Footage Confirms Destruction of First Abrams Tank in Ukraine Three Days After Confirmed Frontline Deployment

Footage released on February 26 has provided first confirmation of the destruction of an M1A1 Abrams tank operated by the Ukrainian Army. The tank was targeted by a single use ‘kamikaze’ drone and suffered at least one hit from a man-portable anti tank grenade launcher. This occurred in Berdychi northwest of Avdiivka, a key Donbas town recently abandoned by Ukrainian forces after they took extreme casualties. Confirmation of the tank’s destruction occurred just three days after drone footage taken on February 23 provided the first confirmation that Abrams tanks had been deployed to the frontlines in Ukraine, with the vehicle thought to have lasted well under a week and possibly as little as three days before being neutralised. Close up drone footage of the destroyed tank shows that its engine compartment was on fire and its ammunition compartment burned out. 

It was previously long speculated that Abrams tanks would quickly begin to take losses if deployed near the frontlines against Russian forces, with the M1A1 having demonstrated only very limited survivability when deployed by the Iraqi Army in much lower intensity environments. The better armoured British Challenger 2 tank, which unlike the Abrams had not seen its protection significantly downgraded before delivery, notably similarly took losses very quickly after it was deployed for combat in August 2023. The lack of depleted uranium armour remains a key difference between models exported to Ukraine and Iraq and those fielded in the U.S. Army itself. It remains uncertain whether the lost Abrams tank is in fact the first to have been destroyed in the Donbas, with footage publicised on February 23 separate from that previously mentioned notably showing one of the vehicles stationary alongside a road. Although it was not clear if the vehicle had been neutralised and abandoned, or whether there was some other explanation for its unusual position in the war zone, it was widely speculated that this vehicle may have also been taken out in combat.