It's been nearly three years since since the Army took delivery of the first of its first souped-up M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and soldiers are already giving the new warhorses a workout.
Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division become the first to take possession of the the M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks, also known as the M1A2C, back in July.
“This is the first time we have fielded a new tank in about 16 years,” said 3/8 commander Lt. Col. Nicholas Sinclair in a July news release. “We will be the first ones trained on this so it’s really special to us to make sure we’re doing it right.”
Receiving a new tank is one thing; putting it to use is another. So, starting in mid-August, soldiers from the Greywolf Brigade also became the first to actually fire the damn thing, loosing off the M1A2C's first shot from its main gun on Aug. 18.
But just in case that's not enough firepower for you, take a moment and digest this wonderful slow-motion footage that, posted to Twitter by the 3/8's command sergeant major, captures the main gun firing with delicious effect:
Outfitted with fresh survivability enhancements and a new power system, the SEPv3 purportedly boasts improved main gun accuracy with "smart cannon" munitions programmable over data link and reinforced armor bolstered by a built-in jammer to counter radio-triggered improvised explosive devices.
As of February 2019, the SEPv3 upgrade also included the Israeli-developed Trophy HV hard-kill active protection systems that uses radar to detect incoming missiles and rockets then fires tiny projectiles to intercept them.
According to the Army, the M1A2 SEPv3's full improvements include the following new Joint Tactical radio system, new power generation and distribution systems, line-replaceable modules, and new counter-improvised explosive device (IED) electronic warfare capabilities, among other changes.
“These are lightyears ahead of the tanks we had before,” 3/8 platoon sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Singer said in a July release. “The computer systems in these and the fire-control systems are amazing. You become more lethal, more aggressive, and all aspects of the tanks are better.”
The Army accepted the first of about a half-dozen initial production versions of the M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams back in October 2017. The following year, General Dynamics Land Systems secured an Army contract upgrade 100 Abrams tanks into the new SEPv3 configuration.
"It is a great step forward in reliability, sustainability, protection, and onboard power which positions the Abrams tank and our ABCTs for the future," Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said when the first prototypes rolled off the assembly line in 2017.