Military Review

M1 Abrams Block III Project (USA)

In the early eighties, the Pentagon began a research program aimed at creating promising equipment for the ground forces. It was supposed to create several new combat vehicles for various purposes, including the main tank. The tank, developed as part of the new program, was supposed to be a replacement for existing M1 Abrams combat vehicles. It was assumed that the first production Tanks The new model will enter the troops around the mid-nineties.

The aim of the project, which received the designation M1 Abrams Block III, was to create a promising main tank, which in its characteristics surpasses the existing equipment of this class. As the main methods of improving the characteristics, a new layout of the internal volumes of the corps, an uninhabited fighting compartment with an automatic weapon system, as well as the use of a number of new units of the power plant and electronic equipment were called. In addition, it was assumed that in the design of the new armored vehicle some units of existing tanks would be used, with the help of which it would be possible to simplify and cheapen the production of promising technology.

The main tank M1 Abrams Block III, as conceived by the designers of General Dynamics Land Systems, was supposed to have a radically new layout for American tank building. To increase the level of protection, it was proposed to increase the thickness of the upper front part of the body, as well as place it at a large angle to the vertical. Such an arrangement of the front of the hull made it possible to create a relatively large single volume to accommodate the entire crew. In front of the hull of a prospective tank, it was proposed to place the workplaces of three tankers side by side (commander, driver and gunner). With this, it was possible to improve the layout of the internal volumes of the hull, as well as to increase the level of protection of tankers.

In the middle part of the hull of the new tank should have been placed a tower with a gun, equipped with a set of automation. The latter was supposed to carry out loading and pointing guns at the crew commands. The proposal to create a uninhabited fighting department meant the development of the original automatic loader and a number of other equipment.

M1 Abrams Block III Project (USA)

The engine and transmission were to be placed in the rear of the hull. Such a placement of the power plant was tested in practice and would not require additional research.

In the middle of 1983, the construction of the first experimental machine, the SRV (Surrogate Research Vehicle), was completed. The SRV was designed to explore the new layout of the units inside the tank hull. The main objective of the SRV test was to work out the crew accommodation in a single volume in front of the hull. The basis for the experimental machine SRV was the chassis of the tank M1 Abrams. During the construction of the SRV base body has undergone significant changes. Due to the specific placement of the jobs of the three tankers had to significantly lengthen the front part of the body. The power plant and chassis remained the same. On the pursuit mounted weight imitator turret monitors assembly. According to some reports, the SRV was later equipped with a laser system, which allowed for preliminary studies of the characteristics of the gun.

Tests of the experimental SRV machine allowed to study the pros and cons of accommodating the crew in a single volume. The main advantage of this hull layout was the ability to provide a higher level of crew protection. In addition, the placement of other units was simplified. At the same time, the original location of the tank crews affected the complexity of the onboard equipment: the gunner and the commander needed relatively complex systems to monitor the situation and control the armament. However, these difficulties did not stop the project.

Crew accommodation and automatic loading system XM-91

At the end of testing the experimental machine SRV, the construction of a new prototype started. The basis for the experimental TTB prototype (Tank Test Bed) was the M1 Abrams tank chassis, refined based on the SRV test experience. The TTB machine also had a single volume for the crew in the front of the hull, but differed in units mounted on the tower chase. The new prototype was equipped with a combat module with an uninhabited fighting compartment and a smooth-bore M256 gun of caliber 120 mm installed on the original mounts.

Inside the body of the TTB car were units of automatic loader. 44 unitary projectile was proposed to be placed in a two-row carousel shop with a vertical arrangement of cells. At the command of the crew, the automatics had to remove the projectile of the desired type from the cell and feed it to the loading line.

It was proposed to place a piece of sighting equipment near the weapon. In view of the non-standard accommodation of the crew, a special system had to be developed using video cameras.

TTB prototype tests took place in the late eighties. Verification of the experimental vehicle showed that the proposed concept has great prospects and may be useful for creating new armored vehicles. Nevertheless, it was required to continue research and design work. Some elements of the perspective car needed further refinement.

At one of the stages of the M1 Abrams Block III project, there was a proposal concerning a significant increase in firepower. In the eighties, American gunsmiths worked on the project of a promising smooth-bore gun XM291, which had a caliber 140 mm. The gun itself, an automatic loader for it (XM91) and a family of 140-mm ammunition were developed as part of the ATAC project. Using the XM291 cannon could lead to a significant increase in the combat capabilities of tanks. So, the muzzle energy of the XM291 cannon was about twice that of the M256. In combination with the family of new ammunition, this was to significantly improve the performance of armored vehicles.

Having greater muzzle energy in comparison with the existing weaponsThe XM291 gun was noticeably lighter. The difference in weight XM291 and M259 exceeded 90 kg. The design of the 140-mm guns allowed the replacement of the barrel. After a relatively quick procedure (about an hour), a tank equipped with an XM291 cannon could use standard 120 caliber mm ammunition. Especially for use with this gun was created automatic loader XM91.

The development of the M1 Abrams Block III tank and a promising weapon for it continued until the early nineties. During the project, some success was achieved, and the new tank could get into the troops until the end of the decade. Nevertheless, the political situation in the world affected the fate of the project. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American and European military began to believe that the former potential enemy no longer posed a danger, and therefore reduced the cost of promising projects. A large number of programs were frozen, and some were closed. Among others, the project for the creation of a promising main tank came under reduction.

