Upgrades continue amid questions about armor’s future

Upgrades continue amid questions about armor’s future

The Army won’t be sized for big-time wars anymore. American units are going to begin coming home from Europe. There’s a food fight in the works over what roles and missions, including heavy units, sluice down into the Guard and Reserves.

But all that stuff is tomorrow or beyond. Today, the Army is making hay while the sun shines — it’s going forward with its plan to continue improving its flaship M1 Abrams main battle tank.

On Friday, General Dynamics Land Systems announced it had received a $60 million contract to continue work upgrading the Army’s M1A1-variant Abrams tanks to the M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) V2 configuration — the king of the jungle. Here’s how GD described them in its announcement:

The most technologically advanced digital tank, the M1A2 SEP V2 includes improved color displays, day and night thermal sights, commander remote operated weapon station (CROWS II), a Thermal Management System (TMS) and a tank-infantry phone.  The M1A2 SEP V2 maximizes the fighting ability of the tank on today’s battlefield while preparing the platform for tomorrow’s challenges. The original order was made under a multi-year contract awarded in February 2008, which authorized the upgrade of 435 M1A1 tanks that have been in the Army’s inventory for more than 20 years.  General Dynamics is continuing the conversion of the tanks in the Army’s active component to the M1A2 SEP V2 configuration.

The question about where those tanks will ultimately end up could become one of DoD’s central questions over the coming year. Everybody loves big, heavy, old-fashioned, rolling-thunder units, ripping up the mud with their treads and shooting the hell out of their targets downrange, but they could start to seem pretty expensive in the austerity Army. There’s a school of thought, broached at last year’s Association of the United States Army trade show and elsewhere, that the Army should move many or most of its active tank units into the Guard and Reserves.

In keeping with the new doctrine of “reversibility,” transferring heavy brigades to the reserve component is the best compromise under the circumstances, advocates might say. If the United States needs to go fight another major land war — which Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey seems to think is quite possible — it will be able to call up heavy units just in case. They won’t be ready as quickly as they might be today, but at least they’d be there. (Besides, what’re the odds of a big force-on-force armor engagement anytime soon in the 21st century?)

On the other hand, although “reversibility” is the new DoD-level buzzword, the Army-level buzzword has long been “balance.” Dialing back some active brigades to zero is exactly the kind of thing Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Dempsey, during his brief stint as chief, both warned about. The Army has got to be able to keep its ability to do everything, they argue — with a lower end strength, maybe, but at least in proportion to the rest of the service.

The answers aren’t at all clear, but with hundreds of billions in reduced budget growth hanging over its head, the Army may not have much longer before it must start deciding.

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Tanks are one of those items which is a force multiplier. A single modern MBT usually carries the equivalent firepower to what an entire company of heavy infantry bring.

The 2006 and 2009 Israeli wars should serve as a prime example to the usefulness of the tank. Even in 2006 in which the tanks were at their weakest point, they still a huge job and got away relatively unscathed (despite the panic of the mass media at the time).

The real crime is that the U.S. has been putting of upgrading its tanks with TROPHY for too long despite the 100% success rating it has had in both the U.S. testing and in Israeli combat use. The U.S. could have purchased this system back in 2007 where it would’ve saved countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

M1’s aren’t going anywhere. They are too useful. Upgrading them, vs. developing a new model, is also far more cost effective.

“what’re the odds of a big force-on-force armor engagement anytime soon in the 21st century?”

Once you remove the heavy armor from the active component then you up the odds considerably…a thinking adversary will go after the weak points, not the strong points.

Read more: http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​1​/​0​9​/​u​p​g​r​a​d​e​s​-​c​o​n​tin

So long as any potential foe gets to contemplate the results of the Battle of 73 Easting, and possibilities of facing off against a bunch of technically-current, continuously upgraded M-1s, Id say that the odds of a major tank-on-tank engagement in the immediate future are pretty darned low, unless that foe has attained an as yet undescribed level of egotistic stupidity! On the other hand, if we should stand down the M-1s or fail to keep them abreast of the latest technology, our infantrymen will be needing a LOT more ATGMs, a major infusion of good luck in the unrealistic hopes that no bad guy recognizes the weakness, and, I fear, many more bodybags. But then at least the accountants would be pleased… bodybags are cheap on the quarterly balance sheet when compared to the care and feeding of a heavy armor division.

We need to look at the tank and its system capabilities as part of the overall system of systems — what the Army has referred to as “combined arms” for decades now. The tank by itself has its own set of vulnerabilities — combined with other systems, it is part of the core of a balanced and highly effective fighting force. I would hesitate to use 73 Easting as any kind of paradigm. When you go out on the battlefield and everything goes just right on your end, and everything that could possibly go wrong hits the other side, then you get unbalanced outcomes like 73 Easting. But most battles — even including Desert Storm battles — don’t go that way. Sometimes it pays to be as lucky as you are good. So, yeah — upgrade old Bessie as much as you can. While you are doing that, please explain to me the notion of “day and night thermal sights”. What’s that all about ??

73 Easting is certainly one of those “worst case/best case” scenarios, but the simple idea that I think would get through to even the densest egomaniac is that “it could happen to you!” if you choose to tangle with a heavy armored division equipped with modernized M-1s. That might be a very sobering and thought provoking possibility to all but the most derranged. :-) For the truely derranged, that heavy armored division MIGHT just be need to demonstrate the full range of possibilities INCLUDING, hopefully, many new examples of the 73 Easting case! :-)

Thermal sights are, I believe, useful during the daytime for a variety of purposes, not the least of which would be to recognize “burned out — still hot” or already burning burning tanks. They also tend to work to an extent in a smokey, dusty battlefield where visual sights might not. Could that be the reference?

While Trophy appears to be effective at protecting armored vehicles from RPG and missile attacks, it sure seems like an exaggeration to say it ‘would’ve saved countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan’. How many casualties in those wars were caused by RPG and missile attacks on armored vehicles? Off the top of my head, I believe small arms fire and IED’s are the two leading causes of casualties in those wars, neither of which Trophy would protect troops against. In the meantime there have been upgrades to the vehicles and other equipment used by troops in those areas to protect them from small arms fire and IED’s, and if you instead consider the possibility that a military’s resources to deploy improvements is finite, I wouldn’t reach the conclusion that inaction has cost ‘countless lives’. Rather, it appears that the military’s priorities were not on Trophy, in part because it would not have helped protect troops in recent conflicts as much as other projects that were being undertaken.

