Armor: April 16, 2003


The realities of combat can drive the ponderous American military's acquisition cycle down from years to weeks. The most-recent example saw the Lima Army Tank Plant shipping 20 sets of steel louvers to Iraq, designed to fit over the vents in the rear of M1A1 tanks and allow sufficient air flow while deflecting missiles or grenades. This was a direct response the 3/7 Cavalry losing two M1A1 tanks to suspected AT-14 "Kornet" Antitank missiles on March 25th. The engineers at Lima immediately began working around the clock to find a "fix" for the weak spot (the exhaust and air intake vents at the rear hull). 

Sand can be just as much of a tank-killer as missiles, but now with the M1 Pulse Jet Air Cleaner, engine filter cleaning happens automatically while the tank is on the move. The filter doesn't have to be changed for months. During Gulf War I, the soldiers had to stop to clean out the air filters on the M1 tanks every 15 miles.

The Minneapolis-based Donaldson Company began building automated air cleaners for Army tanks in 1995 and now makes a filtering machine that constantly removes dirt and dust from M1 tank engines. These turbine-powered filters can suck a substantial amount of sand from a turbine engine in a matter of hours (without requiring a tanker to do the labor). - Adam Geibel


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