Military Aviation

C-130 airlifter used to refuel an M1A2 Abrams tank for the first time

The 317th AW successfully passed fuel from a C-130 to an M1A2 utilizing an Emergency Response Refueling Equipment Kit, marking the first time in USAF history that a C-130 has been used to refuel an Abrams tank.

Taken on Jan. 25, 2023 the interesting photos in this post feature US Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing and US Army Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division run a fuel hose from a C-130J Super Hercules to an M1A2 Tank at Fort Bliss, Texas.

US Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing unload a fuel hose from the cargo bay of a C-130J Super Hercules at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 25, 2023.

The 317th AW executed an Agile Combat Employment exercise by sending a C-130 to the Fort Bliss Range to perform Specialized Fueling Operations with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD and the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment. The units successfully passed fuel from a C-130 to an M1A2 Abrams Tank utilizing an Emergency Response Refueling Equipment Kit, marking the first time in Air Force history that a C-130 has been used to refuel an Abrams tank.

US Army Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division connect a fuel hose to an M1A2 Abrams Tank at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 25, 2023. 

US Army’s main battle tank M1 Abrams is the only mass-produced turbine powered land vehicle in the world. According to Turbotrain.net, the decision to use gas turbines as the power source of the main battle tank was made in the circumstances that applying gas turbines to the tank was thought to be a wild scheme all over the world.

US Army soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division connect a fuel hose to an M1A2 Abrams Tank at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 25, 2023.

Specifically, the M1A2 Abrams is powered by an Avco Lycoming (now Honeywell) AGT1500 gas turbine engine, developing 1 500 horsepower.

As reported by Military-Today.com, essentially it is a modified helicopter engine, adapted for use on tanks. It is a multi-fuel engine, which can run on any grade of petrol, diesel, aviation fuel or kerosene. The AGT1500 has impressive performance and is compact for its power output. So even though the Abrams tank is heavy and bulky, it is surprisingly agile.

US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hofer, 40th Airlift Squadron operations flight chief, connects a fuel hose to a C-130J Super Hercules at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 25, 2023.

Thanks to its engine the Abrams is faster than many other tanks. The engine is remarkably quiet too. Due to this feature the Abrams is even nicknamed the Whispering Death.

This gas turbine engine has servicing intervals significantly longer than those of diesel engines and is troublesome to maintain and has very high fuel consumption comparing with diesels.

US Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing and U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division run a fuel hose from a C-130J Super Hercules to an M1A2 Tank at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 25, 2023.

The Abrams’ AGT1500 can be replaced in field conditions within 30 minutes.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. AC-130U Spooky II 1st SOW, 4th SOS, 88-0163
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

View Comments

  • The U.S.M.C. KC-130s has been refueling M1 Abrams tanks, LAVs, and other ground equipment for more than a couple of decades. Surprised that it took the U S.A.F. so long to follow suit.

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