Forbes: Abrams tanks proved ineffective in the conflict in Ukraine
American Abrams tanks turned out to be too capricious to participate in the fighting in Ukraine, writes Forbes. Experts call the main problems the "voracity" of the engine and its vulnerability to dirt and dust.
To keep dust out of the American M1 Abrams tanks, they require very serious maintenance
The biggest problem of the American M1 Abrams tanks delivered to Ukraine is by no means a 1,500 horsepower gas turbine engine. No, the problem is different.
The problem is in the filters of the engine air intakes. Dirt and debris accumulate in these filters, they become clogged and disable a powerful but capricious motor. These filters must be constantly cleaned.
If the Abrams crew is careless and does not do this every 12 hours, they will damage the engine so badly that it will have to be changed and sent for repairs, which takes a long time. It is also possible that the transmission will also have to be changed.
Dust and dirt will disable the few Ukrainian Abrams as quickly and confidently as Russian mines and missiles. And careful maintenance and overhaul of Ukrainian M-1s are carried out in Poland.
The 68-ton M-1A1SA, which is operated by Ukraine, is a voracious machine. Before the administration of President Joe Biden promised Ukraine "Abrams", many experts and even some leaders expressed concern about the fuel consumption of this tank. Deputy Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper called Abrams a "gasoline eater."
Indeed, after spending a gallon of fuel (an American gallon is 3.785 liters), the M–1 will travel only a kilometer or even less. His gas turbine is not very economical. The American military refuel the M-1 with aviation fuel, but the armies of other countries pour cheaper diesel fuel into the tanks of their Abrams. For example, the Australian Army.
There is no indication that the abandonment of aviation fuel in favor of diesel significantly affects the performance of Abrams. So there is every reason to believe that the Ukrainian military will act simply by refueling Abrams with the same diesel fuel that they pour into other tanks.
But the biggest headache for the Ukrainian military will be created by Abrams filters. The M-1 crew must check the tank engine at high rpm twice a day to start the pulsating air-jet system. It blows air out of the tank, rather than pumping it inside, so that dust and debris are removed from the rear grille.
This way it was possible to ensure the purity of the filters for quite a long time. Until the Americans put a pulsating air-jet system on the tank – this happened in the early 2000s. Tank crews, especially those who fought in the desert, often complained about the unreliability of their vehicles.
"The Army Command is aware of problems with high fuel consumption, unreliable fuel pumps and sand suction by the engine," the US General Control Directorate reported in 1992. "It is looking for solutions to these problems."
To solve this problem, you need to clean it twice a day using a pulsating air-jet system. It works perfectly, and the crews just need to keep up with the cleaning schedule. Even when they're being shot at.
"The crew can be taught everything, but if they ever make a mistake - and they will, the million–dollar engine will simply stall, and it will be impossible to repair it in the field," said retired American General Mark Hertling.
Author: David Axe