Fort Irwin, Calif. -- The M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks changes it look to replicate the T-90 Main Battle Tank across Hawg Company, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at the National Training Center to better replicate the current threat in deployed environments.
With the Regiment's goal to serve as the Army's sparring partner as a hybrid threat and help the United States Army regain its mastery over maneuver warfare, the 11th ACR chose to increase the pressure and challenge 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, from Fort Bliss, Texas, the unit for Rotation 15-08 at the NTC. In order to do this, Hawg Company was chosen to be the first unit to fight against the RTU in visually modified M1A1 MBT's meant to represent the Russian T-90 MBT.
The process to turn an M1A1 into a convincing T-90 MBT began in the latter half of May, close to a month before they would make a debut in battle. The process began with civilian crews at the Training Audiovisual Support Center installing mock Explosive Reactive Armor to the front of the tanks' turrets and black oil drums to the rear of the turrets. These additions aided in providing a method of both near and far recognition for both friendly and opposing forces. The pace of the modifications averaged one tank a day, though this tempo dramatically increased to five M1A1s in two and a half days, an easy process which was mainly due to the quality crews working at TASC.
Following the installation of these components, the Troopers of Hawg Company added other distinguishing features to the tanks to aid in recognition. These included a pair of red Donovian flags bearing crossed sabers and the iconic Blackhorse attached to each antenna atop the turrets and two panels displaying red stars attached to the sides of the turrets. The panels, prepared by 1st Lt. Clifford Toro, Hawg Company's executive officer.
The final visual modification only took place once the tanks were actually in the training area, or the Box, as NTC residents call it. The newly modified T-90s were staged during the third battle period of the 15-08 Decisive Action Rotation. In order to get them staged, Hawg Company had to transport the tanks in groups of five via Heavy Equipment Transport Systems from main post to the northern edge of the Box. Once staged, the tanks had the majority of their side skirts removed as the final effort in creating an illusion of a Russian MBT.
The time consuming process of preparing these tanks for use in the Box and maintaining them while in the field was a monumental task that took the coordination and hard work of many groups and units stationed here. Hawg used these T-90 MBT's to full effect, assaulting through breaches in Granite Pass, screaming across the central corridor and Strawberry Fields, and going to toe-to-toe with 1/1 AD SBCT.
With tensions rising in both the near East, Eastern Europe, and Asia, the need for the Army to be masters of fighting near-peer forces in maneuver warfare not seen in over a decade has never been more dire. Once again, the 11th ACR and the Troopers of Hawg Company stepped up to the challenge and made sure that the experiment to increase the combat power of the Donovian forces was successful, paving the way for further progression of T-90 equivalent tanks and proving them to be a formidable asset.