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AGT1500 Gas Turbine Engine Advantages

M1 Abrams Still Outperforms with Honeywell Turbine Engine

Former United States Army gunner Richard Estes had a lot on his mind as his crew’s M1 Abrams tank barreled up Highway 8 to the Baghdad airport in April 2003, at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Our tank was part of an armada whose mission was to get to Baghdad as soon as possible,” he recalled. “We were really hauling at 40-plus miles an hour. We only slowed down a few times to engage the enemy. The M1 is an amazing machine powered by an amazing engine, and we were confident nothing could stop us—and nothing did.”

Fast-forward 20-plus years and Estes now works for Honeywell, whose powerful and ultra-reliable AGT1500 gas turbine engine has propelled every M1 Abrams tank since the first one was commissioned in 1980. Estes is a supply development engineer who works with suppliers that make parts for Honeywell engines, including the AGT1500.

During his 24-year Army career, Estes served 18 years as an M1 tanker, which gave him plenty of opportunities to see the AGT1500 in action.

“The AGT1500 has power to spare, which is why the M1 is considered the fastest tank in the world, and it performs in any kind of weather,” he said. “I have personally been on crews operating the tank at minus 20 degrees in Korea and plus 120 degrees in Iraq, and the engine started instantly and ran great at both extremes.”

Keeping Pace with Army’s Changing Needs

“The AGT1500 turbine engine has a much higher power-to-weight ratio than a conventional diesel powerplant,” said Gerhard Schröter, Honeywell Director of Business Development. “That’s important because the Army has added armor over the years to make today’s M1A2 tank safer in the field.”

At around 72 tons, the M1A2 weighs 10 tons more than the original M1. “Our turbine’s high power-to-weight ratio has allowed the Army to increase crew safety without sacrificing space in the engine compartment for a larger engine,” Schröter explained.

“We have also made improvements to boost fuel efficiency, which gives operators an extra 50 miles of operating range on the same amount of fuel,” Schröter added. “With our Total Integrated Engine Revitalization (TIGER) program, we’ve made enormous strides in engine quality, durability and reliability, increasing vehicle readiness and extending the time between depot returns nearly five-fold.”  

Schröter joined Honeywell in 2017 after a long U.S. Army career, including stints with an armored brigade in Germany and Iraq, and an assignment as Chief of Staff for the Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Michigan.

“During Desert Storm, I saw firsthand the kind of battlefield dominance that earned the Abrams the moniker ‘King of the Killing Zone,’” he said. “It was very impressive to see the Abrams armored division support our Bradley battalion during night thermal operations and, in one case, watch the Abrams blow the turret off a Soviet-made T-72 tank with a single shot.”

AGT1500 Delivers Big Performance in a Small Package

The AGT1500 packs a lot of punch for its size, according to Justin Paulus, Director of Global Product Management for the AGT1500 engine. “The engine weighs about 2,500 pounds and occupies less than 48 cubic feet of space,” he said. “Yet it generates enough power and torque to accelerate the Abrams from 0 to 20 miles per hour in six seconds and reach speeds of more than 40 miles per hour – quickly and quietly. In fact, the tank’s tracks produce more noise than the engine which it’s in motion.”

The AGT1500 is also a true multi-fuel engine. It runs on practically any liquid fuel without adjustments, and without producing visible smoke—two big advantages in the field.

“The Abrams is an awesome machine, which is why it’s been selected as the main battle tank by the U.S. Army and other operators like Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Poland, Romania and Taiwan,” Paulus said. “We are proud of the AGT1500’s contributions to the Abrams’ mission and its continued relevance after more than four decades of service.”

Justin Paulus
Global Product Director

 AGT1500 & T55 at Honeywell Aerospace Technologies