The question is where that “heavy armored division equipped with modernized M-1s” is going to be. Ten thousand tanks in CONUS do nothing for Taiwan.

There are only a few hundred tanks in an armored division and the US has no pure armored divisions any more and only a handful of heavy brigades left.

This blog and several others drone on and on about moving some or the majority of the heavy brigades left in the US Army into the Guard or the Reserves. First of all, they will not go to the Army Reserve at all since there are no combat arms units left in the Reserves, only combat service support. Second, the Guard recently divested itself of the majority of it’s heavy brigades because of the Guard is ill prepared to pay for and maintain the vehicles and the Guard often does not have timely access to training areas where combined arms manuevers can take place nor time in their training calendar to train combined arms at any level. With out significantly increasing the funds, maintenance assets, full time personnel and training time available to the Guard, the Army will lose the ability to conduct combined arms operations with heavy brigades if it goes this route. Anyone who knows anything about the Guard will affirm this. Also, heavy brigades have very little utility to the Guard for domestic operations as they are very light on vehicles that can be operated on civilian roadways and domestic civil support is a very important mission for the Guard.

On the positive side, I believe that the infantry divisions (with the exception of the LIGHT infantry) still have organic tank units, just as organic mechanized infantry are merged with the armored divisions. Its just the ratio between tanks and infantry that delineates the designation.

UNLESS, and this is a great big foot stomping, capitalized and emphasized, UNLESS, you can credibly deliver those thousand tanks (or ever how many you might care to consider) to the field of battle!


Shortly after my company transitioned from M60A1 to M60A3 tanks, I lost an 800 meter Table VIII engagement because my gunner was using his daylight optics instead of the thermal sight — it was a hot dusty day at Graf and even though it was an easy first round hit and kill at battlesight range, the big cloud of dust obscured our view long enough for time to expire before I could say “Cease Fire”. We hadn’t quite assimilated the fact that the thermal sight can see through all that dust and detect the target going down. From then on, my sergeants shot ONLY off the thermal sight for that very reason. Thermal imaging technology has come a long way from those first generation sensors, so I’m just asking here…

A “heavy” brigade has four tanks companies and four infantry companies evenly split into two combined arms battalions. Each battalion has about 50 tanks. I think we have around 16 heavy brigades on active duty.

Quite the contrary, I agree that the second biggest (or first depending on who you ask) threat to modern MBT’s is IED’s; the only two Merkava’s that were destroyed in 2006 were by IED’s, one which was over 500KG!

However, limited resources had nothing to do with delaying the TROPHY procurement. The U.S. wanted a natively developed system instead of a foreign system due to pressure by the military-industrial complex, which was called “Quick Kill”. Long story short, it never worked and was cancelled after spending upwards of $70-$100+ Million dollars.

For comparison, that money could have been used to buy nearly 250 Trophy systems, enough to equip nearly a third of all M1A2 SEP’s. Put another way, for the price of one F-35’s lifetime cost you could equip every M1A2 SEP with a Trophy system.

Now in regards to your other points:

IED’s — This is the hardest threat to defeat simply because there is only so much armor or mine systems you can throw on a tank before it hinders the tank itself.

Small arms — Google: Boomerang . There are also a few electro-optical systems (I know a few Israeli one’s) that do it as well, one of which was recently installed on Apache helicopters.

I’m counting seven HBCTs in the current NG force structure. This doesn’t tell us how many NG brigades will eventually adopt a Stryker configuration. There are some cav squadrons out there in the non-HBCT NG brigades, so I would have to ask how that breaks down in terms of armored fighting vehicles (I’m counting the one Armored Cavalry Regiment as equivalent to an HBCT, so the count of tanks in the Reserve Components runs from 350–700. As I’ve said before, proper use of simulation and a training schedule freed from administrative junk time during weekend drills could help mitigate the problem — but that would require a sense of urgency and a focused commitment of capital resources that I did not experience during my time in the active reserve.

Regardless of the reasons Trophy was not deployed, your claim that it “would’ve saved countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan” appears to be hyperbole because RPG and missile attacks on armored vehicles was not a cause of countless casualties in those wars. I certainly never said there were not counters to IED’s and small arms, but Trophy is not one of them.

The Guard BCTs are supposed to be in the same MTOE and configuration as the active ones.

I guess this depends on who’s doing the counting, and how. I Cav looks a lot like an armored division, and 3 and 4 Mech are balanced (what they will do all together with an IBCT, goodness knows). Wikipedia shows a count of 18 heavy brigades in the active force — pretty much all with 100 tanks apiece. So there is your baseline — 18 heavy brigades in the active component and 7 in the reserves. Where this is all going, I guess we’ll see in the next year or so. Personally, I do not like the two maneuver battalion per brigade structure. How the devil do they expect the brigade commander to form the main effort ? You’ve got CAV/RSTA squadrons running around with Bradleys and no tanks. So if you work a one third reduction like Barno talks about, what does that leave you — 12 heavy brigades with two maneuver battalions -> or 8 heavy brigades with three ? Show me the real numbers.

Oops, my math dislexia popped up again. The right number is ~56 tanks per brigade. So the topline in the active force is not 1800 tanks, but ~900. Likewise, you get to 350 tanks in the reservce component topline.

You dont have to look at the Israeli’s to see the Force Multiplying Effects of a Main Battle Tank on any type of battlefied.

The US Marines have successfully exploited the capabilities of the M1 in unique ways in all types of formations.

The Marines have successfully used them as Infantry Support Gun Trucks in Fallujah raids, Conventional Blitz Assault in ’03 OIF, and as an ISR & Long Range “Sniper-Like System” in the Mountains of Afghanistan targeting IED emplacers. They’ve also partnered w/Marine Scout-Sniper teams giving some teams 100+kills in 7mth deployments.

The Idea that there’s no need for the active duty M1 b/c there’s no need to deploy a Heavy Div overlooks the Army’s plans for MODULAR Brigades.

The Marines have shown Task Organized formations to be most effective. But if you dump All active M1 formations you lose the ability to take full advantage of Modularity.

