Ukrainian Abrams tank was spotted with Soviet Kontakt-1 blocks

The Ukrainian military is working diligently to enhance the protection of Abrams tanks supplied by the United States. According to a report by ANNA News, dynamic protection blocks from “Kontakt-1” have been installed on one of the M1A1 tanks. 

Ukrainian Abrams tank was spotted with Soviet Kontakt-1 blocks
Photo credit: Telegram

A photo of this upgraded Abrams was shared on Ukrainian social media, showing “Kontakt-1” mounted on both the upper and lower front bumpers. The varying colors of the dynamic protection blocks suggest they were sourced from other Soviet tank models. Additionally, the side protrusions of the Abrams hull still utilize the standard ARAT dynamic protection.

Eight Abrams tanks destroyed

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Photo credit: MWM

According to ANNA News, the Ukrainian Army has reportedly lost at least eight of the 31 Abrams tanks they received. Additionally, several other vehicles have sustained various types of damage. Ukrainian soldiers have previously voiced their concerns about the strong resistance from Russian forces and the inadequate turret protection on these tanks. 

Evidently, the front armor of the Abrams tanks couldn’t withstand Russian anti-tank weapons. In response, Ukrainian troops have been attempting to bolster the M1A1 tanks’ protection using makeshift solutions.

Kontakt-1 ERA

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Kontakt-1 emulation, Twitter

The Soviet dynamic protection system known as Kontakt-1 is a type of explosive reactive armor [ERA]. It’s designed to enhance the survivability of armored vehicles, particularly tanks, against anti-tank weapons. Developed during the Cold War, it was first introduced in the early 1980s and has since been a critical component of Soviet and later Russian armored vehicle defenses. 

Kontakt-1 is composed of a series of metal boxes or cassettes that are mounted on the exterior surfaces of a tank. Each cassette contains a sandwich-like structure with two metal plates and a layer of high-explosive material in between. The explosive material is typically a plastic explosive, which is sensitive enough to detonate upon impact from an incoming projectile.

The working principle

The working principle of Kontakt-1 is based on the concept of explosive reactive armor. When an anti-tank weapon, such as a shaped charge or high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] round, strikes the cassette, the explosive layer detonates. This detonation propels the metal plates outward, disrupting the formation of the penetrating jet created by the shaped charge. This disruption significantly reduces the penetration capability of the incoming projectile, thereby enhancing the tank’s protection. 

One of the key advantages of Kontakt-1 is its ability to provide additional protection without significantly increasing the weight of the vehicle. This makes it an effective solution for improving the survivability of older tank models without compromising their mobility. However, it is important to note that Kontakt-1 is primarily effective against certain types of threats. For example shaped charges. Kontakt-1 may not provide the same level of protection against kinetic energy penetrators or tandem warheads.

Kontakt-1 on Leopard 1 too

Recently, snapshots from the front lines in Ukraine have surfaced, revealing Leopard 1 tanks outfitted with Kontakt-1 dynamic protection. The Danish model of the Leopard 1A5DK features a similar configuration. 

Ukrainian Abrams tank was spotted with Soviet Kontakt-1 blocks
Photo credit: Telegram

From the images, it’s clear that Kontakt-1 modules are installed on both the hull and the turret of the Leopard 1. This enhancement seems to be a strategic move by the Ukrainian armed forces to bolster the tank’s defense against kamikaze drone attacks. 

Currently, the Leopard 1 is only sporadically used by the Ukrainian army in combat situations, with several units having sustained damage. While this modification offers a modest boost to the Leopard 1’s defense, it doesn’t significantly improve the already lightweight armor of the tank.

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