Armor: Magic Munitions


July 18, 2011: Israel continues to be in the forefront of 120mm tank gun ammunition technology. This can be seen in the new 120mm APAM-MP-T (M329). It is an anti-personnel and anti-materiel (vehicles or structures) round that has a programmable fuze that allows for air bursts and detonation when close to a moving target (like helicopters). The M329 acts like a high explosive round when fired at buildings or bunkers.

Israel had noted new American 120mm rounds, and used them, but continued to design their own versions, or new types, like the M329. Over the last two decades, there has been a new generation of tank gun ammunition. Some of these American rounds proved very useful in Iraq and Israel. The new shells were better at killing infantry, and destroying bunkers and buildings, rather than destroying tanks. With the end of the Cold War, there has not been a lot of tank-versus-tank combat, and existing anti-tank shells were more than adequate.

In the 1990s, new shells were developed for these new conditions. Older shells were recycled with new features. Thus 19,000 American M830A1 multipurpose 120mm tank gun rounds were modified to become M908 shells. This made them more lethal against bunkers, buildings and unarmored vehicles. In addition, there was the M1028, which is a 120mm shotgun shell (containing 1100 10mm tungsten balls, that can kill or wound at up to 700 meters from the tank), that began production in 2002. This shell, and the M908, were what American M-1 tanks use nearly all the time in Iraq. Israel pioneered both types of tank ammunition, and used their versions heavily in Palestinian areas during the last five years. These two shells make tanks much more useful in urban fighting. Hostile gunmen often take cover in buildings, or trees and crops. The M908 can knock down buildings, and the M1028 can clear out anyone sniping at you from lighter structures or vegetation. The M329 provides even more flexibility for when tanks are not fighting other tanks.



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