Speed Kills: Is the AbramsX the World’s Most Mobile Tank?

Speed Kills: Is the AbramsX the World’s Most Mobile Tank?

 The AbramsX's design massively increases mobility, deployability, and speed for combat maneuvers.


The Army’s conceptual focus for its future main battle tank is centered on finding an optimal balance between survivability in heavy combat and mobility, speed, and lethality. What is the optimal blend that captures the best available protection from heavy enemy attacks while simultaneously leveraging a host of new paradigm-changing technologies in lightweight armor composites, Active Protection Systems, artificial intelligence (AI), electronics, and long-range lethality?

General Dynamics Land Systems’ (GDLS) AbramsX demonstrator is an effort to offer breakthrough pathways and answers to these questions, as it weaves critical heavy armor technologies into a new tank design built with a new generation of GDLS-driven innovations. As an open architecture platform developed with a technical configuration that uses common standards and internet protocol, which GDLS calls “Katalyst,” the AbramsX is intended to be continuously modernized while also bringing paradigm-changing lethality to the current fight. As a result, the AbramsX could address near-term questions about the best technological mix for heavy armored platforms while also evolving in the coming years to adjust to a fast-changing threat environment.


While GDLS has been known for decades for its major combat platforms like the Abrams tanks and the Stryker vehicle, the company has recently stepped up its focus on innovation and internally-funded research and analysis of disruptive or breakthrough technologies. Many of these technologies are built into the AbramsX, senior GDLS weapons developers say, introducing new generations of combat possibilities. The same is true for the StrykerX demonstrator, which GDLS also recently unveiled.

“It’s lower weight, has a much more efficient hybrid electric power pack so you don’t burn as much fuel, and it has an advanced electronic architecture that uses AI and machine learning regarding how the vehicle's subsystems function together,” Tim Reese, director of U.S. business development at GDLS, told the National Interest in an interview. “This is our internal investment and that of our partners; it is not an Army program of record yet. It is a technology demonstrator. We are demonstrating technologies to the Army that we think solve a problem that we have now or provide them with new capability that they don’t have.”

While many of the specifics regarding some technologies built into the AbramsX are not available for security reasons, Reese’s comment about lighter technologies is quite significant, as the AbramsX has the ability to function at sixty tons, roughly twelve tons less than a current upgraded Abrams tank. This massively increases mobility, deployability, and speed for combat maneuvers, but the AbramsX architecture also allows for additional add-on heavy armor protection if a given threat circumstance requires it.

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: Flickr/U.S. Department of Defense.