For decades, the US Army’s family of M1 Abrams main battle tanks has been viewed as the king of the battlefield, demonstrating a lethal combination of firepower, mobility and armored protection that have come to symbolize the holy grail of armored warfare. Yet even with its track record and continued upgrade cycle to keep it up-to-date, which now comes in the form of the M1A2 SEP V4 scheduled to be fielded by US armored units in the early 2020s, the Defense Department recognizes that the venerable Abrams tank can only be upgraded to a point before it becomes obsolete and untenable as a fighting platform.
That said, the US Army’s TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center) is currently exploring a multitude of concepts for a new built-from-the-ground-up tank that is not only lighter, but more lethal yet survivable against threats from both the ground as well as the air. We Are the Mighty recently published a report on what just such a system might look like when it is scheduled to hit the battlefield in the 2030s. Integrating an Active Protection System (APS), and updated sensor package, more robust power plant, and latest munitions, the as yet unnamed vehicle will still likely feature tracks as opposed to wheels to get around from point-to-point and could potentially employ a laser weapons system as its primary means of taking on the enemy. More information on what lies ahead can be found here: http://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/the-us-army-next-generation-tank-abrams