Costly Crap Or Silver Bullet? M1 Abrams In Modern Combat

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Costly Crap Or Silver Bullet? M1 Abrams In Modern Combat

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Written by Felix Randall exclusively for SouthFront

The M-1 Abrams main battle tank is notorious for its killer reputation on the battlefield. However, in recent years it has seen minimal upgrades in the most important fields of protection, mobility, and firepower. As such, if deployed in a modern setting, it is unlikely the Abrams could live up to its much-vaunted reputation.

The concept of the Abrams was a result of developments in, of all places, the Soviet Union; where in 1964 the Soviets first entered the – at the time unrivaled – T-64 tank into service. The T-64 featured composite armor for the first time on a main battle tank, excellent fire control and a formidable armor package. To combat this, the United States and Germany embarked on the joint Kampfpanzer-70 and MBT-70 project. This project was groundbreaking in many respects, and incorporated the most cutting-edge systems of the time. However, the prototype main battle tank soon proved too expensive to be feasibly fielded in large numbers, and program cost overruns resulted in its cancellation in 1971. However, still needing a new main battle tank, the United States embarked on designing a new vehicle. Building on the lessons learned during the MBT-70 project, and incorporating a significant amount of the technology, the Abrams was developed with a state-of-the-art fire control system, excellent mobility and an armor package capable of withstanding nearly anything the Soviets could throw at it.

Costly Crap Or Silver Bullet? M1 Abrams In Modern Combat

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In 1980 the first M-1 production models were rolled out of the Lima Army Tank Plant, sporting capabilities that surpassed their peers in nearly every respect. At the time, it had a significant technological edge over the (still fierce) soviet T-72A introduced a year prior, and was easily on par with the T-80 introduced that year. However, even in this early stage it still presented a number of weaknesses. Firstly, it’s Upper Front Plate was, and on the SEPv2 version still is, only 51mm thick, and is not made of the same cutting-edge composite armor that comprises the rest of the tank’s frontal profile. Secondly, it’s weight. The initial M-1 Abrams weighed in at approximately 60 tons, which for the time was still extremely heavy. While made up for by its extremely powerful AGT-1500 gas turbine engine, the strategic mobility and logistical sustainability of the tank was seriously diminished by the amount of fuel it had to consume to maintain its tactical mobility. Third, the firepower in the initial M-1 variant was lacking, as there was a compromise struck to install the dated, but plentiful M68 105mm rifled cannon on the first version, and to later upgrade to a more powerful 120mm main armament. Finally, the cost was extreme compared to its contemporaries in the Soviet Union. The Initial M-1 Abrams sunk cost can be estimated at nearly 1 million USD per tank, whereas the T-72A cost half that much even as late as the 1990s.

Costly Crap Or Silver Bullet? M1 Abrams In Modern Combat

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In 1985, production of the M-1A1 variant started; which was when the M-1 truly became a force to be reckoned with. Refitted with a M256 120mm smoothbore cannon, a licensed copy of the Rheinmetall 120mm L/44, the Abrams gained astonishing destructive power, and could penetrate nearly any spot of any tank that it could encounter at the time of its introduction. It also featured the integration of Depleted Uranium into its turret cheeks, which significantly increased their protection against both Kinetic Energy projectiles, namely Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) rounds, Chemical Energy projectiles such as High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs). It also featured improvement of its fire control systems, electronics, and an overall modernization of the tank’s systems.

Despite making significant advances, all of these upgrades came at a cost. The weight increased drastically to 63 tons dry, and even heavier with a combat load. The top speed dropped to 42 miles per hour over ideal terrain, the ground pressure increased to nearly 14 pounds per square inch, the width of the tank increased, thus making it a larger target, and the cost to replace or upgrade each original M-1 rose to more than 4,000,000 USD.

When in 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the Abrams was locked into a course that would give it the fearsome reputation it still holds to this day. In late 1990, to deter further military action from Iraq, the United States and its coalition partners began the largest deployment of NATO troops since Vietnam. However, transporting the lumbering 60+ ton beasts proved to be a significant logistical burden, with the C-5 Galaxy super heavy transport aircraft being the only airborne means of transporting the tanks, two at a time. Even with the months upon months of troop deployments, the United States was able to send less than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks to Northern Saudi Arabia before the invasion began.

