The US Army has awarded a contract to General Dynamics Land Systems to procure common and long-lead materials used to convert 15 M1A2 tanks to M1A2S tanks for the Saudi Arabian Army.

The M1A2 main battle tank offers the tank commander an independent thermal sight and the ability to shoot at two targets in rapid sequence without the need to acquire each one in turn.

The new Saudi M1A2, designated the M1A2S Abrams main battle tank, will enable Saudi Arabian military forces to operate and exercise a more lethal and survivable M1A2S tank for the protection of critical infrastructure.

Work will be carried out at the Lima army tank plant, Ohio, US, and is expected to be complete by 31 March 2012.

The $17.6m contract is an addition to a $58m 2008 award to General Dynamics to design, convert, implement and test a hybrid configuration of the M1A1, M1A2 and M1A2 system enhancement package tank variants.

The US Army Tank and Automotive Command, Warren, Michigan, awarded the contract.