American M1A1SA tanks arrived in Ukraine a long time ago: it’s time to talk about them in more detail

American M1A1SA tanks arrived in Ukraine a long time ago: it’s time to talk about them in more detail

Since the photographs sent to Ukraine tanks M1A1SA first appeared on the network, many days have passed. During this time, the foam from the simmering discussions of their capabilities and influence on the course of the conflict has already managed to fall, so it’s time to talk about what these overseas machines are.

Old people who received a second youth

In order to understand what the Abrams handed over to Kyiv are, we need to delve into the wilds stories American tank building is not needed, since these combat vehicles began to enter service with the US Army in the late 2000s. However, despite their relatively young age, they are not Washington's advanced tanks.

There is no point in comparing them with the more recent M1A2SEP v.3, because, as White House representatives said: “we will give Ukraine old, but modernized tanks.” And in this case, they did not lie in a single line of their proclamations.

US Army M1A1SA

US Army M1A1SA

Indeed, the SA standard (“Situational Awareness”) or, as it is also called, AIM v.2, is a continuation of measures to deeply modernize the aging fleet of M1A1 tanks. Their appearance was a response to the military’s desire to improve the combat and operational characteristics of the vehicles in service.

Developed by General Dynamics, this upgrade package provided for equipping overhauled tanks with new armor, electronics, as well as communications equipment, sights, surveillance devices and other improvements that made it possible to maximally match the capabilities of the M1A1 to the modern modifications of the M1A2SEP at that time and increase the situational awareness of their crews by battlefield.

Having received the appropriate SA updates, the vehicles entered the army tank units, including the National Guard, and were exported to other countries - for example, to Morocco. In total, more than 900 tanks were modified, of which, as of 2022, about 650 units remained in US service.

M1A1SA of the Moroccan Army

M1A1SA of the Moroccan Army

Uranium in armor, sights, etc.

As has already become known, the tanks that were subject to modernization were those that had previously undergone a complete overhaul of all components and assemblies. During this process, the vehicles were stripped down to bare hulls and turrets in order to identify any significant defects and their subsequent elimination.

Particular attention was paid to the gas turbine engine, since about 60% of all problems and costs in terms of repairing the Abrams were accounted for by the power plant. By the way, the Americans have been concerned with reviving and extending the service life of engines since the late 90s, since the production of new ones had already been stopped by that time.

But in the case of the SA program, the turbines also received an update package as part of the TIGER (Total Integrated Engine Revitalization) project, which included modernization of engine and transmission parts, which made it possible to significantly increase service life and reduce fuel consumption. As well as diagnostic equipment, with the help of which you can promptly identify and eliminate problems that arise in the operation of the power plant.

The tank's protection was strengthened by introducing third-generation uranium armor in the frontal part of the hull, as well as the forehead and sides of the turret. Because of this, the combat weight of the M1A1SA has increased by almost four tons compared to the original version and is 61.3 tons. The durability of these armor packages is not known for certain, but, according to various estimates, they can become a serious problem for many cumulative and sub-caliber projectiles. In addition to this, the manufacturers have provided the possibility of installing the TUSK urban combat kit, including ARAT dynamic protection that counteracts cumulative ammunition.

M1A1SA with dynamic protection

M1A1SA with dynamic protection

The fire control system has also undergone major changes. It was transferred to a digital basis and most functions were automated, including the generation of appropriate lead and data when preparing a shot.

The gunner received an updated 2nd generation thermal imaging sight with improved digital image magnification (“zoom”), which allows the identification of “tank” type targets at a distance of up to 8 kilometers in any weather and at any time of day in difficult visibility conditions.

At the same time, the Far Target Locate function was implemented. Its task is to identify the coordinates of an enemy object within line of sight. The system works by measuring the range to the target using a laser rangefinder, determining the direction of the turret and the position of your own tank using GPS - based on this data, the enemy’s coordinates are calculated with an accuracy of 10 meters. In the future, they can be transferred to artillery and other units.

View from the second generation thermal imager of the M1A1FEP tank. The M1A1SA has a similar thermal imaging camera

The range of ammunition used has also expanded - the tank’s ballistic computer is adapted to use most 120-mm projectiles, including sub-caliber M829A3, multifunctional cumulative fragmentation M830A1 and anti-personnel Canister M1028 with tungsten buckshot.

