I am watching on National Geographic Channel an episode of Ultimate Factories centered on the M-1 Abrams tank. They just mentioned something that has me absolutely floored. The Anniston Army Depot that rebuilds Abrams tanks is the focus of the show.
One of the 1,000 items rebuilt is the powerpack. According to this show and confirmed by this article from 2000, there has not been a new AGT 1500 turbine engine made since 1992. Yes 12,000 were produced and the Army was looking for a replacement, but this is 2007 and Abrams are still running on overhauled engines. 15 years and no new engine? Read the article from 2000 and wonder like I do, if the lumbering Crusader managed to kill off a viable new engine for the Abrams.
Why is this getting under my skin? Anniston is having to almost hand fabricate turbine blades for the AGT 1500 to keep them going. The sand from desert fighting blasts the blades until they suffer what is called blade hooking. What should be a square blade with a curvature to it instead resembles a hook attached to the turbine boss. And if one of these hooked blades break free, its shrapnel in the engine or FOD. Anniston is rebuilding 29 powerpacks a week, before their rate was 14 a week. Are we truly getting our tax dollars worth out of this project? Or is this just another delayed cost of the 1990s Peace Dividend when it seemed half the US Army was eliminated, the USAF lost wings of fighters, and the Navy saw its strength start to slip?