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American Abrams tanks vulnerable even to Soviet-era weapons, says expert

US President Joe Biden announced on January 25 that Washington would hand over 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the Kiev regime
American M1 Abrams tank AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
American M1 Abrams tank
© AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. American M1 Abrams tanks that Washington has decided to hand over to Kiev as military aid have weaknesses that allowed wiping them out with Soviet weapons, including T-55 tanks, during the conflict in Iraq, armor expert, Candidate of Military Sciences, retired Colonel Sergey Suvorov told TASS on Thursday.

M1 Abrams tanks can also be hardly repaired in field conditions and are weakly suited for operation on dusty terrain like in Ukraine, the expert added.

US President Joe Biden announced on January 25 that Washington would hand over 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the Kiev regime. Earlier, Germany and Poland made the decisions to supply German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It was also reported that the United Kingdom would transfer Challenger 2 tanks to Kiev.

Abrams turret pierced by T-55’s shell

Abrams tanks repeatedly demonstrated their vulnerability during the hostilities in Iraq, the expert pointed out. "As the Iraq combat experience shows, they went up in flames. The tank turret was pierced by a 100mm armor-piercing blunt nose projectile fired by a T-55 tank. There were instances when Abrams vehicles were struck by automatic guns of both Bradley and our BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles," he said.

Instances are also known when the American tank was destroyed by the first Soviet modifications of T-72 tanks firing old shells "that were withdrawn from operational use even before the Abrams concept was devised," Suvorov said.

The expert also pointed to the instances when Abrams tanks were wiped out by RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers.

An extra powerplant installed in the rear part of the turret to power modern electronic systems is another weak point of later American tank modifications, the expert said. "It was covered with the armor that can withstand assault rifle bullets but is vulnerable to a 12.7 mm DShK machine gun. It was hit by a DShK and its motor was smashed, oil and fuel went ablaze and spilled down to the main engine located below. The main engine went ablaze and then the tank itself went up in flames and burnt out," he said.

The American tank almost has no chances, if it engages in a duel with Russian tanks, the expert said.

"If an Abrams emerges at a long distance, a T-72 or a T-90 crew will fire an anti-tank missile and we can say that the Abrams will even have no chance to fire a shot as its range of fire won’t allow it to do that," he explained.

However, the US tank’s final efficiency depends on the commander’s skills to operate it and trained crews, the expert said.

Structural and operational flaws

Apart from the need to fill Abrams tanks with clean jet fuel, they also have more serious operational flaws. In particular, they cannot be repaired in field conditions, the expert said.

"Repairs are a major problem. If something breaks down in the powerplant, it has to be pulled out of the tank, taken to a special repair workshop with skilled personnel, disconnected from the gear box and only then repaired," Suvorov said.

The air intake system of US-made Abrams tanks is yet another vulnerability, the expert pointed out. "They feature an air filter that operates similar to the equipment installed in motor vehicles: if it becomes clogged, it has to be taken out and cleaned. Meanwhile, all of our tanks are equipped with cyclone dust collectors that are quite smart devices," the expert said, adding that an Abrams filter sufficed for just 15 minutes of the tank’s movement along dusty terrain during the Iraq campaign.

This may be a major hurdle in employing Abrams tanks in the zone of the special military operation in Ukraine, the expert warned. "It is still possible to operate in winter but summer in Ukraine is quite dusty," he said.

The Abrams rate of fire falls after the first three or four shots due to its separate loading system. Secondly, its principle in the American vehicle is inferior to that in other Western tanks and will further cut the crew’s efficiency, the expert pointed out.

"In a Leopard tank, a loader stands straight whereas the Abrams designers sought to reduce the tank’s height and a loader inside the vehicle operates bent low, which is not quite comfortable," he explained.