The Abrams Tank's New Advanced Multi-Purpose Round Can Destroy Any Target

The Abrams Tank's New Advanced Multi-Purpose Round Can Destroy Any Target

The AMP round consolidates several types of ammunition into one, allowing gunners to change the loadout with a datalink.

The Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP) round is a tank munition which can be adjusted or programmed by tank gunners to achieve specific attack effects as needed by the mission. The AMP consolidates High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank (MPAT) rounds, canister rounds, and Obstacle Reduction rounds into a single munition using new technology and an advanced ammunition data link. 

Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Vehicles, told the National Interest that the new round is performing well and getting close to entering operational service. 

The round “just went through its initial operational test and came out of it, as far as I understand, with flying colors,” Dean said. “So that capability is going into the force now.” 

The M830 HEAT round and the M830A1 MPAT round are the first two to be consolidated. The M1028 Canister round, which is used to engage and defeat dismounted infantry, is the third one being replaced. The canister round can be used to destroy human-wave assaults with a scattering of small projectiles to increase anti-personnel lethality. The fourth round to be integrated is the M908 Obstacle Reduction round which is designed to destroy large obstacles.

Tank crews are able to choose which round effect to use through an ammunition data link, according to documents from Northrop Grumman. The data link enables “direct communication from the tank fire control to the cartridge chambered in the breach,” Northrop Grumman documents say. It uses a mechanical-electrical interface, and “communication is enabled when the round is chambered and the tank is armed.”

In 2016, then-Lt. Col. Kyle McFarland explained the value of the AMP in an Army press release.

"Right now our crews face the dilemma as they go into combat of deciding what rounds to load in the turret and carry in the gun,” McFarland said. “If they choose wrong, they could have a mismatch between target and ammunition, which will cost them valuable seconds while in enemy contact.”

The AMP round uses airburst technology, meaning it can be programmed to explode at a predetermined point in space. This can be useful should enemy soldiers or vehicles be hidden behind cover. The specific distance can be determined with a laser rangefinder, and the round is set with a variable fuse to explode after a specific number of rotations. Using this data, a computer can determine the exact distance to a target.

Northrop documents also explain a “Point Detonate” round, where the AMP round is set to explode upon impact. The “Point Detonate” round can breach walls and penetrate up to eight inches of concrete. The fuse can also create a “point delay” effect, setting the fuse to explode after penetrating a target’s exterior.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. 

Image: U.S. Army Flickr.