Reports from Ukraine suggest that the M1A1 Abrams tank, supplied by the United States, has been spotted in the vicinity of Kupiansk. This claim is supported by a photograph accompanying the statement, allegedly taken within the mentioned area.
Despite the lack of evidence [the picture proves nothing], it’s entirely plausible that the Ukrainian military could position the M1A1 Abrams, supplied by the US, onto the front lines of combat.
Reports out of Russia neither confirm nor deny the alleged “presence of a tank in Kupiansk”, indicating that this possibility is still in play. According to Russian blogger Boris Rozhin, if this rumor proves to be valid, it will surely spark a zealous hunt for American tanks.
Furthering his Telegram commentary, Rozhin mentions the Russian military’s eagerness to confront these American tanks on the battlefield, given their purported purpose to rupture the Russian defenses. Echoing Ukrainian sources, Rozhin precisely stated, “Abrams surfaced from the forest, supposedly heading towards Kupiansk. The hunt begins.”
Rains and impassable fields
In late September, Kyiv took delivery of 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks. After the delivery, there was a notable silence regarding what happened to them. Many foreign experts speculated that the Ukrainian Armed Forces leadership chose not to deploy these American tanks to the front lines as their performance in winter combat is typically less than satisfactory. The general consensus was that these formidable machines were being saved for a spring counteroffensive, reportedly in the planning stages by Zelensky.
The possibility exists that the Ukrainian generals may have opted to deploy the Abrams into combat at Kupiansk. This decision could be in response to the challenging circumstances currently faced by the Ukrainian armed forces. They are under immense pressure from Russian troops, and reinforcements are sparse. Nonetheless, the present conditions are rainy and fields are virtually impassable. Many lighter armored vehicles, regardless of whether they’re Russian or of another origin, are becoming immobilized in the mucky fields.
M1A1 in the Ukrainian winter
In regards to winter weather conditions, it’s common for many specialists to assert, “Abrams is not equipped for winter.” But what do they precisely mean by this? For starters, it’s worth noting that every component of the Abrams tank remains functional even in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. The challenge with Abrams, however, lies in its mobility.
Just like how your car tires waver on snow and icy roads, the M1 Abrams tank experiences a similar fate. It depends on rubber track pads not just to gain traction, but also to decrease the noise made by the tracks. However, when navigating hilly terrain under icy conditions, these rubber track pads can lose their foothold, similar to automotive tires skidding on winter roads.
There’s an answer to the challenge. As evidenced by past accounts and references from those “winter encounters with Abrams”, a particular winter kit is integrated within the tank. To put it in simpler terms, Abrams makes use of “ice cleats” [winter wedges], giving the tank a firmer grip and facilitating movement on icy, inclined paths and landscapes.
Ice cleats, essentially steel plates featuring a central, X-shaped cleat bolted to the bottom, serve as the ideal replacement for the standard rubber padding, finding their place on every fifth shoe of a tank track. Every tank employs a total of two sets of these cleats, amounting to 64 individual pieces, to enhance traction during the chilly winter months.
However, under extremely low temperatures, the metal found in ice wedges is prone to breaking. A notable instance of this occurred in 1986 during tests involving the M1A1 Abrams in South Korea.
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