Principle Author: Austin "Gurdy" Watt
The M1A2 Abrams is an upgrade of the American M1A1 main battle tank. It features an independent thermal sight for the tank commander and ability to, in in sucession, shoot at two targets without the need to acquire each one individually.
The M1A2SEP (System Enhancement Package) kit upgraded the M1A2 armor protection with 3rd generation Heavy Armor Package. For greater survivability tank can also be upgraded with TUSK I and TUSK II up armor kit that contains multilayer ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) M19 and M32 ARAT-2 (Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles – 2) modules, M19 and M32 modules are combined together to improve protection of the hull sides, and M32 modules in standalone version are used to improve protection of the turret sides. Combination of M19 and M32 modules can provide high degree level of protection even against tandem warheads, as well as EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator) threats.
It features an independent panoramic thermal sight for the tank commander which is called CITV (Commander Independent Thermal Viewer) with 2nd generation FLIR and ability to, provide gunner and commander with so called Hunter-Killer mode. Hunter-Killer mode describes working order for commander and gunner, which means that gunner and commander provides continuous scan of their respective observation sectors, if commander detects a target, he can turn the turret directly on to this specific target and hand it over for gunner to take out, while in the same time, commander resumes scanning for another target.
Besides CITV display, commander also received FBCB2/BFT multipurpose display, this however come at price, because displays take a lot of space, CWS commander cupola with remotely controlled M2HB/M2A1 machine gun have no space for it’s internal rotation system, thus was replaced with fixed ICWS (Improved Commander Weapon Station) cupola, while this design uses flex mount for commander machine gun, which requires manual operation and thus also exposure of commander upper torso, this new cupola also provides greater visibility from the inside with it’s large 8 periscopes, compared to smaller 6 periscopes of the previous CWS cupola found on M1A1’s.
The gunner received also new upgraded sights, with 2nd generation FLIR, and upgraded FCS (Fire Control System) which were later on also shared with modernized older variants of the M1A1 to the M1A1SA and M1A1FEP variants.
The M1A2 features a powerful gas turbine engine, Honeywell AGT-1500 being able to produce 1500HP coupled with modern X-1100-3B hydrokinetic transmission, this powerpack can use a variety of fuels, including jet fuel, gasoline, diesel and Marine Diesel. One of it's most notable features is the separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety, which means that even if ammunition starts to cook off, flames and gas pressure energy will be released away from the crew and vehicle itself, while armored blast doors will contain them away from vehicle interior.
Ammo storage in this tank is 42 rounds total, 36 in turret bustle magazines (2 x 18 rounds) and 6 in hull magazine placed between turret and engine compartment. However because reload from the hull magazine to the turret magazines demands rotation of turret to proper position, and takes time, at the moment tanks in the mod can take only 36 rounds in total, which is also a practiced method by some real world crews. The main armament of the M1A2 is the M256A1 120 mm smoothbore gun, contrary to popular opinions it’s not the same as Rheinmetall Rh120/L44 120 mm smoothbore gun used in Leopard 2, but it’s based on the same technology, thus while both guns are not interchangeable, they have the same performance and can fire the same types of ammunition.
The ammunition types for the main gun are:
Inside the turret there's also a coaxial mounted M240. As a secondary weapons it has a M2HB/M2A1 Browning machine gun in front of the commander's hatch that can also be fired from within the tank and a M240 that is mounted in front of the loader's hatch on a skate mount. Coaxial M240 takes around 11400-12000 rounds of 7,62x51mm ammo in total, commander M2HB/M2A1 takes around 1000 12,7x99mm ammo, and loaders M240 takes around 400-800 7,62x51mm ammo.
Additionally a coaxial M2HB/M2A1 can be mounted above the main gun as a part of the TUSK upgrade kit. It takes around 400 12,7x99mm ammo in total.
At the moment the only variant of M1A2SEP available in the mod is M1A2SEPv1.
The FCS includes a rangefinder that can be activated with the key to lock target ( by default T ) and displays the distance to the target in the crosshair, if kept unmoved it will be locked in a second ( displaying a little square in front of the distance ). FCS can also calculate the lead for moving target, in such case player can notice that turret moves independently to gunners sight, this is when FCS induce lead.
Lead is the term used to refer to putting a gun in front of a target which is moving perpendicular to your vantage point. When you lead a target, you essentially need to fire in front of target at the point in which the round and target will meet.
Important to note is that when firing at stationary targets, it’s best to dump the lead ( by default G ) so any mouse movement will not cause the FCS to calculate lead and moving the turret, thus causing a miss. During movement it’s also best to not exceed speed of 45-50 km/h, because modern tanks FCS stabilization systems can keep up only up to this speed, otherwise FCS accuracy will drop significantly.
The rangefinder only works at distances from 200 meters to 5,000 meters for the main gun, and 200 meters to 1200 meters for coaxial machine gun.
The first image show a distance tracked and the second locked.
The key N switch to thermal vision modes. Zoom can be activated with + and deactivate with -.
Modern sights of M1A2 series currently used variants have zoom level specific for day and thermal channels for both gunner primary sight.