So (I think we’ve done this math once before) with a third reduction in the active force, you get 600 tanks, at 28 per combined arms battalion, somewhere between 20–24 such battalions. In old fashioned ROAD numbers, three heavy divisions. with Stryker and light infantry soaking up the rest of the force structure — with 8 Stryker brigades and 20 light infantry and needing to lose 10 more brigades out of the force structure, you can play the rest of this game yourself. So here is my prediction: 450 tanks in the active force organized in 16 combined arms battalions and in 8 HBCTs — a 56% percent reduction in the heavy force courtesy of the Airborne Ranger Special Forces Fort Benning Rules Club.

It’s 58 tanks in a heavy brigade. There are 16 heavy “modular” brigades, and 2 “legacy” brigades in Europe with one full tank battalion a piece equiavelent to two heavy brigades of tanks. There was an announcement last week that one of those Europe-based brigades is returning to the states in a year or two probably to be inactivated. GEN Odierno hinted that tearing down some BCTs and giving the others a third battalion was on the table.

I see to reasons to keep upgrading. A) No technology available thus it take a step forward (likely) B) HQ is hesitate about needs for next war (not likely)

Not trying to sharpshoot your numbers there, VP. You posted a minute before I did. I think we’re on the same page as far as where these numbers are going.

One of the vehicles that we produced, made work, and made the best in the world. I can’t think of a good reason to ditch them.…

“Quick Kill” wasn’t the result of pressure by the big bad military-industrial (you forgot congressional) complex. Rather it was designed to meet rather complex FCS-related specifications. Trophy, while very capable, didn’t meet all of the requirements.

Of course some of it was NIH syndrome, but there were some valid concerns behind the Army’s requirements for an APS system. To the best of my knowledge “Quick Kill” was progressing along but was cancelled along with the rest of FCS. The biggest problem probably would have been the cost.

Here are the reasons given for Trophy’s cancellation; I will list them with comments and leave it up to you to decide whether there was “pressure” on not to buy TROPHY:

“Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, a top Army acquisition official, testified to Congress that Quick Kill would be ready to “hang on a vehicle in about 2008” and that the Army was already beginning to do integration work to put the system on the Stryker; this was roughly the same time frame as Trophy. Sorenson also said they were concerned about Trophy’s high weight, high power draw, lack of reload capability, lack of 360 degree protection, and higher probability of collateral damage to civilians.”

–Trophy’s high weight = For an MBT this doesn’t matter too much considering the top armor that can be removed instead so you actually save weight. For a vehicle like the Stryker there is also the Trophy Light which was already tested by the U.S. with a 100% success rating on a Stryker; it actually saves weight and space due to the removal of the slat armor that was used against RPG’s.

- High power draw = No idea, can’t be more than other APS systems and is still within the limits of a MBT or Stryker even.

–Lack of reload capability = Trophy has a multiple reload ability with less than a second between engagements.

–Lack of 360 degree protection = Trophy does have 360 degrees protection, no idea where he got this one (*nudge, nudge*).

–Higher probability of collateral damage to civilians = Less than 1% collateral damage due to the shotgun like blast of pellets. If he thought TROPHY can do collateral damage, then he would’ve freaked out about Quick Kills friggin explosion and fragments.

You judge. According to U.S. army tests it passed 100% both times!

I’m a sweet, caring girl , I met my boy-friend, an uniformed-guy working in Air Force, on— s e e k i n g u n i f o r m.c0m –. It’s a 10-year-old club for uniformed personnel finding their intimate lovers. Try to find your uniformed one there!

All of the BCTs are in the Guard. I cannot tell you much about the Army Reserve but the Guard is it’s own animal. All the ACRs are going away and will exist in name only. They will be converted to SBCT or HBCT. There is currently 1 SBCT in the Guard and rumor that another will be stood up but it’s not in any budget I have seen. A Guard SBCT would suffer from all the same ORR problems that a Guard HBCT or even an IBCT does in that they do not have the resources to maintain the vehicles properly. Simulation is great, but it will only take you so far and there is no chance that the time sucking administrative details that eat up IDT weekends will go away, if anything they will increase because they always do.

The IBCT are best suited for the Guard and the Active Army should keeps it’s HBCT if for no other reason it is the one thing that seperates it favorably from the USMC.

Is the M1A3 still under development?

Never say never!

Good Evening Folks,

The US M1A2 is the world proven superior Main Battle Tank. With over 6,500 in inventory and an upgrade process that has already produced enough M1A2 SEP V2’s for an Armored Division the US has the largest modern tank arsenal in the world. With a back up inventory in ready reserve of over 2,500 M-60A3’s Medium Battle Tanks. No other country can even come close to this.

The M-60’s could be sent to countries like Taiwan, Japan or South Korea, who currently operate the M60 Tank rather quickly is times of crisis. China and NKorea might take not of this. The M-60’s would make a short work day out of facing off the Type 056, Type 059 and Type 080 Tanks that make up nearly all of China’s and NKorea’s Tank Forces.

Both China Type 099’s and Russia T-90–2’s are not even near peers to the MiA2’s in either quantity or in battle tested performance. There is no need right now for even thinking about replacements for the M1A2’s.

It is noted that when China and Russia they attempted through Austria to purchase the 120 mm smooth bore gun of the Abrams Tank for their new tanks under development. The purchase was of course blocked by the US, but that shows how respected the Abrams is by the closest peer foes.

Byron Skinner

What “countless lives”? Not a single life, in either Afghanistan or Iraq could have been saved. Do you know why? Because not a single tanker has died to enything Trophy can engage.

If we can figure out a more fuel efficient engine for the Abrams, it could theoretically stick around for decades.

You have a problem with Infantrymen. This is a beancounter pushed initiative coming out of DC and the Pentagon. Check the Infantry hate, leg.

Kristian said it first and hit the nail on the head.

With all respect the Guard even with simulations, is not going to be as capable as McMaster’s company at 73 Easting or let alone prepared to deploy when needed. The 48th BDE out of GA demonstrated that during Desert Storm and in the last ten years NO heavy guard units deployed their heavy equip or fought it to show we’ve learned how.

Moving all armor to the reserves is asking for the next conflict to be a heavy one.

Oh really? Just Google “Stryker hit by RPG”.

A Striker in NOT a tank. This article is about M-1s, the former individual was speaking to Trophy on M-1s, as was I.

Agreed 100%.

And that is because the Abrams has (thankfully) not come up against modern ATGM’s.

Modern top-diving ATGM’s would make life hell for an Abrams. Do you wish to upgrade it to Trophy after get killed from such threats?

We already did but but it died with the Crusader SPH which was to use the same engine.

