TechUkrainian tank commander critiques Western tanks: Leopards vs Abrams

Ukrainian tank commander critiques Western tanks: Leopards vs Abrams

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

8:14 AM EDT, June 6, 2024

Dmytro Bałabucha is a tank operator who has been the tank company commander of the 32nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2022. In a conversation with Ukrainska Pravda, he highlighted the differences between Western tanks—Leopards and Abrams—and Ukrainian ones, primarily the T-64BW.

The Western Abrams tanks have been criticized for several weeks due to weaker armor than soldiers' expectations. Tanks from the USA are also reported to have electrical issues that fail during rain or fog due to water condensation inside the tank.

In a similarly critical tone, Dmytro Bałabucha, a tank operator who has served in the army since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, recently spoke about Western machines. The expert compared Abrams and Leopards with the Soviet-era designs used on the front, particularly the T-64BW used by Bałabucha's unit.

Ukrainian tank operator assesses western machines

According to the soldier, some Ukrainian machines are even better than Western ones. “I can say that our equipment performed not worse, and in some cases even better,” comments Balabucha. He points out that in some situations, Ukrainian machines take the lead, while in others, Western Leopards only provide support. However, he emphasizes a significant advantage of the Leopards: their speed. “The advantage of the Leopard is that it is fast, handling some tasks much better because it quickly arrives at a position and leaves it.”

Bałabucha also questions whether Western tanks have any "super armor." "Our tanks have dynamic Kontakt protection, which essentially protects against all cumulative projectiles," he emphasizes, noting the valuable addition to Ukrainian machines.

The soldier adds that he knows crews who survived hits from several guided anti-tank missiles while moving in a Ukrainian tank and returning to base. "I wouldn't say our armor is worse. I saw an Abrams lose combat capability after one hit from a Lancet and essentially burn," he continues, highlighting the frequently mentioned flaw of Abrams by Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian tank operator also commented on the armament of Ukrainian and Western tanks in his conversation with Ukrainska Pravda. According to him, the Soviet-era tanks used by Ukrainians have larger caliber barrels and generally more powerful guns. These have 120 mm guns, while Western Abrams and the first generations of Leopard 1 are armed with 105 mm guns. Barrels with a larger caliber (120 mm) were only added to Leopard 2.

It's important to remember that the Ukrainian T-64BW tanks, which the Ukrainians compare to the Western Abrams and Leopards, are a significant modernization of the basic T-64. This improved version features armor that significantly increases the crew's survivability.

The T-64BW's 1985 modernization package contributed to improved detection of enemy units (even at night) and enhanced communication. The design includes a new TPN-1TPV sight with thermal imaging, which detects targets up to 3 miles away. Its armament consists of a smoothbore 2A46 gun and machine guns of calibers 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm.

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