By John D. Fuller, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence
WASHINGTON Army News Service - The Army is developing a new Advanced Multi-Purpose 120mm tank round that combines six different capabilities into a single round, service officials said.
The Advanced Multi-Purpose, or AMP, is ready to enter into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase after a prototype successfully demonstrated Technology Readiness Level 6 through a science and technology program at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., in 2006.
The new round will replace a rapidly aging inventory of tank munitions, said Col. Paul Laughlin, the 47th chief of Armor and commandant of the Armor School at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga.
"The new AMP round is long overdue," Laughlin said. "Tankers have struggled for years with a growing number of main gun rounds capable of defeating single types of threats; this resulted in a mix of ammunition types carried on board the tank that was always a problem.
"This is not just an issue of logistics," he said. "It creates both operational and survival issues. No one wants to get into a tank engagement and not have the right ammunition to defeat the range of threats that we will see on the future battlefield. The AMP round is a game changer that greatly increases our effectiveness. We need to make a very modest and affordable investment, spread over 30 years, to field a highly versatile and reliable round with the capabilities we need for the future fight."
The AMP round will replace four tank rounds now in use. The first two are the M830, High Explosive Anti Tank, or HEAT, round and the M830A1, Multi-Purpose Anti Tank, or MPAT, round. The latter round was introduced in 1993 to engage and defeat enemy helicopters, specifically the Russian Hind helicopter. The MPAT round has a two-position fuze, ground and air, that must be manually set.
The M1028 Canister round is the third tank round being replaced. The Canister round was first introduced in 2005 by the Army to engage and defeat dismounted Infantry, specifically to defeat close-in human-wave assaults.
The M908, Obstacle Reduction round, is the fourth that the AMP round will replace; it was designed to assist in destroying large obstacles positioned on roads by the enemy to block advancing mounted forces.
AMP also provides two additional capabilities: defeat of enemy dismounts, especially enemy anti-tank guided missile, or ATMG, teams at a distance, and breaching walls in support of dismounted Infantry operations.
"The AMP round is a significant advance in tank ammunition capability," said Lt. Col. Brian Gruchaz, product manager for large caliber munitions at Picatinny Arsenal. "It uses an ammunition data link and a multi-mode, programmable fuze to achieve multiple effects that currently can only be achieved by selecting, loading and firing one of four different 120mm tank rounds the AMP round will replace. Together with the two additional capabilities provided by the AMP round, a single AMP round can now achieve desired effects against ATGM teams, reinforced walls, bunkers, light armor, dismounts, and obstacles."
"To demonstrate these individual effects with a single round is the result of the efforts of the men and women at the Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. They demonstrated the AMP capability using two key technologies that are actually quite mature, an ammunition data link and a multi-mode programmable fuze. Using these technologies, commands to select the desired effect are transmitted via data link to the fuze on the round. The fuze setting determines whether the round will function with a point-detonate, point-detonate delay, or airburst effect," Gruchacz said.
"While not yet approved to proceed to the next developmental phase of the acquisition cycle, the Engineering Manufacturing and Development or EMD, phase, the AMP capability has been successfully tested and demonstrated," Gruchacz said.
Based on the AMP round's performance during development, many tankers and Army capabilities developers believe the AMP will also provide warfighters an improved Battle Carry capability.
Battle Carry is a term used by tank crews during combat when they are preparing to engage the enemy; they load the round they believe is the most likely needed to defeat the most likely threat target. If AMP were available to Army tankers, they'd be able to Battle Carry one round capable of achieving the desired effect across a wide range of targets.
"I have commanded tankers from platoon through regiment; I wish that each of my units would have had the capabilities that the AMP round provides," Laughlin concluded. "Now, as the chief of Armor, I can influence the system to give future tankers the ammunition they need to be more lethal, more survivable, and more effective."