A repaired Marine Corps M1A1 rolling out of a storage facility to a nearby test track at Anniston Army Depot
Today the Abrams has three variants — the M1, the M1A1, and the M1A2 — thanks to upgrades and modifications carried out at Anniston Army Depot, a maintenance and munitions-storage site nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. On a recent tour of the 3.5 million square feet of said installation, where war-weary tanks are resurrected, I was tipped off to inquire about a "grunt phone."
Combat vehicles inside one of Anniston Army Depot's repair facilities. Below, the "grunt phone."
The infantry phone, a frequent request from troops serving in Iraq, was incorporated in the 2006 rollout of the Tank Urban Survival Kit system, a series of Abrams modifications intended to improve coordination and survivability in urban environments. Along with the grunt phone, TUSK added a remote weapon station machine gun operated from inside the vehicle, a loader's armor gun shield, reactive armor tiles fitted to side skirts, a remote thermal sight, and a power-distribution box.
But here's the money quote of the whole article:
Because of upgrades and improvements such as TUSK, a new Abrams tank has not been built from scratch since 1993.
Now, that's a fact that cuts both ways. It's a testament to how well designed the Abrams is and at the same time means that every vehicle actually lost through wear, tear and enemy action cannot be replaced. Production is not just a matter of machines and materials but of trained workers. Think that one through. There's a reason that AAD is known locally by nickname in certain quarters as "Fort Ticonderoga."