The Army’s tank trap

The Army’s tank trap

Like the Rock of Gibraltar, the Army brass is completely fixed in its plan to idle the Lima, Ohio tank plant for three years, but congressional lawmakers are as relentless as the pounding surf.

The latest tactic, broached Thursday by a House Armed Services Committee panel, is standard Potomac Judo: Where’s the analysis that shows the Army would actually save money with this technique?

“I’m not sure shutting down the line saves money; there’s only one brief analysis  on this,” said Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee chairman.

“We no longer have the privilege in our country of riding on our a huge commercial industrial base,” he said. “We can’t just stop using it and expect it to be there when we want to use it again. So we hope we can get additional studies – we hope GAO can look at it, we just need to know if, in fact, will we save any dollars by shutting down the lines, letting them go dark, pay the cost to shut down, pay the cost of start up again. I don’t know that there’s any study that indicates we’ll save money. And I don’t know how we reached the point in this process where anyone thought we’d save money.”

That point arrived because the Army did its own study. Army Secretary John McHugh told House appropriators on Wednesday, in fact, that the service believes it would cost about $600 million to shut down the tank plant for three years and restart it, as compared to about $3 billion to keep the line running that whole time. The Army wants to take delivery of its latest batch of upgraded tanks and then let Lima go dark until 2017, when it would start upgrading its M1A1s.

Army officials acknowledged to House lawmakers on Thursday that they recognize how important it’ll be to maintain Lima’s skilled workforce, which they think can be done over the interim with foreign military sales and, possibly, supplemental contracts. But modernization boss Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips put it to lawmakers this way: The Army has more than enough tanks, and most of them are state of the art, with an average effective age of 2.5 years. So with a smaller budget than expected, “The Army has had to make some tough choices,” he said.

His colleague, Lt. Gen. Bob Lennox, put it another way: “Do you build more Abrams tanks for the Army when you have enough? Do you now go out and do that at the cost of the network and aviation priorities that are higher for us? … These are some of the aspects the Army took into account in making this decision. This was not done lightly. It’s a very serious decision. We know there are ramifications, so it’s a choice of where you want to take your risk.”

But tank advocates had another card to play, in addition to “analysis:” What about all the lower-tier contractors? General Dynamics is a great big defense giant, and maybe it can endure the Lima shutdown. But what about the companies that make the thousands of others parts for the Abrams?

” This vital aspect of our national security industrial base is highly specialized and is not something that can just be turned off and turned back on,” said Ohio Rep. Mike Turner. “When production is stopped, those highly skilled workers will leave. And suppliers will dry up.” Idling the tank line would have ripple effects all down the tank economy, Turner said, and that would be “not only irresponsible but risky.”

We get it, the Army witnesses said. Phillips told Turner the Army “is engaged with industry partners to make sure we understand the concerns not just at the prime level, but at the sub-tier level. We understand the issues related to sub-tier vendors to take action to seek resolution and keep those business viable that are necessary [when] we restart that plant.”

So what does that mean? Good question.  It isn’t clear whether McHugh’s estimate includes the costs for the entire Abrams supplier network, or just GD Land Systems — or whether the Army will effectively pay vendors to sit around and do nothing just so they’ll be there when the tank upgrades resume. Those kinds of deals aren’t unprecedented in the world of defense contracting, as when the Navy, for example, pays shipyards to keep them from laying off workers while it works to award contracts later.

In Austerity America, however, it might not be politically kosher anymore for the government to pay a company just to continue to exist. So congressional tank advocates might continue pushing to keep the plant open and upgrading tanks, just as soon as they get their “analysis” confirming that will be the most cost-effective option.

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Good Afternoon Folks,

The nature of the ground war is changing. The era of massive tank battles is at least for now over. Our main advisories the Chinese and The Russian Federation have trimmed down their heavy force to about a this of the US’s Abrams/Bradley already in inventory. In addition both China and Russia are showing little enthusiasm for a next generation of tank or armored personal carrier. The Russian T-90 is a hybrid with a T-72 chassis and a T-65 turret with the same 125mm rifled gun they have had since the T-72. The Chinese T-99 has gone back to there drawing board and the existing inventory of 500 tanks is suspect of being inferior.

The issue of keeping the line going to protect the skill base and jobs is rather really a non issue. If and when the US decided that it need heavy armor both the product and the manufacturing will not resemble what Lima is. Armor construction is not ship building where difficult and timely skills are required. Building a tank or an apc is just using standard heavy industrial skill bases. The job of the DoD is to defend American not to guarantee jobs.

Byron Skinner

Hate to say the M-1A1/2 doesn’t need upgraded much this whole decade. The only improvement is a copula for urban fighting. But in tank vs tank M-1s and even the older M-60A3s are still kings. Russia and China aren’t’ designing any new tank to counter the M-1A1 The T-80 can hold its own but the T-72 and T-90 I say couldn’t hold a prayer against a M-1 in one on one head to head combat look at Iraq and Syria in 1991 and 1982. Result Abrams and Patton tanks victory T-72 defeated and all of there crew dead. Chinese tanks from there Type 59 to the current Type 99 are crap. I don’t see Germany or Briton selling Challengers or Leopard 2s to the bad guys. SO I can see why the Army doesn’t want new tanks. Why not sell Israel or the Philippines some older M-1A1 or even M-1s and build 20 new A2s for some National Guard units and use the money form the sold M-1A1s to pay for them but thats reason and saving money Generals are too dumb to know that.