During the invasion, the Abrams received high praise for knocking out vast swathes of Iraqi armored vehicles, and suffering extremely few losses. While it is true that the Abrams destroyed a significant number of armored vehicles, a more detailed analysis reveals that the vast majority of the work was done for the tankers by the US Air Force, who accrued vastly more destroyed enemy armored vehicles than the Abrams crewmen. Furthermore, the tanks that the Abrams went up against were not, in fact, the T-72s that many claimed they were.
While it is true that there were some export variant T-72s in Iraq during the invasion, those were not only a dumbed down export variant lacking most of the sophisticated fire control mechanisms, reliable autoloaders, and many other systems of the native Soviet T-72s; but they were an exceedingly small minority of the tanks Hussein wielded. The vast majority were further downgrades such as the Assad Babil and the Saddam. These were Iraqi indigenous copies of the already downgraded export T-72 that not only lacked composite armor, but also passive infrared gunsights, and in some cases any night vision capabilities at all. Not only were the Iraqi tanks horrendously obsolete by the time they rolled off the production line, but they were also crewed by a demoralized, undertrained, and ill prepared Iraqi crew that had undergone an aerial bombardment not seen since the Vietnam War.

Costly Crap Or Silver Bullet? M1 Abrams In Modern Combat

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Despite all this, when the general public saw the thousands upon thousands of destroyed Iraqi tanks, and the American M-1 Abrams triumphantly lumbering past them, it soon stuck in the minds of many that the American tank was an invincible killing machine. This was furthered by the enormous propagandization of the conflict and the dubbing of the Abrams as a, “Super-tank” and its ammunition as the, “Silver bullet” by the media and the public relations directors in the Pentagon.

In 1992, there was another increase in the M-1’s capabilities with the service introduction of the M-1A2. This upgrade sought to harness the digital revolution ongoing at the time by digitizing a significant proportion of the Abrams’ systems, updating its computational capabilities, and increase its lethality through the introduction of a Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV). It also slightly expanded the ammo storage, and upgraded the gunner’s thermal sight to allow target tracking at a farther distance.

These upgrades did not come without downsides however. The weight of the M-1A2 skyrocketed to more than 70 tons at combat load, making it a logistical juggernaut in terms of fuel, maintenance, and operational transportation. The ground pressure increased to more than 15 pounds per square inch, the cross-country range dropped to less than 100 miles in some cases, the ground clearance decreased, and the price ballooned to over 6 million dollars per unit.

In the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, no M-1 Abrams tanks of any variant were deployed, and this remained the case until 2010 when the first small batch of modernized Marine Corps M-1A1 tanks were deployed to increase the firepower of American units amidst the operations ongoing at the time. During this deployment, no significant results were achieved due to the unfavorable terrain.

The only semblance of a test the M-1A2 faced was in 2003 during the American led invasion of Iraq as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While performing respectably in the initial invasion, often acting as the forward-most deployed formation in large assaults such as the Battle of Baghdad; this was mostly due to the lack of training on the part of the Iraqi crews, and the vastly inferior armor fielded by the Iraqi military. By the time the initial invasion had ended, the Iraqi insurgency began to take a significant toll on the US Military. Rocket attacks on the top and side armor of the Abrams led to more than 530 Abrams tanks being shipped back to the United States for extensive repairs, or destroyed by their crew by December 2006.

Today, after undergoing numerous upgrades, the most numerously fielded model of the M-1 Abrams by the US Army is the M-1A2SEPV2. This has added a remotely operated machine gun for the commander, allowed the capability of installing an Urban Survival Kit with explosive reactive armor, and upgraded the Depleted Uranium armor. The newest in-service ammunition is currently the M829A3 Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot projectile, which is an extremely effective projectile even by the strictest standards; capable of defeating older generation Explosive Reactive Armor such as the Kontakt-5 found on many Russian tanks.

While possessing potent capabilities, the Abrams is fundamentally hindered by its original design as a counter to a potential large number of Soviet tank columns advancing along the plains of Europe during a major land war. Modern war is a far cry from the conflicts the Abrams was built for, so in the world of distant deployments, poor local infrastructure, and counter-insurgency the modern Abrams is unable to keep up with its competitors.

