The Army has kicked off the new year with upgrades in protection and firepower for its tanks, artillery and ground combat vehicles.

For the armor set, officials announced this month upgrades to an additional 174 Abrams tanks, putting them in line for the System Enhancement Package Version 3 for the M1A2 tank.

That package includes upgraded communications, reliability, sustainment, fuel efficiency and improved armor, according to General Dynamics Land Systems, the company that received the $714 million delivery order.

The communications upgrades integrate the joint tactical radio system handheld, man-pack and small form fit radio for interoperability with modernized brigade combat teams.

One key feature is the line-replaceable modular design so that future tech can be added without a total system overhaul.

The delivery order is part of a larger allotment made official in 2017 that allows the Army to upgrade as many as 435 of its Abrams tanks to this enhanced version.

The Trophy Active Protection System is also going to be added to some of the Abrams fleet. The system defends against anti-tank weapons, which have become more prevalent among adversaries such as Russia.

In the protection system lane, the Army has also selected the Iron Fist anti-missile system to move forward in its evaluation of a system for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

The service has also evaluated systems such as the Iron Curtain for the Stryker.

The medium tactical vehicle fleet isn’t being left out either.

The Army recently announced a $60.7 million contract award to O’gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Co. for Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle protection kits.

That work will run through the end of 2023, according to the announcement, and aims to keep the fleet of transport vehicles such as 7-ton trucks in line with the long-term armor strategy for a robust, protected vehicle formation across the force.

On the big guns side, the Army is looking at adding a slew of new missile launchers, with a plan to award a production contract to Lockheed Martin to build as many as 343 new High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, giving the missile community a host of medium-range rockets to sling downrange.

Not to be left out, traditional artillery is looking to its small business program to come up with a new artillery muzzle brake.

“Given the Army’s Long Range Precision Fires priority, a need exists for novel and innovative muzzle brakes capable of supporting the new extended range cannons and sabot, direct, and indirect munitions currently under development,” according to the posting.

Artillery, missiles and missile defense are top priorities for Army programs including pushing traditional artillery such as 155mm out to ranges never seen before and giving commanders a plethora of fire and counter-fire options in their missile catalog.

Those extended range cannons and rounds are causing added noise and recoil that this design might fix.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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