Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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US Army Rushing M1 Abrams Upgrade to Defeat Russia’s T-14 Armata

"Lethal-er" weapon

(Photo : US Army) M1A2 SEP V3, the newest Abrams MBT.

The U.S. Army's venerable M1 Abrams main battle tank that's been in service since 1980 is receiving a ton of upgrades to ensure its battlefield superiority until the 2020s.

The U.S. has produced over 9,000 M1 and M1A1 MBTs over the past three decades. Not included in this total are those of the latest variant, the M1A2. The U.S. Army has no immediate plans of replacing the Abrams and has resorted to what it describes as a series of System Enhanced Packages (SEPs) to upgrade the tank to defeat newer threats.

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The latest SEP, M1A2 SEP V3, was only revealed in October 2015. It's expected enter in service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in 2017.

But even before this deadline, there are now confirmed reports the army is developing the next iteration, M1A2 SEP V4, to take on the challenge posed by Russia's new T-14 Armata. The first Armatas are expected to enter service with the Russian Ground Forces by 2025.

It was only this September the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation signed an order for a pilot batch of more than 100 Armatas that will all be used in field trials. The program to supply the Russian Ground Forces with T-14s was initially planned to begin by 2020, but has been extended until 2025 due to logistics and technical problems and funding shortfalls.

M1A2 SEP V4 is designed to be more lethal; faster; better protected; equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons. 

While the Armata awaits its service debut, the U.S. Army is advancing its latest SEP to counter this Russian tank, among whose features is an active protection system (APS) claimed to be effective against both high-velocity anti-tank rounds and anti-tank guided missiles.

M1A2 SEP V4 will feature advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology.

Slated to being testing in 2021 or four years before Armata enters Russian service, M1A2 SEP V4 will include new laser rangefinder technology; color cameras; integrated on-board networks; ammunition data links and laser warning receivers.

More important, this M1 Abrams variant will be armed with a far more lethal Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) 120 mm tank round. This round combines a variety of different rounds into a single tank round and will replace four rounds now in use.

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