Logistically, the Abrams is an extreme burden on any supply chain, even one as well funded and mechanized as the United States’ is. The foremost issue present is the extraordinarily high weight, even for modern standards. Due to its 70+ ton combat load, it is extremely difficult to transport in large amounts to any theater of operations. When in theater, the Abrams is difficult to transport to any staging area on an operational scale, having to resort to dedicated transport vehicles (which only add to the logistical burden imposed on the US Military); and even upon arrival to its area of operations, it performs poorly in rough terrain and cannot sustain unsupported operations for a significant period of time due to its weight-imposed high fuel consumption.

When compared to less expensive and more numerous Russian tanks such as the T-72B3M, the M-1 shows itself to be not only unable to compete in terms of strategic and operational mobility, logistical sustainability, and ease of procurement, but is also demonstrably inferior in a strictly conventional setting.

Firstly, the size of the M-1 makes it a significantly larger target, and the thermal signature of the AGT-1500 engine that powers the Abrams is far more prominent than that of the T-72B3M. The result of this is, even with the slightly less capable optics on the T-72B3M, the Abrams stands a chance of being detected first. When detected, the more powerful 2A46M-5 cannon on the T-72B3M is able to penetrate and damage significantly more than the M-1’s 120mm L/44 cannon. Penetration statistics for the M829A3 projectile show that compared to the 3BM59 “Svinits 1” projectile used by the T-72B3M, the Svinits 1 has a significantly higher armor penetration as well as higher muzzle energy due to the longer barrel, and larger bore diameter. The approximately 830mm of rolled homogenous steel armor (RHA) penetration at 2km the Svinits 1 is capable of, is sufficient to penetrate nearly any part of the Abrams except for the depleted Uranium reinforced turret cheeks; whereas the approximately 700mm RHA penetration at 2km of the M829A3 will most likely fail to penetrate the Relikt ERA and composite hull/turret of the T-72B3M from the front. Both tanks can, however, penetrate each other’s sides at any range up to the maximum effective range of their respective cannons.

As a result of this fact, the T-72B3M is able to score penetrations at a longer range than the M-1A2 Abrams, due to its 9M-119M Refleks gun launched Anti-Tank Guided Missile. The 9M-119M is capable of penetrating approximately 900mm of RHA at any range, and has an effective range of over 5 kilometers. This is significantly farther than the maximum effective range of the M829A3, which is the longest-range Anti-Tank munition carried by the M-1A2SEPV2.

The prevalence and power of these Anti-Tank Guided Missiles are apparent in theaters such as the Saudi-Yemeni war, where numerous M-1A2S Abrams tanks have been knocked out by Houthi ambushes using portable Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. The mobility, flexibility, and affordability of these systems presents a significant danger to the Abrams, which in its M-1A2SEPv2 state is lacking any effective means of combating this threat, such as a hard-kill Active Protection System. Due to extreme complexity of integrating an Active Protection System on the Abrams, only the most recent model, which is fielded in extremely small numbers at the present, has any form of this system.

With future upgrades planned into the mid-2020s, and no replacement currently in development; the M-1 Abrams stands to remain the staple of the United States’ armored forces for the foreseeable future. However, it has fallen significantly behind it’s contemporaries in the very fields which it was designed to excel in, and can no longer live up to the reputation it once so proudly held.

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  • Red Pilled ThoughtCrimes

    people seem to be taking a much closer look at USA military equipment and each suggestinspection it to be falling short of expectations

  • Lone Ranger

    Saudis lost a bunch of them in Yemen.
    U.S. also lost plenty in Iraq.
    Its not a bad tank but its gas turbine is a gas guzzler.
    Its reputation comes from the myth it was never destroyed by enemy fire, which is a simple lie.
    Also most the Iraqi tanks in the Gulf war were taken out by Hellfire missiles fired from AH-64 helo gunships, not the Abrams.
    General Swarzkopf said it himself, if Iraqis had the Abrams and the U.S. the T-64s and T-72s the results would have been the same.
    Also its worth to mention Iraqi T-72s were licence built copies and Polish exports, they had inferior quality armor, no reactive armor plating, no digital fire control system, no kinetic penetrator rounds.
    Biggest issue with the Abrams its not waterproof cant cross small rivers, it also lacks chemical and radiation.protection of the same reason.
    If water can enter everything else can too.
    Most main battle tanks dont have that deficiency.

