M1A2 ABRAMS SEP - SYSTEM ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM

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M1A2 ABRAMS SYSTEM ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM (SEP)

Further M1A2 improvements, called the System Enhancement Program (SEP), are underway to enhance the tank's digital command and control capabilities and to to improve the tank's fightability and lethality. M1A2 SEP tanks were scheduled to begin fielding in 2000. The M1A2 System Enhanced Program (SEP) is an upgrade to the computer core that is in essence of the M1A2 tank.

The SEP upgrade includes improved processors, color and high resolution flat panel displays, increased memory capacity, user friendly Soldier Machine Interface (SMI) and an open operating system that will allow for future growth. Major improvements include the integration of the Second Generation Forward Looking Infared (2nd Gen FLIR) sight, the Under Armor Auxiliary Power Unit (UAAPU) and a Thermal Management System (TMS).

The 2nd Generation Forward Looking InfraRed sighting system (2nd Gen FLIR) will replace the existing Thermal Image System (TIS) and the Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer. The incorporation of 2nd Gen FLIR into the M1A2 tank will require replacement of all 1st Gen FLIR components. From the warfighter perspective, this is one of the key improvements on the SEP.

The 2nd Gen FLIR is a fully integrated engagement-sighting system designed to provide the gunner and tank commander with significantly improved day and night target acquisition and engagement capability. This system allows 70% better acquisition, 45% quicker firing and greater accuracy. In addition, a gain of 30% greater range for target acquisition and identification will increase lethality and lessen fratricide.

Changes to the M1A2 Abrams Tank contained in the System Enhancement Program (SEP) and "M1A2 Tank FY 2000" configuration are intended to improve lethality, survivability, mobility, sustainability and provide increased situational awareness and command and control enhancements necessary to provide information superiority to the dominant maneuver force. The System Enhancement Program (SEP) allows for digital data dissemination with improved ability to optimize information based operations and maintain a relevant common picture while executing Force XXI full dimensional operation. This enhancement increases capability to control the battlefield tempo while improving lethality and survivability. Finally to ensure crew proficiency is maintained, each Armor Battalion is fielded an improved Advanced Gunnery Training System (AGTS) with state-of-the-art graphics.

System Enhancement Program upgrades are intended to:

* improve target detection, recognition and identification with the addition of two 2nd generation FLIR's.
* incorporate an under armor auxiliary power unit to power the tank and sensor suites.
* incorporate a thermal management system to provide crew and electronics cooling.
* increase memory and processor speeds and provide full color map capability.
* provide compatibility with the Army Command and Control Architecture to ensure the ability to share command and control and situational awareness with all components of the combined arms team.


The Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) provides a hunter killer capability. The 2nd GEN FLIR is a variable power sighting system ranging from 3 or 6 power (wide field of view) for target acquisition and 13, 25 or 50 power (narrow field of view) for engaging targets at appropriate range.

Additional weight reduction, embedded battle command, survivability enhancement, signature management, safety improvement, and product upgrade modifications to the M1A2 will comprise the "M1A2 Tank FY 2000" configuration. Initial fielding of the M1A2 to the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, was completed in August 1998. Fielding to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Carson, Colorado is ongoing. Deliveries of the M1A2 (SEP) tank began in August 1999 and fielding began in the third quarter fiscal year 2000.

A multi-year contract for 307 M1A2 Abrams Systems Enhancement Program (SEP) tanks was awarded in March 2001 with production into 2004. The current Army plan allows for a fleet of 588 M1A2 SEP, 586 M1A2 and 4,393 M1A1 tanks. The potential exits for a retrofit program of 129 M1A2 tanks to the SEP configuration between 2004 and 2005. Initial fielding of the M1A2 to the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, was complete by August 1998. Fielding to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Carson, Colorado ended in 2000. Fielding of the M1A2 (SEP) began in spring 2000 with the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, and continues. Rolling over of the 1st Cavalry Division's M1A2 tanks to new M1A2 (SEP) tank began in 2001 and continues.

Increased funding for Stryker and Future Combat Systems (FCS) came as a result of Army decisions in 2002 to terminate or restructure some 48 systems in the FY '04-'09 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) long-term spending plan. Among the systems terminated were: United Defense's Crusader self-propelled howitzer and the A3 upgrade for the Bradley Fighting vehicle, GD's M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Program, Lockheed Martin's Army Tactical Missile System Block II and the associated pre-planned product improvement version of Northrop Grumman's Brilliant Anti-armor (BAT) munitions, Raytheon's Stinger missile and Improved Target Acquisition System, and Textron's Wide Area Mine. The US Army planned to procure a total of 1150 M1A2 SEP tanks, however future Army budget plans suggest that funding may not be available after 2004.

The US Army decided to cancel future production of the M1A2 SEP from FY2004, but in June 2005 ordered the upgraded of a further 60 M1A2 tanks to SEP configuration.

Under the Firepower Enhancement Package (FEP), DRS Techologies has also been awarded a contract for the GEN II TIS to upgrade US Marine Corps M1A1 tanks. GEN II TIS is based on the 480 x 4 SADA (Standard Advanced Dewar Assembly) detector. The FEP also includes an eyesafe laser rangefinder, north-finding module and precision lightweight global positioning receiver which provide targeting solutions for the new Far Target Locate (FTL) function. FTL gives accurate targeting data to a range of 8,000m with a CEP (Circular Error of Probability) of less than 35m.

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