The FCS NLOS-Cannon was supposed to have a diesel electric engine. It probably wouldn’t have had nearly the same horsepower as the M1’s engine, but I’m hoping somewhere down the road they can make something like that work.

If any one say armored warfare is over I gt beach front property to sell him in Arizona. Fact is with Russia and China selling older tanks cheap threw out the world there will be armored battles maybe not the same as Kursk in WW2 BUT there will be battles the first few months of Iraqi Freedom had tank battles and even a old T-55 can take out a crappy Striker vehicle or Bradly with ease. Even in none tank wars like Afghanistan tanks can save infantry with there firepower the Battle of Wanat would have been costly at all if the Army had M-1s or M-60s with the infantry there.

Regular wars may become rarer than COIN ops but they still happen and armored warfare is one area both the US and Russia have alot more of a advantage over China in land warfare.

Well, I think you should reread what I said, I never stated if the M-1s or other should get Trophy, or some similar system. I only said the statement that Trophy could have “saved countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan” was completely and utterly untrue. I do not know if it was a lie or simply ignorant.

Try ~1,500 M1A2 (SEP) + ~800 M1A1 (AIM) in inventory [when current recapitalization contracts are complete] with another ~2000–2500 M1A1 (not upgraded to M1A2SEP or M1A1AIM standard) in various stages of serviceability & the remainder of the ~7600 M1s built for the US Army rusting away in fields in various stages of disassembly.

And I don’t know where you think there are 2500 M60A3s anywhere near being able to realistically be brought back into service.

But you are correct that there is no real need to worry about a M1 replacement at this time.

The Army hasn’t been sized for big-time wars for over a decade & it sadly appears as if it won’t even be sized for ‘medium-time’ wars until the US Govenment gets its spending priorities straight.

Trophy is not only limited to the M-1; Strykers, Bradley’s, etc. could have also been outfitted with the system.

I’m sorry if my “tanks” statement mislead you, I should have said armored vehicles. I hope this clears it up.

- Weight was a major issue at the time due to the whole greater FCS concept. However, I doubt Quick Kill would have much lighter than Trophy. There are a lot of components to both. I’m not familiar with “Trophy Light” but there must be some sort of trade off compared to the heavier version. Also, you don’t want to remove any roof armor from modern MBTs, they don’t have that much to begin with.

- In terms of power draw I doubt Quick Kill would provide any major benefit. Yet power draw is a concern for vehicle development. Consider upgrades for the Stryker and other vehicles that have focused on increasing power generation due to all of the electronics carried these days.

- Reload capability is one area where Quick Kill had the advantage on paper. While the actual production Trophy system has multiple automated reloads, the number of these is unknown. A typical Quick Kill installation would have probably carried more countermeasures. While Trophy can reload and engage threats very rapidly, Quick Kill had something of an advantage when dealing with a simultaneous attack from multiple threats.

- At the time that statement was made, I don’t believe the Trophy prototypes had that capability. The production system does however. Yet despite the talk of 360 degree protection, I’d question the ability of any existing APS to defeat top-attack munitions like Javelin.

- Both of the systems are far less likely to cause collateral damage than earlier systems like the Russian Drozd tested in Afghanistan in the ‘80s. Both modern ERA and APS are far better than their predecessors in this regard. For all intents and purposes I’d rate Quick Kill and Trophy as equals here.

Both systems had their advantages and disadvantages. At the time, Quick Kill seemed better suited to eventually be able to defeat tank-fired APFSDS munitions. Trophy however has proven much easier to integrate onto current vehicles. Yet when this controversy occurred back in 2006 or so, Trophy was still in development. For a variety of reasons it was infeasible for the Army to adopt it. At the time, Quick Kill promised better capabilities and it was a key component of the active defense suite planned for the FCS MGVs. The desire of Army leadership to protect the FCS program was probably the greatest factor in their decision.

Today I think it would be an excellent move to adopt Trophy for future upgrades of the Abrams, Stryker, and Bradley. Yet we should still innovate, develop, and investigate other hard-kill active protection systems. There are many different concepts for “kill mechanisms”/countermeasures, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

I think you’re overestimating our reserve of M60A3 main battle tanks. We have lots of Abrams (of all variants, many still non-upgraded M1A1s) around. Yet I believe most of our M60A1/A3s have already been sold, scrapped, or thrown into the ocean as artificial reefs.

North Korean armor is woefully outdated by American and South Korean armor, but the greatest threat is their sheer volume of artillery and their craziness combined with nuclear weapons.

Not all that much information is available (at least publicly) about recent Chinese armor development, but they have certainly progressed rapidly in recent years.

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Russians. I’d certainly place my money on the latest M1A2 SEP over the latest T-90 variants, but they are still very capable machines. Supposedly the Russians have another new tank project in the works to replace the mysterious (and now cancelled) T-95.

Yet for the foreseeable future, future upgrades of the M1 series will be enough. Even if the Abram’s eventual replacement was introduced tomorrow, you could bet there would be M1s in service for decades to come.

M60s have not been part of the equation for many years. Some went into the Gulf of Mexico as a part of REEFEX, the rest went FMS (usually for free). Yes, we did build 7,000 M1s, but half are in storage awaiting reuse. Can’t just throw them away due to the armor.

While I agree that tanks can save lives when used effectively in supporting roles, and think the Army should’ve deployed at least limited amounts of armor since ’01/02, but you also have to consider the terrain. Especially in the rugged east, there are places where you can barely drive a HMMWV much less a 70 ton tank. Heck at one of the small firebases I was based at during this last deployment we drove around in un armored Hilux’s simply because the roads in and out were so terrible you couldn’t drive in an M-ATV

Can’t we find something other than old M60s to turn into reefs? I’m no expert in metallurgy but couldn’t some of that be scrapped and reused?