    • FreeAndAll Military Intelligen

      Exactly! Excellent insight.

      • Jens Holm

        Thats no exelent insigt but more like talking up and taling down. No objektive comment at all.

    • northerntruthseeker .

      The issue in Iraq has been the WEIGHT of this monstrosity… Watch some videos of these M1 Abram tanks going over Iraqi bridges only to see the bridges collapse taking the M1 down with them to the river beds below….

      The M1 basically is a dinosaur and in much need of replacement…

      • Jens Holm

        Thats true. It is a HEÝVY tabk, so You have tó compare with others of same kaliber.

        • JerryDrake

          You didn’t think so, but you said it correctly – caliber. All tanks in use are in the same category – the main battle tank (MBT). Their task is to project their power through their primary means – the gun. The measure of a tank’s quality is not its weight. The fact that Abrams has a weaker gun than the T-90 with 50% more mass does not support him.

          • Jens Holm

            I can only see most writers talk down the Abrams, whcih in facts mainly are the first and not the upgrsded versions. Those old tanks are given to fx the Iraqi army, because they are fine but not the best anymore.

            Thats why we se the very bad connections to the real world. Its typical You dont know Your enemy and as here talk its strenghyt down.

            And next You have a very big surprice, when You loose. Here its also typical some name those as dinosaurs. Well they do meet dinosaurs, buit often they are onely a wheel in a big and well organized system.

            Even in the biggest tank battles such as fx Kursk 1 and 2, the main weapons was not even tanks.

            I see the same argumentation for the invading of Iraq right here tellig that “The Abrams didnt hit those many tanks of Saddam”.

            Well, they were never planned to do that at all. That war was named “desert storm” because tanks stormed around the Saddam tanks. Here those tanks did defeat Saddams by surprice, GPS and accurasy in shooting practice and not panzer.

            That was what they were constructed for and not target practice for RPGs and like that.

    • Jens Holm

      Most of that is crap. The gasturbines are expnsive and they have to refuel more often, but it also with its gyroskope canon hit more tanks much better then most driving around.

      You also dont mention gas turbines makes them much mpre silent, which make the chock effect very good.

      The standards are better then most ather tanks in the whole world.

    • Zionism = EVIL

      Like most Americunt hyped up inflated junk, the M1 Abrams is a shitbox and many were taken out by Iraqi freedom fighters RPGs, even worse fate in Yemen as you mention.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d578e516fcb4cd5124a3e0d45084e83e08c2b025596235e6ce4731b35744c0f6.jpg

  • Jesus

    The M1 was designed to defend the Fulda Gap against the onslaught of Soviet armor. It did not have any direct peer completion on the battlefield, the sides of the tank are vulnerable even to a 100 MM BMP gun, it lacks an active protection system, there is a trial for the Israeli Trophy system, the T72 B3 and T90 high velocity rounds would defeat it at 2000+ meter range.
    Then there is the T14 with a 152mm high velocity guns that would like to target practice on a column of M1-2.

    • Felix Randall

      Yup, even with the currently fitted 2A82-1M gun using the Vacuum 1, it could plink Abrams from the front at an extremely long range with no issues.

    • Jens Holm

      At least some correct information even You describe it as a box of nothing. Its not. I think You describe the old one.

      It wasnt the best for roadside mines as well.

  • Boxman

    I think the Abrams tanks are like the German Tigers of WWII. Virtually invincible in the right circumstances but impractical for most.

    • CHAOS

      The Russians keep doing what they know. While the T-34s fell victim to Tiger, they still didn’t learn. Russian tanks may be agile, but they’re like a T-34 against abrams.

      • Jesus

        You are comparing apples to oranges. The Tiger was the result the German surprise they when they encountered the T34. They even copied the T34 design making it heavier with a 75MM gun aka as the Panther.
        A T34 positioned in an ambush position could kill a Tiger.

      • Concrete Mike

        Well fucken duh a tiger would take a t34 out, your comparing a heavy tank to a medium tank.

        Its as if you would be surprised i lost a drag race in my ford fiesta against a ferrari.

        Heavy tanks have there place and so do medium ones.
        Its called combined arms operations.

        Something none of us armchair generals know a damn thing about.

