Footage Confirms Destruction of More U.S.-Supplied Abrams Tanks in Ukraine

A second Ukrainian Army M1A1 Abrams tank has been destroyed in combat with Russian forces, with this confirmed by footage released on March 3. This came nine days after drone footage released on February 23 first confirmed that the tank class had been deployed for combat, which was follows three days later by the confirmed destruction of the first tank. Russian sources have also claimed that alongside the second kill, a tracked mine-clearing vehicle based on the Abrams chassis was also destroyed. On March 1 a Russian drone crew commander told state media outlet TASS that another Abrams tank had been destroyed in the final week of February, stating: “The first Abrams was completely destroyed with the use of an FPV drone. Then, an armoured recovery vehicle on the Abrams platform was hit. In slightly more than a day, the third Abrams was struck by a drone. This time, the crew managed to get out,” he said, adding that these U.S. tanks were straightforward to neutralise by using artillery or drones. Footage publicised on February 23 showed one Abrams tank left stationary alongside a road near the frontlines, fuelling widespread speculated that it may have been taken out in combat and abandoned, which may have been the vehicle the unnamed drone commander was referring to. This would bring total losses to three tanks and one armoured recovery vehicle. It is also possible that the footage released on March 3 was of the destruction of the second tank destroyed in February referred to by the drone operator, and that there was simply some delay in releasing the footage.

The first confirmed successful targeting of an Abrams on February 23 saw the vehicle disabled by a single use ‘kamikaze’ drone and finished off with a hit from a man-portable anti tank grenade launcher. It remains uncertain how the second vehicle was destroyed, although some sources have indicated that a drone strike was also responsible. Thirty one Abrams tanks were delivered to Ukraine after some delay beginning in the final week of September, meaning unlike other assets such as German Leopard 2 tanks and American M2 Bradley fighting vehicles which took heavy losses in 2023, the American tanks were not involved in summer offensives against Russian positions. The tanks are operated under the 47th Separate Mechanised Brigade. Russian sources have widely highlighted the Abrams’ destruction as the latest of many public relations victories for the country’s ongoing war effort, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov having stated on February 26: “From the very beginning, our soldiers said that these tanks would burn just like any others.” 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 armies of Iraq and Saudi Arabia in much lower intensity environments against lightly armed insurgents.