Clueless comments. For the umpteenth time, Iraq and other third world customers were sold “monkey armor” by the Russians. Unrelated testing in the early 1990s with “acquired” front line Russian armor demonstrated the M1 120mm gun was INCAPABLE of penetrating the frontal slop of Soviet armor. End of debate.
With the latest sabot round about to be issued, the M1 cannon has reached the MJ LIMIT necessary to penetrate T90 armor. (The T90 is a beautiful tank; our arrogance is goin’ catch up to us one day.)
Only an idiot would assume that, in the event of a war with China in the Pacific, we wouldn’t have a replay of Korea 1950, with China crossing the Yalu again. Why wouldn’t they? This time with plenty of armor and mucho artillery, to finish the conflict that never ended. Last time, we had MPs with WWII bazookas up against JSII tanks. How did that work out?

Israel doesn’t want a medium tank (that the Abrams is classified as), they have their own home built heavy tanks.

Something that is forgotten is that Russia does not and will not export the good stuff on its tanks. Unless we get into a war with Russia, we will be up against clones that will not be as capable. Add in that we have so far faced crews with inferior training, and frankly there is no need to assume our enemies will magically be better than us.……

The M-1 series does need a major upgrade. New engines will increase the amount of miles the tank gets per the tank of gas. Even if it goes from .5mpg to .6mpg, it is a significant savings in money.

This is not WW II where are car factory’s were turned in M4 Sherman manufacturing plants. There is no facility that is capable of producing armor as thick as what is on the M-1 then Lima. (Correct me if i am wrong). There is going to always be a need for heavy armor as shown in Iraq. You do not want to use an Active Protection System while near friendly forces.

Why not?

TROPHY has a very narrow point of spread with less than a 1% chance of injuring nearby troops; troops that would be injured anyways by warhead detonation of the incoming missile.

Ben, that is quite true about the engine, but an academic argument since an improved M1 engine doesn’t exist. The upgrades being discussed here and now are of existing components like computers and weapons of which we’ve upgraded the bulk of the fleet over the last 10 years. After a couple rotations in Iraq each tank was sent back to the factory for an overhaul which is why the article states they have an average effective age of 2.5 years even though it’s been over a decade since a brand new one was built.

The LV100-5 gas turbine and at least two different diesel engines have been proposed for the Abrams. The new gas turbine was actually part of an upgrade plan but it got cut when the Crusader SPG was cancelled.

Test occurred but the widely cited article I presume you are referring to was a fake. Top of the line T-80Us or T-72Bs with K-5 ERA would have probably been protected from the M829, but the M829A1 could probably penetrate some areas. As of now it’s likely that both the M829A2 and M829A3 120mm APFSDS can penetrate the front of the T-90 and T-90A. Supposedly, current Chinese armor isn’t quite up to those standards.

The South Koreans haven’t been asleep all of these years. Only a portion of the Chinese tank fleet are of the Type 99 family and the South Korean K2 main battle tank would be more than a match for that. The K1A1 with 120mm guns could probably deal with them as well, as could our Abrams.

Yet we need to plan for the future. The Russians have already unveiled new variants of the T-90 and supposedly have an all new design (the replacement for the cancelled T-95) in development. The Chinese are continuing their tank development as well.

I recall the LV100-5 which sadly isn’t available anymore, but weren’t there issues with the diesel offerings of being too big for the engine compartment? I also remember there would have to be systems and weight tradeoffs to put them in. I’d love to see a new engine for the Abrams and probably wouldn’t be too difficult since the last time it was looked at was 15 years ago. A lot has changed in engine tech since then.

I too have read that would be a problem with most diesel engines but I think the latest German MTU series designs might fit. There was also the XAP-1000 diesel engine which I believe was developed in parallel to the LV100-5 back in the ‘90s. No idea what happened to that design but it was also supposed to be quite compact

good points, but all wrong:
Russia is designing new tank — they should unveil it before 2015, project is called Armata. China is actually working on couple projects — including 152mm gun armed behemoth. T-90s never faced US tanks, and if you look at current development of T-90Ms, those are pretty good tanks, but of course not the same weight class as Leopard 2 or Abrams. T-72s Iraq used were monkey modifications — simplified systems, and its front turret armor is only half of what Red Army T-72B had. Israel has its own hot line for MBTs — Merkava IV is the current model. T-80s were and are good tanks, but as Charkov is in independent Ukraine, they are off the table. Feeling of supremacy may be miselading — Abrams gun is German Rheinmetall 120, it armor is of UK Chobham origin, and it was Brits who invented the 120 caliber with old Chieftain, back in sixties, not US… Ambrams is not the best, but among the best…

“not the best, but among the best…”

How do you define best? There are only a few countries whose had any tank on tank exercise in the last 30 years in any numbers great enough to gather data. For everyone else it’s all just theory.

I disagree!. Any current MBT withstand a direct hit from any other!!. Maybe it can fight other day, but not pass unnotice. That´s talking of frontal aspect.…erased from map in a rear or lateral hit. Moreover there are many “cheap” weapons for deal with tanks BUT MTB is a real edge over “poor man” armys. Despite lesson from Grozny i think what MTBs will play a bigger role in future classic wars in a mainly build-up world.

LTG Bill Philips’ comment clarifies: we have enough tanks! Why then argue about closing the tank plant? To keep the supplier base going? Can’t those suppliers do anything else? Since the advent of the M1, we no longer depend on very large castings for our tanks, formerly the most unique part of tank production. So mothball the tooling and let the suppliers find other work that suits the skill set they’ve developed. Our major national challenge is economic, not military.

