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M-1 Abrams Vulnerability Cover-up?

March 5, 2009

Greyhawk asks some important questions on the M-1 Abram tank’s performance in Iraq:

As reported in Jane’s, the Abrams tank showed ‘vulnerabilities’ during the Iraq war. Although none of them were destroyed in tank-to-tank combat or by anti-tank missile fire, there is one paragraph that seems a bit foreboding:
Most M1 losses were attributed in the report to mechanical breakdown, or vehicles being stripped for parts or vandalised by Iraqis. There were “no reported cases” of an anti-tank guided missile being fired at any US Army vehicle.”Vandalised by Iraqis”? Odd, because once the initial fighting settled down, several images of destroyed M1 Abrams tanks began to appear online, even though none of these were shown or mentioned in official news reports. So if they were not destroyed by anti-tank missiles or other tanks, how did the Iraqi infantry succeed in destroying them? Over at the, there is an article about the Battle for Baghdad. It opens with this:

It began on Friday morning, when an American M1 Abrams tank was destroyed by an Iraqi missile in an ambush. For several hours, street-to-street fighting raged, with as much horror and confusion as the Pentagon’s war planners had imagined.

Wait a minute, didn’t Jane’s report that none of them were destroyed by missiles? After spending millions of dollars per tank, how is it that the vehicle is so vulnerable to simple infantry?

My own thinking is that cost is going to lead to the end of tank production in the West. It already has for the most part, but armor production is expanding in the east.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. 1/107_CAV permalink
    July 12, 2013 7:54 am

    Sorry if I am “Late to the party” but I feel compelled to throw in my two cents here. The M-1 in question that was hit in Baghdad during the final stages of the initial invasion was not destroyed by Iraqi infantry. The tank, nicknamed “Cajone` eh?” was part of a brigade sized force that tested Baghdad’s defenses in what has come to be known as a “Thunder Run”. Most of the unit was made up of M1’s & M2 Bradley’s and they encountered hundreds if not thousands of Iraqi soldiers & Fedayeen fighters armed mostly with Light & Heavy Machine Guns & RPG’s. They were positioned at street level, in buildings and overpasses and it was an RPG that was fired from an overpass that has become the topic for debate. The RPH did hit a weak point on the M1. Just about every tank ever made has the same weak point. On top of the tank. More specifically, it hit on top of the rear engine deck which in turn caused a fire. The crew fought to extinguish the fire and did so, however, it flared back up every time. Meanwhile, the rear portion of the unit had stopped to provide cover and assistance while the front 1/2 of the column continued moving. So, b/c they did not want to remain stationary and lose sight of the rest of the column, the decision was made to abandon and destroy the M1. Which was done by the crew and another M1 tank that fired a number of 120mm rounds into it. Destroying it.
    So, on youtube and the net as a whole, there is the myth that an M1 was destroyed by an RPG. That is all it is…..a myth. Had the armored column not become seperated, chances are an M88 recovery vehicle would have recovered the tank and returned it to BIAP for repairs and it would have been back in service within a few hours. This was the first of two Thunder Runs into Baghdad and this one M1 tank was the only armored vehicle lost in either operation.

  2. June 29, 2013 7:19 pm

    Soldiers have taken the Sensitive system out of the tank. Blown up everything else inside the tank.

  3. May 28, 2013 7:12 pm

    It’s remarkable in favor of me to have a site, which is valuable in support of my know-how. thanks admin

  4. May 9, 2013 10:27 am

    I do trust all of the concepts you have offered on your post.
    They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    August 1, 2010 11:01 am

    Jane’s is very specific, no cases of an Abrams being destroyed by an “Anti Tank GUIDED Missile.”

    The Abrams reported by most likely was hit by an RPG.

  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 22, 2009 4:53 am

    When it gets to the wire, its all about infantry anyway, the boots on the ground!

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 22, 2009 4:50 am

    Thanks for stopping by Chuck!

  8. August 22, 2009 1:22 am

    No tank is safe in war. Always some one ingenius enough will stop one or more. Im surprised more have not been lost and I would never ride in a Bradly, M113, or Stryker either. Easy targets, poor armor.

