As the centerpiece of the military’s armored strike forces is the M1A2 battle tank. Its one mission is to engage and destroy any opposing armored vehicle on the modern battlefield. The M1A2 is one of the best protected main tanks in use today, due to the use of steel encased depleted uranium armor. It is designed to absorb the energy of an impact while preventing penetration into the interior of the tank.
The main weapon on the M1A2 is a 120-mm type M-256 smoothbore cannon which is able to fire two types of ammunition: kinetic energy penetrator rounds and high-explosive rounds. The gun is extremely accurate, thanks in part to the advanced digital fire control computer and a gun stabilization platform. These features allow the tank to move over rough terrain and still maintain the ability to hit targets. This gun has a rate of fire of six rounds per minute.
Two other guns are on the M1A2, the Commander’s gun and the Loader’s gun. The Commander’s gun is a top-mounted .50-caliber heavy machine gun that is operated with a remote control, allowing the shooter to remain fully protected within the turret. The Loader’s gun is a top-mounted M-240 7.62-mm machine gun to be used against unarmored targets. This gun is controlled manually, so the shooter must be partially exposed when using the weapon.
The M1A2 has a very powerful engine, a 1,500 horsepower gas turbine engine, which is basically a jet engine that can run on jet fuel, gasoline, or diesel. The vehicle can reach speeds of over 40 mph, despite being nearly 70 tons. Averaging .6 miles per gallon, the M1A2 gives new meaning to the term “gas hog”.