Soldiers in Ukraine say US Abrams tanks have made them ‘number one targets’ for Russian strikes

10:16 04.06.2024 •

Donbass. A next broken Abrams…

Ukrainian crews working on US-supplied Abrams tanks have told CNN of a series of the weaknesses and flaws with the armored vehicles, calling into doubt their utility on the war’s ever-changing frontlines.

CNN journalists were the first reporters to see the M1 Abrams in Ukraine, at a location in the country’s east, where around six vehicles were visible, hiding in the foliage.

Crews trained in Germany said the vehicles – the US military’s main $10 million battle tank used in Iraq against Saddam Hussein’s forces and insurgents – lacked armor that could stop modern weapons.

“Its armor is not sufficient for this moment,” said one crew member, callsign Joker. “It doesn’t protect the crew. For real, today this is the war of drones. So now, when the tank rolls out, they always try to hit them.”

His colleague, Dnipro, added they are the “number one target.”

All 31 Abrams deployed to Ukraine are engaged near the frontline in the east, according to officials in the 47th Mechanised Brigade, who took receipt of them all.

Pentagon officials said in April that the Abrams were pulled back from the frontline due to the threat of Russian attack drones, although the 47th said some were still in action, despite the deficiencies that had materialized.

Much of the Ukrainian frontline is now dominated by the use of self-destructing attack drones, tiny and accurate devices that can swarm infantry and even cause significant damage to tanks. The advent of these so called First-Person Vision (FPV) drones, flown by soldiers wearing gaming goggles, has changed the nature of the war, limiting movement and introducing a new element of vulnerability to armored vehicles.

This Ukrainian crew have learned of the Abrams’ limitations the hard way, in pitched battles around the town of Avdiivka, which Russia finally took control of in February. A driver lost a leg when the armor was penetrated. Yet it is not just innovation that is hamstringing the tanks — they appear to have technical issues too.

One, parked under a tree, was almost immobile during CNN’s visit, due to an engine problem, the crew say, despite the vehicle having just been shipped in from Poland. They also complain of how, in rain or fog, condensation can fry the electronics inside the vehicle.

Ammunition is also a problem, like elsewhere on the Ukrainian frontline. They say they seem to have the wrong type for the fight they are in.

The tank’s poor performance has been mocked by Russian analysts, dubbing them “empty tin cans.”

One model was captured by Russian forces and, damaged, paraded in Moscow (photo: Youtube skreenshot).


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