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15 Surprising Facts About Honeywell’s 1,500 Horsepower Turbine Tank Engine

15 Surprising Facts About Honeywell’s 1,500 Horsepower Turbine Tank Engine

It’s been more than three decades since Operation Desert Storm where the M1 Abrams main battle tank dominated the battlefield. The Honeywell AGT1500 engine has powered the M1 for more than 40 million miles since entering service in 1980, providing American and allied tank crews with the critical battlefield edge they deserve.

The benefits of turbine power have been proven time and again under the most challenging conditions imaginable, but here are a few facts about the remarkable AGT1500 that may surprise you.

1. The AGT1500 gets its name from the 1,500 shaft-horsepower the engine is capable of producing.

2. The AGT1500 shares design DNA with proven Honeywell helicopter turboshaft engine technology. Turbine engine pioneer Anselm Franz led AGT1500 development for Honeywell legacy company Lycoming in the mid-1960s; Franz was also instrumental in developing the T55 turboshaft, which powers the Chinook helicopter.

3. Chrysler chose the Honeywell (then Lycoming) AGT1500 engine in 1973 for its XM1 tank prototype, making the Chrysler prototype the first U.S. military land vehicle powered by a gas turbine instead of a diesel engine.

4. That AGT1500-powered prototype prevailed over a diesel-equipped model in head-to-head competition at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1976. The win was a testament to the advantages the new gas turbine engine would provide on the battlefield.

5. The AGT1500 uses a unique modular design, which makes the engine easier to maintain and service in the field, increasing readiness for tank formations.

6. General Dynamics Land Systems has produced more than 10,000 M1s at its factory in Lima, Ohio, and Honeywell’s AGT1500 has powered them all, including the Joint Assault Bridge, Assault Breacher Vehicle and Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge derivatives.

7. The Abrams can accelerate from 0-to-20 mph in six seconds and reach speeds of over 40 miles per hour, despite being one of the world’s heaviest tanks, thanks to the incredible power density of the Honeywell AGT1500.

8. Coming in at under 2,500 pounds, the AGT1500 provides superior power, in a compact package of less than 48 cubic feet, and does not require supplementary radiators, fluid pumps or cooling fans.

9. The Abrams earned the nickname “Whispering Death” because of the quiet operation of the AGT1500 engine. It is much quieter than conventional military engines with similar power output, producing sound that is different than other tank engines, reducing the audible distance of engine noise and making the Abrams stealthier under combat conditions.

10. Stealthiness is also enhanced because the turbine engine generates no visible exhaust, differentiating itself from other powerplants that produce a dark smoky exhaust which can be seen miles away.

11. The AGT1500 is designed for all environments, from sub-arctic conditions to extreme desert heat. Unlike internal combustion engines, which are notoriously finicky at extreme temperatures, the AGT1500 is renowned for fast starting and responsive acceleration in any operating environment.

12. The AGT1500 has true multi-fuel capabilities, meaning it can operate efficiently on practically any liquid fuel, such as jet fuel, diesel, gasoline and marine fuel, without any engine or fuel-system adjustments. This multi-fuel capability provides significant adaptability for operators.

13. The Honeywell AGT1500 turbine engine seamlessly integrates with the critical Abrams Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical crew safety system to provide the pressurized air required to decontaminate ambient air before it reaches the crew compartment.

14. Honeywell has implemented many engine upgrades over the years to improve fuel efficiency, reliability and maintainability. The transformational change for the AGT1500 was the Total InteGrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) program launched in 2005.

15. With its Advanced Reliability and Cost Savings (ARCS) initiative, Honeywell will make the engine even more reliable and fuel-efficient for the Abrams family of vehicles and other future applications. 

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