        • BMWA1

          Soviets developed also Su-100 against Tiger but development was delayed 18 months or more due to red tape.

      • JIMI JAMES

        Power rules,always had,seen the german leppar tanks torn to shreds,usa tanks are way underpowered and weaker contructions to the soviets,as you seen in all wars russians won in the end never germans not usa todate to be frank,iraq had a cia leader,of course they would try to disadvantage anything russiam.fkn derr!

      • JerryDrake

        Tiger is a heavy tank, its counterpart was IS tank, wich is far better than Tiger. German counterpart for Soviet T-34 was Pz IV wich was very inferior until H version with 75mm gun. The Pz V or Panther was directly inspired by the T-34, but at the time Panther was deployed to the battlefield, the Soviets completed the T-44 project, only deciding to continue producing the T-34/85 instead, as it was, in their estimation, good enough for further combat.
        Otherwise, the T-44 was far superior to the Panther and served as the basis for the creation of the excellent T-54 / T-55 tanks.

        • Jens Holm

          Hard times for Vlemenko :(

          IS were the new generation, but they used the KV1 to the last day of the war as I recall it.

          • JerryDrake

            The Soviet Union entered World War II with superior tanks KV and T-34, the Germans responded with Pz VI (Tiger) and Pz V (Panther), and then the Soviets responded with IS and T-44 … Just as the Panther was designed based on its T-34 experience, so did the Soviets design the IS in response to the Tiger. Of course there will always be a newer generation tank.
            KV – in combat use from 1941,
            Tiger – in combat use from 1942,
            IS – in combat use from 1943.

          • Mattias Dahlström

            The early versions of the T-34 had a two man turret – a major deficiency. A Pz III company would beat a T-34 company, due to the better C&C of the Pz III. Now the T34-85 was a fine tank!

  • CHAOS

    The Russians produce cheap and much, the U.S. produce few and expensive.Both have advantages. I think the crew’s experience is the biggest factor here.

    • Felix Randall

      I see what you mean, though I would not be so quick to discount the ability of even the mainline T-73B3M series, as they have been refitted with Relikt ERA on the front, and their cannon is easily capable of piercing the M1 from most angles!

      As in any engagement though, you are 100% correct; it will all come down to who has the first shot, and which crew is better trained.

      • Jens Holm

        Yes, tanks are not stand alones as tank against tank at all but hopefully a part of a well planned package.

    • Jesus

      The Russians did so in the past, today their priority is to protect their tank crews since highly trained crews are difficult to replace. The introduction of reactive armour, active protection systems, Shtora and other defensive countermeasures are intended for tank and crew survivability. This is even more accentuated in the T14 platform where the crew is housed in an armored module in front of the tank.

      • JIMI JAMES

        Russians use cheap? wheres your evidence!Well I only see cccp+ russia victors
        usa cant develop special materials,haked it to the moon,cccp never used cheap,
        grow a set will ye,get a proper engineering degree,as for the present,derr every man and his dog knows that,how about telling us something we dont know,prat!

        • Jesus

          In the WW2 Stavka decided to mass produce simple and cheap armaments, considering their tactics and the high attrition rate it involved. That is how Russia bled to death the German Wehrmacht.

        • Jens Holm

          Thats right. There was 2 reasons. 1) they had lack of mettal even they imported a lot of Nikel from USA and maybee more important:

          They used T34 and several others as spendables. They died very fast. So a very short lifetime was not worth spending for the next 19 years.

          The weapons was first class for Rusian standards. The T34 actually was upgraded by more panzer and also bigger and better canons with higher veloscity – but the rest – no.

          Most tanks were supported by American Bedford fuel Trucks as well. Russians paid for 11 bilion dollars and had no more money, but the help continued and never was asked back even it was named as lease.

          Fx It was about 300.000 vehichles and 50.000 of them were jeeps.

    • JIMI JAMES

      Cheap?Get your hand off it,flogged!
      All you achieved is fake moon landings,usa could never build a mach 3 passenger jet could they eh mt fake stocks up de assed oil guru? fk no!even cccp used better metals,
      ye demented uneducated low iq of no enginerring class whatsoever,insult to forum,flog!

  • Jens Holm

    Testing from almost all other sources dont say most of that at all.

