Members of the US Army’s 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team from the 4th Infantry Division deployed to Europe in January in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
As their time in Europe draws to a close, “Iron Brigade” members took part in the Combine Resolve IX live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr training area in southeast Germany from August 19 to 24.
The drill saw tanks and mechanised infantry work with artillery, combat engineers, close-air support, and unmanned aerial reconnaissance in a mock defensive engagement, focusing on manoeuvring with speed against a conventional opponent.
Combined Resolve IX is “a culminating event for our readiness progression as well as the deployment,” Army Maj. Michael Harrison, operations officer for the brigade, said this week. “This strengthens our readiness and ability to fight as a brigade.”
The exercise was the sixth brigade-level combined-arms live-fire drill the Iron Brigade has done in the past 13 months — four of them have taken place during the unit’s nine-month Atlantic Resolve rotation, which started when they arrived in Europe in January.
“We are very well trained,” Harrison said. “When we go back to Fort Carson, Colorado, our level of readiness will be extremely high, especially when we transition back to our own training area.”
Before they return stateside, however, members of the unit took apart an Abrams tank for maintenance, showing off some of the heavy metal that powers the 'Iron Brigade.'
The M1 Abrams tank was introduced in 1980, replacing the M60 tank. It first saw action in the Gulf War in 1991. The original M1 was followed by the M1A1 and M1A2 variants. As of 2013, more than 9,000 of them have been delivered to the US military.
The M1 Abrams series is powered by a Honeywell AGT 1,500-horsepower gas-turbine engine. It can push the M1A1 and M1A2 to a maximum governed speed of 67km/h, or cross country at 18km/h.
The M1 and M1A1 -- weighing 60 tons and 63 tons, respectively -- can accelerate from zero to 32km/h in seven seconds, while the M1A2, which weighs 69.54 tons, can do so in 7.2 seconds. The M1 and M1A1 have cruising ranges of 430km, while M1A2 has a 420km range.
The M1A1 and M1A2 carry a 120mm M256A1 smoothbore cannon, with a .50-calibre M2 machine gun and two 7.62mm M240 machine guns backing it up.
The Army is also looking to deploy the M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams variant in the 2020s, with next-generation sights, sensors, and targeting systems, as well as a more lethal 120mm multipurpose tank round.
The Army is also close to deciding whether to equip tanks and armoured vehicles with active-protection systems to defend against antitank rounds and missiles that have proliferated on the battlefield.
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