Armor: The M1 Abrams Tank
The Abrams has evolved as tank technology, combat requirements, and enemy tanks have evolved. Introduced with a 105mm main gun with a range of 2,500 meters, the Abrams now fields a 120mm main gun with a range that exceeds 8,000 meters, or 5 miles), along with a package of urban upgrades specifically designed to protect the crew and tank in city fighting.
Specifications & Armaments:
Specifications (Model M1A2, 1992-present)
Weight: 136,00 lbs
Top speed: 42 mph
Range: 240 miles
Crew: 4, Commander-Gunner-Loader-Driver
Armament: Main Gun 120mm, 3 machine guns (.50 cal-commander's hatch, M240-loader's hatch, M240 coaxially mounted next to the Main Gun)
Desert Storm; Iraq, 1991.
The Abrams out-gunned the Iraqi T-72 tanks 2,500 meters to 2,000, resulting on no tank-on-tank losses for the Americans. Of 1,850 Abrams deployed, only 23 Abrams destroyed or damaged, seven were destroyed by friendly fire, with two more purposely destroyed after being disabled.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003-2010.
The Iraqi's were fast learners, and 100+ tanks were destroyed or disabled during OIF. While the Army continued to lose tanks due to friendly fire, the Iraqi's learned to disable an Abrams by firing RPG's at the treads, in the rear engine compartment, and through the thin armor on top of the turret. The majority of the Abrams destroyed or disabled were due to I.E.D.'s the tanks ran over, but by 2005, the introduction of protective armor around the tracks and road wheels known as TUSK (Tanks in Urban Combat) removed most of the threats from fighting inside cities like Ramadi and Fallujah.
In 2010 the Marines sent a tank company to RC-Southwest's Helmand Province to assist in the fight against the heavily defended town of Now Zad. The tanks successfully cleared the minefields and IED belts, making way for the Marine infantry to advance and drive the Taliban out of the very heavily-defended town.
There are only two active-duty tanks fielded today that are equal to the Abrams; the German "Leopard-2", and the British "Challenger-2". All are basically equal in size and weight, although the Abrams is the only one powered by a turbine engine. The Challenger has a rifled Main Gun, giving it a longer range and better accuracy than the Abrams, while the Leopard's diesel engine gives substantially better fuel economy, easier field service, and is slightly faster (45vs 42 mph)
With some 9,000 M1 Abrams tanks built, the United States has the most lethal and mobile armored force in the history of the world. Deliverable by either air or sea, the Abrams can be used to defeat insurgents in urban combat, or opposing tank forces at a distance.