Modernization Madness: New Abrams v3 Tank Upgrades Have Arrived

Modernization Madness: New Abrams v3 Tank Upgrades Have Arrived

The arrival of the new M1A2 SEP v3 signifies a milestone when it comes to Abrams modernization.


The long-awaited next-generation Abrams tank variant is now operational with Army units. The arrival of the M1A2 SEP v3 Abrams is a substantial step forward into a new era of modern warfare defined by advanced threats, a more dispersed battlefield, and a growing number of multi-domain challenges. 

Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Vehicles, told the National Interest that v3 tanks are now operational with Army units. 


The M1A2 SEP v3 brings a new high-resolution display for gunner and commander stations and new electronic Line Replaceable Units. It also features a driver’s control panel and a turret control unit. The new variant initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare weapons, such as the Counter Remote-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device-Electronic Warfare (CREW). Ethernet cables are also included to better network vehicle sensors together.

One of the signature elements of the v3 pertains to longer-range, higher-resolution thermal sights for finding otherwise unreachable targets. This is a crucial area of innovation for the Army, as many are likely to remember stories from famous Gulf War tank battles. Abrams tanks were able destroy Iraqi T-72s at standoff ranges. This greatly contributed to U.S. victories. 

The arrival of the new v3 signifies a milestone when it comes to Abrams modernization. Many senior Army weapons developers maintain the tank has been upgraded so many times that it will remain viable for years into the future. Army weapons experts have made many adjustments over the years to address, mitigate, and overcome what could have been seen as limiting factors in prior years. Advanced navigational technology such as mapping, sensing and multi-node networking have improved the tank’s ability to maneuver and find optimal points of entry in seemingly inaccessible close-quarter urban areas. Should a bridge or narrow area present restrictions for an Abrams, advanced networking, for location data and mapping might quickly calculate new alternative transport routes.

Abrams tank gunners will now operate with new, streamlined, and highly-efficient attack options with the arrival of a next-generation 120mm adjustable cannon round able to combine several different rounds into a single munition. The Abrams also has an Auxiliary Power Unit designed to introduce more on-board power to support new electronics, computing, sensors, and electronic warfare technology. 

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: Reuters.