M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank

Product Type:

Main Battle Tank

Using Service (US):

Army and Marine Corps (USMC)

Program Status:

Vehicles are being upgraded and modified

Prime Contractor:

General Dynamics

The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank

About the M1 Abrams:

The General Dynamics M1 Abrams is the U.S. Army's main battle tank. The tank is powered by a single Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine with 1,500 hp. The M1, named after General Creighton Abrams, first entered service in 1980 and was produced for the U.S. Army from 1978 until 1992. The M1A1 entered production in 1985 followed by the the M1A2 in 1986. Since then, the Army has modernized its M1 inventory with a series of upgrades to improve the tank's capabilities. More information about the Abrams upgrade/modification programs following below.

In total, 8,367 (3,273x M1 + 5,017x M1A1 + 77x M1A2) Abrams tanks were produced for the U.S. military. Foreign users include Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The M1 Abrams has a crew of four: driver, commander, gunner, and ammunition loader. The driver sits at the front of the tank inside the hull, while the commander stands inside the rotating turret. The gunner sits at his feet. Armored bulkheads separate the fuel tanks from the crew compartment.

The M1 is equipped with a laser range finder from Litton (now Northrop Grumman), which detects the targets position. The onboard fire control computer detects the elevation and angle of the gun + velocity. The Abrams can hit up to six targets per minute at distances of up to 2.5 miles (4 km) away. The M1A1 is fitted with steel encased depleted uranium armor.

The Abrams can be transported by the C-17 Globemaster III (carries one) and the C-5 Galaxy/Super Galaxy (carries two).

Abrams tanks can be fitted with TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit), which is a series of improvements to the M1 Abrams intended to improve the vehicle's fighting ability in urban environments. Historically, urban and other close battlefields have proven to be the worst place for tanks to fight. TUSK provides add-on reactive armor tiles to protect against RRPGs and other shaped charge warheads. Also, a Transparent Armor Gun Shield (TAGS) and a thermal sight system are added to the loader's top-mounted M240 7.62 mm machine gun as well as a remote weapon turret from Kongsberg Gruppen carrying a .50 caliber machine gun is in place of the tank commander's original .50 caliber machine gun mount. Other TUSK equipment include a tank infantry phone (TIP), which is an exterior telephone that allows supporting infantry to communicate with the tank commander. The TUSK is a field-installable kit that allows tanks to be easily upgraded. TUSK entered service on M1A1/M1A2 tanks in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) M1 Abrams tank modernization effort supports two Abrams variants, the M1A1 Situational Awareness (SA) and the M1A2 System Enhancement Program (SEP). The M1A1 SA modernization provides steel encased depleted uranium for increased frontal and turret side armor protection; suspension improvements; an advanced computer system with embedded diagnostics; a second generation thermal sensor; and a laser rangefinder to designate targets from increased distances. The M1A2 Abrams SEP modernization installs an independent thermal weapons station; position navigation equipment; improved fire control system; improved frontal and side armor for enhanced crew survivability; an upgraded transmission for improved automotive reliability and durability; and an improved AGT1500 engine.

During operation Desert Storm, 2,000 M1 Abrams tanks were used. The M1 proved vastly superior and not a single tank was destroyed by enemy fire.


The M1A2 Abrams is equipped with a 120mm XM256 smooth bore cannon (main gun) from Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, two M240 7.62mm machine guns, and a single M2 Browning .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine gun for the tank commander. For more detail, see specifications at the end of this page.


The M1A2 Abrams serves as the U.S. Army's main battle tank and provides mobile and protected firepower for battlefield superiority against heavy armor forces.

FY 2014 M1 Abrams DoD Program:

Upgrade Program: FY 2014 provides $90.0 million for M1 Abrams Upgrades.

Modification Program: FY 2014 procurement funds in the amount of $178.1 million supports the continued need to maintain the armor facility at a sustainable level.

FY 2015 M1 Abrams DoD Program:

Upgrade Program: No FY 2015 funding has been allocated for M1 Upgrades. For more information, click to see the FY 2015 M1 Abrams Upgrade Budget.

Modification Program: FY 2015 procurement funds in the amount of $237.0 million support the purchase and field application of the following: Blue Force Tracking 2 to enable network interoperability and resolve electronic obsolescence; Direct Support Electrical System Test Sets (DSESTS) and upgrades to Training Aids, Devices, Simulators and Simulations (TADSS). Funding will continue the support of the Total Integrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) and Transmission Enterprise programs, which provide more reliability, durability, and a single standard for the vehicle's power train. This funding supports the continued need to maintain the armor facility at a sustainable level and minimizes the loss of skilled labor as well as optimizing the production facility to support the start of the future production to produce efficiently at low volumes. For more information, click to see the FY 2015 M1 Abrams Modification Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), General Dynamics and Honeywell.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: June 4, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:

General Dynamics: M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank
General Dynamics: M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank

Honeywell: AGT1500 Gas Turbine Engine

YouTube: M1 Abrams Tank | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: GDLS M1A1 Abrams
Fact Sheet: GDLS M1A2 Abrams

M1 Abrams U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the M1 Abrams Tank in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Upgrades of the M1 Abrams Tanks in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the M1 Abrams Tank

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

M1 Abrams Tank (Upgrade) Modification of M1 Abrams Tanks

Specifications: M1A2 Abrams SEP

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Primary Function: Main battle tank
Prime Contractor: General Dynamics Land Systems
Power Plant: 1x Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine with 1,500 hp
Transmission: Allison X-1100-3B hydro kinetic transmission - 4 forward speeds and 2 reverse
Length: 32.3 ft (9.83 m) from rear to tip of forward gun
Height: 7.8 ft (2.37 m)
Width: 12 ft (3.66 m)
Max Trench Crossing: 9 ft (2.74 m)
Weight: 69.5 tons (63.1 metric tons)
Power-to-Weight Ratio: 21.57 hp/ton (23.78 hp/metric ton)
Speed: Max: 42 mph (67.6 km/h); Cross Country: 30 mph (48.6 km/h)
Acceleration: 0-32 mph (0-51.5 km/h) in 7 Seconds
Range: 265 miles (426 km)
Effective Range (Gun): 13,000 ft (4,000 meters)
Crew: Four
Price/Unit Cost:
M1A1 New Build: $2.9 million (FY 1993 constant dollars)
$8.98 million (M1A1 to M1A2 SEP upgrade cost)
Deployed: 1980

1x Rheinmetall 120mm XM256 smooth bore cannon (primary gun);
2x M240 7.62mm machine gun;
1x M2 Browning .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine gun (tank commander's Weapon)

Ammunition Storage: 42x 120mm; 11,400x 7.62mm; 900x .50 cal (12.7mm); 32x Screening Grenades; 210x 5.56mm

Defense Program

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