The Biden administration's pledge to donate M1 Abrams tanks to aid Ukraine marks a dramatic turn. The good news is that since they will be M1A2s, they will have the same features as their American counterparts. The bad news is that the protective matrix of the tanks will not have the secret depleted uranium armor that is a feature of US Army tanks.
In the latest wave of tank gifts, including Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, Norway, Poland and other NATO countries, President Biden announced on January 25 that 31 M1 Abrams tanks will be sent to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Even Morocco has sent 20 ex-T-72 series tanks, as the Ukrainian army is currently using.
But Ukrainian tanks will not be delivered immediately. According to Politico, Ukraine will receive remanufactured M1 tanks whose old tank hulls and turrets have been completely refurbished and transferred from the high, arid deserts to California's Sierra Army Depot. Since there are already thousands of obsolete tanks, the US Army follows the same procedure when receiving "new" tanks.
The only hitch is that the US must deplete the depleted uranium shield of the M1 Abrams before sending any cargo to Ukraine. The only main battle tank still in use by the United States Army was the M1981 Abrams when it first entered service in 1.
Over the years, the military has gradually modernized the M1 by removing the old hulls and turrets and installing new equipment.
All previous improvements are still present in the modern M256A120, notably the larger, more powerful M1 2 millimeter smoothbore. In addition, the commander has infrared night equipment for the driver and gunner. Using the Commander's Independent Thermal Imager (CITV), the Commander can identify targets with the help of the gunner and then quickly scan the area for new threats.
There are many M1A2 subtypes, but not all of them will appear in Ukraine. The remote-controlled M2.50 caliber machine gun is a practical feature.
There are also bulletproof glass shields for the tank commander and loader, developed during the Iraq War and used in conjunction with the Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK). An Abrams tank can power its sensors and electronics without using its gas turbine engine, thanks to a new underarmour auxiliary power unit. In this “silent tracking” mode, the tank can monitor threats while operating silently and with a reduced infrared footprint.
The M1's armor protection was one of the first improvements. The United States prioritized increasing the tank's protection and firepower because it was still in the Cold War at the time.
The military decided in the late 1980s to add a depleted uranium layer to Abrams' frontal armor, and this choice had long-lasting effects.
Depleted uranium is a type of nuclear energy process waste produced as a byproduct. Uranium-235, the most radioactive isotope, is extracted from crude uranium ore to make it suitable for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. Depleted uranium now refers to less radioactive uranium.
Although radioactive, depleted uranium is not considered dangerous when taken out of the body. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “[depleted uranium] poses a major health threat if consumed or inhaled. Alpha particles can damage the kidneys as they directly affect living cells.
At around $30 a pound and 2,5 times denser than steel, depleted uranium can intercept kinetic energy drills or anti-tank projectiles that resemble arrows fired from enemy tanks.
Even to America's closest friends, the US government has a policy of not exporting depleted uranium, as its precise use in the armor matrix is a mystery. Australia's 59 M1A1 Abrams tanks currently in service do not have depleted uranium armor and neither will the new M1A2SepV3 tanks.
It will take several months to rebuild the tanks destined for Ukraine without depleted uranium. But since this is a war, new offensives of the Ukrainian army are expected to begin in the spring. So can Ukraine procure tanks sooner?
According to Germany and other NATO members, the first Leopard 2 tanks are expected to tear through the battlefield in the spring. Abrams tanks not taking part in these attacks will reflect badly on the US government. All the while, the majority of the relatively new Abrams tanks are kept ready for local emergencies at rig sites around the world, including in Europe.
It is a policy to ban the export of depleted uranium protected tanks. Unlike federal law that prohibits the sale of the F-22 Raptor abroad, a policy choice can be revoked. For example, an earlier US government directive prohibited the shipment of tanks to Ukraine. With enough pressure applied, policy decisions can be quickly reversed, as seen in the news last week.
This edition could come with honoring Leopard 2 tanks while Abrams tanks stay on the sidelines.
Günceleme: 31/01/2023 21:08
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