CBO: Abrams to account for 40% of combat vehicle spending through 2050

By Ethan Sterenfeld / April 2, 2021 at 11:03 AM

The M1 Abrams tank could account for 40% of the Army's ground combat vehicle acquisition spending through 2050, according to a Congressional Budget Office projection released yesterday.

The analysis estimates ground combat vehicle acquisition spending would average $4.5 billion per year in constant 2020 dollars, with an additional $500 million in average annual research, development, test and evaluation costs.

This would be substantially higher acquisition funding than ground combat vehicles received from 2010 to 2019, but lower than what the Army spent from 2000 to 2009, according to the report.

Acquisition for the M1A2 SEPv4 Abrams, which is currently in development, will begin in "the mid-to-late 2020s" and continue for about a decade, the report projects.

The Army could soon after begin to procure a future generation of the Abrams tank, the M1A2 SEPv5, according to CBO. The report assumes acquisition costs of about $2 billion per year for both future versions of the Abrams while they are at peak production.

Abrams acquisition costs could change if the Army eventually decides to replace the tank with the Decisive Lethality Platform that the service has considered, according to the report. If that happens, CBO projects that the Army would not build an M1A2 SEPv5 Abrams, but would instead begin to procure the new system around 2035.

The Abrams replacement could be lighter and cheaper than current tanks if it is unmanned, although the report cautions that new vehicles tend to be more expensive than the vehicles they replace.

Besides the Abrams, the report projects that by 2050, the Army will begin to acquire upgraded versions of the ground combat vehicles it is currently acquiring or developing, such as the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, Mobile Protected Firepower and the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.

The Army will also procure upgraded versions of the Stryker and M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer before 2050, according to the report.