AbramsX Unveiled: Evaluating the Hype Surrounding the New Army Tank, Promising Speed, Mobility, and Expeditionary Edge
The AbramsX is a 60-ton offering designed to be a little faster, more mobile, and more expeditionary than the existing Abrams.
AbramsX: Worth It? Many major world powers strive to build the most advanced military equipment.
The main battle tank (MBT) is one of the components each country strives to build as the most powerful, and destructive.
The US Army’s M1A2 Abrams, Israel’s Merkava, Germany’s Leopard 2, and the famous Russian T-14 Armata are all main battle tanks that could compete for the distinction of the best tank in the world.
However, what about an emerging tank that is still in development? It seems General Dynamics Land Systems’ AbramsX could very well be the best tank to ever exist, should it perform as anticipated.
GDLS revealed its AbramsX last Fall at the 2022 Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium as an offering or vehicle for the Army to consider. The forthcoming AbramsX promises to deliver major innovations in MBT warfare.
GDLS developers have explained a number of key elements, including an unmanned turret, the ability to launch drones, fire course-correcting ammunition, operate 360-degree thermal sites, evolving AI-enabled command and control capability, and new generations of sensor data processing and integration.
Next Generation Abrams
The AbramsX is a 60-ton offering designed to be a little faster, more mobile, and more expeditionary than the existing Abrams. The vehicles’s abilities are purported to be something that could massively improve its ability to cross bridges, enter strategically vital passageways, and perhaps keep pace with maneuvering infantry and lighter vehicles on the move. The lighter-weight offering also appears to address ongoing Army concerns about the current Abram tank weight, referring to its 70-ton weight, which could limit the platform’s mobility and deployability to a certain extent.
AbramsX Faster at 60-Tons
While the 70-ton Abrams tanks continue to appear extremely relevant and critical, a 60-ton Abrams such as the “X” would introduce some key advantages for next-generation combat formations.
The 60-ton weight was achieved without compromising the kind of survivability and protection implicitly vital to the Abrams tank. Army and industry developers are increasingly emphasizing “innovation,” meaning efforts to conduct out-of-the-box next-generation research and study to uncover new impactful technologies and areas of “breakthrough” or “disruptive” discovery.
Perhaps this means lighter-weight composites, which are already being integrated in several key places across the force. The technology could include high-resolution sensors that are longer-range and more precise than even the Abrams v4. It is believed that the Abrams X is being engineered with the ability to launch and operate “attack” drones while on the move in combat, which massively expands lethality, forward surveillance, and multi-domain, AI-enabled, networked target data identification and distribution.
The AbramsX is hybrid-electric, a power system that expands operational capacity in a number of respects. A hybrid-electric propulsion system reduces the need for a heavy logistic trail to transport massive amounts of fuel, something that can slow down advancing forces and also creates a vulnerability in terms of sustainment while putting logistical forces at risk of attack.
The Abrams X’s ability to control unmanned systems meets the emerging operational requirements envisioned by the Army, which is to engineer a robotic “ammo” carrying platform to bring supplies, ammunition, and fuel into high-risk forward locations without placing manned crews at risk.
Hybrid electric propulsion also enables “silent watch,” meaning the vehicle can operate at a forward location without emitting a thermal or acoustic signature, which might give away the position to an enemy. Essentially, silent watch allows the sensors and electronics to operate without an acoustic or thermal signature generated by an engine.
Active Protection to Stop RPGs
GDLS is also working with partners to build a “hemispheric” Active Protection System for the tank, designed to detect, track, and intercept or destroy incoming RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. APS systems work with a sensor, computer processor, and fire control system to track an approaching threat and shoot out an “interceptor” capable of destroying an incoming enemy round. Interestingly, the GDLS APS is built with the ability to protect the tank from top-down anti-armor attacks.
While hemispheric APS has always been an ongoing goal for armored vehicles, events in Ukraine undoubtedly influenced or informed GDLS APS, as Ukrainian forces have had great success destroying Russian tanks by firing top-down missile attacks at the more vulnerable “top” part of a tank.
All of these innovations, GDLS developers say, are in large measure being brought to fruition through the use of an IP protocol referred to as “Katalyst,” a technical configuration designed to use open standards to enable or accommodate the addition and integration of new technologies as they emerge.
With “Katalyst,” GDLS and Army developers will be able to use software upgrades to improve sensing resolutions, targeting precision and onboard command and control systems. Katalyst can also support “interfaces” using common, interoperable standards to support information sharing both on the vehicle and among other players throughout multiple domains.