I remember reading somewhere that up until DesertStorm we had no real idea on how the M-1 would do against a Soviet built tank

Exactly. And several thousand enemy armored and wheeled kills (and some friendly losses) later we can say with some certainty what the Abrams can and can’t do. The same issue bugs me when the F-35 and whatever is coming out of China and Russia come up. We’re spending countless hours arguing which is better when they’re all prototypes and powerpoint.

After they canceled FCS, a light weight (24T) troop transport that could be flown into almost any place, they went knee jerk and jacket the specs up to a 90+T vehicle that could withstand an IED. Personally, after Desert Storm, when those A10 shut down the Iraqis in a week, I fail to see a need for tanks. Yes @ 90T they can take a licking form a little IED, but they are still sitting ducks in real combat. Look at all the support they need just to get to the action. A light weight V haul transport would be nice for city moves, as they are more maneuverable than the MRAPs, but big heavy tanks are outdated. The FCS had a 30 min meantime repair time, meaning the average down time for repair was 30 min. The could travel over 45 mph, and still provide protection from small arms and such. Active and interactive armor provided even more protection. Bottom line, we need to get away from the old massive combat brigades, and go with the specialized fighter. Drop, secure, move on. Let the Navy with their big guns and missiles, and the Air Force with their planes, missiles, and droids clear out the heavy stuff. If we go into a major war against a compliant defender, there is no way we will even be able to provide support. The logistic line will be demolished prior to any real fight. Same as we would do to them. If you can’t attack from afar, you ain’t going to last.

It is never wise to underestimate your enemy, future, potential or otherwise.…..Sounds like to me maybe the option is to start developing the US MBT Next-Gen, so you don’t lose your expertise. Also might be a good idea to see what Krauss-Maffei does between Leopard 2 contacts. The people in the short term I would concerned with is the employees, not your friggin’ CongressRich Men, who would the first to scream what happened to our tanks if they were found to be shoddy in some future conflict.….

Why not do the upgrade now, produce sufficient spare parts for three years of operation then close the line. Additionally have not the Germans upgraded this same cannon to higher performance . Should we not fully complete all upgrades then shut down . If in time of war it will be months if not years before this facility could be restarted, the unions will see to that.
Whether tanks play a role or not , that is insignificant to whether they can be repaired when called upon. If there use is questioned then ship them to a forward position closer to the enemy or prepsoitioning ships like we did for the middle east. Try loading these things on a C5 and see how fast they can be resupplied and fixed then.
Our country is all to good about trying to anticipate parts needed then pay enormous funds for a second supplier to produce the same at 10 to 20 times the cost i.e. ( B52, M113, B1).

“The FCS had a 30 min meantime repair time, meaning the average down time for repair was 30 min.”

You do realize the closest FCS came to a working vehicle was a prototype turret, right? The EFV was in development for 20 years with several prototype vehicles and never got more than a couple hours of operations between mechanical breakdowns.

You got some serious factual Airpower issues if you think the Air Force can drop in and sweep away enemy armies. For one thing, they’ve never done it. The A10s did significant damage to the Iraqi Army, but even after a month of combat, the Iraqi Army was still there. 4 days of getting kicked in the teeth by several divisions of Abrams and Bradleys is what sent them running.

“I fail to see a need for tanks. Yes @ 90T they can take a licking form a little IED, but they are still sitting ducks in real combat.”

The Bradley and its variants have been responsible for hundreds of enemy tracked and wheeled enemy kills in open desert and urban warfare. Define “real combat.”

I agree with what you are say, however you forgot one important issue. You are using logical and common sense and we all know we will never find any of that with in the DOD or most of the time Congress. Just saying.

Allen and Jim: your comments show wisdom. Some of the earlier commenters are in the proud tradition of flags’ and career civil servants’ and contractors’ sense of supreme entitlement to the taxpayer’s money. They refuse to be accountable for our many bungled acquisitions and mismanagement of wars. These are the people who took 2–3 years to make up with MRAPs for what they should have done earlier. The last administration its fearless DoD secretary could not provide Humvee armor and body armor more than two years late. People died because of their negligence. No one is accountable for those kind of mistakes, too. I am afraid the American public has little faith or confidence in the management and command skill and leadership of many senior people in our defense establishment. They will continue to invite gross waste of dollars and fail to equip our troops with what they need. All of this is to say: shut ‘er down. The program will be a waste and probably harm the war fight era rather than help them. That is their way.

are you serious? sell an mbt linke abrams or patton to the philippines? how is the armed forces of the philippines going to pay for the maintenance

israel going to get abrams? you kidding me. they’ve got the merkava

The bean counters who have never heard a shot fired in anger are at it again.

Again, the US has not gotten a new tank in almost 20 years. All we have been doing is rebuilding tanks built in the 1980s to bring them up to a more up-to-date standard & ‘zero-hour life’. We will shortly be in the situation were the next batch of tanks set to be rebuilt don’t ‘need’ to be for a few years & since too many fools in Congress are unwilling to stop spending on BS they should not be spending on our already underfunded military has to do with even less & is looking to save money any & every way it can so shutting down the tank plant for a few years until we ‘need’ to start rebuilding the next batch of tanks is being considered.

Sorry this is not the 1940 were there was not much difference mechanically & structually from a commercial trackor & a tank.

