M1 Abrams Mbt In Combat

Tanks shipped in the transport-ready configuration require depot-level maintenance to install a number of sections of armor, and need to be fueled and loaded with ammunition. Tanks shipped in the combat-ready configuration can enter combat immediately. In World War II, it took a Sherman Tank an average of 17 rounds to destroy an enemy tank 700 meters away. The Abrams, by contrast, can destroy certain enemy tanks by firing, on the move, a single round from 2,000 meters away.[1] As the Abrams entered service in the 1980s, they would operate alongside M60A3 within the United States military, and with other NATO tanks in numerous Cold War exercises. These exercises usually took place in Western Europe, especially West Germany, but also in some other countries like South Korea. During such training, Abrams crews honed their skills for use against the men and equipment of the Soviet Union. However, by 1990 the USSR had collapsed and the Abrams would have its trial by fire in the Middle East.

The Abrams remained untested in combat until the Gulf War in 1991. A total of 1,848 M1A1s were deployed to Saudi Arabia. The M1A1 was superior to Iraq's Soviet-era T-55 and T-62 tanks, as well as Iraqi assembled Russian T-72s, and locally-produced copies (Asad Babil tank). The T-72s like most Soviet export designs lacked night vision systems and then-modern range finders, though they did have some night fighting tanks with older active infrared systems or floodlights just not the latest starlight scopes and passive infrared scopes as on the Abrams. Only 23 M1A1s were taken out of service in the Gulf[2] and none of these losses resulted in crew deaths from Iraqi fire. Some others took minor combat damage, with little effect on their operational readiness. There were only 3 tank crew members wounded beyond doubt by enemy action (see table below).

The M1A1 was capable of making kills at ranges in excess of 4000 m. This range was crucial combat against tanks of Soviet design in Desert Storm, as the effective range of the main gun in the Soviet/Iraqi tanks was less than 2000 meters. This meant Abrams tanks could hit Iraqi tanks before the enemy got in range - a decisive advantage in this kind of combat.

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