August 17, 2007: The impressive performance of the
U.S. M-1 tank in Iraq has prompted to U.S. Army to scrap plans to retire the
M-1, and replace it with a radical new FCS (Future Combat System) design. None
of the proposed FCS designs showed much potential, especially compared to how
well the M-1 was doing. So now there's an M1A3 version of the M1 in the works.
This would be a radical upgrade, compared to previous ones. It would even be
possible to make the 62 ton M-1A2 a few tons lighter. This would involve a
lightweight 120mm gun, which would allow for the installation of an autoloader,
new fiber optic wiring, and new (and lighter) armor. A new engine and running
gear would also save weight. The M-1A3 might get down to 55 tons, or less.
But the most important changes would be the new
computers, communication, sensors and navigation gear intended for the
unrealized FCS tank. The FCS vehicle was to use new heavy weapons, that fire
guided projectiles to a range of 12 kilometers. These can also be mounted in
There would be no new tanks built, just upgrades of
existing ones. Nearly 9,000 M-1s were manufactured during the 1980s and 90s.
The U.S. Army and Marines only use about 1,600 now, with foreign operators
accounting for another 1,500. So there are plenty of older M-1s in storage,
ready for upgrading. The M-1A3 could remain in service for another forty years