M8 Armored Gun System

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M8 Armored Gun System
M8 AGS at Aberdeen Proving Ground
Type Light tank
Place of origin United States
Weight 19.25 tons (Level I Armor)
22.25 tons (Level II Armor)
24.75 tons (Level III Armor)
Length 29 ft 2 in (8.9 m) (hull + gun), 20 ft 4 in (6.2 m) (hull only)
Width 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)
Height 8 ft 4 in (2.55 m)
Crew 3 (Commander, gunner, driver)

Armor Welded aluminium alloy
XM35 105 mm rifled gun (30 rounds)
7.62 mm coaxial M240C (4,500 rounds)
12.7 mm commander's M2 Browning (210 rounds)
Engine Detroit Diesel Corporation DDC 6V 92TIA
550 hp (410 kW) at 2,400 rpm (JP-8 fuel),
580 hp (430 kW) at 2,400 rpm (diesel)
Power/weight 28.6 hp/ton (Level I, using JP-8)
Suspension Hydropneumatic
Fuel capacity 150 US gal (570 l; 120 imp gal)
280 mi (451 km)
Speed Road: 45 mph (72 km/h)
Off road: 30 mph (48 km/h)

The United Defense M8 Armored Gun System was an American light tank that was intended to replace the M551 Sheridan in the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as being expected to replace TOW-equipped Humvees in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2nd ACR). The M8 project was eventually canceled in 1997. Its role in the 2nd ACR was eventually taken by the M1128 Mobile Gun System.


In the 1980s, the United States Army began looking for an air-portable replacement for their M551 Sheridan light tanks. Several attempts over the years to update or replace the Sheridan had proved unsuccessful. The Armored Gun System (AGS) competition was initiated and in 1992 FMC/United Defense's vehicle was selected. In addition to being expected to replace the Sheridan in the 82nd Airborne Division, it was also expected to replace TOW anti-tank missile -equipped Humvees in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Six prototypes were eventually built for the U.S. Army under the designation XM8 AGS. The M8 was later type-classified by the U.S. Army in late 1995 and initially slated for production in 1996. The M8 project was canceled in 1997 to free up money for other fledgling programs. In March 2004 at the 82nd Airborne Division's request, the Army approved the transfer of four production vehicles from United Defense's facility in York, Pennsylvania to the 82nd at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. However, as of June 2004, this transfer was on hold pending an "ongoing analysis."[1] The M8's role in the 2nd ACR was eventually taken by the Stryker.

United Defense had reportedly sought overseas customers, without success. In late 1997 they parted with FNSS Defence Systems to offer the M8 AGS to the Turkish Land Forces Command. As of 2006, Taiwan at one point expressed interest as a replacement for its fleet of M24 Chaffee/M41 Walker Bulldog light tanks but would not commit following cancellation by the U.S.

BAE (which bought United Defense in 2005) is expected to offer a modernised version of the M8 in the competition for the US Army Mobile Protected Firepower infantry brigade light tank requirement which will see two contractors awarded a contract for 12 evaluation prototypes in 2019 with the winner being awarded a low rate production contract for up to 54 vehicles with first field equipped unit in 2025[2].


The basic hull of the M8 is made of welded aluminum alloy, with a modular armoring system that allows the vehicle to be equipped according to requirements. The Level I (basic) armor package is designed for the rapid deployment role and can be airdropped from a C-130 Hercules and protects the vehicle against small-arms fire and shell splinters. The Level II armor package can still be carried by C-130, but must be airlanded and is designed for use by light forces in a more serious threat environment, while level III armor is designed for contingency operations and is supposed to provide protection against light handheld anti-tank weapons. Level III armor cannot be carried by C-130. All versions are air-transportable by C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III (five and three respectively).

The M8 is armed with the XM35 rifled autoloading 105 mm cannon main gun with an M240 7.62 mm machine-gun mounted coaxially. The M35 has a rate of fire of approximately 12 rounds per minute, with a ready capacity of 21 rounds with 9 more in stowage. A Browning M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun is mounted in a manually-operated pintle on the commander's hatch. Power is provided by a Detroit Diesel 6V-92TIA diesel developing 550 hp.


M8 Thunderbolt / AGS 120

A single technology demonstrator built by United Defense and demonstrated in 2003, incorporating a 120mm smoothbore cannon fitted with an autoloader.


  1. ^ Hodge, Nathan (4 June 2004). "Seeking `Options,' Army Plans Stryker Gun Airdrop". DEfense Daily. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  2. ^ Judson, Jen (27 November 2017). "Army's new light tank competition kicks off". defensenews.com. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  • Miller, D. (2000). The Illustrated Directory of Tanks of the World. pp. 478–480. Osceola, MI: MBI Publishing.
  • Plummer, A. (15 March 2004). Inside the Army. Army To Transfer Four Armored Gun Systems To 82nd Airborne Division.
  • "United Defense Unveils Thunderbolt 120 mm Demonstrator". United Defense. Archived from the original on 2003-10-10.
  • Shirley A. Kan, "Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990", November 29, 2012, RL30957, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, www.crs.gov

External links

  • M8 Armored Gun System at GlobalSecurity.org
  • "M8 LAV". Jane.com. Archived from the original on 23 March 2006.
  • Link to CRO Doc RL30957 on the USAF Air University
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