Just a point of clarification — the last brand new Abrams (M1A2) off the assembly line was around 1997.

In an Obama-world, bailing out Fannie Mae and giving away food stamps are more important then maintaining a First rate Army. We will live to rue this day AND this “president”

The design of the M-1 is solid. That being said a lot of equipment on the tank could be replaced with more advanced/capable systems. These changes may warrant new production instead of just rebuilding them but do not warrant a completely new design.

The Russians do not even ALWAYS export their best tanks! LOL! Consider the Syrians and their PT-76 Amphibious Tanks on the Golan a few years ago. Looks like a tank, smells like a tank, even sounds like a tank, but when the PT-76s ran into the Israeli M-60s.…. the marketing brochure took a hit… along with a sizable percentage of those rather worthless imitation tanks.

There is no end to threat of war and too many nations have passed away after thinking, that hopeful thought of –this war is over. We need to Development new and improved ways to defend ourselves now because the enemy is working hard at trying to defeat what we have. Showing them your sitting back on your butt, twittering your thumbs, only gives they higher hopes to gain that one new weapon to make you regret not preparing for new threats. In fact a weak military is the biggest threat against peace.

In the Battle of Mogadishu, tanks saved the US from defeat. Prior to the operation, the US commander had requested tanks, and was refused by Les Aspin. So, Aspin later had to resign. The plan was, Little Birds and Black Hawks transported the soldiers in, ground convoy was to take them back out. The whole operation at the site was to take a half hour. The Humvee convoy was blocked on the way in. So the Black Hawks had to loiter, and two were shot down. Little Birds having night capability, were able to provide a good defense of the trapped soldiers during the night. In the morning, a NATO convoy of Pakastani tanks and Malasian armored vehicles, with US Humvees and helicopters, broke through to rescue the Americans. http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​B​a​t​t​l​e​_​o​f​_​M​o​g​a​d​i​s​hu_
So we need tanks. The question is, how many, and at what technology level. An engine update is in order.

Actually, a UN operation, not NATO.

Not so, TMB — congress mandated that six prototype NLOS Cannon be built — another Crusader variant, if you will. They demonstrated the thing on the Mall a few months before MGV was cancelled.

I would remain agnostic as to whether the final weight would have been in the 24 ton range or something else — but it is certain that 24 tons is much lighter than anything in the GCV design now…Transportability was on of the key performance parameters for FCS, now, it is hard to say that the Army is even considering that issue at all. I personally see no reason to scrap the main battle tank — but that does not mean there is no role for light tanks, or that other armored combat vehicles should adhere to the same design parameters. Other armies do seem to understand this — ours appears not to understand at all.

KMW builds more than just tanks. We could replace our pathetic fleet of self-propelled howitzers — building them out of Lima and York — keeps both of our armored vehicle manufacturers employed and does something the Army really needs. Whether you based the thing on the NLOS-C or the last Crusader design (which IIRC was based on the M-1 chassis) is a matter of taste.

NLOS-C absolutely; however, this article is about tanks. They only built the front end of the MGV turret.

Part of the NLOS cannon was built on a MGV prototype. And yes THIS prototype was under 24T. We did have a working version of the MGV and started V2. They shut it down after we installed the drive system. It was supposed to go to the dynos, but…As far as my comment about “real” combat, for a tank I mean more than heavy tank on tank action. Do you really think that our tanks could withstand the punishment that we provide to our enemy prior to our tanks go in? Now back to the real issue I had. Do you really ever envision us in a head to head war with tanks? The A10, and for that matter the Apache, did more damage and created more fear than our tanks. No disrespect to our ground forces, but by the time they came along, the Iraqi army was rushing out to surrender. Do you want to be in a big “tin can” that has been targeted by satellite, radar, and ground lasers? We have the tech to annihilate an enemies tank division, long before we send ours in. But on the other hand, if we were ever to fight a real enemy, sorry let me clarify this, an advance and organized enemy like China or Russia, they have the tech to do the same to us. The fact that we may never see a serious dog fight in the air again, leaves me to wonder, why we think the slower tanks would ever really see head to head action again as well. The same tech that can take out a fighter, will definitely pop a tank too.

The battle is never won until there are boots on the ground, the kind of war Byron is talking about isn’t here yet and won’t be if God does what He says He will do. Another Obozo demand of disarm America for his islamic friends and his god.

The US Army should take a look at NASA before they consider stopping production of the M1A1 Abrams tank and think with a flip of a switch you can go back into production as there’s a reason why we’ve not gone back to the moon, we’ve forgotten the technology necessary to build the Saturn V launch vehicle as the man-power necessary are dead or have simply forgotten; it’s also why we’ve not stopped building aircraft carriers or large submarines as while it may take $600Million to restart the plant, it may take a whole lot more money and time.

Average wear & tear on important components. Power plants and drive trains in particular need to be stockpiled to keep these game changing vehicles online. This seems like another penny wise and pound foolish exercise by bean counters who’ve never worn the uniform.
Technology advancements and upgrades are a necessary part of the equation to keep up with third world threats supplied by our friends in Russia and Red China.

This has the look of Buckwheat making our country weaker. Spend the money on programs that get him elected. The transparent man.

Tread water, loose experience, expertise, state of art people / weapons & sink!