The problem is that I dont think that you can just drop an M60 into a melting vat and make molten steel. You have to strip out all of the contaminants (aka copper, aluminum, whatever) and there is of course all of that PVC and such that might burn and make toxic vapors.… .…

Dropping them into the Gulf may have just been the cheapest alternative.… …

“Moving all armor to the reserves is asking for the next conflict to be a heavy one. ”

And an expensive one.… (Think Kaserine Pass through for a minute.… . except now with armored vehicles and weapons significantly more complex and training intensive. )

It isn’t so much hating on the infantry as it is a certain, attitude that has crept into our professional culture. The original “Airborne Club” — Ridgeway, Gavin, William Westmoreland, Maxwell Taylor — heavy hitters in the Army of the 50s and 60s. There was a sort of second generation 82d Airborne/8th Infantry Division mafia running the Army during Desert Storm and the 90s: Livesey, Vuono, Waller, Reimer, Gary Luck. These guys learned mid-intensity mechanized warfare tactics after Vietnam ended — and did quite well. In the meantime — because they could, the likes of Petraeus and McCrystal sought and stayed in light infantry assignments, with a counterinsurgency twist: this break was formalized when SF became a branch. I cannot overemphasize the damage that Shinseki, Shoomaker and Casey have done to our Army. They threw away our core competencies for trifles when things got tough in Iraq and Afghanistan. As far as our big brain Armor/Cav intellectuals: Bacevich, MacGregor, McMaster, Nagl, Wes Clark — all these guys kissed the ring of the Airborne Ranger mafia at one time or the other. Some of their ideas are admirable. Not one of them is trustworthy across the full spectrum of conflict.

Understand — I’m doing this all “on the fly”, so errors do creep in.

Well, one thing you won’t be able to do is to slow roll the National Guard brigade’s deployment by sending them all on an NTC rotation that for all intents and purposes amounts to a readiness test. The Israelis wouldn’t even think about behaving this way, and an interesting point of reference is how the Germans — who have heavily cadred their force structure — think about these things. We did have National Guard brigades in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there is some data out there. That said, I don’t like they way the Reserve components develop and train their officers. It is all too often the person who has sufficient free time who rises to the top, not the most competent. We handled this in WWII by routinely relieving regimental commanders who weren’t up to snuff — sometimes after years of active duty training wih their units. My preference would be to get rid of AGR altogether, and assign Regular Army officers to those slots. Costs are the same, and the benefit of rotating leaders in and out of the active force could be very significant.

Couldn’t agree more. Also, in Fallujah, tanks were instrumental in taking down enemy strong points as well as providing mobile cover for advancing Infantry. (bad guys laying down fire at a street? no problem, call a tank, the Infantry get on the other side of the tank, and you cross the street) The whole idea of “oh armor is obsolete,” reminds me of something I read about snipers before the 2003 Iraq invasion. One theorist said that snipers would disappear because by the time they set up the fighting would move beyond rifle range. It didn’t work out that way at all. The same thing will happen with armor.

I think part of the problem is that because of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have an entire generation of tankers/cav who hardly spent any time in their tracks. The same with artillerymen. I’ve worked with tankers and cav scouts decked out in wheeled drivers badges who only saw their tracks in garrison during gunnery then put them away for another year so they could drive humvees and MRAPs. Combined arms has become somewhat rusty since we all had to become COIN-infantry for this war.

We had a few discussion on here and on DT stating that we have some of the best infantry and tankers in the world because of how much we train and we fire orders of magnitude more ammo than our counterparts around the world.

The only way an M-1 would have made it to Wanat is if it got kicked out the back of a C-17 and survived the fall. That being said, there are all kinds of uses for heavy armor other than killing enemy armor. We’ve used them to great extent in Iraq in urban combat at checkpoints and providing cover and fire support during assaults. From what I’ve heard more than a few baddies have been scared to get near the tanks the Marines are using in Helmand just by sitting there.

By 1967 the smart people were saying the day of armor was over and then the 67 arab isreali war happend and it shut them up for a few years, then again in 73, then again in the early 80’s when sadam kept the iranians at bay with tanks, then again in 91 with the 1st gulf war and again with the second. The smart people are constantly wrong. A smaller more easily supported tanks for initial insertions would be great but we dont have them. Also a lot of the bad press through the years about tanks were caused by top rank policy decisions such as the desicision in 73 to remove HE and AP rounds from tanks and take away their infantry support roll. This was changed in 05 in Iraq when tanks proved to be little better than armored pill boxes because their main guns were worthless in fighting the insergents.

I would argue that the Israeli’s fire more rounds in training; though it is worth it to them since, unlike the American army, they will go on to serve for 22 years (3 years regular and 20+ years reserves with front line duty) vs. the 3 an average soldier would do.

The average Israeli infantryman fires over 15,000–20,000 rounds on average during his three years just in training.

This in no way reflects badly on the average American soldier who is still trained to a very high degree, there are just different budget priorities.

The same exact scenario happened to the Israelis prior to 2006; this was quickly remedied after with large combined arms exercises for all units put in place several times a year.

VP — BULLSH!T! Shinseki — Tanker, Bacevich — Tanker, MacGregor — Tanker, McMaster — Tanker, Nagl — Tanker and then you want to make some nefarious link to some Airborne Ranger mafia? When in fact these guys are all Tanker/Cav Mafia “made men”.

Personally, I don’t think branch parachiolism is helpful in these sorts of discussions. Heck, I’m a grunt and I think putting the majority of our heavy forces in the Guard is BEGGING for trouble.

That aside you need to do some introspection. I was kind when you as a tanker were lambasting the Inafantry school about how the Infantry should build its Infantry carrier and the size of the squad. If you are going to demonstrate your Infantry ignorance and malign the Infantry and Rangers I’m going to continue to “help” you pull your head out of your rear hatch.

BTW, Dempsey (who I worked for) is guess what? A TANKER!!!

So much for the “Airborne Ranger Special Forces Fort Benning Rules Club”!

Check out “Shooter” by Coughlin. He specifically addresses the fight outrunning the snipers and how he dealt with that. Good read.

Not to mention Israel has been in a perpetual state of war with the Palestinians and their neighbors since their founding. If we were constantly having skirmishes with the Mexican Army I’m sure we’d train a little different too.

the word “infantry” in front of division can be very misleading. 4th ID is one of the most heaviest, advanced formations in the Army. you have to look at the brigades subordinate to the division. Unless they are “heavy” BCTs, they do not have organic Abrams/Bradleys — they are “IBCTs” — Infantry BCTs — what you call “light” infantry. the Army doesn’t even use the term mechanized infantry. how old are you? lol jk..

you must be another old guy. what the heck are “3 an 4 Mech”??

i disagree. the NG shouldn’t even have any BCTs. they should all be transformed into logistics/support brigades, and need to do much more in the area of CONUS missions. Active duty formations should be the ones sent to war, supported by NG support brigades called up as necessary. the US army reserve should be just that, a place to retain valuable skills, and called up to plug holes in either active duty or NG formations as necessary.

