Russia Claims American-Made M1 Abrams Tank Killed in Ukraine by Drone

M1 Abrams SEPv3
February 26, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineWar In UkraineTanksM1 Abrams

Russia Claims American-Made M1 Abrams Tank Killed in Ukraine by Drone

The recent destruction of an American-made M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine shortly after its deployment has sparked significant attention and controversy.

Summary: The recent destruction of an American-made M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine, shortly after its deployment, has sparked significant attention and controversy. Russian sources were quick to celebrate the event, highlighting the effectiveness of low-cost drones against such advanced military hardware. The incident underscores the evolving dynamics of modern warfare, where the use of drones and anti-tank weapons can challenge even the most sophisticated and heavily armored vehicles. Despite this setback, experts argue that main battle tanks (MBTs) like the M1 Abrams remain crucial for high-intensity conflict, playing a vital role in both defensive and offensive operations. The loss of a single tank, while notable, reflects the broader context of war where both sides experience significant losses. The continued use of tanks, including the M1 Abrams, is essential for Ukraine's efforts to counter Russian aggression, illustrating the complex balance between technological advancement and tactical innovation on the battlefield.

First M1 Abrams Tank Destroyed in Ukraine

Videos circulated on social media on Monday that showed the destruction of an American-made M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) just days after being first deployed in combat in Ukraine.

Russian propagandists were quick to praise the tank's destruction, after it came under attack from units of the 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade from Samara near the eastern city of Avdiivka. That urban center fell to Russian forces last week.

A so-called "kamikaze drone" or other form of "loitering munition" reportedly targeted the MBT, ­and that point was further noted due to the relatively low cost of the unmanned aerial system (UAS) compared to the vehicle it destroyed.

"A beautiful tank burns beautifully: The first American M1 Abrams Tank on fire. Congratulations to Russian brothers!," wrote @SlavFreeSpirit on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

On Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (@DefenceU) also took to X to announce that the M1 Abrams was rolling into action with the 47th Mechanized Brigade. The United States first pledged to send the M1 Abrams to aid Kyiv in early 2022, and 31 of the MBTs reportedly arrived in Ukraine last fall

It's War – There Will be Losses

It is true that both sides continue to hype up the losses inflicted on the other side, and it is notable that the first M1 Abrams was destroyed. Yet, Russia has lost more than 3,000 MBTs since it launched its invasion two years ago.

The M1 Abrams has likely been significantly overhyped – much like the British Challenger 2 and German Leopard 2 MBTs. Though the M1, Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 are all considered among the best tanks in service in the world today, none should be seen as invincible miracle weapons.

M1 Abrams

If anything, the conflict in Ukraine has shown the vulnerability of tanks from man-portable anti-tank weapons and from remotely-controlled drones. If has further been argued that the weapons designed to destroy a tank have outpaced the capabilities of the vehicles.

It is also not clear if the unit responsible for destroying the M1 Abrams can expect a significant "bonus" for their efforts. The Kremlin had put a bounty on Western MBTs, and according to the Daily Mail, Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin promised to pay 10 million roubles (£86,000) for the destruction of the M1 Abrams.

Tanks Still Have a Place

Despite the destruction of the first M1 Abrams – which almost certainly won't be the last – the MBT will continue to play a vital role in the fighting in Ukraine. Such vehicles will likely be crucial for Kyiv to hold back Russia, and possibly to mount an offensive this year.

As previously reported by Dan Goure for The National Interest, it remains hard to overestimate the importance of MBTs in modern high-intensity land warfare. Russia and Ukraine have demonstrated that it is impossible to conduct large-scale offensive operations without an adequate supply of them. Moreover, tank losses on both sides should be seen as a testimony not to the vulnerability of armored platforms but rather to their centrality in mobile warfare, even in an era of precision munitions and advanced drones.

There will be losses in wartime, and victory may come at a tremendous cost. And the M1 will still give Kyiv an advantage – especially over the aging tanks Russia has increasely deployed to the front.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].