Although not radically, the problem of the almost “blind” tank commander was corrected in the M1A1SA quite tolerably.

The fact is that the M1A1 series tanks do not have a commander’s panoramic sight-observation device, which seriously limits the ability of this crew member to search and identify targets. Based on this, as part of improvements under the “Situational Awareness” program, the tank received a remote-controlled machine gun installation SCWS (Stabilized Commander's Weapon Station).

Representing a fully stabilized module with a 12.7 mm machine gun, it is equipped with a thermal imaging sight and surveillance device. With its help, the tank commander can not only hit targets at any time of the day in difficult visibility conditions, but also monitor the terrain, identifying potentially dangerous objects.

Remote-controlled machine gun SCWS with a thermal imaging sight-surveillance device (left). One of the improvements to the M1A1SA is also armored shields on the loader's machine gun (right)

Remote-controlled machine gun installation SCWS with a thermal imaging sight-surveillance device. One of the improvements to the M1A1SA is also armored shields on the loader's machine gun (right)

This product cannot be called a full replacement for the “panorama”, since it lacks the ability for precise target designation for the gunner, and the thermal imaging sight does not have an improved digital “zoom”. But compared to the M1A1, in which the commander did not have his own thermal imager for all-round visibility, the progress is noticeable.

M1A1SA tanks are also equipped with equipment for connecting to the BFT/FBCB2 automated command and control system. With its help, the tank commander receives information on the display in real time about the combat situation, location and actions of friendly units and enemy troops, filtered by command level, echelon and location of the tank. Through it, messages and orders are transmitted and received, including data on the tactical position of combat groups, as well as interaction between military branches in a single information space.

Less significant but useful changes to the M1A1SA include an external “telephone” on the outside of the tank for direct communication between the vehicle’s crew and the surrounding infantry, which is especially important in urban battles; power distribution unit and external “socket” - a device with which the tank can be connected to any suitable external power source for operating the electronics when the engine is stopped or starting it in the event of discharged batteries.

For Ukraine, some functions have been removed

In general, it should be noted that the tank, although modernized from the “old guys,” is a serious combat unit, equipped with modern electronics and armor. However, the version of this car intended for Ukraine may be very different from the original one.

Here it is worth remembering the words of Kyiv’s American partners, who clearly warned their wards that the tanks supplied to them would definitely not receive uranium armor and a number of critical and secret components. Which generally echoes US export policy: exactly the same restrictions were present when sending M1A1SA to other countries before.

One of the M1A1SAs transferred to Ukraine

One of the M1A1SAs transferred to Ukraine

So the uranium components of the armor of Ukrainian tanks are most likely replaced with simplified materials that do not differ much in durability. And the elements of secret equipment prohibited for export are, perhaps, BFT/FBCB2 terminals with accompanying systems, the use of which in Ukraine is simply impossible (it is impossible to deploy a full-fledged automated control system network there) and dangerous, since they can fall into the hands of the Russian military.

Otherwise, the M1A1SA appears to fully retain its functionality. Of course, this does not make them some kind of super-weapons in the zone of a special military operation, and you shouldn’t forget about the fate of Western tanks that have already gone to iron Valhalla. But the tanks are definitely far from the junk they were portrayed in the media - the enemy is serious and can do a lot of things. This must be taken into account.