That’s what the Army Reserve already is.

Actually, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division is an IBCT. 1st Cavalry Division is the only division left that has 4 HBCTs. Even the 1st Armored Division now has a Stryker Brigade. We still use “mechanized” in our letterhead, but you’re right that these old traditional names are a bit misleading.

Rog.. thanks for the clarification. what do you think of my suggestion for NG? Isn’t it embarassing how much contractor logistical support is required to support deployed forces? The NG should be reorganized and reformed to fill this gap, reduce our dependency on contractors, which should save $ as well. To me the idea of a NG HBCT being able to train regular to participate in the joint fight doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how an organization can become credibly operationally efficient by training on a weekend a month and 2 weeks out of the year. on the other hand, they should have amazing experience developed through their full time occupations which could be much better utilized if they were in more logical formations. It’s probably politics, for the NG to cling to its heavy formations to maintain the perception that they are a combat force.

There are all kinds of political and miltary factors that go into the makeup of the Guard. We have BCTs in the Guard so we don’t pay for expensive formations full time, but they don’t get nearly as much training as active units. The Guard is the State’s response force, but the President can active them with a phone call. It is a great place to store “low density” skills that require years of experience. Some politicians love having big flashy units in their states, and others just want their seasonal flood and fire fighting force to be left alone.

Trust me, if I completely understood this, I wouldn’t be so angry. Let’s talk Shinseki. Shinseki commanded his battalion in 9th ID, a straight leg division with a single tank battalion — and the you had that ADEA dune buggy experiment up there at Lewis. When he came up with the Stryker and the FCS concept, all I could think was, “Here we go again, the Light Division and 500 hundred sorties.” I worked just across the hall from the poor unfortunates who go stuck writing cav squadron tactics for that loser. And there are other things. When I read the Stryker O&O Plan in 2000, all I could think was “This brigade is being designed for counterguerrilla operations, not conventional combat”.

Where is the Guard supposed to come up with the money to maintain a fleet of MBTs for possible use by the Army.
If the Army can’t afford them, then how is the Guard — with a MUCH SMALLER budget — supposed to do it ?

So Shinseki basically ended up eating his own dogfood when we went into Iraq in 2003. I will hand in to the Corps Commander — i didn’t think they could make Division/Brigade XXI work, but they did. After that, however, it was all boots on the ground and attrition warfare and “what are tanks good for”. Grunt stuff. I have good friends who really “get” maneuver warfare — and their ideas were just ignored. Ignored. McMaster did come close to the basic concept, in Diyala, I think it was.

I attack our own because they have feet of clay and they have betrayed the tradition — to be the “combat arm of decision” means you seek decisive battle. We’ve not been doing that. But I did leave out General Dempsey from my rogues list for a reason. Despite having drunk the conceptual COIN koolaid, General Dempsey was starting to restore the Army to its basic values before they kicked him upstairs. At this point, any movement for change would be a good thing. I look back at the seventies, and the changes that Abrams and Depuy and Shy Meyer and Gorman and Frederic Brown brought in — it was not the thoroughgoing revolution I thought we needed, but it was definitely moving the Army in the right direction. The SF people have their own hagiography and their own story. I don’t have a problem with that, but for me, a black beret is the property of the Armor Force, as it is all around the world. It is high time our branch stood up and demanded to be treated as equals, not as second class soldiers.

The Armor School did a study and decided that HEAT rounds were almost as effective against bunkers and buildings as the “High Explosive Plastic” (HEP) round. In theory we always had Beehive but did not varry it in basic load. Nonetheless, these decisions have nothng to do with the role and mission of a main battle tank. A main tank is an assault gun (aka “Infantry tank”), tank destroyer and “cavalry tank” to exploit breakthroughs and perform reconnaissance tasks all in one. As a football analogy, it is like a linebacker, with speed AND power, it covers the field. Can you specialize and assign different sets of tasks to different armored fighting vehicles ? Absolutely yes. I personally think there is a role for a light tank, and even that execrable MCS Stryker thing has some utility. The FCS recon vehicle was really interesting design and I do wish we had built at least a few to experiment with. As it stands now, none of these geeks seem to understand how to put the pieces together. I read today that the JTRS GMR got up to 200 pounds !! Good heavens, that’s just ridiculous. Imagine how much space a pig like that takes up in an armored vehicle.

A bit off topic but it would probably be a pain in the ass installing it on the Bradley. There is so much stuff on the turret already.

Div/BDE XXI — Worked fine. Read up on the initial invasion of Iraq.

If your beef is the black beret fine. If you want to copy the European tradition more power to you. I guess Shinseki was right, some soldiers really only need a hat to feel special.

As for armor being treated as a second class citizen that’s your insecurity talking. As one of the few Infantry officers chosen to attend the Armor advanced course I saw plenty of that small minority.

You stated early on that all this structure controversy is an Infantry plot. It isn’t. So if you want to whine start with your branch’s leaders…


I would say the the IMI Bright Arrow is a perfect fit for the Bradley:

Not sure if I get the point. Is it that you agree with me that it did “work fine” in OIF or is your view to the contrary ?

As an old boss of mine (a former MORS president, in fact) once said to me, “I wouldn’t be paranoid if they weren’t all out to get me.” In all seriousness, though, symbolism matters. Back in the mid-70s, every West Point graduate was required to go to jump school, and since they were all tracked to combat arms back then (before women came in), they were heavily encouraged to go to Ranger School. Well, ROTC cadets were pressured the same way, just to keep up. In the end, most of the ROTC grads retired as colonels, and we know which of the West Pointers who made three and four stars. Doug MacGregor was on that plan, and most of his problem comes from not having made general. (Working for Wes Clark during the Kosovo operation appears not to have helped him in this respect.) But it isn’t just that. If anything, the field artillery has been shafted even worse that armor. If there is one branch of service that has been historically excellent throughout the history of the United States Army, it is our artillery — a branch that it both overused and underappreciated.

It worked

VP — I don’t think Armor or Arty is underappreciated. The current conflict just doesn’t lend itself to those branches strengths being emphasized. It isn’t always going to be that way and we should not make the all too common error of preparing for the next war as if it was the last.

If you want to belabor some percieved inequality or wrong done to a branch go ahead. Just don’t try to pin some looney decision to put Armor in the Guard on the Infantry with ZERO evidence. Its as silly as a tanker trying to tell an Infantryman what size a squad should be, how to fight it on the battlefield and what the carrier should look like. I don’t think its the Infantry that’s full of itself here.

