Drone vs. drone warfare may -- or may not -- be in our future. In the meantime, the ground game remains vital, and the M1 Abrams tank is a huge part of that... specifically, 60 to 70 metric tons of that.
Here's everything to know about this iconic tank, which keeps getting high-tech upgrades.
There's also new protection against IEDs. In October 2017, the Army received its first batch of M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3) tanks, made in Ohio and Alabama. This souped-up machine got upgraded armor and new protections against remote-controlled roadside bombs. And that's not all.
The M1's Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station Low-Profile (CROWS-LP) can engage targets with "greatly enhanced platform survivability," according to the Army, since it's 10 inches shorter than the previous CROWS II.
The fourth-edition prototypes will include an improved primary sight, which a gunner uses to find and destroy targets. GD will deliver seven prototypes to the Army. The cost? About $44.4 million per tank.
There's even an M1A3 in the works, which could weigh much less -- perhaps just a ton -- for easier deployability and maneuverability. (Also: so troops don't have to white-knuckle it while crossing bridges.)
Lt. Gen. John M. Murray told the Senate Armed Services Committee that those tanks include Israel's Merkava Mark IV (pictured), which is notable for its lack of a loader's top turret hatch, better protecting it from anti-tank guided missiles.
The T-14 Armata, unveiled at the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, is especially high-tech, with an unmanned turret and a more accurate 125mm smoothbore cannon. Operational deployment is reportedly expected by 2020 and mass production by 2025.
Even though it has competition, you still don't want to be on the wrong side of the Abrams' 120mm smoothbore cannon and its trio of machine guns (one .50-caliber and two 7.62mm), totaling nearly 12,500 rounds.
The Abrams still has a couple new versions on the way, as mentioned earlier, so it's not being sunsetted just yet. But when that day comes, soldiers and military history buffs can look back on it as one of the Army's longest-lived and most widely used innovations.