From Mike:The "grunt phone" and other Abrams tank upgrades at Anniston Army Depot.
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."
Abrams are being built, for other countries...the line is still open.
you failed to give us any real details on the "grunt phone"
Dr.D ( the phone guy)
Gee, they had tanks with infantry phones in WWII.
Nice to see someone finally realized they still have utility 60+ years later.
Everything old is new again.
Field Phone: a phone is normally housed at the rear of the tank, so infantry can communicate with the crew when the tank is used in an infantry-support role.
The external phone, or tank-to-grunt hotline as some of us called it, was a feature of US tanks up through the M60A3. It was dropped on the M1 family, as the M1 was envisioned as a fast moving killer, not a plodding support weapon. The phone allowed dismounted personnel to talk to the tank's crew, or with the flip of a switch on the phone's control box, transmit over the tank's radio. A handy device that was very useful to the crew as well as any supporting infantry.
As a former tanker and then a tank mechanic, this idea is stupid beyond words (personal knowledge of these grunt phones). You put personnel in the major blindspot of the tanks while in operation in combat the tank crew will kill the personnel trying to use the phone comms by crushing them under the tracks or between the sprockets and other fixed obstacles because the TC and driver obviously) cannot see or hear personnel where that phone is. Those tanks can move quickly and unexpectedly and placing the phone there is one of the most dangerous spots ANYONE can be when around armored vehicles. This will ultimayely get people killed for another feel good idea that is the brainchild of moronic engineers and NOT using any input from actual soldiers.
Sign me, Neal Jensen
I remember seeing (and repairing) many a TA-312 mounted on the outside of the M60 tanks while stationed in Germany with the 2ACR support company. And don't ask me when.
I didn't know that the M1 didn't have the grunt phone. Good to see that it's being added.
I'm sympathetic to Neal Jensen's reaction. Unfortunately, proper use of the grunt phone requires a tank commander to recognize that there are infantry in the area who need to talk to the tank crew and order the driver to idle so that this can be accomplished. This would be true almost regardless of where you put the external interface on an M1, as mentioned the tank is designed to move far faster than infantry, and it isn't designed to be particularly safe to be around even when idle.
Nevertheless, it proved a crucial lack to not have one, so they added it where they could.
I'd prefer an infra-red communication link (perhaps integrated with an improved IFF) to allow people outside the tank to send/receive short text messages from a safer distance...considering that what the tank itself might do in a combat situation isn't the only danger to nearby infantry.
Of course, fighting a near-peer enemy in a full-scale conflict would probably make any IFF system a critical vulnerability.
M1 tanks kind of remind me of Carcano rifles. The Carcano was so well built it almost never wore out, making it hard to justify adopting a new rifle that was only a small improvement.
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