The Special Operations mafia that is running the military strikes again. This is the same leadership group that brought you the “interim” Stryker Brigade boondoggle. You know the one that was supposed to be deployable by air, but still goes by sea because a so-called “combat ready” Stryker is too big to fit in a C-130. Oh, and by the way, when the most recent Stryker Brigade deployed to Afghanistan, left their Strykers at home because they weren’t as capable of protecting the troops against IED’s as the MRAP vehicles already there. It is also not amphibious, so it has to use bridges (guess where the enemy plants the IED’s).Think of how great they would be in a hostile environment. The Heavy Combined Arms Team is still the dominant force on the modern battlefield.

the army in their took most of the tank companys out of the national guard and turned them into mech inf sorry so the m1 can’t be sent to them

If you are going to close jobs to Americans then close the M1 tank plant in Italy that many are getting paid doing nothing. Close Leghorn Depot in Italy where many Italians are setting around doing nothing but getting payed by US government –American tax dollars– an the host naton employee gets 4 week payed vacation, from american tax dollars. There are several no intrest bases still open with nothing but 85% host nation on the base with full PX and commissary priviledge, but American retiree’s can not go into Com/PX to purchase goods.while in Germany and Italy but host nation employee does have priviledge in Com/PX and some get free medical/dental. Yet many Americans are paying too much tax’s to fun this free will spending that needs to stop. Close those bases that has no use –like Camp Darby Italy and Leghorn Depot Italy. We need to stop wasting money.

As a Lima native, but concerned citizen, this is a big dilemma. I think the answer is not to buy tanks to keep the supply chain occupied, but rather procure some other system, for Navy, Air Force, MDA, etc.

The skills remain, yet you don’t just keep buying stuff you don’t need.

GEESH!! Why doesn’t the US simply disband the militery? The current “commander-in-chief”(?) wants, and is doing, the worst possible thing to our military now! Early retirement, forced retirement, RIFs, not raising pay, going up on Tricare premiums, stop making tanks, cutting the defense budget irresponsibly.…what’s next, BYOW (bring your own weapon)? Jimmy Carter AND Slick Willie Clinton raped our military and we have paid the price for it over the past 8 to 10 years! “Speak softly, but carry a BIG stick!” is still an excellent military stradegy. If foreign countries do not respect us, we had better make damn sure they FEAR us!! The US would be far better off having a part time Congress and a full time military! Our enemies will strike us the very second they feel our military is weak! This very same thing happened on 07 December, 1941 when our military was ill prepared to wage war! It is incumbant on all legal American citizens to assure history does NOT repeat itself!!

“If in time of war it will be months if not years before this facility could be restarted, the unions will see to that.”

My friend..I am a Viet Nam veteran AND a member of the Teamsters Union Local #135 out of Muncie,In. I am offended by your remark quoted above. You certainly sound as if you are calling my Brothers and I unpatriotic. I don’t think that remark is at all pertinent to the debate at hand. However,if a need arises due to a war for a factory to be restarted, I assure you the union brotherhood will be the first to breach those locked doors and get those lines going. And if that factory has already been destroyed by the enemy, we will find another factory to serve the needs of the military or BUILD a new one !

I believe the Bird Colonel Marine who was on the ground asked for tanks, it was Gen. Powell
that turned him downed.

Hey Bill…Can’t those suppliers do anything else? Sure they can, they are a bunch of very talented innovative folks that have given as you and i have given to many theatre’s of WAR. Parts, where are the Parts Houses going to go to support all those tanks. Down the Shitter, Bill… Shall we mothball the whole fleet and turn them into razor blades like the USS Enterprise? The biggest reason ships don’t make it to sea… PARTS… Why did Germany loose WWII, Parts Bill.

Fuel, Parts, and PEOPLE win wars. If we do away with plants like this, we will loose those that know how to do the jobs that count in a non-nuclear environment. Remember the Battle Ships…We ended up wanting to bring back to service but could’nt? We must learn by our mistakes, have a Great Day, Bill.…

Dennis Blodgett, E-8, USN, Retired

There used to be a sign in my orderly room back in the 50’s that was written 250 years before that. “God and the Soldier we all adore in time of danger and not before, the danger past and all things righted, God is forgotten and the Soldier slighted. It seems that SAP’s (Stupid Ass Politicians) will never get message about protecting this country

One word, Javelin. MBT’s have outlived their usefullness. I am an ex-tanker (on M1A1’s) so I don’t want to see them go, but with Javelin’s on the battlefield, all armor is defeated and by a very small, portable and team. A RPG can go through the top armor on the turret.

This is something like who is going to hang the bell on the cat. One thousand men with 1,000 bazooks can do an awful lot of damage to a tank division — and the cost is a lot less than 1,000 tanks. The catch is that it takes an awful lot of guts to stand up to a tank — and such individuals may be more rare than the cost of one tank.
But, on the chance your enemy has a lot of stupid suicide people available you better have a lot of tanks on hand.

We shut down the tank plant in Detroit/Warren, MI because we figured Lima would always be there. Abrams Tanks are only produced two places in the world: Lima, Ohio and Cairo, Egypt (actually in Abu Zabal just a short distance from Cairo) and with the political situation in Egypt being what it is we won’t be producing tanks there much longer so the expertise will become extinct if Lima is shut down. Once it’s gone it’s gone. We simply don’t have the right type of industrial base in this country anymore to recover it. They need to look at options to replace the turbine engine in the Abrams with something more fuel efficient and less costly to maintain and they’ll have a tank that’s marketable in foreign military sales markets — and something we could use ourselves. They’d get a heck of a lot more than 3 years of work out of that.