There are a few hundred M-60A3s in inactive reserve mostly Marine storage. Yes there not alot most been sold to Israel Turkey and Egypt who still likes and update the design. In some cases the smaller M-60 would be better in Afghanistan than a wider M-1 tank. I do not count out Russia/CIS designs the Ukrainian T-84 and older T-80 is a excellent tank and is better than any T-72/90 design can can give a M-1 a run for its money. However I can garentee like I said it beats all Chinese designs to date.

I’m not sure what the numbers are now, but when I was commissioned, infantry branch officers were 25% of the officer corps, artillery was something like 10–15%, armor was 9%. So altogether, combat arms were just shy of half the officer strength. My personal grievances are not important, but Armor/Cav was always a much more intimate and less impersonal, assembly line community than our brothers of the bayonet. There are certain indignities that go with being Armor in a grunt-dominated Army. Remember Bernie Rogers prohibition of the tanker’s jacket. In 8th ID, they made us wear LBE where ever we went, and in tanks, nothing you have to put on or take off on the tank is your friend. Admittedly, German-style insulated boots are much more functional than the stinking tankers boots that would rot off your feet. Then there was this Nomex crap they had us wear, supposedly to protect against fire. Grease broke those down like nothing else, in less than a year, we were done.

The official titles of the 3d and 4th Infantry Divisions since the ROAD division structure came in after the 60s has been 3d(4th) Infantry Division (M for Mechanized). 3d and 4th Mech are therefore shorthand abbreviations for those units. In my day, 4th Mech had a 4th Brigade in Wiesbaden and Wildflecken, which was attached in peacetime to the 8th Infantry Division (M), making it the largest division in US Army Europe with a total of 6 tank battalions and 7 or 8 infantry battalions. (I dont remember if 4/4ID (M) had one or two infantry battalions).

Remember the Yalu River. Everyone thought that we had North Korea on the ropes until the PLA came across that river. The next “low intensity conflict” could become a bloodbath when the other side calls in nations with tanks and heavy artillery.

For use in smokescreens/vegetation during daylight?

I have a few thoughts about tanks. First they have no business in towns or cities. The tank is a versatile machine. I think they could develope an artillery round and use it as a mobile artillery vehicle/combat support for the infantry. After the first Iraq war other countries have seen that as long as the agressor nations maintain large armor divisions it may be necessary for them to do so also. Airpower is effective against large armor formations. I believe that one day someone will begin using small nuclear bombs to combat large battle formations, as Great Britain threatened to do against Sadam.

“The question about where those tanks will ultimately end up could become one of DoD’s central questions over the coming year. Everybody loves big, heavy, old-fashioned, rolling-thunder units, ripping up the mud with their treads and shooting the hell out of their targets downrange, but they could start to seem pretty expensive in the austerity Army. There’s a school of thought, broached at last year’s Association of the United States Army trade show and elsewhere, that the Army should move many or most of its active tank units into the Guard and Reserves.“___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Two things, one: Tank Battalions are not “Rolling Thunder” Artillery(Self Propelled)is. And two: Transferring most or some armor units to the reserves and guards would be the biggest mistake we could ever make. Those tanke would fall apart because they need constant maintenance daily, the AR and NG’s cannot provide that. At best, they can only work on em monthly.

Either one has air superiority or not. The only way to mitigate that vulnerability is sufficiently strong air defense. In principle, armored units have greater protection against tactical nuclear weapons than light forces, so that is actually an argument for mechanization (as well as, in my opinion, an argument for air mobility where possible). To say tanks “have no business” in urban areas is a crude myth: we fight as a combined arms team. Tanks can and do fight in cities: but not by themselves. As far as “developing an “artillery round: and using tanks as “mobile artillery or combat support for the infantry”, please do read up on these things if you have no way to get real world experience. One of the interesting pieces of fallout from FCS was that we were in the process of automating indirect fire tables in a way that would enable tanks to do indirect fire missions (“BLOS Fires”) more readily. This DID violate the traditional boundary between armor and artillery. Alas neither the NLOS Cannon nor the FCS MCS made it to MS C. Force Transformation loses and the troglodytes who want to put the Army in a box and keep it there win another one.

We’ve got to be pretty near to the same age… I Started on M60A1(AOS) then went to RISE/Passive then A3 (TTS) then M1/M1A1. The Thermals were definitely the big leap and provided capabilities that took time to assimilate. M1A2 added to that with the digital comms and we should be continuing to build on the current tech not something from 20 years ago. My fear is that we will go back to where we were in 4ID(m) in the late 70’s with 1 tank per platoon really being ready and the others being “circle X’d“
Grey Lions Delta 6

I had the opportunity to serve as an Armor/Cavalry officer for 15 years. I am therefore biased in favor of armored units. I maintain that when we “go Light” with our capabilities we will have someone who is willing to “go Heavy” to challenge us. Pick any state that migh be a future opponent and they are likely to have tanks and mech already in theater and be (at some level of competency) willing to use those units. Light forces work well in cities and mountains but serve as nothing more than speed bumps or trip wires in open terrain. A skilled leader can use armor in restricted terrain as long as proper planning and coordination is put in place.
We’ve seen the stresses placed on all units Active and “Reserve” (who are really active anyway these days) that a smaller Army has brought on. Moving the majority of the firepower of the Army to the reserve Components will only add to the stress while reducing our capabilities.
Major, Armor
US Army (ret) — part of the Cold War Peace dividend

As a long-retired tanker, IMHO, the writing is already on the wall. In Sept., all Armor/Cavalry training (the Armor School, AIT, maintenance training, etc.) completed the move to Ft Benning and exsists today in a much reduced capacity. That was the first step in, what I feel, will be the eventual demise of Armor in the Army. My concerns are not with the vehicles — they’ll probably be mothballed for possible use in some future conflict. I’m worried about the loss of experienced tankers. It takes a lot of formal (Armor School/AIT) and in-formal (tank Gunnery/FTXs, etc.) training to make a qualified, combat ready tanker. I’ll be the first to admit that there is little need for tanks in today’s threat environment. But threats have the inconvenient habit of changing. We may need those skill sets in a hurry and they won’t be there. I’m afraid we will rue the day that Armor Branch was allowed to join the Coast Artillery and Horse Cavalry on the scrap heap of history.

