American tanks are fighting Russia. It’s time to see how they perform

A US Army Abrams tank fires during the Saber Strike military exercises in Adazi military training area, Latvia
A US Army Abrams tank fires during the Saber Strike military exercises in Adazi military training area, Latvia

When it comes to Ukraine, the gloomsters are out in force. Morose chatter about stalemate and positional defence, combined with the atrocious freezing weather, has many pessimistic about Kyiv’s chances of victory. But the cavalry is close at hand: US Abrams tanks have hit the battlefield.

This tank is perfect for the Ukrainian army. It’s very easy to use, has great armoured protection – like the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2s, which have seen off the best munitions Russia has to offer – and it packs a hell of a punch.

The 120mm smooth bore stabilised main armament is capable of taking out Russian tanks at a range of 3kms, when the Russian guns are effective at roughly half this distance. In addition, it has a 50 calibre heavy machine gun which is devastating against infantry and drones.

But it’s the ease of use that’s key here. I’ve not been in an Abrams for about 15 years, but I’m pretty confident I could get in one tomorrow and fight in it effectively. For soldiers receiving new kit, and keen to be effective from the get-go, this is huge.

The common criticism levelled against the Abrams is that they are a logistical nightmare, but this isn’t repeated by anyone who knows anything about tanks. The Abrams uses the same ammunition as the Leopard 2, and mechanically it has a very reliable gas turbine engine. It uses a bit more fuel than other tanks, but as far as I’m aware that isn’t in short supply.

And like the Leopard 2 and the Challenger 2, it has excellent armour defence. It’ll be damned hard for the Russians to stop, and easily repaired if actually hit. The tank crews, meanwhile, will have far greater survivability than their Russian counterparts. With trained crews so thin on the ground, this is a real advantage for Kyiv.

No doubt the Bradley infantry fighting vehicles currently in Ukraine will be teamed with the Abrams as they are in the US Army. If Kyiv gets the jets to provide the necessary air cover, the armoured punch it has desperately needed for the last 20 months could soon manifest itself.

The initial tranche of 31 tanks given to Ukraine is a regiment-sized transfer. It will pack a huge punch. But there are thousands of Abrams tanks, with the US Army and Nato countries, sat in sheds gathering dust. These could be quickly put into the van of the battle, and would prove devastating to the Russian army.

Russian military leadership is diabolically poor, and having suffered horrendous casualties in Avdiika morale is likely to be rock bottom. Only highly trained soldiers can operate effectively in this harsh winter weather, and the barely trained Russian conscripts may find it difficult to survive, let alone fight. Now is the time to give Ukraine everything it needs to push home the advantage with the Russian army on its knees.

Moscow has upped its drone attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure to try and limit Kyiv’s forces, but it is the mysterious fires at Russian tank factories deep behind the lines drawing media attention in Russia and Europe. As their supplies are interrupted, it’s time to give Ukraine the armoured punch it needs for victory.

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