I suspect the Ohio Congressional contingent was all for Army budget cuts.….….until it directly affected an military industry IN Ohio. Now this tank facility is ‘vital’ to national security — how trite their pleas!

The Army knows their own business and seems willing to make the necessary sacrifices to their infrastructure to ease the taxpayer burden No Matter where that budget cut affects regional (even national) economy.

As for subsidiary industries who supply parts for the Abrams.……well, there’s a lot of parts in a lot of cars, buses, trucks & planes. Time to diversify.

One word, TROPHY.

The current Comander in Chief killed Osama, killed over 30 El-Qaida top operatives, produced the largest single budgetary increase to the VA in history to care for our brothers who will never be the same physically and/or mentally after more tours than any Nam vet ever saw. I say that after serving in the Mariines 68 and 69 and then being recruited by the boys from Langley to NOT be in Laos/Cambodia and NOT to conduct field ops from the Parrots Beak to the Fish Hook and all throughout the Briarpatch. After NOT volunteering to sign away my citizenship and NOT being part of operation Outcome and NEVER being part of the non-existant Alpha 17 group and for NEVER being shot 3 times in combat and for NOT being the sole survivour of a helicopter crash which ended my non-existant carrer in covert ops.

Pease indulge me if I choose to respect the current Commander in Chief because of the office he holds. Remember the old adage, you may not respect the man, but you will respect the uniform and the rank? In the field we cared not if you were Democrat or Republican, black, white, hispanic, italian, or which branch you came from; former Ranger, Recon, SEAL, Airborne, Green Beret. We all depended upon one another for our survival and we trusted in each other to honor the code between brothers in arms; better to fall forever holding the line than bring dishonor to yourself, your unit or your country. Take it for what it is worth, butt honestly Mike what do I know? I’m just passing through.

I think it is time to re-think this entire thing.. It is time to start building the first generation BOLO’s!! *grin*

(if you do not know what that is, look for the series of books about BOLO’s — imagine basically a tank the size of a football field, with the number of turrets and calibres of 4 Iowa class battleships, the defenses of 10 Aegis class cruisers, the missile load out of another 10 Aegis class cruisers AND 10 tomahawk equipped subs. Finally add in all the small items like decoys, ecm suites, drones and so on and you have a BOLO! :-)

Lance, I must disagree about selling any military hardware to any other country. Whether they are allies right now or not. Israel has enough of their own fighting equipment. We just don’t need any weapons used against US troops like Afghanistan and Iraq have and where given to them by the CIA during their war with Russia. This I know as fact. I’m no military specialist just an American who looks ahead at things that could possibly happen down the road. I do not want to see the plant closed at all. That means people out of work and we have enough of that, Retool it if necessary but don’t close it.

I saw that demoed on the military channel. Its pretty bad ass.

Let’s see. The Repubs and Tea Party folks made an issue of the deficit and called for budget cuts, but only vets and old folks get to bare the brunt of the costs. Right? Buckwheat?.…Really? You must make the Grand Dragon and all the other bigots proud. None are so blind that will not see.

People & ‘experts’ have been writing off tanks since the end of WW2, except in reality, the tank has fought in every major engagement since then. And that is not going to change.

Actually two, you should add on Tactics. Combined Arms training will help eliminate this threat before they can shoot.

If this is about saving money, we should replace the engines on the M-1, M-2/3 Bradley, AAV, Paladin and M113 with a more advanced engines based upon the same components and technology. I would also have several company’s producing it.

We’ll be bringing lots of various vehicles home that will need repair and upgrading.

Repurpose the line to do that.

I’m down with your comment Piper. All the tests on the Strykers were flawed and yet the army decided they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. So for the hundreds of lives lost around the SBCT’s F–k all you mental midgets in the pentagon and senators that reaped all your monetary rewards for fielding this death trap, the blood of the soldiers lost are on your hands and I hope you all get your just due on judgment da

How fast can we reestablish manfacturing infrastructure?? Remove the plants workers and the economis there will dry up as will the workers, the plant, and other aspects of related business.

Train the tanks out to the Deserts in the west and produce a massive storage facility. Slow the line down bt keep it going…

Uh don’t be so sure. One LT hit a T34 TWENTY TWO times with a bazooka as part of TF Smith in Korea. The T34 kept going.

No, it was Les Aspin.

Imagine in the “normal” world of commerce where a contract comes to an end and you then have to pay the supplier to close his production line! Get Real!!
It is up to the Supplier to find more work when one line comes to an end — since when is it the government’s job to find work for contractors?
The contractual arrangements for defence contractors need some serious revision, as do your laws governing the conflicts of interest of the congressmen — if they are directly affected by a potential decision, it should be the same as in business — you recuse yourself.

Absolutely right Tony, and thats how it works for the sub-tier suppliers. For a unique component that does not have a commercial use, when the contract ends, you stop building the component. If the company does not have enuogh other things to make, the workers are let go and that is that. Eventually, things like the detailed assembly drawings, tooling, fixturing and test equipment are scrapped. If the customer then decided that they needed to re-procure, thats just tough as the item is no longer available and you are years away from producing it again.
My company produces a key component of the M1A1’s weapons system… a component that gives it one of its more important advantages in combat and when our line goes away, there is no substitute.

Good Evening Folks,

Well this posting by DT has been up now for ten days come Monday. It looks like there has been some personal changes happening at mil​.com, again.

Once upon a time, not long ago, this was a vibrant site with a lot of good discussion on both side of issues and going into greater depth then even the decision makers in Washington were willing to going into, but that is all in the past.

