M1A2 SEPv4: The future of the US military – The future of the main battle tank in modern warfare is not completely assured. The Russian-Ukrainian war showed that determined infantry loaded with anti-tank guided missiles can stop an armored force in its tracks. That is why it is interesting that the United States is moving forward with another update of the M1A2 Abrams tanks. If Americans don’t believe tanks are obsolete, what does the military have in store for their famous tank?
Watch out for M1A2 SEPv4
The latest update for Abrams is M1A2 SEP version 4 (SEPv4). SEP stands for System Enhancement Package and this program will be quite an enhancement for the vehicle. The Abrams have always been adept at identifying targets. Now, a third-generation infrared (FLIR) system will greatly improve this target acquisition process. This will use a color camera and the commander will have an optimized laser sight.
Why not add artificial intelligence?
The Army has implemented a forward-looking defense acquisition method for SEPv4. It leaves new features open to transition to future technology development, such as tanks using artificial intelligence and machine learning that could provide even more fascinating upgrades such as better sensors and the active protection system. improved which I will discuss below.
Improve Kill Chain
The Abrams is probably due to an AI. Tank operations with four- or three-man crews haven’t evolved much over the years in tanks around the world. The tasks of the driver, gunner and tank commander are roughly the same, although the systems have become more advanced. The basic job is still to “detect, identify and engage targets”. Then it’s time for the crew to pick a bullet and laser the target, then lock and load. It takes time and maybe the process could be improved with AI. Instead of the crew focusing on a single hit for a single target, the AI would allow rapid multi-hit salvoes against multiple targets at once.
Earlier technology gave way to advancements
The earlier SEPv3 also used this technology development practice for its upgrades and it gave the tank additional capabilities. “The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 can host any mature technology the military deems operationally relevant. Enhancements focus on increased electrical power margin, vehicle health management systems, integrated protection against improvised explosive devices, a new auxiliary power unit allowing silent monitoring, integrated training and ammunition data link, according to the US Army Acquisition Support Center.
Anti-tank missiles are the problem: M1A2 SEPv4 up to the task
But can the Abrams with all its new systems survive an anti-tank missile? This is the biggest question on the minds of army battle planners preparing the force for armored maneuver warfare in Europe or Asia. The army has already ordered the “Trophy” active anti-tank protection systems under a five-year contract announced in July.
Trophy APS works like this. “By equipping an armored vehicle with a ring of radar antennae scanning threats in all directions. Once an incoming anti-tank missile or even a tank shell is detected, the system tracks the threat and calculates its trajectory. The system fires a shotgun-like pattern of metal to intercept and destroy it, Kyle Mizokami wrote for Popular Mechanics.
The Russians have their own powerful ATGM
The trophy has not yet been battle tested. Sounds like a good idea, but the question remains whether he could respond to a missile being fired in anger. Russia claims its 9M133 Kornet anti-tank model. The Kornet is used in Ukraine. It is laser fired and has a range that dwarfs the Javelin. It can destroy tanks up to 3.4 miles away. The high-explosive anti-tank around the Kornet fires is one of the largest in the area. So Trophy would live up to the Kornet and this “shotgun-like metal model” should work wonders on a future European battlefield.
The various SEP upgrades show that the US military is always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. Anti-tank missiles are the big issue of future warfare. A tank might have all the AI upgrades for precise targeting onboard, but if it can’t defend against a precision-guided missile from the ground or the sky, the whole concept of armored warfare operations for armored brigade combat teams could be defeated.
Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.