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First Ukrainian M1A1 Abrams tank destroyed by Russian Lancet drone

On February 26, 2024, Russian soldiers from the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade managed to destroy a US-supplied M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in Ukraine for the first time. The tank, operated by the 47th Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was targeted by a Lancet kamikaze drone and an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) near Berdychi, a village close to Avdiivka and Stepove.
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Russian sources claim that the Lancet munition first immobilized the tank, and subsequently, the vehicle was hit by an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), leading to its destruction (Picture source: Twitter/Status-6)

According to available information, the sequence of events leading to the tank's destruction began with the detection of the vehicle by a Russian reconnaissance drone operator. This operator was reportedly part of the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, known as the Black Hussars. The presence of the American M1A1 Abrams tank west of Avdiivka was promptly communicated to the unit's loitering drone operators.

Following this detection, the command was given to a drone operator, identified by the call sign “Rassvet,” to engage the Abrams tank. The vehicle was subsequently spotted navigating through Berdychi, moving along Tsentralnaya and Mira streets towards the northeast, in the direction of Stepove. It was approximately one and a half kilometers from the forward Russian positions when targeted by a Lancet loitering munition.

Russian sources claim that the Lancet munition first immobilized the tank, and subsequently, the vehicle was hit by an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), leading to its destruction. The attack resulted in the reported casualty of the tank’s driver.

In response to the incident, the Russian 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade released a statement on their Telegram channel, acknowledging the event and extending congratulations to the individuals involved, specifically mentioning an officer with the call sign "Kolovrat."

Additionally, Russian actor and director Ivan Okhlobystin announced on the social network VKontakte that a reward of 10 million rubles (approximately $108,900) would be granted to the soldiers responsible for destroying the tank. This statement aligns with previous reports from Okhlobystin, indicating that a group of Russian entrepreneurs had pledged financial rewards for each American tank destroyed or damaged in the region. The specifics of these sponsors were not disclosed.

Reports from September 25, 2023, indicate that Russian forces have begun distributing guidelines and strategies for using anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to counter US-made Abrams tanks. Although the targeting of Abrams tanks in the conflict was expected, it is believed that their crews have a greater chance of survival than those operating older Soviet tanks.

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The Russian guidelines detail how to destroy M1A1 Abrams tanks using anti-tank guided missiles, similar to tactics employed in Iraq. (Picture source Wikimedia and Russian social media)

On February 23, 2024, Army Recognition reported that the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces released footage showing the first combat use of the US-supplied M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank against Russian forces. This event represents a significant development, following the confirmation by Ukrainian soldiers and US officials in November 2022 that all 31 donated Abrams tanks had been successfully delivered to Ukraine.

The M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank is an updated version of the original M1 Abrams, developed and produced from August 1985 to early 1993 by General Dynamics Land Systems. This variant introduced various improvements such as an upgraded suspension system, enhanced armor protection, and a redesigned turret gun mount. Over 5,000 units were manufactured for the US Army and US Marines, and it has been adopted by several other countries including Egypt, Australia, Iraq, Poland, and Ukraine. The upgrades in the M1A1 Abrams aimed to address the evolving requirements of modern armored warfare, focusing on increased firepower, protection, and mobility.

The tank's main armament is the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, capable of firing a range of ammunition types, including the M829A1 APFSDS-T round with a depleted uranium penetrator, effective over distances up to 4,000 meters. Additionally, the M830 High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) round is designed to engage fortified targets within a range of 3,000 meters. The M1A1 is equipped to carry 40 rounds of 120mm ammunition, with storage allocated within the turret and hull. Supplementary armaments include a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, another 7.62mm machine gun mounted on the turret, and a 12.7mm Browning M2 HB machine gun positioned on the commander's hatch, intended to provide a comprehensive defensive and offensive capability.

The M1A1's armor incorporates Chobham composite materials and depleted uranium plates, designed to offer protection against a variety of ballistic and explosive threats. The tank's construction aims to maximize crew safety with features like compartmentalization and protective storage solutions for ammunition. It is powered by a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine, which allows for speeds up to 68 km/h, and is designed to handle diverse terrains. The M1A1 also includes technological features such as a fire control system, laser range finder, night vision, and thermal sights, along with Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) protection systems and an automatic fire extinguishing system, contributing to its operational capabilities in various combat environments.

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Powered by a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine, the M1A1 can reach speeds of up to 68 km/h. (Picture source: Army Recognition)


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