2019-09-30 23:07:58 UTC
How come only the US Army decided to use a gas turbine for its M1 Abrams
main battle tank despite its advantages while all other countries chose
Michael O'Malley, Public Safety Service Operator
Answered 19h ago · Upvoted by Joe Parish, former SSG, CBRN NCO (Chemical
Ops) at U.S. Army (1999-2006) and Tony Winkler, Former Infantry Marine,
The first thing that must be understood about the Abrams, the one piece
of perspective that makes everything else about it make sense, is this:
In 1970, the United States decided it was possible to defeat the Warsaw
Pact in conventional battle in Europe.
That's it. That's the show.
From 1950–1970, the Soviet juggernaut was considered invincible.
Mutually Assured Destruction was the strategy. If the USSR had gone West
in 1965, the NATO allies would have used up their available ground
forces, then plastered most of everything from the Netherlands to
Switzerland, Bonn to Moscow, with thermonuclear fire, then retreated to
a handful of facilities and waited for the Soviet bombs to drop.
Nuclear Armageddon. The 7th Angel pouring their bowl forth. Game over, man.
Something weird happened in the 1970′s, though. The Space Race began to
alter how the US saw itself, especially in comparison to the USSR.
Remember, the West knew diddly-squat about the true state and power of
the Communist East… until Apollo straight up left the Soviets eating dust.
The West also started to get better intelligence assets. Not Human ones,
those had always been in the game, and by necessity taken with a grain
of salt. No, the West started getting pictures from satellites. Started
tapping in on phones with microwave antennas far above the Earth.
Started to find out that the Red Army was mostly a paper tiger.
In addition, Vietnam had really rattled a lot of American cages. It had
become clear that draftees just… weren't good enough anymore. Not the
levels of patriotism or verve the vast majority of draftees brought to
the Service, but the time needed to make a modern warrior. A proper
Infantryman now took nearly 18 months to train correctly. Tankers,
aviators, sailors in Nuclear powered ships, they needed even longer to
train. And so the United States and much of NATO (not all), went to
volunteer units, who stayed in at least 4 years instead of 2.
The Soviets didn't.
A strange thing happens with volunteer forces. By virtue of greater
practice and training, not to mention lots of people wanting a second
hitch, or even a career, you start developing a really professional
fighting force that knows what it is about. They can handle weapons
systems that drafted Soldiers simply cancannot learn in time to be useful.
And so weapons develop in complexity and power.
This brings me back to the Abrams. Its turbine was adopted at a time
when Abrams was a lot lighter, and was governed to 50mph, not that much
faster than other NATO tanks of the day. However, my father trained the
3rd Infantry Division's maintenance guys on their new Abrams back in the
80′s. In a pinch, a real pinch, that governor came right off and the
engine worked just fine without it, allowing the Abrams to sprint at far
greater speeds and still hit T-72 size targets at 1,000 meters or more.
See, the German Bundeswehr had to, for obvious reasons, defend every
inch of their soil. Can't very well just allow the Soviets to march all
the way to the Rhine and then start resisting. However, even the mighty
US Army was not going to stop the whole Soviet Army right on the border,
so the idea was this:
Set up in a line, foxholes, artillery aiming points, close air support
to include A-10s, Apache helicopters, and F-16s, and wait. The Soviets
would attack in Echelon, one regiment following the next. Remember,
simpler tactics because their guys have not practiced as much. The NATO,
especially American, units, were to rip the faces off that first
echelon, kill as many Soviets as possible, and then disappear.
Pull back a kilometer or two, and get set in the same sort of positions.
Do this again and again and again until the spearpoint of the Soviet
Army, equipped by 1985 with T-62, T-72, and T-80 tanks, was destroyed.
The Soviets would increasingly place their Category B divisions (broadly
equivalent to US Army Reserve formations) in the field with older equipment.
And NATO would push into the attack.
The Abrams-equipped US Army would race forward, supported by British,
French, and West German troops, would begin a blitzkrieg style assault
across Germany, aiming generally at Moscow. Here, again, the turbine
engine if the Abrams would shine once more, outpacing anything the enemy
could throw up, annihilating support and maintenance battalions, and
making further resistance by Soviet front line troops untenable.
Eventually, the Soviet Army or the Soviet leadership would collapse.
Most leading thinkers on the subject figure the Soviet Union would
release Nuclear weapons against a single target, probably in England,
and then the United States would respond from Minuteman silos in the
Continental United States to make the point- yes, MAD is still in
effect. At which point, the current Soviet leadership would likely be
overthrown and executed, and the matter settled at the conference table.
All of this to say that the US picked a turbine engine because
blitzkrieg remains the best way to defeat Russia, and the United States
does blitzkrieg better than anyone else.
23.7k views · View Upvoters · Answer requested by Ellie Williams