The U.S. Army is acquiring a new multipurpose tank round which can flatten bunkers, pulverize obstacles, breach concrete walls, or take our groups of personnel. And it can destroy armored and unarmored vehicles and buildings too. The 120mm Advanced Multipurpose Round (AMP) for the Army’s M1 Abrams tank gets its versatility from a smart fusing system which performs differently against different types of target.
The M829 depleted uranium round , aka ‘the silver bullet’ may be the champion at punching through armor, but it is a one-trick pony, severely limited against other sorts of target as it tends to go straight through inflicting little damage. The new AMP is a round that can do anything and everything.
Officially designated XM1147, the AMP will replace four different rounds currently in service. Two of these are High-Explosive Anti-Tank rounds, shaped charges which punch through targets with a focuses jet of explosive power. It also replaces the M1028 Canister Round, which is essentially a giant shotgun shell to sweep an area clear of infantry, and the M908 Obstacle Reducing Round, an explosive warhead for breaking up concrete “dragon’s teeth” and other anti-tank obstacles (or destroying large buildings).
The AMP adds an important new capability. The existing canister round is only for short-range use with a maximum reach of about 500 meters. This makes it useless for dealing with one of the biggest threats to tanks, infantry equipped with anti-tank guided missiles like the Russian-made AT-14 Kornet, used in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. When used in airburst mode, the AMP can target groups of personnel at ranges of up to 2,000 meters : even if it does not disable a missile team, the round is likely to distract them enough so that they are not able to keep a missile on course.
Another important new capability is breaching walls. Currently, making a breach an infantry assault requires engineers to get next to the wall and emplace explosives. Three rounds of AMP will create a thirty-by-fifty-inch hole clean through a double-thickness reinforced concrete wall, big enough for troops to advance through. This includes cutting through the steel reinforcement bars, and breaching can be carried out from several hundred meters away.
The AMP has three different fusing options. With Point Detonation, the round explodes on contact with the target, and this mode will make it effective against targets like light armored vehicles. Set to Point Detonation-Delay, the round does not penetrate immediately but after a delay – this is the mode used against obstacles and bunkers, as it gives enough time to penetrate deeply into concrete of other material before exploding. In the Airburst mode, the round explodes at a pre-set height above the ground, spraying the area below with tungsten shrapnel – this is the antipersonnel mode.
The AMP is also the first round to be designed to cope with a novel type of problem – electromagnetic pulse, which can damage or destroy electronics. The round will be the first in service to meet the HERO or Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance standard and has been tested against electromagnetic pulse and well as static discharges.
The M1 Abrams was designed in the 1970s when the Soviet tank formations rolling across Germany were the big threat. The AMP updates it for the modern era, where the opposition is less likely to be heavy armor and more likely to be on foot and fighting in an urban landscape of strongpoints and concrete obstacles. Carrying the AMP makes logistics easier than means that one round will work against a wide range of likely targets.
The Army awarded two contracts for AMP development in 2015, in a competition between Orbital ATK (now part of Northrop Grumman
You can watch a video of the AMP in action here: