The field-installed kit includes armor upgrades to the rear and bottom of the hull; an installation of slat armor to protect the engine compartment and use of appliqué reactive armor tiles to improve flank protection. A CROWS remote controlled weapon station (RWS) mounting a .50 caliber machine gun is replacing the commander’s 0.5″ cupola mounted heavy machine gun, enabling the commander to operate the weapon when “buttoned up” under closed hatches. RWS is provided only for M-1A2 TUSK sets. The M-1A1s will be fitted with a thermal sight coupled with remote- viewing and firing capability.
The TUSK kit includes a bolt on armored gun shield attached to the M240 (7.62mm) external machine gun, which will help to protect the loader when he is in the open-hatch firing position. When “buttoned up” the loader will be able to use the weapon from inside, aiming it via a thermal sight which projects the target image into a pair of goggles. A tank-infantry phone linked to the tank’s intercom will also be added to improve connectivity with supporting forces.
On August 29, 2006 General Dynamics Land Systems received a US Army order for 505 Tank Urban Survivability Kits (TUSK) for Abrams main battle tanks supporting operations in Iraq, under a US$45 million contract. The add-on kit will be provided for M1A1 and M1A2-series tanks to enhance crew survivability in urban environments. The kit ordered by the Army consists of a Loader’s Armor Gun Shield (LAGS), a Tank Infantry Phone (TIP), Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT), a Remote Thermal Sight (RTS) and a Power Distribution Box (PDB). Deliveries are expected to be complete by April 2009.
Under a separate order, the US Army awarded General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP) US$30 million to produce reactive armor kits to equip M-1A2. The total contract value could reach $59 million if all contract options are exercised. The reactive tiles for the M-1 will be locally produced at GDATP’s Burlington Technology Center. Tiles will be produced at the company’s reactive armor facility in Stone County Operations, McHenry, Miss. On December 8th 2006 the U.S. Army added Counter Improvised Explosive Device enhancements to the M1A1 and M1A2 TUSK, awarding GDLS U.S. $11.3 million, part of the $59 million package mentioned above. In December GDLS also received an order amounting about 40% of a US$48 million order for loader’s thermal weapon sights being part of the TUSK system improvements for the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams Tanks.