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The Abrams tank: US heavy metal looks set to roll on for decades (updated 2024)

19th January 2024 - 11:52 GMT | by Damian Kemp in London


A M1A2 live-fire qualification taking place at Pabrade Training Area in Lithuania. (Photo: US DoD)

The Abrams tank has been the mainstay of US battle groups for decades and looks set to continue its substantive role beyond 2050. Further upgrades have been proposed for the in-demand MBT as plans are unveiled for a substantially updated new version.

Since first entering service decades ago, the Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT) has been rebooted and upgraded with improved systems and protection for both US and international forces, in an effort that began in the early 1990s and has now entered a third standard.

MBTs are inclined to be refreshed or taken to a next iteration while retaining a similar design, such as has happened with Leopard, Merkava and Challenger vehicles, as opposed to aircraft or naval vessels which are often new designs and replaced.

Commonly, new armour, control and optical systems, guns and engines are inserted, while the existing

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Damian Kemp


Damian Kemp

Damian Kemp has worked in the defence media for 25 years covering military aircraft, defence …

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