Information sources:
FY2009 Department of the Army Procurement Book: Thermal Imagers, Command Modules, Early Warning System, and TIGER
Army Weapons System 2010: equipping M1A1SA tanks
Army Recognition: M1A1 SA Situational Awareness main battle tank
The American M1 Abrams Tank
  • Edward Perov
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  1. -9
    4 December 2023 04: 12
    One of the first “insoles” on a PC was the Abrams M1.1989, 19. I was driving around at work during my lunch break. I rose to the rank of colonel and had to use a new avatar. I switched to the FXNUMX of the same year. What a time!¿
    1. +1
      4 December 2023 11: 12
      - Friends! We are gathered here on the occasion of the solemn and doubly pleasant. Today marks twenty years of work of Kuzma Ulyanovich Staropopikov in the State Planning Committee. And this very morning Kuzma Ulyanovich shot down his thousandth MiG over Libya!
      © Pelevin. Prince of the State Planning Commission.
  2. 0
    4 December 2023 04: 22
    Particular attention was paid to the gas turbine engine, since about 60% of all problems and costs in terms of repairing the Abrams were accounted for by the power plant.
    Abrams mainly worked in dusty, sandy regions, hence the problems with filters and wear. In winter in Ukraine, I don’t think there will be much of a problem with dust, and they will burn them out before problems start due to fuel. Well, the heavy weight, and in combination with the attached remote sensing, will not add mobility, although Western tanks are good at dumping in reverse, a necessary thing, and this is not irony.
    1. +3
      4 December 2023 12: 19
      Yes, in the Middle East there were problems with sand and dust, but there were no problems with excess pressure on the ground, in Ukraine there will be no problems with dust and sand, but there will be serious problems with excess weight, castling turns out like this.
      1. +1
        4 December 2023 12: 58
        Considering that during the Soviet Union, bridges on roads between villages were built to withstand the weight of a loaded KAMAZ, and after that nothing was built. Then they will be able to operate only on routes where there are bridges of appropriate load capacity and nowhere else. There are not many such routes and it will be of no use accordingly.
  3. 0
    4 December 2023 04: 31
    The boiling discussions are not about Abrams, it seems to me that initially they don’t expect much from them, well, with the exception of particularly pan-headed people who get excited just by the mere word that it is from the US Army, but what modification they were given, and with what capabilities, they are usually no longer interested...
  4. +9
    4 December 2023 07: 47
    tanks are definitely not that junk...
    Let's be honest, even shooting junk causes damage and losses, with the only difference being that less time remains on the battlefield before destruction. Do not forget about the training of crews, on whom the performance of the combat mission and the survivability of the tank depend. If the crew is poorly trained, then no modern bells and whistles will help the tank. And if they appear on the battlefield, they will burn in the same way as other Western equipment.
    1. -4
      4 December 2023 12: 38
      Be honest

      NATO tanks do NOT have turret roof protection from 152 mm and 155 mm UAS shells
      Here ours are partially placed on the roofs of tank turrets: T-72B3, T-80BVM, T-90M - DZ Relikt, + "barbecues" - at least some chances
      but on NATO tanks, in general, all the roofs of the towers are bare - there are no options at all
  5. +1
    4 December 2023 08: 52
    I hope our people will give a bonus to the guys who stole such a car. Advertise on all radio frequencies and on the Internet to anyone who brings WHOLE NATO samples, a good deal! I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get acquainted with the same Archers or Abrams.
  6. +1
    4 December 2023 09: 12
    The article is so-so. List of M1A1 modifications for the US Army. Ukrainians will not have this. There is a more interesting article by an American tank colonel. The first thing that is removed when transferring to Ukrainians and other foreign buyers is depleted uranium patches. These are gray, square-shaped crap on US tanks and are not available to foreign customers. They are not built into the armor, they do not flow inside the turret, they are really slaps and can be removed in about two hours, maybe less. Second, they are removing the information transmission system, I don’t remember what it’s called, but the number is definitely 9! Third, thermal imagers are of an earlier generation. In general, I can list the entire article, but I don’t want to, anyone who wants to will find it themselves. In short, this colonel writes that the Americans actually sold naked M1A1s to Ukrainians in their original condition. Do you know the difference between M1 and M1A1? That's right, in a gun, the M1A1 has 120mm and the M1 has 105mm. Conclusion, article title and text have no connection.
    1. +3
      4 December 2023 13: 00
      Most likely they gave the M1A1 to the Marine Corps. They were withdrawn from service in 2016-17 and have not yet had time to be plundered. We chose about 30 intact pieces, removed everything valuable, painted it and off we went)))
      1. +4
        4 December 2023 18: 23
        Quote: TermNachTER
        Most likely they gave the M1A1 to the Marine Corps.....
        Very possible. In the top photo, which shows Abrams on the territory of Ukraine, in the back of the turret (in the basket) you can see a box similar to the APU, and the APU on the turret was installed specifically by the Marines
        (for the rest, the APU was hung on the rear armor plate, or on the left fender, or was not installed at all).
  7. +1
    4 December 2023 11: 19
    it's time to talk about them in more detail

