What’s the sound of the modern day battlefield… and does it involve tanks?
March 29, 2023

As the United States continues to modernize its military, the future of the U.S. military tanks has become a topic of great interest. The U.S. Army currently operates a fleet of nearly 6,000 tanks, which has been the backbone of the U.S. tank force for several decades. However, with emerging threats and changing battlefield environments, the U.S. military is looking to upgrade and replace its tank fleet to maintain its combat edge.

Images of destroyed armored vehicles have become synonymous with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. During the early stages of the conflict, tanks seemed to have become obsolete as modern anti-tank systems, precise artillery and drones were effectively used to thwart Russian armored columns. However, despite their vulnerability to anti-tank systems, tanks remain in demand by both sides of the conflict due to the heavy armor and firepower they bring to the battlefield.

As stated by Bryan Clark, director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute. “You need something that’s going to have some protection behind it, that’s going to allow infantry to be able to either use it for cover or use it for indirect fires.”

Ukraine has been actively seeking donated tanks from Western countries and the U.S. Department of Defense has recently announced that it will be sending refurbished M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. The department estimates that this will expedite the delivery time to fall. Conrad C. Crane, senior historian and acting editor-in-chief at USAWC Press, states that the importance of tanks is evident from the Ukrainian army’s efforts to acquire Abrams tanks and German Leopard tanks.

Crane believes that the tank remains a vital part of the battlefield. In addition to the Abrams tanks, Ukraine has also received anti-tank weapons from the United States and other countries. The U.S. has provided Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles, which have been used with great success against Russian armor.

Despite these efforts to modernize and upgrade the U.S. tank force, some experts have raised concerns about the future viability of tanks in modern warfare. With the increasing use of drones and other unmanned systems, some argue that tanks may become vulnerable targets on the battlefield. Others have pointed out the cost and logistical challenges of maintaining a large tank force.

Regardless of these concerns, the U.S. military remains committed to maintaining a strong tank force. As General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted in a recent speech, “tanks are not going away anytime soon.” With ongoing modernization efforts and the development of new technologies, the U.S. tank force is likely to remain a key component of America’s military power for years to come.

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