Last night I posted on the recent (well, continuing) questions about the viability of the Stryker on the battlefield. But, as we all should know, nothing is perfect. Even the M1 Abrams tank: U.S. To Add Survivability Gear To Tanks (subscription only):
The U.S. Army will field its tank urban survivability kit in Iraq this summer, outfitting the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams with additions such as reactive armor, belly armor, thermal sights for the loader and a second .50-caliber machine gun.
The package, known as TUSK, was on display at the 2007 Armor Warfighting Conference April 29 to May 3 here.
–The guys can’t wait,” said Capt. David Centeno, assistant product manager of the TUSK program. –They need this stuff. Every time I go [to Iraq] they ask, ‘When will we get it?'”
Centeno, fresh off a recent trip to Iraq, will return in July to coordinate the fielding of the kits, which will begin in earnest in September, he said. In all, 565 kits will be sent to Iraq over a year.
–The goal is by fall next year, all tanks will be fitted with TUSK,” Centeno said.
MO has covered TUSK before, and for background and images, see The M1 Streetbrawler. (And note that I linked, back in early 2005, to a story entitled Tanks take a beating in Iraq. Sometimes I wonder how good something would have to be to be acceptable to the press…)
And it’s not going to stop with this roll-out.
As the Army begins fielding TUSK, work continues on TUSK II, which will include a rear-view camera for the driver.
Centeno said he hopes to field the cameras in May or June 2008. A similar camera also is in the works for the Bradley armored vehicle.
Also part of TUSK II are 360-degree barriers to protect the tank commander and the loader.
TUSK III is in the works and could include remote-operated weapons systems. Testing is under way to determine which system would work best for the Abrams, Centeno said.
The remote-operated weapon system is shown in the M1 Streetbrawler picture, but apparently won’t be part of the TUSK I program.
UPDATE: Trampoline armor to the rescue?