Armor: TUSK Kits Off to Iraq


May 16, 2007: Two years after it was first proposed, the U.S. Army is shipping TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) to Iraq. The kit is a collection of additional features for M1 tanks, which make them more effective when fighting in urban areas. Many of the items in TUSK have been added to tanks over the last two years, as they became available.

The upgrades include armored shields, for the 7.62mm machine-gun on the top of the turret. This machine-gun is normally operated by the 120mm gun loader. The tank commander operates the other gun up top, a .50 caliber machine-gun. The gun shield is transparent ballistic glass, so the loader doesn't have his vision blocked. This is important for street fighting.

The loaders machine-gun is also equipped with a thermal sight, making it more deadly at night. There is also a .50 caliber machine-gun being mounted on the main gun, so the 120mm fire control system can be used to fire the machine-gun, instead of 120mm shells.

Other components of TUSK are reactive armor panels for the side and rear of the tank, to provide added protection from RPGs. There is also slat armor panel protecting the engine exhaust outlet of the tank from RPGs. There is also a 1.5 ton belly armor kit, which can be installed in two hours, and provides additional protection from mines and large bombs. Enhancements are provided night vision of crew members. There is also a telephone added to the side of the tank, so that infantry can more easily communicate with the crew when the crew are all inside the tank. The current TUSK kit costs about $400,000 each and takes about twelve hours to install.

Additional TUSK items are in the works, like a rear-view camera for the driver and CROWS, a system that allows the commanders .50 caliber machine-un to be operated remotely, while the tank commander is inside the turret. This is particularly useful if the tank is taking a lot of small arms fire.


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