The U.S. Army and its European NATO counterparts are falling behind Russia in fielding modern tanks, with potentially fatal consequences for their performance in future conflicts. The latest Russian main battle tank, dubbed Armata, is equipped with active protection systems and other refinements not found in NATO forces. When these qualitative advantages are combined with the quantitative edge Russia would enjoy in the Eastern European theater of military operations, it becomes clear our own Army needs to greatly accelerate production of its latest Abrams tank variant. Prime contractor General Dynamics has proposed a solution that would upgrade the tanks in all of the Army’s heavy brigades in just five years, while reducing the cost of each vehicle by at least 15%. The proposal would only cost about four hour’s worth of federal spending per year beyond what was already planned, but it could make a huge difference in a military campaign. America’s soldiers can’t wait two decades to receive better tanks, which is the vector on which the Obama administration set Army modernization. The world has changed, and America needs to field better tanks that can survive encounters with “near-peer” threats like Russia. I have written a commentary for RealClearDefense here.
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