The M1 Abrams main battle tank has been the mainstay of the U.S. Army’s armor branch for more than thirty years. Heavily armored, powered by a gas turbine engine and equipped with a powerful 120-millimeter gun, the M1 has proven an adaptable tank capable of fighting from the rolling hills of southern Germany to the deserts of Iraq. And yet the tank appeared to be a failure at first, caught in a tug-of-war of competing, varied interests that threatened to sink the project completely.
In the late 1960s, the U.S. Army began the search for a new main battle tank. The M48/M60 series of tanks had reached a design dead end, and the Army desired a clean-sheet design to incorporate new technologies, including a gun-fired antitank missile. The Pentagon initially tried to cooperate with West Germany on a new tank, MBT-70, but the project was sunk by technical problems and cost overruns.
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