Main battle tank M1A2 "Abrams" serial production began in year 1992. Nowadays M1A2 is one of the best main battle tanks of the world. In year 1998 "Military Ordnance" magazine placed M1A2 in the second place of the best main battle tanks of the world. Then M1A2 was surpassed only by German "Leopard 2A5". Magazine paid attention to mobility, firepower and defense.
M1A2 is a result of M1A1 modification further development made by "General Dynamics" corporation since year 1988. The main upgrade priority was firstly to improve fire control system.
The main armament is 120-mm M256 smoothbore gun made under German "Rheinmerall" company. M256 combat load consists from unitary load with two main type projectiles: M827 undercaliber armor-piercing, with separating case and wolfram or percipient uranium heads; M830 multipurpose cumulative and high explosion-fragmentation projectiles. Furthermore there is a number of training projectiles. Every M1A1 projectile has flame able body and steel ground case. In case of greater dimension main gun’s rear part and projectiles, combat load was decreased to 40 from 55 used in M1 main battle tank. Armament load is placed in special built armed combat load compartment. Main gun is fitted with ejector and thermo sleeve body. Ammunition load compartment is separated from crew with armored screens. Ammunition load compartment has it's own hatch used to load ammunition storage. Furthermore it has special construction which blows off hatch and releases explosion energy threw it saving crew members, in case of direct hit into ammunition storage.
Additional armament consists from 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun, one more similar machine gun placed in front of the loader and 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun placed in front of tank's commander hatch. Last mentioned has ability to fire with closed hatch, using telescopic sight. Thermo smoke equipment operated by engine and L8A1 six-barrel smoke grenade launchers from each side.
M1A2 has multi-layered armor similar to British "Chobhem". Hull and turret frontal armor is increased with precipitant uranium plates. Further armor defense was increased by wider usage of precipitant uranium and anti-cumulative screens placed on turret roof as well. Tank's weight increased in 1.5 t comparing with M1A1. Hull and turret frontal armor has projectile resistance in 700 mm and anti-cumulative in 850 mm.
Fire control system efficiency was increased by integrating earlier used and new systems and devices into common board information system IVIS which was planned to add with navigational system NAVSTAR-JRS and automatic search, notifying and target recognition complex MTAS.
Raytheon Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) provides the commander with independent stabilised day and night vision with a 360 degree view, automatic sector scanning, automatic target cueing of the gunner's sight and back-up fire control.
Driver-mechanic was fitted with modernised observation devices. In stead of infrared night vision observation device there is used thermovision observation device. Driver has either three observation periscopes or two periscopes on either side and a central image intensifying periscope for night vision. The periscopes provide 120 degree view. The Raytheon Driver's Vision Enhancer (DVE), AN/VSS-5, is based on a 328 x 245 element uncooled infrared detector array, operating in the 7.5 to 13 micron waveband. A Raytheon Driver's Thermal Viewer, AN/VAS-3, is installed on the M1A2 Abrams tanks for Kuwait.
The M1A2 Abrams tank has a two-planes Raytheon Gunner's Primary Sight- Line of Sight (GPS-LOS) which increases the first projectile hit probability by providing faster target acquisition and improved gun pointing. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) has magnification x10 narrow field of view and x3 wide field of view. The thermal image is displayed in the eyepiece of the gunner's sight together with the range measurement from a laser rangefinder.
M1A2 "Abrams" digital fire control computer is supplied by Computing Devices Canada. The fire control computer automatically calculates the fire control solution based on: lead angle measurement; bend of the gun measured by the muzzle reference system; velocity measurement from a wind sensor on the roof of the turret; data from a pendulum static cant sensor located at the centre of the turret roof. The operator manually inputs data on ammunition type, temperature, and barometric pressure. Furthermore new ballistic computer has increased operative memory comparing with one used on M1A1. "Litton Laser Systems" Eye safe Laser Rangefinder (ELRF), based on carbonic dioxide provide better range accuracy to within 10 m and target discrimination of 20 m. The gunner also has a Kollmorgen Model 939 auxiliary sight with magnification x8 and field of view 8 degrees.
M1A2 is fitted with AGT-1500 gas turbine engine. It has service life till major repair in 1 800 working hours or 15 000 km. Tank gas turbines greatly surpass diesel engines in service life which reaches only 600 - 900 working hours. However gas turbine engines have some disadvantages. Firstly they are tenfold more expensive and secondly they use from 20 to 50% more fuel. Engine is multi-fuel and use kerosene, diesel or petrol.
M1A2 mobility decreased comparing with M1A1 of increased weight using the same engine. In this case US Army selected "Honeywell International Engines and Systems" and "General Electric" to develop new LV100-5 gas turbine engine. It is lighter and smaller with rapid acceleration, quieter running and no visible exhaust. Tank reaches 30 km/h speed in 7.2 s and has cross-country speed in 48 km/h Transmission is Allison X-1100-3B. It provides four forward and two reverse gears.
Main battle tank is fitted with Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) protection system. This system provides crew members cleaned coiled air threw breathing masks and increases tank's internal pressure to avoid getting radioactive dust or poison. It is fitted with fire prevention system. M1A2 "Abrams" is also fitted with radiological and chemical reconnaissance equipment, fire prevention system, heater and communication sources.
There was developed M1A2 "Abrams" system enchasing package. "General Dynamics" are contracted to supply 240 M1A2 tanks with a system enhancement package (SEP) containing an embedded version of the US Army's Force XXI command and control architecture; new Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer with second generation thermal imager; commander's display for digital color terrain maps; second generation thermal imaging gunner’s sight with increased range; driver's integrated display and thermal management system. The US Army has plans to procure 1150 M1A2 SEP tanks to be in service by 2004..
Initialy there was intended to order 1 809 main battle tanks M1A2 "Abrams" for US Army. 1079 M1A1 were planed to upgrade to M1A2 level. In period since 1992 to 1993 there was built 621 tank. Successful usage of M1 tanks in "Desert Storm" operation there were built 315 M1A2 for Saudi Arabia (in stead of planned 700), 218 for Kuwait. United Arabian Emirates decided to purchase 337 tanks.