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The M1A1/2 Abrams main battle tank is manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). The first M1 tank was produced in 1978, the M1A1 in 1985 and the M1A2 in 1986. 3,273 M1 tanks were produced for the US Army. 4,796 M1A1 tanks were built for the US Army, 221 for the US Marines and 555 co-produced with Egypt. Egypt has ordered a further 200 M1A1 tanks with production to continue to 2005. 77 M1A2 tanks have been built for the US Army, 315 for Saudi Arabia and 218 for Kuwait. For the M1A2 Upgrade Program, over 600 M1 Abrams tanks are being upgraded to M1A2 configuration. Deliveries began in 1998.


In February 2001, GDLS were contracted to supply 240 M1A2 tanks with a system enhancement package (SEP) by 2004. The M1A2 SEP contains an embedded version of the US Army's Force XXI command and control architecture; new Raytheon Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) with second generation thermal imager; commander's display for digital colour terrain maps; DRS Techologies second generation GEN II TIS thermal imaging gunnerís sight with increased range; driver's integrated display and thermal management system. The US Army planned to procure a total of 1150 M1A2 SEP tanks but the US Army has decided to cancel future production of the M1A2 SEP from FY2004.

Under the Firepower Enhancement Package (FEP), DRS Techologies has also been awarded a contract for the GEN II TIS to upgrade US Marine Corps M1A1 tanks. GEN II TIS is based on the 480 x 4 SADA (Standard Advanced Dewar Assembly) detector.


The main armament is the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, developed by Rheinmetall GmbH of Germany. The 120mm gun fires the following ammunition: the M865 TPCSDS-T and M831 TP-T training rounds, the M8300 HEAT-MP-T and the M829 APFSDS-T which includes a depleted uranium penetrator. Textron Systems provides the Cadillac Gage gun turret drive stabilisation system.

The commander has a 12.7mm Browning M2 machine gun and the loader has a 7.62mm M240 machine gun. A 7.62mm M240 machine gun is also mounted coaxially on the right hand side of the main armament.


The M1A1 tank incorporates steel encased depleted uranium armour. Armour bulkheads separate the crew compartment from the fuel tanks. The top panels of the tank are designed to blow outwards in the event of penetration by a HEAT projectile. The tank is protected against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare.

One L8A1 six-barrelled smoke grenade discharger is fitted on each side of the turret. A smoke screen can also be laid by an engine operated system.


The commander's station is equipped with six periscopes, providing 360 degree view. The Raytheon Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) provides the commander with independent stabilised day and night vision with a 360 degree view, automatic sector scanning, automatic target cueing of the gunner's sight and back-up fire control.

The M1A2 Abrams tank has a two-axis Raytheon Gunner's Primary Sight- Line of Sight (GPS-LOS) which increases the first round hit probability by providing faster target acquisition and improved gun pointing. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) has magnification x10 narrow field of view and x3 wide field of view. The thermal image is displayed in the eyepiece of the gunner's sight together with the range measurement from a laser rangefinder. The Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) Laser Systems Eyesafe Laser Rangefinder (ELRF) has a range accuracy to within 10m and target discrimination of 20m. The gunner also has a Kollmorgen Model 939 auxiliary sight with magnification x8 and field of view 8 degrees.

The digital fire control computer is supplied by General Dynamics - Canada (formerly Computing Devices Canada). The fire control computer automatically calculates the fire control solution based on: lead angle measurement; bend of the gun measured by the muzzle reference system; velocity measurement from a wind sensor on the roof of the turret; data from a pendulum static cant sensor located at the centre of the turret roof. The operator manually inputs data on ammunition type, temperature, and barometric pressure.

The driver has either three observation periscopes or two periscopes on either side and a central image intensifying periscope for night vision. The periscopes provide 120 degrees field of view. The DRS Technologies Driver's Vision Enhancer (DVE), AN/VSS-5, is based on a 328 x 245 element uncooled infrared detector array, operating in the 7.5 to 13 micron waveband. A Raytheon Driver's Thermal Viewer, AN/VAS-3, is installed on the M1A2 Abrams tanks for Kuwait.


The M1 is equipped with a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine. The Allison X-1100-3B transmission provides four forward and two reverse gears. The US Army has selected Honeywell International Engines and Systems and General Electric to develop a new LV100-5 gas turbine engine for the M1A2. The new engine is lighter and smaller with rapid acceleration, quieter running and no visible exhaust.

Crew  4 - driver, commander, gunner, loader 
Weight  69.54 tons 
Length with gun forward  387 inches 
Turret height  93.5 inches 
Width  144 inches 
Ground clearance  19 inches 
Ground pressure  15.4 p.s.i. 
Propulsion  Gas turbine engine, 1500 horsepower 
Transmission  Hydrokinetic transmission, 4 forward gears, 2 reverse gears 
Power-to-weight ratio  21.6 hp/ton 
Maximum governed speed  42 m.p.h. 
Speed cross country  30 m.p.h. 
Speed, 10% slope  17 m.p.h. 
Speed 60% slope  4.1 m.p.h. 
Acceleration  0 to 20 m.p.h. in 7.2 seconds 
Range  265 miles cruising 
Obstacle crossing   
Vertical  42 inches 
Trench  9 feet 
Main armament  120 mm smooth bore cannon, M256 
Coaxial Weapon  7.62 mm machine gun, M240 
Loader's Weapon  7.62 mm machine gun, M240, on Skate mount 
Commander's weapon  0.50 calibre machine gun, M2, on powered rotary platform 
NBC protection:  200 SCFM, clean cooled air