M1 Abrams entered the service on 1980 and replaced the M60 tank. The M1 served during the Gulf War, in Bosnia, in Afghanistan and Iraq. It remains the main battle tank for United States Army and the US Marine Corps, also the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
More than 10 000 tanks were built including three main versions which have been developed: the M1, M1A1, and M1A2. The Abrams is still being improved and new equipment, armor addictions, weapons and fire sights have been added. Its 1500 horsepower engine allows the 60-tons tank to reach the speed of 70 km/hour. In 1999 the cost of one M1A1 Abrams was 5 mln$.
The first battle test for the tank was Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Abrams were extremely effective while in battle, causing big losses among enemy tanks (2000 Iraqi tanks destroyed). Only nine US M1 tanks were lost – seven were destroyed accidentally by friendly fire. and two of them were purposely destroyed to prevent capture. The only threat for the Abrams tank on the battlefield was… another Abrams tank.
During the Persian Gulf War, Abrams tank were able to kill at ranges in excess of 2,500 meters. It was crucial for Soviet-design enemy tanks, as their effective range was less than 2000 metres. They were being destroyed before they could even start shooting at American tanks. Tank’s Honeywell engine is comparatively quiet, so M1 Abrams has been called the “Whispering Death”.
M1 Abrams’ primary weapon is a 120 mm M256 smoothbore cannon (watch it in action). The M256 can fire two types of combat rounds – sabot and HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank). Sabot rounds do not have a lot of explosive power, but they can easily penetrate armor. On the other hand, HEAT rounds have huge explosive firepower. Probably the best thing about M1 weaponry is its fire control system – Abrams is able to fire while on the move.
The tank’s armor is a composition of a Rolled Homogeneous Armor – steel plates around protective material. The core armor is an arrangement of metal plates and ceramic blocks. M1A1HA and M1A2 were upraded with uranium armor. The combination can hold almost any missile launched at Abrams (American Hellfire missile can penetrate the armor). The tank is also equipped to handle biological or chemical attack, and it can launch a smoke screen to hide from an enemy fire. Experiences from urban battlefields of Iraq have caused the need to improve the tank’s flank protection. TUSK (Tank Urban Survivability System) was developed and added to Abrams’ defensive system. The main improvements were reactive tiles protecting tank’s rear armor, remote weapons station and loader’s armor gun shield.
Abrams tanks have proved their superiorcombat effectiveness and there are no plans to replace them, but those which have been built are constantly improved. Watch some interesting videos about these beasts:
Abrams’ mobility and speed:
Abrams drives over car bomb:
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