The U.S.’ next-gen AbramsX tanks will feature a hybrid power plant
A next-generation tank of General Dynamics' stable will boast a new hybrid power plant that can deliver the same tactical range while using 50 percent less fuel, a company press release said. Dubbed AbramsX, the next-generation battle tank is a step forward in the U.S. Army's plans to reduce its carbon emissions.
If you were wondering if the mandates to buy electric vehicles apply only to the public and not the military, then you haven't come across the U.S. Army's climate change plan. Earlier this year, Interesting Engineering reported how the U.S. Army plans to reduce its carbon emissions by as much as 50 percent in the next ten years.
It could be expected that the U.S. Army would turn to electric vehicles for all non-tactical operations. However, advances in electric propulsion mean that even tactical vehicles can now afford a switch, even if it is a partial one. In addition to being environmentally friendly, the technology can deliver tactical advantages too.
The Abrams X next-generation tank
The advantage could not be more obvious in the next-generation AbramsX tank that General Dynamics plans to showcase at the U.S. Army's upcoming Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C.
The AbramsX has been equipped with a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system that is expected to deliver substantial fuel savings by halving fuel consumption. The electric propulsion will add silent watch capability to these tanks as well as the option to move silently at low speeds.
In addition to avoiding detection, this newly added capability could also be used by the crew to gain an advantage over opponents. As we have seen in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, tank losses have been particularly high, and the legacy designs are putting large armies at a disadvantage in conflict.
Improvements to the tank
Interestingly, the changes in propulsion are also paving the way for improvements in the tank design. According to The Drive, the most advanced of the Abrams tanks, the M1A2, which is currently in service, weighs over 73 tons, making them difficult to be carried on ships and planes. Calls for reduction of their weight have been reflected in the U.S. Army's call for new Maneuver Support Vessels.
Another approach to get this done has been to reduce the size of the crew on the AbramsX. General Dynamics hasn't yet specified how exactly it plans to do so. However, following the lead of other militaries, it is likely that the AbramsX will use an automated loader instead of deploying a crew member for this task.
Doing so could also help General Dynamics rescale the turret, which could further help in reducing the weight and size of the tank. The renderings shared by the company show an array of cameras around the hull which are likely to deliver 360-degree situational awareness to the crew while inside. The Drive reported that General Dynamics could also use augmented reality (AR) and send the feed from the cameras directly to the visor of a helmet, as used on the F-35s.
Additionally, the hybrid power plant is not limited to the AbramsX but it will also feature on the Stryker family of vehicles in the near future, which will boast a microwave weapon.
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