Heritage Foundation and others who have been a (the) source of funding for mil​.com are dying proportionally to the decline in the defense budget. The DoD is moving on not back to the 1990’s.

It really to bad that this site is in decline because there is a lot of exciting issues in military technology and the direction of defense spending that need to be vented in the public forum. With limited budgets the DoD need the kind of input that was once found here more then ever.

The internet as well as nature adheres a vacuum and a replacement site for robust debate on issues of DoD procurement, technology and accusation.

Byron Skinner

The Iraqi Army didn’t surrender to the Air Force. It surrendered to the Army and Marines. Once again you’re flat out wrong that the A-10s and Apaches did more damage than ground forces. Iraqi generals themselves said the Air Force hurt them, but our armored divisions wiped them off the map.

Too many buy the narrative that Desert Storm was a cake walk. For many of the units in 7th Corps it wasn’t. We faced a determined defender who actually fought.


There will always be a need for tanks in combat, there is a reason why they are called, “Queen of Battle”. The last thing you want, is to be caught on a battle field tanks. That fight would be over before it start.

“God will do what god will do, in his own time”

That should be, “Caught on the battle field without tanks”.

This comment raises the question as to how the “tank destroyer” role is allocated across the system of systems. The concensus post-WWII answer became the main battle tank. Fort Benning has fought hard to break out of this position, and quite frankly, they are almost there — one way or another. Although loss of air superiority is a terrific threat to armored fighting vehicles, I don’t think you can just assume that level of air dominance in your force design — or that this obviated direct fire antitank roles. If you want to make the case that a smaller armored vehicle footprint increases survivability, do so, but I don’t think any of this obsoletes the main battle tank’s role as we have come to understand it. Frankly, FCS reduced the “tank” (MCS) role to just a tank destroyer with an auxiliary indirect fire mission. Not what I would have done.

top dog — The Infantry is the “Queen of Battle”. Google it. Armor is called “the combat arm of decision”. We need tanks but they don’t need to steal the Infantry’s nickname.

“The concensus post-WWII answer became the main battle tank. Fort Benning has fought hard to break out of this position, and quite frankly, they are almost there — one way or another.” WHAT? Where did that grandiose statement come from? What are you talking about? Tanks have ALWAYS been the best anti-tank platform but it’s not the “tank destroyer” we’ve always had weapon systems organic to the Infantry to destroy tanks and it’n NOT an MBT. That’s why we have an wrmor branch. You clearly don’t understand the role of the branches or how combined arms is supposed to work (coupled with a manic dislike of anything Benning, get OVER it!).

As for the FCS MCS role that was Knox’s fault. The branch didn’t see enough opportunity in the “speed and power” role and started to muscle in on artillery’s mission and play in “networked fires”.

BTW, in WWII Tank Destroyers (Halftracks with french 75mm’s, M10s, M36s) were manned and owned by the Infantry.

Actually, in WWII there was a separate tank destroyer branch, with units both organic and attached to the infantry divisions. Independent tank battalions were also attached, since there were no tanks organic to the infantry divisions in WWII. All this changed in the 60s with the onset of ROAD divisions and the mechanization of most infantry divisions. Since the Cold War ended, we have been going the other way. As far as “horning in” on the artillery’s role, tanks have always had the capability to operate in an indirect fire role — we never trained for it, but the possibility existed. Once you abandon the main battle tank, you end up with the question of what do to with the “infantry tank” role — a perfectly legitimate mission that the US Army has, from time to time, badly underemphasized.

“Since the Cold War ended, we have been going the other way.” Grandiose unsupported statement (again).

“Once you abandon the main battle tank…” Another grandiose statement. Ugh, (facepalm) We are not abandoning the MBT.

And back to your original bluster… “Fort Benning has fought hard to break out of this position, and quite frankly, they are almost there — one way or another.” You have ZERO support for that statement.

BTW Tank destroyer units were disbanded immediately after WWII not in the 60’s. You can’t just pull stuff out of thin air as if it’s fact.

Misunderstanding 1: I was referring to the inclusion of tank battalions in Infantry Divisions, not the dissolution of the Tank Destroyer branch.

Misunderstanding 2: IN speaking of the “abandonment” of the MBT, I was simply pointing out that the roles gotta go somewhere. Reducing the tank platform to a tank destroyer — pretty much the design approach taken on the FCS MCS (irrespective of the added BLOS role) begs the question. about other MBT roles. I use old-fashioned WWII terms like “infantry tank” and “cavalry tank” to draw out the distinction. Leslie McNair was so dogmatically committed to the cavalry tank as the one and only role for US tanks in WWII that the M26 Pershing nearly didn’t make it to the field. Reading Eisenhowers pre-WWII writings only exposes how behind we were in our thinking about tank development back then and how deep-seated the rivalry between the Infantry and Cavalry branches held us back.

You do know FCS MCS is dead? How else are we moving away from the MBT? Are you familiar with the M1A3 configuration? What proof do you have of this Ft. Benning cabal to can the MBT?

My problem is you make grandiose unsupportable statements which fail to sound prophetic but are hilarious imitaions of “Chicken Little”.

Look, the number of heavy brigades and the number of tanks in the heavy brigades keeps going down. In retrospect, it is crystal clear that what the Army did in standing up the Stryker brigades was to add Strykers to the former light infantry division organizations AND to convert heavy brigades to Stryker brigades. Now we are downsizing again, the Stryker brigades are being reduced at a lesser rate than HBCTs. It is kind of as if we had fielded FCS without building the MGV plaforms. So you get all the disadvantages of FCS in terms of survivability and firepower without the advantages. Too many people think that the proper model for the Army is to turn it into just a larger Marine Corps.