    • Felix Randall

      While many lists will call the Abrams an exceptional tank, they are doing so based more off of it’s status than a strictly analytical point of view. It is not a terrible tank, but it has many flaws.

      I have read through your list, and while yes the Armata is relatively expensive compared to other contemporary Russian tanks, it is still less expensive than the Abrams, and the Leopard 2A7. It has only been produced in Low Rate Initial Production due to it’s extreme leap in technology compared to it’s older brothers such as the T-72 and T-90 :)

      • Jens Holm

        There are no reasons for ananlyses. The Abrams has been used a lot in Iraq and all good and bad sides are well described.Its tested 100%.

        By that they have improved it knowing which testing has been needed.

        The Armata is not even tested. Its also very much about having the equipment. Its not enough to have a very expensive advanced tank almost on paper only.

        Assads and the Russians do use the T72 and T90. Those are very strong, but they hardly use their expensive equipment for more then football matches. The main strenght here in Syria is how thick the skin is.

        Its the here comparing gun seize. The Armatas´any time hit tagets better by their gysroskope systems.

        We(I) have heard the same from russians comparing the T34 and the Sherman blaming USA for too small guns. But most of the war russians were not able to construct canons as well as grenades as well as USA and GB.

        USA also in their kind´of warfare had chosen much higher mobility and the price for that has to be paid but the strong side for mobilty is never rewarded in the Russian side of the debate.

        And in WW2 it was the same for the artillery. It was a choise they because of mobility made. It gave them problems several times fdx at the “Siegfried line”, but the good part of also here i never mentioned.

        Its about choises. It was the americans and britts which destroyed the German industriel capability. Thats alwats forgotten. Westerns could have taken those airplane resources and used them for fx better tanks and artillery as well as many more missiles.

        France in that war also did not get, that the Nazis partly had replaced artilley with airplanes even it was inaccurate compared to much more artillery.

        I will not debate much more about who has the biggest “carrot”, but tanks are in systems and not duelling tank by tank.

      • cechas vodobenikov

        most of Jens’ analysis of the Armata is speculation, not verified evaluations—while uS tanks perform poorly in extreme weather, Russian tanks perform well in a variety of conditions…I doubt that ranking matters …tanks have many advantages and vulnerabilities

  • Assad must stay

    costly crap definitely lmao

  • Barba_Papa

    However, transporting the lumbering 60+ ton beasts proved to be a significant logistical burden, with the C-5 Galaxy super heavy transport aircraft being the only airborne means of transporting the tanks, two at a time. Even with the months upon months of troop deployments, the United States was able to send less than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks to Northern Saudi Arabia before the invasion began.

    Nice try, they were shipped in by sea. And one of the biggest limiting factors in the number of Abrams deployed was that the majority of M1’s then in service were the 105mm armed versions and that the M1A1 variant had only been in production since 1986. And except for a single battalion ALL of those had been deployed to Germany. Whole divisions like the 1st Infantry, 1st Cavalry and 24th Infantry had to be re-equip and retrain on different tanks they had in the US. The Marines had to transition from their M-60’s to the Abrams altogether. And to top it off they had to do it without their National Guard roundout brigades. So brigades from other divisions had to be sent there as well and shifted around to whichever division needed a 3rd brigade. It was probably one of the biggest logistical re-equipment, personnel and unit reorganisation is US history. And accomplished in 6 months. Sorry, Southfront, it was a resounding success.

    a more detailed analysis reveals that the vast majority of the work was done for the tankers by the US Air Force, who accrued vastly more destroyed enemy armored vehicles than the Abrams crewmen.

    Source? Because as far as I know the claims of the US Chair Force were as overinflated and inaccurate as they were in WW2. And the Apache doesn’t count because those are part of the US Army, not the Chair Force. Because the US Army doesn’t trust the Chair Force not to hit their own troops, and the Chair Force doesn’t want the Army to have fixed wing aircraft.

    Despite all this, when the general public saw the thousands upon thousands of destroyed Iraqi tanks, and the American M-1 Abrams triumphantly lumbering past them, it soon stuck in the minds of many that the American tank was an invincible killing machine. This was furthered by the enormous propagandization of the conflict and the dubbing of the Abrams as a, “Super-tank” and its ammunition as the, “Silver bullet” by the media and the public relations directors in the Pentagon.

