Army Analyzes Next-Generation Abrams Tanks for 2030 with the AbamsX

By Kris Osborn, President, Center for Military Modernization

(Washington D.C.) The Army may have yet to determine specifics or its particular future plan for tank-like “heavy armor” and the emerging concepts for its “Optionally Manned Tank” program, there does appear to be widespread consensus that the Abrams tank is not likely to go anywhere soon … at least not in the immediate years.

Abrams Tanks

The Abrams has in recent years received so many paradigm-changing upgrades that the platform is essentially an entirely new weapons system when compared with its inception years ago. Today’s v3 Abrams and the emerging v4 variant are engineered with a new generation of Forward-Looking-Infrared FLIR targeting thermal sights, ammunition data links, on-board computing, networking and electricity generation along with an ability to operate unmanned systems and fire new, highly efficient Advanced Multi-Purpose Ammunition. These v3 and v4 Abrams are complimented, one might say, by the Army’s now conceptual Optionally Manned Tank program, a developmental effort now exploring future tank or “tank-like” platform concepts expected to surge into a new phase as soon as this year, Senior Army weapon developers have said.

Three high-density darts with impact fuses and explosive warheads form part of each missile to ensure multiple impacts on the target. As the second stage of the engine burns out, the darts are released.

Missiles have a range of 1500 to 5500 meters and are capable of destroying even the most powerful low-flying aircraft. These missiles have a service ceiling of 1000 meters. The Starstreak HVM uses a semi-automatic line-of-sight laser beam riding guidance system. Missiles are guided on target by the operator, who uses an optically stabilized sight to track the target.

Starstreak missiles can hit ground targets as well. Darts are thought to have enough kinetic force to pierce the front armor of an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).

The launchers hold eight ready-to-fire missiles, with up to 12 recharge missiles stowed inside the hull. The Starstreak missiles are also launched from a three-round lightweight launcher as well as a man-portable shoulder launcher.

For target recognition and prioritization, the vehicle incorporates a roof-mounted panoramic weapon sight and an air defense alerting mechanism. The Stormer air defense system can engage targets quickly and has a high hit rate.

Stormers have been steadily deactivated since 2009, according to UK MoD sources, primarily because the fear of an airborne strike on Western forces has almost completely vanished.

At a time when the Russian troops are hell-bent on delivering a decisive blow to seize the entire Donbas region from Ukraine, enhanced firepower and ease of launch could prove to be a boon for the defending troops that have so far made incredible use of the anti-aircraft missiles against the advanced Russian forces.

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