January 27, 2023 - The U.S. is to supply its latest Abrams main battle tank to Ukraine. The M1 Abrams was initially developed for the U.S. military in the 1980s to counter the threat of Soviet-era T-72s.
At the time, the Soviet tank force consisted primarily of T-64, T-72, and T-80 main battle tanks. However, during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991, the M1A1 Abrams and British Challenger 1s faced T-72s in a force-on-force engagement for the first time.
After just 100 hours of ground combat, Abrams and the Challengers engaged and destroyed Iraqi T-72s beyond the range of the T-72’s 125mm main gun. With an effective range of up to 3,000 metres, the T-72s were outgunned by the Abrams 120mm at 4,000 metres. A Challenger belonging to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards -- “Scotland’s Cavalry” of the 1st Armoured Division -- achieved a kill at over 5,100 metres, the farthest known tank-versus-tank kill in history.
Thirty-two years later, the Russian tank force invading Ukraine consists primarily of T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks. The T-90 is a late-model T-72 hull and turret, integrating the newer V-84 MS diesel engine and the latest advanced turret components. Facing the Russian invasion is a mixed force of Ukrainian tanks, consisting of Soviet-era T-54/55s, T-62/64s, T-72s, and T-80/84s.
Last Friday (January 20), NATO defence chiefs met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss Ukraine’s ongoing weapons and equipment needs.
Following the Ramstein meeting, Germany and the U.S. committed to supplying Kyiv with a squadron of 14 Leopard 2s and 31 M1A2 Abrams to boost the odds against Russian forces.
Previously on January 14, British Prime Minister Rishi announced that Ukraine would receive 14 Challenger 2s and 30 AS90 155mm self-propelled guns within weeks. Training of Ukrainian tank crews will begin next week.