  9. Mike Burleson permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:33 am

    Thanks for the info!

  10. Anonymous permalink
    April 22, 2009 2:50 am

    This thread provies the needed visual evidence


  11. Dave permalink
    April 10, 2009 8:47 am

    I heard that 80 as of 2009 M1 Abrams were lost as a direct result of combat with the enemy. I have no idea how accurate that is.

    Below is an enemy propaganda video showing destroyed US tanks. If you look closely you’ll see a few of the tanks have been filmed several times.

    Many of these M1 Abrams look completely destroyed or burned out. In most cases this is due to US troops using incendiary munitions to destroy the rest of the equipment and keep it from being plundered and perhaps eventually reverse engineered by someone. Most of these burned-out tanks were probably disabled by various forms of anti-tank munitions or destroyed by fire. A small number probably suffered mechanical breakdowns or became bogged and had to be abandoned.

    A number of these tanks have clearly been destroyed by large IEDs or anti-tank mines as evidenced by the blown off tracks or the shear level of damage (turrets blown off, skirt plating blown off, etc.)

    Even though the Abrams is a good tank it is still vulnerable and it stands to reason that 80 tanks could easily be lost to enemy action in such a prolonged conflict, especially when one considers the amount of urban fighting.

    What is more important is the crew survivability. How many of these crews survived the initial attacks and how many were picked of by snipers? The loss of trained crewmen is more important than the loss of the equipment.


  12. total permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:53 am

    This is incredibly thinly-sourced. There’s nothing here to indicate how the tank was killed, if it was actually an M1 Abrams or not, and what took it out. The story is originally from the NY Times: are they suddenly a credible source? The picture of the destroyed tank is an official military one, versions of which you can find on the department of defense web site by searching for it.

    The post by Greyhawk meanders off into wacko musings about ‘swarm’ attacks that will take down western civilization as we know because terrorists in Pakistan managed to kill seven (7!) policemen/civilians while trying to attack the Sri Lankan cricket team.

    What the article _actually_ says is much more reasoned (both by Jane’s and by the Army). See:

    “There were “no catastrophic losses due to Iraqi direct or indirect fire weapons,” but several tanks were destroyed due to secondary effects attributed to Iraqi weapon systems. US Army sources told JDW that the report was only “preliminary observations” rather than a definitive study and more work was continuing to further refine the exact causes of US tank losses in Iraq. Other US Army sources report that 14 Abrams tanks were damaged and two destroyed during the war.

    Most M1 losses were attributed in the report to mechanical breakdown, or vehicles being stripped for parts or vandalised by Iraqis. There were “no reported cases” of an anti-tank guided missile being fired at any US Army vehicle.

    Details of the M1 losses were given, including one where 25mm armour-piercing depleted uranium (AP-DU) rounds from an unidentified weapon disabled a US tank near Najaf after penetrating the engine compartment. Another Abrams was disabled near Karbala after a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) penetrated the rear engine compartment and one was lost in Baghdad after its external auxiliary power unit was set on fire by medium-calibre fire. ”

    That’s some coverup.

  13. Moose permalink
    March 6, 2009 1:47 am

    IIRC, there were a few super-duper IED mines which took out M1s during the invasion. In addition, a few were immobilized during the run up to Baghdad and were cooked by their cews/units rather than waiting to tow them out. An M1 which takes a shot to the ass or a bad enough track hit isn’t “dead,” but isn’t going anywhere without help. That’s not new nor unique to the M1, but M1 is far more survivable (for the crew and the tank itself) than just about anything else out there. And even well-baked M1s have been taken home, cleaned up, “Zero-Miled,” and Returned to Service. Can’t say that about this one:

  14. Mike Burleson permalink
    March 5, 2009 10:27 pm

    Well Ken, I think the public should know if the military is covering up vulnerabilities, if we must decide whether to buy a death trap or not? As for capabilities, that is another matter…

  15. March 5, 2009 8:46 pm

    It seems to me that a “cover up” of tank vulnerabilities is EXACTLY what the Army should be doing. Do we want them broadcasting the weaknesses of every system we have on the internet, just to make it fair?

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