    There are no details... or my skis don't work recourse
  8. +5
    4 December 2023 12: 54
    If armor (not uranium) inserts are practically as good as uranium ones, then why use uranium ones? How many hemorrhoids with an insignificant difference?
    1. +1
      4 December 2023 13: 59
      I also heard a version that there are other reasons: the mining of uranium is used for armor (used packages from nuclear power plants), and accordingly the issues of recycling and savings are resolved. There is no need to worry about how to recycle and it costs significantly less than tungsten (and in fact, almost for nothing)...
      1. +4
        4 December 2023 23: 06
        When obtaining fuel for nuclear power plants, uranium consisting of 0,72% U-235, 99,27% ​​U-238 and 0,0055% U-234 is first obtained from ore. Then, through enrichment, they achieve an increase in U-235 to 6-7%. U-235 - "burns up" in a nuclear power plant. In depleted uranium (enrichment waste), no more than 0,3% remains. Cleaning more is too expensive. Therefore, in the end, a large amount of useful metal remains, albeit slightly radioactive. But in a number of properties it is somewhat superior to tungsten as armor. Quite subtle effects, there are articles dedicated to these benefits.
        Americans do not use depleted uranium in the nuclear cycle. Ours were able to find technology.
        This year's news. The BN-800 reactor at the fourth unit of the Beloyarsk NPP has completely switched to MOX fuel. Serial fuel for the BN-800 is produced by the Mining and Chemical Combine. The pellets use depleted uranium and high-background plutonium extracted from irradiated fuel from thermal reactors. That waste from the uranium cycle is put back into use.
        1. +2
          4 December 2023 23: 16
          So what's the point? So much fuss, if you can come up with some kind of ceramics, etc. etc., and it will only be a little worse? Not to mention radioactive contamination.
          1. +2
            4 December 2023 23: 57
            Apparently it's all in the price. Depleted uranium is a production waste, they don’t know what to do with it, but the properties for armor are suitable. I have a suspicion that in everyday life these plates are removed from the armor and put away for good measure, but installed in threatening situations.
            For a qualified answer, you need to read very special literature that takes into account a complex of factors.
            For example, here is a review, with pictures and descriptions at a glance.
      2. +1
        5 December 2023 00: 33
        Let us emphasize once again - depleted uranium has nothing to do with spent fuel! It is a residue from enrichment at a chemical plant, and not from the work of a gas station reactor.
        1. 0
          5 December 2023 01: 54
          So it's not radioactive? Is it not dangerous for the human body? And does not cause radiation contamination of the area?
          1. +1
            5 December 2023 02: 00
            It is very slightly radioactive.
            It is dangerous for the body if absorbed, as it is poisonous.
            No army in the world has enough shells to infect even the smallest area.
            1. +3
              5 December 2023 09: 51
              Why are there such big problems with oncology in those countries where armor-piercing cores made of depleted uranium were used and where Abrams burned?
              1. +1
                5 December 2023 17: 52
                There were attempts to sue over an alleged increase in the level of cancer diseases due to the use of depleted uranium, but neither in Europe nor in the States could they prove such a dependence, and the very fact of an increase in cancer disease was also not proven, no matter how tough lawyers tried to deceive anyone something for money, depleted uranium is never more dangerous than tungsten, it is toxic like many other heavy metals including pigs, which did not stop us from clamping sinkers on a fishing line with our teeth as children wassat
                1. +2
                  8 December 2023 11: 45
                  Quote: Talon
                  Europe and the States could not prove such a dependence,

                  Naturally, if they admitted it.
                  The US would have to pay a lot of money to the countries affected by its military actions.
                  Therefore, the white gentleman from the USA made it clear to all European countries to keep quiet and hide the problem.
                  It is a fact that in Serbia and Iraq, after the use of depleted uranium shells, there were health problems among the local population.
                  The uranium dust that is formed after a projectile hits a target gets into the water, the soil from the soil to what grows in it and hello.
                  There will be consequences, but not for the one who ate or inhaled a particle of this dust, but for the future generation.
    2. 0
      7 December 2023 13: 56
      Quote: TermNachTER
      inserts are practically not inferior to uranium ones

