US M1 Abrams is already ‘involved in hostilities’ in Avdiivka

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Rumors are rife regarding the sighting of an American M1 Abrams main battle tank in the direction of Avdiivka, a region where conflict continues to rage. Pro-Ukrainian sources on social media channels such as Twitter and Telegram have hinted at this through a brief, “unidentified” video. According to the grapevine, the origins of the video are believed to be from inside another American battle asset – the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. 

Photo credit: Twitter

It’s no small incident when a US-given tank surfaces near an active combat zone in Ukraine. Any sighting of an Abrams since Ukraine received its promised share of tanks at the end of the past year is headline-worthy. After all, these American tanks have always steered clear of the battlefield. So, this indeed marks the debut of the “first M1 tank” in fierce battle scenarios. 

There’s a twist, though. Those familiar with the tanks suggest the video features the M1A2 SEPv2 version of the tank, not the M1A1SA tanks that were actually sent to Ukraine. There’s no record or announcement of Ukraine receiving the M1A2 SEPv2. So, we’re either dealing with “forged” and “misleading” news, or the video was filmed outside Ukraine, or the US delivered a version of the tank that they didn’t announce. But there is definitely something wrong with this information.

Last seen

Remember, the last sighting of an M1 Abrams was near Kupyansk, Ukraine in late November of the previous year amidst escalating tensions. Both Ukrainian and Russian players acknowledged this Abrams did not participate in the fray. A photograph of an M1 Abrams distributed by Ukrainian sources attempted to support these claims. However, the evidence wasn’t compelling enough. 

The Ukrainian armed contingent has until now only used Abrams-grade modifications. For instance, in November 2023, news reported that Ukraine was employing the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle [ABV] that uses an Abrams chassis. 

Photo credit: Telegram

Primarily, the M1150 is an armored vehicle designed to clear mines. Currently, they are quite rare, with only about 30-50 operating around the world, a dip from nearly 200 in the past. 

Cash prizes

If the M1 Abrams is indeed in play [subject to confirmation], it’s destined to attract attention from Russian soldiers positioned nearby. The Russians even have a reward scheme for any soldier who takes down Western equipment of this stature delivered to Ukraine. 

Last year’s reports suggest Russia offered rewards to its war heroes who disabled or destroyed such machinery. So, a Russian soldier who takes down a Leopard 2, Challenger 2, or M1 Abrams tank earns an incentive in rubles equal to 1,200 US dollars. For knocking down a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the reward is $600. 

Photo credit: Defence-blog

Last summer, the Ministry of Defense of Russia announced that every soldier has the chance to earn $3,600 for a destroyed Ukrainian helicopter, fighter jet, or an American HIMARS missile. A press statement from the Kremlin reported that by June 2023, about 10,200 Russian soldiers had cashed in on this offer, bringing down over 16,000 units of Ukrainian and Western combat assets. 

A slow process

A dearth of main battle tanks within the Ukrainian armed forces led the US to condense the training program for Ukrainian tank crews. Ukraine expected to receive Abrams tanks promptly, hence, the training duration was cut down to 22 weeks by the American military

Photo credit: Yandex

Experts suggest that an effective tank crew must get thoroughly acquainted with their machine. To put it into perspective, an American tank driver undergoes training, which could last up to an astounding 18 months.

What is the M1A1SA?

The M1A1SA, also known as the M1A1 Abrams Situational Awareness, is a modernized version of the M1A1 Abrams, a main battle tank used by the U.S. military. It’s a sophisticated and powerful armored vehicle, designed to provide enhanced situational awareness for its crew, thereby increasing their safety and effectiveness on the battlefield. 

Photo credit: Pixabay

The technical characteristics of the M1A1SA are quite impressive. It’s equipped with a 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, capable of firing a variety of ammunition types. The tank also features advanced armor protection, with depleted uranium layers incorporated into its composite armor. Additionally, it’s fitted with a Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer [CITV] and a second-generation Forward-Looking Infrared [FLIR] system, both of which significantly improve target detection and identification. 

The M1A1SA’s propulsion system is a Honeywell AGT1500C multi-fuel turbine engine, which delivers 1,500 shaft horsepower. This allows the tank to reach a top speed of approximately 42 mph on roads and 25 mph off-road. The engine’s multi-fuel capability means it can run on a variety of fuels, including diesel, kerosene, and even jet fuel. 

M1 Abrams crew and armament

The M1A1SA has a crew of four: a commander, a gunner, a loader, and a driver. Each crew member has a specific role to play in the operation of the tank, and the tank’s design ensures they can perform their duties effectively. The crew compartment is also equipped with several features to enhance crew comfort and survivability, such as an automatic fire suppression system and a nuclear, biological, and chemical [NBC] protection system. 

The operational range of the M1A1SA is approximately 265 miles on roads and 155 miles off-road. This range can be extended with the use of external fuel drums. The tank’s fuel capacity is about 500 gallons, which, combined with its multi-fuel engine, gives it significant operational flexibility. 

The M1A1SA can fire a variety of ammunition types from its 120mm gun. These include the M829A3 APFSDS-T [Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer], the M830A1 HEAT-MP-T [High Explosive Anti-Tank-Multi-Purpose-Tracer], and the M1028 Canister round. The tank also carries a .50 caliber M2 machine gun and two 7.62mm M240 machine guns for secondary armament.

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