, and Stethem was shot to death after being tortured by the terrorists on June 15, 1985. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Danny Ewing Jr.)

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police have arrested a 65-year-old Lebanese man suspected of involvement in the 1985 hijacking of a Trans World Airlines (TWA) plane in which a U.S. navy diver was killed.

A Greek police official said on Saturday the suspect had disembarked from a cruise ship on the island of Mykonos on Thursday and that his name came up as being wanted by German authorities.

Read More Show Less

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

SAN DIEGO — John Timothy Earnest didn't hide his smirks as he sat in a San Diego courtroom on Thursday, watching surveillance video of Lori Gilbert-Kaye being shot down inside the lobby of a Poway synagogue.

Earnest also smiled as a synagogue congregant testified about running toward the shooter, screaming "I'm going to kill you!" and seeing the gunman "with a look of astonishment or fear" turn and run.

Earnest, 20, is facing one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the shootings at Chabad of Poway on April 27. He also faces an arson charge related to an Escondido mosque fire in March, when several people who were sleeping inside escaped unharmed.

Read More Show Less