TechUkraine deploys modified Abrams tanks with reactive armor blocks

Ukraine deploys modified Abrams tanks with reactive armor blocks

M1A1 Abrams with Kontakt-1 blocks
M1A1 Abrams with Kontakt-1 blocks
Images source: © X, @front_ukrainian

5:33 AM EDT, May 22, 2024

A photo has surfaced on social media from the front line, showing an M1A1 Abrams tank in service with the Ukrainian army. Notable are the reactive armor blocks mounted on it. This is the first confirmed instance of Ukrainians using this type of modification on the Abrams. We explain exactly what was applied and why.

The photo shows Kontakt-1 blocks, which were designed back in the 1980s but are widely used by both sides of the ongoing conflict. These blocks have been seen on many armored vehicles but not the best Western tanks, such as the Abrams. The use of this solution may be due to Russian actions, which have already managed to destroy several of these machines.

Ukrainians modify Abrams tanks

The solution in question consists of small boxes (weighing about 12 lbs) containing explosive material. This material detonates at the right moment to damage or change the trajectory of an incoming threat, thereby protecting the vehicle's main armor and the crew inside it. The entire approach is based on prematurely detonating the enemy projectile's shaped charge warhead.

Reactive armor blocks (explosive reactive armor) can be effective but mainly against the simplest anti-tank weapons, such as single-head grenades and small improvised drones. Earlier reports indicated that Abrams tanks were targeted by the Russians, who managed to eliminate several of these tanks. Notably, the drones mentioned also turned out to be a significant threat to the machines provided by the USA.

It is worth recalling that the standard configuration of these American tanks includes armor panels made of depleted uranium. However, the variants sent to Ukraine were modified, with differences from the original, including the armor. The Abrams tanks sent to Ukraine have tungsten inserts. According to assurances, their durability was expected to be similar to the older depleted uranium panels, whose potential capture by the Russians could reveal sensitive American technologies.

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