Armor: The End of the Line, For the Moment

Archives

May 11, 2007: While the U.S. Army, and most other armies, wonder what the next generation of tanks will be like, there's a lively business in upgrading existing tanks. All this is happening because the cycle of tank development, that got going during World War II, came to a halt with the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. During that fifty year period, the basic designs of World War II (U.S. M-26, German PzKw V, Russian T-34) evolved into the leading designs of today (U.S. M-1, German Leopard and Russian T-90). The M-1 was the most successful of these, partly because it got lots of combat experience, which the technically superior (according to many) Leopard did not.

There are actually several very different models of the M-1, and that's where all the upgrade potential comes from. The first generation of M-1s, had conventional armor and a 105mm gun. Some 3,200 of these were built between 1980 and 1986. Then came the M-1A1, with its 120mm gun and depleted uranium composite armor. There were several variants of this model built into 1990s, for a total of about 4,500. More were built for Middle Eastern customers (Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), for a total of nearly 9,000 vehicles. Most of the current upgrades are for better fire control and communications systems.

The M-1, and its contemporaries, are the end of the line, for the moment, of practical design ideas for new tanks. There are lots of impractical ideas being proposed. But, basically, none are sufficiently superior to warrant replacing the improved M-1 type tanks now available.

 


Article Archive

Armor: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close