Back in the spring, namely on April 28, the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of granting Lend-Lease to Ukraine. Thanks to him, the Armed Forces of Ukraine can receive a list of the necessary weapons to liberate the territory from the invaders. Lend-lease has been agreed to provide armored vehicles, air defense systems, aviation and other types of weapons, and this document comes into force in early October 2022. Until now, Ukraine receives weapons under the USAI military assistance program.
At the end of September, information about future military aid packages began to appear online. The American side is considering the transfer of heavy weapons, namely M1 Abrams tanks. This is stated by a number of analysts, including the Ukrainian military portal Defense Express. Military experts note that it is this type of weapon that can strengthen Ukrainian forces for offensive operations.
The history of the creation of the M1 Abrams
The M1 Abrams is a third-generation American tank that entered service in 1980. This is not a new type of armored vehicle, but it was this model that was used in all military operations in which the American army took part since the 90s. That is, the M1 Abrams was tested in action during the training of the forces of the alliance during the Cold War and in real military operations in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. To date, this type of weapon is used by the armies of eight countries – the United States, Australia, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia. And already in April 2022, Poland signed a contract worth 4.75 billion dollars for the supply of 250 M1 Abrams tanks.
Why has this model retained its reputation as one of the most effective tanks in service with the modern armies of the world for more than 40 years?
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The performance characteristics of the tank M1 Abrams
Despite the imperfection of the model at the time of its design, the M1 Abrams received many upgrades over the years of its existence. He became the first tank equipped with a depleted uranium anti-tank projectile capable of damaging any other armored vehicles of foreign armies. Although by the time the M1 Abrams was created, in some respects it was inferior to the German Leopard 2 tank and even to Soviet models like the T-64 or T-80.
The classic M1 Abrams entered service with the US Army in the typical dark green and black NATO colors, but Google searches often turn up photos of the tank in pale brown. This is due to the fact that the first M1 and its modernization M1A1, which operated during military operations in the Middle East, were repainted in desert tones, the so-called tan color.
The tank is designed for a crew of four – commander, gunner, loader, driver. The weight of the armored vehicle is 57 tons for the M1A1 version and 61 tons for the M1A2 version.
An important element of the design of any armored vehicle is the degree of its protection and the type of weapons. Armor “Abrams” was created on the basis of the development of “Chobham” from British specialists. The tank is covered with composite armor made of steel, ceramics and Kevlar, and is also additionally covered with protection over the undercarriage and aft parts and fuel tanks. Since 1987, an upgraded depleted uranium armor system has been used to protect the front of the turret and tank hull. On the one hand, this makes the M1 Abrams one of the most protected tanks, but also one of the heaviest models, because depleted uranium is almost twice as dense as lead.
M1 Abrams is equipped with a ballistic fire control system, a laser rangefinder and a thermal imaging device are built into the main GPS gunner’s sight. A gas system is provided for protection against fires and detonation of ammunition when a tank is knocked out.
The armament of the M1 Abrams differs from different versions. The original version used the M68 105mm rifled tank gun with a capacity of 55 rounds, while the M1A1 and M1A2 upgrades use the M256 120mm smoothbore tank gun. The M68 gun at one time had a good reputation among designers, however, in order to cope with the burdened armor of tanks in the future, large-caliber weapons are used in subsequent versions of the M1A1 and M1A2 tanks.
Of the additional weapons, the tank is equipped with three machine guns, the crew can also store M16 rifles or M4 carbines inside the turret.
Aviation can be used to transport tanks (military transport aircraft C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster III), as well as heavy transporters M1070.
|Armor||“Chobham”, multi-layer anti-projectile composite armor, reinforced with depleted uranium|
|Operating range||410 km|
|Speed||72 km/h (highway), 48 km/h (cross country)|
|Main armament||105 mm rifled tank gun M68 (with M1A1 – 120 mm smoothbore M256)|
1 × 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun
2 × 7.62 mm M240 machine guns (1 turret, 1 twin)
|Engine||Honeywell AGT1500C multi-fuel gas turbine engine 1500 hp (1120 kW)|
|Fuel tank capacity||1900 l|
Table 1. Characteristics of the M1 Abrams tank
Design imperfections M1 Abrams
One of the features of the tank model is its extra-large weight, as well as excessive fuel consumption (38 liters of fuel is used only to start the turbine). M1 Abrams is powered by a 1500 hp gas turbine engine. and is equipped with a six-speed (four forward, two reverse) automatic transmission. On the road surface, it is capable of speeds of 72 km / h, but on average terrain it does not move faster than 48 km / h.
This need for fuel creates logistical problems for the troops. During the offensive in the Middle East, the US Army first encountered the low speed of movement in tanks, because they needed frequent refueling, which was carried out by special vehicles.
The large weight of the M1 Abrams, in turn, creates problems with the speed of deployment of tanks, because it requires specialized equipment for their transfer.
The potential of the M1 Abrams for the APU
According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, our Armed Forces expect to receive American Abrams and German Leopard 2s from Western partners. Now the Ukrainian army is armed with Soviet models of T-72 tanks and similar armored vehicles. Western models are distinguished not only by better firepower and armor, but also by maneuverability, which means they will allow them to have an advantage in battle with Russian invaders.
Tanks are inherently used to support infantry in combat missions as well as offensive operations. Where there is a possibility of breaking through the defense, tank formations are used. According to recent events at the front, it becomes clear why Ukrainian diplomacy and military leadership have stepped up requests for this type of weapon right now.
Providing modernized equipment capable of hitting Russian counterparts will help increase the firepower of the Ukrainian army. With 100% provision of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under Lend-Lease, the Ukrainian side can gain an advantage not only on the ground, but also in the sky, if military assistance is not hampered by Western partners.
The main reasons that US and German defense officials explain the delay in deliveries are the differences in Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks from Soviet models. Western models of weapons require different logistics and maintenance, as well as long-term training of our military. Ukraine must convince partners that it is able to form crews for the effective use of equipment and is able to keep it.
However, information about the training of the Ukrainian military has already come from Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. And this allows us to hope that Ukraine will still receive new equipment not only for the liberation of the occupied territories from February 24, but also from 2014. We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and do not stop donating to bring Victory closer.