TechM1 Abrams in Ukraine. Possibly the first such photo

M1 Abrams in Ukraine. Possibly the first such photo

This could be the first picture of the M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine.
This could be the first picture of the M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine.
Images source: © X

1:51 PM EST, November 7, 2023

A picture, appearing to show an M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine, has been published on social media. The War Zone, an American military-themed service, suggests that this is the first frontline photo of this vehicle. We explore what capabilities the Abrams tanks might offer during a conflict in Ukraine.

The War Zone's editorial team contacted an American expert who agreed to comment on the photo while maintaining his anonymity. He stated that the photo depicted an M1 Abrams tank positioned not for battle. This inference was drawn from the tank's hull and turret positions, amongst other things. The expert also noted that the tank was nestled inside a deep trench, most likely functioning as a tank hideout. He explained: "The M1 Abrams is such a high-priority target that the Russians would want to destroy it for it to serve as a significant propaganda victory. The Ukrainians are cognizant of this."

The place and time of the photo's origin remain uncertain. However, a unique detail in the picture could unveil some information about the Abrams deployment. The War Zone points out the strap buckle held by the Ukrainian soldier visible in the photo, which seemingly corresponds to the emblem of the Ukrainian National Guard's Quick Reaction Brigade, currently operating near Bakhmut. The War Zone has reached out to them for more insights into the potential use of M1 Abrams tanks but hasn't garnered a response yet.

The M1 Abrams and Ukraine

In January, the US Department of Defense confirmed the deployment of 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. The United States initially intended to procure new M1A2 Abrams tanks using the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative's resources. However, in March, the Pentagon decided that the consignment would alternatively include refurbished M1A1 Abrams tanks from American stocks, thus expediting the delivery. Pentagon press secretary, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, assured at the time that the M1A1 variant scheduled for Kyiv would possess "very similar capabilities" to the M1A2.

The M1A1 Abrams, utilized extensively by the US Army, is the oldest Abrams variant. It is a refined version of the basic M1 Abrams tank. The first M1A1 from General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) was produced in 1985. Enhancements from its ancestor included a superior suspension, upgraded gearbox, improved armor, and a redesigned turret mounting. As Army Recognition reports, a total of 4796 M1A1 tanks were manufactured for the US Army, 221 for the US Marine Corps, and 880 co-produced with Egypt.

A large portion of these tanks have undergone modifications that enhanced their combat capabilities. As journalist Łukasz Michalik from WP Tech mentioned, these encompass:

  • The Firepower Enhancement Program - an upgrade package that introduces an advanced thermal vision, changes to the fire control system, the navigation module and laser rangefinder, and diagnostic systems.
  • Abrams Integrated Display and Targeting System - a module that optimizes the tank commander's observation dome (SCWS - Stabilized Commander Weapon Station).
  • Improved Side Armor - a package that reinforces the tank's side armor with additional modules (this is applicable to selected M1A1 models only).
Related content