MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The Army has placed a $38 million order with Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for 120-mm ammunition for its main battle tank.
The follow-on contract announced by ATK Monday extends the original contract for M829A3 tank rounds and brings the total value of the rounds ordered in fiscal year 2006 up to $77 million. Once the new pact is completed, ATK will have delivered 35,000 M829A3 rounds to the military.
ATK says the price is worth it because it gives the U.S. M1A1 and A2 Abrams tanks unmatched punch "designed to ensure that U.S. armored forces maintain battlefield supremacy."
Based on a depleted-uranium penetrator, the West Virginia-produced round is billed as the most advanced armor-piercing kinetic-energy ordnance available.
"Its state-of-the-art composite sabot, propellant, and penetrator technologies give it outstanding accuracy and lethality," ATK said.
The M829A3 specs show that the 22.3-kilogram round uses 8 kilograms of solid propellent to attain a muzzle velocity of 1,555 meters per second. While the velocity isn't as fast as other U.S. 120-mm rounds, the 10-kg projectile is heavier than the others.
The projectile's use of depleted uranium shows continued confidence in the slightly radioactive but increasingly controversial depleted uranium.
Critics see the radiation of depleted uranium as a potential health hazard to tank crews and to people exposed to the material after it has been fired. Armor experts, however, maintain that the extremely heavy composition of depleted uranium makes it not only a top-notch armor-piercer but a vital hardener of the Abrams' own armor.