Abrams Crew Mistakenly Fired on Another Tank During Exercise

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During training exercises at the Fort Bliss training grounds in Texas, a US Army M1A2 Abrams main battle tank accidentally fired at another tank.

The incident occurred on July 20, 2020.  The tanks were undergoing training firing at moving targets when the tank hit another from its own cavalry regiment. The the tank that was hit was 2,600 meters away when it was struck with the M1002 multi-purpose tank training round.

One soldier was injured. The crew of the tank immediately offered aid to the wounded serviceman.

The training round is used by Abrams tanks when they perform exercises. The 120mm round is ballistically matched to the time-of-flight parameters of the M830A1 for a realistic effect when training. The tailcone stabilizer contains a feature that limits the overall range of the round to less than 8 kilometers. This reduces the requirement for extreme-range safety fans.

Damaged tank from training at Fort Bliss
Damaged tank from training at Fort Bliss

The 1st Armored Division confirmed in a statement that an M1 Abrams tank had accidentally fired on another tank at Fort Bliss.

Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, a US Army public affairs officer, said that one soldier was injured and received aid at the scene. That soldier is now recovering in stable condition.

The 1st Armored Division has begun investigating the incident. Elder said that there would be no further comment until the investigation is completed.

The M1A2 Abrams tank was approved for production in 1990. It is an improvement over the design of the M1A1. Though the exterior of the tank is similar to the older model, the internal technology has been radically redesigned.

One of the biggest improvements is the vehicle communication system which keeps the unit commander informed of the location of each tank and allows for maps and orders to be distributed quickly to the tanks.

One soldier was injured, received immediate medical assistance, and is recovering in stable condition, according to Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, an Army public affairs officer.
One soldier was injured, received immediate medical assistance, and is recovering in stable condition, according to Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, an Army public affairs officer.

Other improvements are to the gunner’s sighting system and the addition of a separate sight for the tank commander.

Production of the M1A2 was halted after 627 vehicles. The M1A2s are currently being refitted to bring them up to new standards.

The injured soldier serves in the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. He suffered a collapsed lung. He also had his left glove ripped from his hand, three fingertips were blown off and the skin of his fingers was ripped away to the bone. He was airlifted to a hospital.

Abrams tanks move out on a mission during Desert Storm in 1991. A Bradley IFV and logistics convoy can be seen in the background.
Abrams tanks move out on a mission during Desert Storm in 1991. A Bradley IFV and logistics convoy can be seen in the background.

Witnesses say that a soldier in the tank that was hit had first aid training which probably saved the injured soldier’s life.

The tank also received damage from the round.

Fort Bliss is situated on 1.12 million acres of land in Texas and New Mexico and just across the border from Mexico. The Main Cantonment area is near El Paso, Texas.

The training area contains mock villages and cities for training. It is the largest training area in the United States.

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Fort Bliss is home to the 1st Armored Division (also known as “Old Ironsides”) as well as the Brigade Modernization Command, the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and Joint Task Force – North.