I would also point in the context of this thread is that the really sneaky play on the adminstration’s part is that if they squeeze more tanks out of the active force, that is fewer tanks they need for reset. So there is a direct relationship between the cost of reset and the number of tanks that need to come out of Lima before they shut the place down.

“Now we are downsizing again, the Stryker brigades are being reduced at a lesser rate than HBCTs.”

VP, it looks like they’re going to eliminate the 4th BCT of every division (and a Cavalry Regiment) and add a 3rd battalion to the remaining BCTs. This is what the breakdown of the reduction will probably look like unless they redesign some of the remaining BCTs:

7 IBCTs (2 of them airborne), 2 SBCTs, 2 HBCTs

VP — The number of tanks in heavy brigades has been going down since WWII & 5 tank platoons. So has the number of infantryman (we used to have 11 man squads and four rifle companies with FOUR plts at one time. It’s not a Ft. Benning plot.

Secondly, SBCTs are much beefier than FCS formations. For one they have 30% more infantry. Additionally, there is the MGS which isn’t as survivable as the MCV may have been but niether is the Stryker. The FCS comparison is hollow.

Everyone is getting the shaft. It’s not just the tankers.

My bad. Forgot about the two HBCTs in Europe getting axed in the next year. Add those to my numbers.

Richard You are tuely missinformed to a point its doubtful you can be educated. Any study showing that the M-1 120mm round was not capable of penetrating the frontal armor of soviet armor was a pure fabrication by someone who didnt know what they were talking about. I have seen T-62’s and 72s that were knocked out by sabot rounds at 3000 meters plus by M1’s. The testing you may be thinking of was done with HEAT rounds and they were proven to be unreliable to take out a russian tank for a frontal shot. The T-90 is as big a piece of unreliable crap as its prediccesor the T-72. It was just updated. BTW if the T-80s and 90s are so great why did the russians pull them all out of Chechnia and leave only T-72“s? Hint they are much rader to take out than the new tanks. Also the old bazookas you speak of were not designed to take out the newer tanks the Chinese had and the rounds the MPs were using had not been properly stored and most were duds. When the upgraded to the next generation weapon they had zero problems taking out the chinese tanks. Also if you’ve ever been to Korea you would know that korea is a horrible place for tank warfare. No maneuver room so they are sitting ducks.

William the Tank you speak of will sport a 152mm main gun. It will be both an infantry support vehicle and anti armor. They had to seriously upgrade the size of the gun to be able to take on an M-1

Israel is still using US M60’s, they will take anything that is donated — that is.

I see no future in NOT selling M1s to our best allies, who might need them. The Japanese would probably like to cancel their MBTX program costing billions of yen, when they could buy a proven US design cheap with the difference of US dollars to yen. I agree that “selling” arms to some allies ends up a charity mission, where we don’t really get paid for anything.

India will never be a threat to any overseas nation, and such a move would help counterbalance both Pakistan and Iran. The enemy would have to have a comparible air force to ours before a tank could be a credible threat, no matter how good the design. Besides, most nations that may turn on us in the future have poor training, command, and logistics compared to the US — hardly a credible threat no matter how they are armed.

Maybe we should consider selling new M1s in the monkey model format. No Chobham armor? Maybe leave out some of the newer gun handling/observation advances?

At least the South Koreans can afford an M1 to compliment their forces, unlike many of our allies.

My biggest concern is US steel. However, they have proven once again that they can even compete on the world market, and only in the US can the tapered steel tubes for wind turbines be made. We still have innovation on our side, but I wonder with the crumbling education system, how long that will last.

Also our labs have come up with new alloys on aluminum armor that has amazing projectile resistance, plus advances in composite technology may make metal armor obsolete. Even if one industry lags, a completely new one jumps up to replace it. Because of this, I’m not sure the lost of obsolete skills and manufacturing infrastructure is necessarily a disaster.

It is kinda pointless to remember obsolete technology. If you gave Space X the money and let them call on the design parameters instead of the politicians, they could have us going back to the moon in short order. And way cheaper in 2012 dollars than the Saturn V.

Hmm! I thought a BOLO was somebody who flunked the marksmanship fire on the range in basic training. :p ?

Running out of money? Shoot! Now there won’t be any place for the indubitable Byron to post! ]:)

Military retirees with valid ID cards can shop at the NEX and commissary on NAS Sigonella (NAS I), in Sicily. My last shopping trip at these facilities before I returned to the states was 26 Jun 12. The policy was in effect before I arrived in Sicily on 31 Oct 07. I doubt it has changed since my departure.

Good comment. I worked on the A-6, F-14, Lunar Module, Joint STARS, am now retired and losing the skills that made me a Valuable Weapons Systems Engineer. Now, I and my peers with all that experience are too old to put in the hours to save these capabilities we developed. The wors thing though is that we aren’t educating enough engineers and scientists to fill the gaps. The switch to get turned back on will take 5–10 years of turning out gifted imaginative talented engineers to get the lines running again. The thing I hear from current engineers is there still is the rice bowl mentality dictating/limiting capability expansion. For example, why not use J-STARS to run RPV’s as part of its mission, not just be a surveillance platform, but increase/expand its capabilities to include Strike also.



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