Can the American M1A2 tank be able to withstand anti-tank weapons in Ukraine?

During the Russia-Ukraine conflict, if the Russian-made T72 tank was replaced with the American M1A2, would it be able to resist Ukrainian anti-tank missiles?

In the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the survivability of Soviet-made tanks on the battlefield on both sides of the war, always attracted the attention of experts; when the tank damage on both sides showed no sign of stopping.

Military experts have long been concerned about the endurance of Soviet-made tanks on the battlefield on both sides of the fight, especially since tank destruction on both sides showed no signs of reducing.

The T-72 series of tanks is currently the most numerous type in the Russian Army (both inherited from the Soviet era), and it has appeared mainly in the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict. T-72 in the improved version, has the most explosive reactive armor (ERA) hanging on the turret and body, so it is dubbed the “King of Explosives”.

Destroyed Russian Army T-72B3 tank
Destroyed Russian Army T-72B3 tank

However, the T-72 tank line, after being destroyed, is often blown away by “flying turrets”. Because when the heat or shockwave of the blast causes detonation of all the tank’s ammunition and propellant, causing a rapid pressure inside the sealed internal compartment of the tank until it explodes outwards through the weakest point in the compartment, namely the turret ring, blowing it straight up into the air. Take the T-72B3 as an example, in fact, the overall improvement of this vehicle is relatively obvious, but still called “old wine in a new bottle”, the protection ability is not satisfactory.

The explosive reactive armor “Kontact-5” on the T-72B3 is really not ideal for defense against anti-tank missiles. Although it can increase the tank’s protection against armor-piercing bullets by 20-40%; but it is powerless, unable to resist attacks from above like Javelin missiles.

Javelin anti-tank missile warhead consists of two concave warheads in series (Tandem warhead or “mother carries her child”), including main and auxiliary warheads. The front auxiliary warhead is responsible for destroying explosive reactive armor, and the main warhead is for destroying vehicle armor.

Russian army T-72B3
Russian army T-72B3

Once the explosive reactive armor is broken, the tank’s base armor is hard to resist the main warhead’s attack. Javelin’s “rooftop” attack mode is designed to attack the top of the turret, where the tank is weakest.

Therefore, it is not difficult to explain why a large number of Russian tanks, which were destroyed by the Javelin missiles of the Ukrainian Army, were destroyed in the urban. Although many Russian T-72B3s when fighting in Ukraine, were equipped with cage armor on the roof of the turret, like iron helmets

In fact, when faced with anti-tank missiles, even the M1A2, once known as the most powerful tank in the world, was not “brighter”. As proof of this, many M1A2 tanks were destroyed in the Middle East battlefield, and very few crew members were able to actually escape.

Because the ammunition compartment of the M1A2 tank is located at the rear of the turret, the possibility of the vehicle being hit is higher. Although there is a compartment between the cockpit and the ammunition compartment, this design does not save the crew when hit by bullets. But in very few cases, the M1A2 blew the turret.

For example, Yemen’s Houthi guerrillas used an AT-4 anti-tank missile to destroy a Saudi M1A2 tank, which directly resulted in the explosion of the vehicle’s ammunition compartment. In addition, the US Army’s M1A2 was also destroyed by various anti-tank weapons.

Saudi Arabian M1A2 Abrams
A burnt-out Saudi Arabian M1A2 Abrams sits on the wreckage covered ground after being destroyed in Yemen, 2019

In the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Ukrainian Army is equipped with a lot of modern American and Western anti-tank weapons developed by Ukraine itself; the number of anti-tank weapons alone, has “crushed” the Middle Eastern warriors several levels in terms of anti-armor combat ability.

So understandably, the battlefield environment that the T-72B3s faced in Ukraine, was certainly much more difficult than that of the M1A2s in the Middle East

Photos of the T-72B3 being shot down appear frequently on social media sites, largely due to too much Western propaganda. But if the T-72B3 were to be replaced by the M1A2, the results would not have been much better.

However, admittedly, there is indeed a big gap between the T-72 tank and the M1 tank in terms of protection performance, especially in terms of crew protection; This American designers have done better and are more humane.

This also shows the huge difference between the two countries in the concept of equipment development and practical application on the battlefield. But comparing a 40-ton tank (T-72B3) with a 60-ton tank (M1A2) is clearly an unfair comparison.

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