How is the capacity reduced? I’m on Fort Benning quite a bit. The ranges, barracks and training complexes built for the Armor school are HUGE. Courses are the same, same length, same rounds. Ranges are as good as what is at Ft. Knox. Heck there’s a whole new basic training BDE here.

You sound much more like the old guard than speaking from any position of knowledge.

BTW, Benning is where Patton started the modern Armor force.

I can whine about quite a bit of ill treatment by tankers being one of 2 Infantry officers at the Armor advanced course. I can point to my first Tank BN CO cross attachment who before I took command routinely gave each tank company an Infantry platoon and created an ad hock armor company commanded by an Infantry officer and was given a reserve mission. THAT stopped quick. That same BN chuckled when I arrived in the TOC in BDUs, LBE and steel pot. I can point to examples of the armor school actually believing the FCS mantra and technology was going to let us “see. know and act first”. I commanded a CAV troop and we refused to wear “Stetsons” when tankers in an Armor division pressured us.

I don’t and took apart all the stupidity as I faced it. Get over it.

BTW, that BN was a stark difference to Dempsey’s BN.

Harry — You’ve been reading too much French pre WWII doctrine.

Airpower is not always effective against armor formations. Study the Israeli experience in ’73 before the Egyptians outdistanced their air defense assets around the Suez.

Harry may also be thinking about the “Tank Plinking” that the F-111s, F-16s, along with the A-10s managed during Desert Storm.… but he is forgetting that before the tank plinking could start the air defenses (ground based and interceptors) was essentially pounded into oblivion.

As for the French air doctrine prior to WWII.… Hmmm.…. when they actually tried to implement it, France was overrun by the Panzers in six weeks. NOT what I would call strong supporting evidence for that particular doctrine. To be honest, and no offense to our Gallic friends, the French tank warfare doctrine of the time was little better than their air warfare doctrine, but.… both got ripped by the new rules of armored warfare.

And I thought that the interservice rivalries could get a little heated, but this green-on-green seems to be even more deep seated that any of the blue (light or dark)-on-greens that Ive seen!

Can I have the popcorn, pizza, and beer concession? :-)

Putting the infantry and armor schools under one roof (not combining them) is just the latest step in what has been battlefield reality for years — the infantry and the tankers fight together. The Armor School at Benning has in no way been reduced — they’re still required to train the same number of tankers, officers, and mechanics that they did at Knox. Think about how much easier it is now to experiment and study combined arms doctrine and tactics with both schools down the street from each other.

Harry, those remarks are somewhere between ignorant and just plain silly. How is a tank versatile AND not belonging in a city? We conducted probably hundreds of operations in Iraq where putting a tank in and around a city wasn’t just useful but necessary. Volumes have been written on how to do it in new and better ways. Also, words have meaning. Tanks are not artillery and do not fire artillery rounds. Tanks and other assorted armor vehicles already provide support to the infantry all over the battlefield — including cities!

As far as your airpower remark, A-10s racked up a great number of kills during Desert Storm, but while the Air Force spent weeks knocking off tanks and other vehicles, the Army’s M1 and M2 fleet blasted entire divisions apart in hours. I have no idea where your nuclear bomb remarks are coming from.

Stetsons are a ridiculous affectation. You see it more today because these guys are trying to, I dunno, somehow keep the increasingly tenuous link to the past. Now, as far as the FCS mantra, I’m still a believer, dude. If you want to keep the Army stuck in attrition warfare, you and I have a serious disagreement, as Hawkeye said to Major Heyward.

Wildflecken, I presume ?

You believe in the FCS mantra? Fine. Some still believe in tooth fairies. I reject not believing technology is a panacea to waging war means you support attrition warfare as the only way.

Your debating skills are getting worse.

I left him an out. He insists on being stupid. I’m letting him.

Not familiar with which school of thought the french followed pre WWII in the air. As for the armor they saw the tank as an Infantry supporting arm as described by Charlie.

Its not the whole story, but if you get a chance, check out:

The French AF, like the French tankers, had all of the numbers on their side, but.… used badly. The Germans were essentially always able to assume local dominance through a more concentrated unification of force. Didnt matter how many A/C or Tanks that the French owned overall, if the battle at hand was always 10 French vs 30 Germans, the Germans won!

If you want to have an offensive component, it will be necessary to have tanks. Although it is thought you can move by air over the battlefield, bypassing defenses, antiaircraft weaponry has developed to the point that it is prohibitive against a first line opponent.
If anything, tanks need a major upgrade to be able to function in a nuclear environment. Possibly more depleted uranium armor could be of benefit in this situation.
As resources over the world become more strained, we can expect even more warfare, and considering proliferation of nuclear weapons, even beyond Iran and Korea, what are the chances of facing a nuclear capable opponent, and even more important, what are the chances of facing a nuclear armed opponent likely to use their nuclear weapons?
Do you really think air power can do the job in eliminating nuclear potential in those problem areas we are all aware of, namely Iran, and possibly Korea?
The “Doomsday Clock” was moved forward to 5 minutes to midnight a few days ago.

BTW, for your edification, the 120mm L256A1 smoothbore is not an American weapon; it is manufactured in the United States by Watervliet Arsenal–under license from the German company Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, which developed it for use in the Leopard2 (the Germans call it the L44; the Leopard2A6 uses the L55; see: http://​www​.rheinmetall​-detec​.com/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​f​i​d​=10.… The last American designed tank gun was the M68 rifled bore cannon used in the M60A1 and A3 series tanks (the first M1s used a rifled bore 105mm British-made gun manufactured under license in the US.

Gary Wilkins
former CPT, AR

Must correct myself–I doublechecked and it turns out that the M68 cannon (which was what I had on my M60A1 (RISE) tanks) was in fact, itself a licensed design of the British 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 gun; thus, even the M68 cannon was not an original American design. As a result, I believe the last US design was most likely the 90 mm T15E1 gun, first used on the M26 Pershing at the close of WWII and later on the M47 Patton tank (and on the early M48 Pattons before these were upgraded to the new 105 mm M68 cannon)…

See my self-correction in a later comment: after double-checking, I found that even the M68 (which was the gun I had on my M60A1 (Rise) tanks), was licensed from the British (known in England as the L7), so not an American design (though there were some US modifications). Thus, the last original US gun design was probably the 90 mm gun T15E1 (M3 gun) used on the M26 Pershing, M47 Patton tanks, and early M48s).

Gary Wilkins
former CPT, AR


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