There are about 100 reasons not to mess with the M1 Abrams, but you get the point.
Even with the first generation M1 Abrams tank no longer at the top of the 10 main battle tanks in the world list, it is still a nightmare for those who think it's just some old relic ready for the scrapyard. The reactive armor and survivability of the Abrams tank is what originally set it apart from others in its class, and little has changed.
The U.S. Army has had the M1 A1 Abrams, and now the M1 A2 SEP (which has seen combat) at its disposal to belay any and all threats to U.S. security for some years now. Between its General Dynamics Honeywell 1,500hp turbine engine, the infrared fighting systems, and the advanced, depleted uranium armor that deflects known anti-tank weapons, the Abrams series is about as kickass as it gets.
But there's more:
A driver, machine gunner, loader, and a gunner are the four positions manned by the four-man crew. The M1 Abrams has a gross weight of about 60-tons. The M1 A1 weighs in at a bit more, around 63 tons, and the M1 A2 tips the scales at about 72 tons. 60 tons is roughly equivalent to 3/4 of the space shuttle.
The M1 A2 SEP has a 40-round armament for a 120mm smoothbore main gun that can shoot a variety of projectiles including high-explosive, anti-tank warhead charge rounds. Along with two 7.62mm machine guns, and a Browning .50 cal M2 machine gun for the tank commander, the M1 A2 can blast you out of existence while traveling at 42 mph.
She's a bit of a gas-guzzler at approximately .6 mpg, but with a 500-gallon fuel capacity, she can still chase you down for about 300 miles and then laugh while running over you. The U.S. military operates about 900 or so of these upgraded and ready-to-go defenders of freedom at any point, but the real number is for the enemy to guess.
The installation of TUSK, or Tank Urban Survivability Kit, provided a key upgrade after the Iraq invasion of 2003, and ended a prime vulnerability in the Abrams. The protection of the crew was so imperative to keeping this beast alive and well to continue the fight.
One interesting fact about the M1: they are a "multifuel-capable" machine, making it possible for the tank to be powered by kerosene, diesel, gasoline, or even jet fuel.
One of the best things about the M1 Abrams is its sheer volume since its introduction. The United States Army and United States Marine Corps have around 8,100 M1, M1 A1, and M1 A2 tanks combined. Or is it more?
We'll never tell.
The M1 A2 Abrams tanks and M1 A1 tanks and their tank crews have a situational awareness and heavy armor protection that kicked butt in the Gulf War. The Army and their new tank now has the next generation system enhancement package and laser range finder that provides a lethality that cannot be matched.
The bottom line: Don't even think about messing with this bad boy because you'll get hurt.