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

The Army’s conceptual focus for its future main battle tank is to find an optimal balance between heavy combat survivability and mobility, speed and lethality. What is the optimal mix that offers the best available protection from heavy enemy attacks while leveraging a variety of new paradigm-shifting technologies in light armor composites, active protection systems, artificial intelligence (AI), electronics, and long-range lethality?

The General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) AbramsX demonstrator is an attempt to provide game-changing avenues and answers to these questions as it weaves critical heavy armor technologies into a new tank design built with a new generation of GDLS-driven innovations. An open-architecture platform developed with a technical configuration using common standards and internet protocols that GDLS calls “Catalyst”, the AbramsX aims to be continuously modernized while bringing a paradigm-shifting lethality to the current fight. As a result, the AbramsX could answer short-term questions about the best technology mix for heavily armored platforms, while evolving over the coming years to adapt to a rapidly changing threat environment.

While GDLS has been known for decades for its major combat platforms such as the Abrams tanks and the Stryker vehicle, the company has recently increased its focus on innovation and internally funded research and analysis of disruptive or breakthrough technologies. Many of these technologies are built into the AbramsX, say senior GDLS weapons developers, and introduce new generations of combat capabilities. The same applies to the StrykerX demonstrator, which GDLS also recently presented.

“It’s lighter, has a much more efficient hybrid electric power pack so you don’t use as much fuel, and it has an advanced electronic architecture that uses AI and machine learning to study how the vehicle’s subsystems work together,” Tim Reese, director of US business development at GDLS, said the national interests in an interview. “This is our internal investment and that of our partners; it is not yet an Army record program. It’s a technology demonstrator. We demonstrate technologies to the army that we believe will solve a problem we now have or give them new capabilities that they don’t have.”

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While many of the details of some of the technologies built into the AbramsX are unavailable due to safety concerns, Reese’s comment on lighter technologies is quite significant given the AbramsX’s ability to function at sixty tons, approximately twelve tons less than a currently upgraded Abrams tank. This massively increases mobility, deployability and speed for combat maneuvers, but the AbramsX architecture also allows for additional heavy armor protection when a specific threat payload requires it.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor of the national interests. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a senior professional in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement, Logistics and Technology. Osborn has also worked as a presenter and on-air military specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Flickr/US Department of Defense.