TechUkraine's M1A1 SA Abrams tanks upgraded with unique ARAT-1 armor in strategic move

Ukraine's M1A1 SA Abrams tanks upgraded with unique ARAT-1 armor in strategic move

The M1A1 SA Abrams tank is being outfitted by Ukrainians with ARAT-1 reactive armor blocks, which are part of the TUSK package.
The M1A1 SA Abrams tank is being outfitted by Ukrainians with ARAT-1 reactive armor blocks, which are part of the TUSK package.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front

8:41 PM EST, January 14, 2024

A video has surfaced in Ukraine of one of the delivered M1A1 SA Abrams tanks fitted with the ARAT-1 reactive armor package, also known as ABRAMS Reactive Armor Tile. This is included as part of a broader TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) set, designed in response to lessons learned from the Second Gulf War and subsequent stabilization missions in Iraq.

Reactive armor for the M1 Abrams family of tanks

The goal of the TUSK set is to augment protection against ambushes by insurgent groups employing anti-tank handheld weapons in urbanized areas. One of the critical elements is the reactive armor blocks, modeled after the BRAT blocks intended for M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

This is a single-layer reactive armor with explosive material sandwiched between two steel plates. It protects against traditional anti-tank grenades such as the PG-7VL, which has about 1.6 feet of penetration, and enhances protection against anti-tank automatic cannon ammunition such as the 2A42 used in the BMP-2.

The reactive armor works by triggering a premature explosion of, for instance, a grenade from an RPG-7 away from the primary armor. The secondary explosion then disperses the shaped charge jet. This function is performed by the shock wave and fragments from its casing resulting from the explosion inside the cassette.

The Ukrainians have fitted the sides of the hull with ARAT-1 blocks. There is, however, also the option to use ARAT-2 modules, which appear as bent plates on the sides of the turret. It's unclear if the Ukrainians also received these, and there's a possibility that the arrangement of blocks on the documented example isn't yet complete.

Interestingly, ARAT-2 modules can be layered on top of the ARAT-1 to create double-layer armor, but this significantly increases the weight of the reactive armor. Maximum protection isn't always worth a significant loss in mobility, and a more effective solution for, say, FPV-type drones armed with PG-7VL grenades might be a jammer.

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