      They give way, Uraniums hold RPGs, old Soviet ATGM bassoons, etc.
      There is even a report (NSIAD-92-94 Operation Desert Storm) about the loss of Abrams tanks in Iraq, partly due to friendly fire or an explosion by the crew (then these pictures are passed off as patriotic cheers, saying the Iraqis did it), an explosion by an IED.
      Also in the report there is a mention of two hits on the Abrams from an Iraqi T-72, the tank remained intact, the crew was alive.
  9. +4
    4 December 2023 14: 58
    "American M1A1SA tanks have arrived in Ukraine"???? Can you be more specific? How did they DRIVE, under their own power or on a platform???? Let me remind you: the tank weighs 62 tons. And the distance for the haul is more than a thousand kilometers.
    I want to ask a question to the brilliant headquarters of the Russian Federation, who covered your eyes and why are you so blind???
    1. +1
      5 December 2023 07: 40
      Of course ask.
      If you think that the General Staff of the Russian Federation is not in the know.
      Well, re-read the intelligence report, it’s all written there
  10. +5
    4 December 2023 18: 38
    On the Internet you can find an hour-long American video about the Abrams modernization described by the author. It is clear that the tank production plant has been closed for a long time. What remains is the production of repairs and modernization. Starting from complete disassembly down to the last screw, cleaning the body in a shot blasting chamber to final assembly. In parallel, restoration of propulsion systems, replacement of failed components and assemblies. A giant warehouse of spare parts allows us to assemble a range of parts for repairs automatically upon request from incoming inspection. The recovery period from entry to exit of the tank is several months, not fast. But with control until the last screw. When modernizing the hull, the geometry and integrity of the seams are checked, unnecessary holes are welded, new ones are formed, there are special areas for restoring rollers, etc.
    By the way, the staff are not young people at all. Calm and confident older men in cowboy shorts and denim overalls. The blades in the turbine rotors are installed by women who are not at all young. At a superficial glance, our modern assembly lines look no worse than American ones, although they are shot as cool and beautiful as a feature film.
    1. +2
      4 December 2023 20: 43
      If we are talking about the same thing, then the head of the plant was a colonel, it seems...
  11. +3
    4 December 2023 23: 13
    Well, I don’t think that there are completely incompetent people on our site, many have long known that the Americans make quite combat-ready equipment, albeit expensive and more complex than ours, but still they fight very often, and it would be stupid to think that they make bad equipment and don’t know how to use it, it’s another matter if Ukrainians know how to use it correctly.
  12. 0
    4 December 2023 23: 13
    Hello. Who can tell me what kind of thin linings are on the front cheekbones of the tower? Very common. Thank you.
    1. +2
      4 December 2023 23: 57
      The squares on the forehead of the tank's turret are not armor or protection, but a special pattern of identification marks that help distinguish allied equipment from enemy equipment when operating a thermal imager and night vision device.
      1. 0
        5 December 2023 07: 42
        What kind of enemies do the Americans have who use Abramov? Well, who can you confuse with?
        1. 0
          5 December 2023 10: 09
          All because of friendly fire. In Iraq, the monotony of the terrain and sandstorms, which prevented visual contact not only with the enemy, but also with our own. To compensate for this, gunners and commanders used night and thermal imaging. However, the image clarity was not high and they confused Soviet-style tanks and M1A1. Seven Abrams were destroyed by friendly fire.
  13. 0
    16 March 2024 13: 33
    Quote: Ivanov IV
    "American M1A1SA tanks have arrived in Ukraine"???? Can you be more specific?

    Dry cargo ships from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Odessa. further by railway platforms.
    But you can’t sink their cargo ships, you can’t!
    We're not them.

    We gave our word (to Israel) that we will not destroy Zelensky - we keep it!
    We gave our word (to the West) that not a single dry cargo ship would suffer under the grain deal - we hold it!
    We gave our word (to Russian citizens) that we will not raise the retirement age - XXXX...

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