140-mm gun XM-291, which is part of the ATAS system of the US Army, with a bolt

All work on the M1 Abrams Block III project was suspended and then discontinued. It was decided to further develop the tanks along the path of improving the existing machines of the M1 Abrams family without any major design changes. One result of this approach to upgrading armored vehicles was the cessation of work on the 140-mm XM291 gun. Despite its high characteristics, it did not correspond to the views of the military on the modernization of tanks.

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  1. wanderer_032
    wanderer_032 April 30 2014 09: 18
    Considering that in the "arms race" there was and remains the rivalry of engineers, then of course it could be so that such promising models were created not only by Russian and American engineers, but also by engineers from other countries too.
    It's just that people have experience in operation and use, and they see how to build armored vehicles further.
    And naturally, such ideas arise in what is called parallel. After all, this field of activity in terms of the number of people engaged in the development of new armored vehicles is not so huge and immense.
    The world is small, and the armored world is doubly small. If not more ... laughing
    And who better succeed, this is still a big question ...
    At least everyone knows that in Russia, work on a promising machine is in full swing.
    That the same work is being done in other countries is also beyond doubt.
    It remains to be hoped that our "Armata" will be better, in all respects, more reliable and more inexpensive in cost than a promising MBT of a similar class from other world manufacturers.
    1. cosmos111
      cosmos111 April 30 2014 10: 42
      Quote: wanderer_032

      welcome hi
      It remains to be hoped that our "Armata" will be better, in all respects, more reliable and more inexpensive in cost,

      1. uninhabited tower in MBT, it is very expensive and not reliable (no optical visual channel))))
      2. In Russia there is no equipment and production, devices of "sutational awareness" they simply are NOT !!!!
      Now sanctions, embargoes are imposed on all dual-use equipment (((
      it’s cheaper to continue the Armata project with an inhabited tower, but with the removal of the BK from the fighting compartment ....
      or him, extra protection ....
      we also had a similar project T-95, but it did not receive further development ....
      1. vomag
        vomag April 30 2014 19: 23
        rather project 195 with a light hand, that's the current, I don’t know who the designers or the magazine can become T95 with all due respect hi
  2. tchoni
    tchoni April 30 2014 09: 33
    Particularly pleased with the location of the PTZ cameras with the NVD caterpillar shelves. It seems that when you turn the gun with the barrel down, they will be damaged.
  3. Georgich
    Georgich April 30 2014 10: 56
    From a large-caliber sniper you can shoot at the periscopes, then a bunch of grenades under the harp and on top a couple of cocktails. lol
    1. Klim2011
      Klim2011 April 30 2014 11: 15
      You are going to fight with a submarine
      shoot at periscopes
      with a rifle :)
  4. Klim2011
    Klim2011 April 30 2014 11: 11
    Now, in the event of a failure or failure of the charging machine, the crew is able to solve this problem relatively quickly on their own.
    An uninhabited tower with ammunition should be as isolated from the crew as possible (it should be in an armored capsule) in which case access to the AZ will be difficult or impossible?
    If so, then the "hero's hatch" should be in triplicate and not in one as now
    1. Argon
      Argon April 30 2014 15: 37
      The ammunition load in the turret is definitely a regressive step - it forces us to increase the booked volume, thereby increasing the mass of the vehicle and, accordingly, its cost. At the same time (as practice shows), the protection of the ammunition itself sharply decreases. At the same time, the consequences of its detonation differ little in their effect on the crew. from the place of its storage (taking into account the presence of high-explosive shells). In Chechnya, the tank was undermined by 2-3 152mm shells (land mine with radiodetonate), which were detonated generally outside the vehicle, at a distance of up to 1m from it. Thus, it is more rational to deal with the probability of detonation BC, than with its consequences, while this (presented in the article) layout is the most optimal, since it allows you to significantly increase the security of the "elevator" of the AZ.
  5. basil200
    basil200 April 30 2014 11: 26
    And where is the black man, how did they abandon the black man, yes this is racism
  6. vomag
    vomag April 30 2014 11: 53
    I don’t know about you, but to me the "black eagle" (at which640) seemed more promising was it not T95
    1. Tan4ik
      Tan4ik April 30 2014 16: 16
      Do you want to reveal a secret? It is the same...
      1. SAG
        SAG April 30 2014 23: 28
        Well, since you understand tanks at the "all the same" level, I would venture to suggest that a charming blonde named Tanya is hiding under the nickname Tan4ik?!?!
        P / S: I'm joking like that, no offense! wink hi
  7. vomag
    vomag April 30 2014 18: 37
    That current doesn’t need la-la under the T95 code, a completely different machine passes .... although though for such clever men everything is the same ...
  8. The comment was deleted.
  9. discripter
    discripter 1 May 2014 11: 51
    But when to make fittings, if they are to be made, they will shout at all the Russian zombie boxes about "having no analogue in the world" laughing laughter and only))
  10. dzau
    dzau 2 May 2014 04: 27
    They’ll come to this anyway.

    Even if the "Armata" in the early modifications turns out to be unsuccessful and cactus-like, the development is necessary, the road will be mastered by the walking one.
  11. Morglenn
    Morglenn 5 May 2014 23: 41
  12. Sergei75
    Sergei75 1 July 2014 00: 22
    And why not foresee the location of the engine compartment in front in "Armata", because such an arrangement increases the protection of the crew, facilitates the loading of ammunition, will allow making heavy transporters on this platform, etc.
    And what other automatic loaders are there besides those used on the t-64 and t-72?