Ukraine's Abrams tanks: Mighty but not invincible on the battlefield

Ukraine's Abrams tanks: Mighty but not invincible on the battlefield

Abrams in Ukraine
Abrams in Ukraine
Images source: © Х | Ukrainian Front
10:54 AM EDT, May 11, 2024

The crew of the Ukrainian Abrams tank shared their experiences and thoughts on this powerful military asset in a discussion with Army TV. They commended its user-friendly operation but also pointed out that its armor might not be as robust as some had hoped. This piece delves into the protection mechanisms of these tanks.

To date, Ukraine has received 31 Abrams tanks. While the M1A2 variants were initially considered, older M1A1 models were ultimately provided at the Ukrainians' request. These earlier models generally feature armor composed of depleted uranium panels, though the units dispatched to Ukraine were reinforced with tungsten.

“It's reputed to be the strongest armor, said to withstand even the might of Zeus, but unfortunately, that's not the case,” a Ukrainian soldier remarked on the Abrams's armor durability.

The limits of Abrams tanks

Some Ukrainian Abrams have been upgraded with ARAT-1 armor from the TUSK kit, an extra layer of reactive armor to minimize damage during combat. Although significantly more advanced and sturdy than much of the current Ukrainian military hardware, it's essential to remain aware that these tanks are not impervious. The turret's protection has proven particularly vulnerable.

Thus far, Russian forces have destroyed five Abrams tanks and severely damaged another three, rendering them temporarily inoperative. Ukrainian forces refute claims that the tanks have been completely pulled from the front lines despite these setbacks.

The M1A1 Abrams tanks, produced between 1985 and 1992, surpassed in durability and are better equipped than the Soviet-era tanks previously depended upon by the Ukrainian military. The United States has fitted these tanks with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, 0.5 and 0.3 in caliber machine guns, and NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) protection systems.

Besides, the Abrams tanks boast a variety of electronic systems. Nevertheless, Ukrainian operators find them surprisingly easy to learn.

“Switching from a T-64, I was initially overwhelmed by the Abrams's interior. I assumed it would take months to get a handle on everything. However, I was able to grasp it all within a week,” shared a Ukrainian gunner who works with the Abrams.

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