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(Screengrab via YouTube)
A month after the United States pledged to send more than 30 M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) units to the battlefield in Ukraine, a Pro-Russian group released a how-to video detailing the weaknesses of the behemoth regardless of the variation.
Hit Zones of the American War Machine
Rybar, a known Pro-Russian media, published a “how to” video on Sunday detailing the hit zones and vulnerabilities of the revered American MBT—heralded as a “hard to kill” war machine. The release came a month after the US announced it would arm Ukrainians with M1A2 Abrams to boost its fight against the invading Russian Army.
The first few minutes of the video highlight the tank’s impenetrable features, recognizing Abrams’ “powerful armor, active protection systems, and other survivability modules,” which are responsible for its combat survivability.
“Nevertheless, Abrams is not an invulnerable machine,” it emphasized as the tone shifts, adding, “like any other vehicle, it can be disabled.”
From there, it discussed the American tank’s hardest-hit zones and its most vulnerable parts, which adversaries could target.
Accordingly, the Abrams’ “frontalprotrusion” would be the most difficult to penetrate, but parts like the turret’s roof would ensure a sure kill. The machine’s optics, as well as its surveillance and communication systems on the turret’s roof, could be a great target for attackers, firing large-caliber machine guns and/or grenade launchers, it added.
However, the video highlighted the need to use the most advanced anti-tank weapons available to get through the sophisticated combined armor of the American tank. It then reiterated the use of either machine guns or grenade launchers to “hit the fuel tanks or the locations of the drivers, mechanics, and other crew members of the turret.”
“The Abrams is less difficult to hit from the sides,” explaining how light weapons can attack its engine, fuel tanks, combat compartment, and ammo storage. In addition, it emphasized that, like any other tanks, the Abrams’ tracks could also be hit to immobilize the machine, becoming an “easy … immovable target.”
Moving on to the rear portion of the tank, the video labeled this part as the “most vulnerable part of the tank,” stressing that this should be prioritized because it is where the engine and ammunition are located—thus prone to explosion.
“If incendiary mixtures are used, the best solution would be to attack the engine-transmission compartment from above,” recommending using unmanned drones as the best assault weapon. It nevertheless warned not to aim too close at hatches as they are “well armored and can easily withstand a hit,” proceeding to reiterate to hit the top of the tank’s turret instead, where its optics and external communication systems are located. For this part, hand grenades can be used while the engine and ammo storage can be taken out by shaped-charged weapons like cumulative and hollow-charge ammunition.
“The Abrams is justly considered one of the best-protected vehicles, but the experience of the wars near the Persian Gulf has dispelled the myth of its invulnerability. Numerous photos of burning Abrams confirmed once again that any tank could be hit, and the American one is by no means an exception. The main thing is to keep cool and use the necessary means of destruction,” the video concluded.
Will Abrams Reach Ukranian Soil?
The “how to” video by this Pro-Russian group covers the known vulnerabilities of just about any tank type; tough frontal armor, easier to damage or disable from the sides or rear, but does not reveal secrets for disabling an Abrams tank. The video itself seems to be made for the basic Russian infantryman who probably didn’t get this training in basic. It also seems to concede that Russians encountering an Abrams will not have the kind of dedicated anti-tank weapons on hand to defeat them. Right now, it remains tentative whether the American Abrams will actually appear in Ukrainian anytime soon and whether the Russian troops will ever be able to engage one. Generally, you don’t want any tank swarmed by infantry at close range. If Ukraine employs the Abrams correctly, it will be used for maneuver warfare and be supported by armored infantry in the field.
The Biden administration, via National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, said the reconsideration of sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine was only due to the pressure from Germany, demanding the American tanks as a “precondition” before delivering its Leopard-2 MBTs to Kyiv.
Previously, the US administration doubted the transfer after the military assessed that the Abrams would not do much on the battlefield. After stressing an “international coalition,” however, President Joe Biden had a change of heart—though the American tanks are expected to arrive at the troubled nation not sooner than next year.
Germany had long hesitated to send their tanks to Ukraine, seemingly trying to distance itself from any involvement in the conflict despite condemning Russia for its unwarranted invasion. Moreover, its bloody history as an aggressor from the previous world wars also contributes to this reluctance. But after reassurances by Washington that we would be joining them, Berlin is now working on the tank supply transfer.
Updating the status of the transfer process, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told reporters Thursday that they’re still determining the “fastest way” to deliver the Abrams to Ukraine, which could take over a week or two.
“None of the options we’re exploring are weeks or two months,” she explained. “There are longer timelines involved, but I think there are options that are less than two years, less than a year-and-a-half,” adding that there are many factors that “needs to be worked out.”
Some of those factors include training Ukrainians on how to operate and repair an Abrams tank and create a spare parts inventory for them. They will also have to have radios that conform with Ukrainian army types and include support vehicles to sustain Abrams in the field.
Last week, Poland sent its first batch of Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine. Following this, the Rybar released its first “how to” installment detailing the vulnerabilities and hit zones of the German tank.
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