November 9, 2012 5:14 PM | By Steve Mertl for MSN Autos
The world’s most powerful military vehicles

Abrams M1A1/2 main battle tank

Abrams M1A1/2 main battle tank (© Photo: US Army/ABACA)
  • Taiwan CM11 main battle tank (© Photo: AP Photo/Wally Santana)
  • South Korean K1A1 main battle tank (© Photo: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
  • Israeli Defence Forces Merkava tank (© Photo: AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Syrian Army BMP infantry combat vehicle (© Photo: AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)
  • Abrams M1A1/2 main battle tank (© Photo: US Army/ABACA)
  • U.S. Army M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (© Photo: AP Photo, Hamza Hendawi)
Photo: US Army/ABACAShow Thumbnails
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There's deep irony in the Iraqi government ordering 125 American-built Abrams heavy tanks in 2008, five years after coalition forces, led by Abrams and British Challengers, scythed through Saddam Hussein's regular army and Republican Guard divisions, which were equipped with Soviet-era T-72s and Chinese Type 69 tanks, derived from the even older T-55.

The Abrams, weighing in at almost 70 tons, has been updated regularly since it was first introduced in 1980 with better armour, weapons and electronic systems. The current M1 features a 120-mm smoothbore gun firing NATO standard armour-piercing and high-explosive rounds, augmented by two machine guns. Unlike the diesels found in other heavy tanks, the Abrams' 1,500-hp engine is a gas turbine, chosen for its quieter operation. It gives the tank a road speed of 56 km/h and an off-road speed of 40 km/h.

Besides Iraq's Abrams, shown here on Iraqi Army exercises, the M1 has been exported to Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

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