Next-Gen 120mm Tank Killer: ATK’s M829E4 AKE

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APFSDS in flight ATK recently announced a $77 million, 3-year contract, exercising an option to develop and qualify the USA’s new 120mm tank-killing round for use in the U.S. Army’s M1A2 SEP Abrams tanks. The M829E4 is called the Advanced Kinetic Energy round, and belongs to a class known as APFSDS-T: Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot with Tracer. As the picture shows, the shell casing releases a penetrator sabot dart, which flies at extreme velocity to punch through enemy tank armor. The tracer element makes it easy to see the round in flight. While manufacturers like Rheinmetall use tungsten alloys for the APFSDS dart, American rounds use alloys of similarly-dense depleted uranium (DU)… Stable DU alloys are manufactured and machined by the USA’s National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB), and the penetrators are given to firms like ATK, which is then responsible for the surrounding cartridge. The penetrators are mostly Uranium-238, with varying amounts of metals like titanium mixed in, depending on the required function. Depleted Uranium’s density, and sharply lowered U235 content, has led to its use in applications like radiation shielding and tank armor. The same American M1A2-SEP tanks that will fire DU alloy shells also include DU […]

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