    This is true. But then again the media are made of idiots, even more so in military matters. To them anything with tracks is a tank.

    These upgrades did not come without downsides however. The weight of the M-1A2 skyrocketed to more than 70 tons at combat load, making it a logistical juggernaut in terms of fuel, maintenance, and operational transportation.

    This is something that happens to every tank throughout its production and service life. Threats that can threaten the tank increase, original armor becomes less effective with time. The end result is always a tank that is more beefed up then its original prototype. Upgraded Russian tanks experience the same weight increases in additional armor.

    By the time the initial invasion had ended, the Iraqi insurgency began to take a significant toll on the US Military. Rocket attacks on the top and side armor of the Abrams led to more than 530 Abrams tanks being shipped back to the United States for extensive repairs, or destroyed by their crew by December 2006.

    Shall we talk about how well Russian talks faired in the Chechen wars? Or how Syrian T-90’s keep on ending up in Jihadi hands.

    Logistically, the Abrams is an extreme burden on any supply chain, even one as well funded and mechanized as the United States’ is.

    Goes for any tank when deployed that far away from home.

    The foremost issue present is the extraordinarily high weight, even for modern standards. Due to its 70+ ton combat load, it is extremely difficult to transport in large amounts to any theater of operations. When in theater, the Abrams is difficult to transport to any staging area on an operational scale, having to resort to dedicated transport vehicles (which only add to the logistical burden imposed on the US Military); and even upon arrival to its area of operations, it performs poorly in rough terrain and cannot sustain unsupported operations for a significant period of time due to its weight-imposed high fuel consumption.

    The fuel consumption is a side effect of the gas turbine engine. Which the Russian army also experiences with the T-80. And probably why the T-72 was chosen to be further developed into the T-90, even though at the time the T-80U was probably the more advanced and capable tank. Just too expensive to operate.

    The prevalence and power of these Anti-Tank Guided Missiles are apparent in theaters such as the Saudi-Yemeni war, where numerous M-1A2S Abrams tanks have been knocked out by Houthi ambushes using portable Anti-Tank Guided Missiles.

    True. But like with the Iraqi T-72’s those were monkey export models as well. You can’t excuse the poor performance of Iraqi T-72’s by saying they were poor/cheap knock offs and then cite the poor performance of Saudi M1 Abrams as proof the Abrams is shite.

    The mobility, flexibility, and affordability of these systems presents a significant danger to the Abrams, which in its M-1A2SEPv2 state is lacking any effective means of combating this threat, such as a hard-kill Active Protection System. Due to extreme complexity of integrating an Active Protection System on the Abrams, only the most recent model, which is fielded in extremely small numbers at the present, has any form of this system.

    But the US army has a license to print money. They will field those protection systems in a relatively quick time.

    The result of this is, even with the slightly less capable optics on the T-72B3M, the Abrams stands a chance of being detected first.

    And this is and remains the true deciding factor in any war. Whichever tank detects the other first and whose crew can score a hit first wins. This was so in WW2, this remains so to this day. Amateurs talk individual weapons systems, professionals think in terms of combined arms warfare doctrines, integrated weapons systems working together handled by well trained soldiers. On paper the T-34 was a superior tank in almost every way to the German Pz III and IV. In practice the Germans were knocking them out faster then the Soviets could roll them off the production lines in the first years of the war. Why? Superior training and combined arms warfare. You obviously need a gun that can punch through the other tanks armor (cough Sherman cough), but if your tank’s gunner and commander know their shit and spot the other tank first it doesn’t matter if that other tank, or your tank, is an M-1A2SEPV2, a Challenger II, a Leopard2A7 a T-72B3M, a T-90M or an Armata. The other guy is gonna get fucked. But if you don’t know your shit spotting the other guy first might not matter that much if your incompetent gunner misses.

    • Tudor Miron

      “But the US army has a license to print money. They will field those protection systems in a relatively quick time.” Reality shows that ability to print paper doesn’t really help that much. As of now, units with active protection are almost non existent in US army. There many holes in your arguments but I’m way too busy for that :)

  • Vitex

    Hitler fell into the same trap with his Monster Tank concept (ironically nicknamed Maus). Tanks – generally – are a liability when they can be defeated by blokes in sandals with bic lighters

  • Sergei Formosa

    American crap is better dan russian crap