|M1-A1 Main Battle Tank
- 32 feet, 3 inches
- 12 feet
- 8 feet
- 120,250 lbs (combat loaded)
- Top Speed:
- 41 mph
- Cross Country Speed:
- 30 mph
- 279 miles cruising
- 289 miles cruising (no NBC protection)
- Operational Range
- 127 miles (NBC protection on)
- Main Gun:
- M256 120 mm smooth bore cannon
- M829/A1 Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Sabot (SABOT)
- M830 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose (HEAT)
- Other Weapons:
- One (1) M2 .50 Cal machine-gun
- Two (2) M240 7.62 mm machine-guns
- 1,500hp gas turbine
- 4 speed automatic transmission
*The Abrams tank is the backbone of U.S. armored forces in the Gulf. Designed in the 1970's, the first M-1's were delivered in 1980. The more modern M1A1, which was sent to the KTO from Europe includes a nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) cooling system to allow the tank to operate in a chemical warfare situation. It is also equipped with night vision, automatic fire suppression systems and, in some cases, reactive armor to defeat armor-piercing weapons. Because of its size, I'm told the C-5 Galaxy can only carry one of these tanks at a time, making overseas shipment of these tanks by ships necessary (note, some pilots say they can get off the ground with two and a limited fuel load).
Iraqi Counterpart--Iraq had a considerable array of tanks, most based on Soviet designs. The T-72, of which Iraq has about 500 has a 125mm gun and is equipped with chemical weapons protection. Considered one of Iraq's best tanks, it is still regarded as inferior to the M1 and comparable to the M60 tank used by the U.S. Marine Corps. Specifications on the T-72 are:
- 30 feet, 4 inches
- 11 feet, 10 inches
- 7 feet, 9 inches
- 90,405 lbs (combat loaded)
- Top Speed:
- 50 mph
- 434 miles (with external fuel tanks)
- Main Gun:
- 125 mm
- Other Weapons:
- One M2 7.62 mm machine gun
- One M240 12.7 mm machine gun
In addition, Iraq has a number of earlier Soviet models such as the T-62 and T-54, both of which were developed in the 1960's. Both of these tanks are regarded also regarded as inferior to the M-1 Abrams. Iraq is thought to possess as many as 1,600T-62s and 700T-54s, but exact figures are difficult to obtain given the eight years of war with Iran. Iraq is also suspected of having a small inventory of British Chieftain tanks. During the Iran-Iraq war, tanks were converted to fixed artillery pieces by commanders who dug them into the ground for fear of losing them to enemy attack.
Action in Desert Storm--
U.S. tanks spearheaded the operations across Iraqi fortifications and engaged enemy tanks whenever and wherever possible. Because of Iraq's use of tanks as fixed artillery pieces, digging them into the ground and preventing their quick movement, Allied air power smashed approximately 50% of Iraq's tank threat before allied units moved across the border.
The highly advanced M1A1 took out a number of Iraqi tanks that did manage to go mobile. One report indicated that American thermal sights were unhampered by the clouds of thick black smoke over the battlefield that were the result of burning Kuwaiti oil wells. Such was not the case with the sights in the Iraqi tanks, which were being hit from units they could not even see. Concerns about the M-1A1's range were eliminated by a massive resupply operation that will be studied for years as a model for operations. In the end, 18 allied tanks were taken out of service due to battle damage, 9 due to friendly fire which were permanent losses. 9 others were mostly from mines and considered repaiarable. During the war, there were few reports of mechanical failure and U.S. commanders allied claimed an outstanding 90% operational readiness for the M-1.
1,178 M1A1's were used along with 594 M1-A1 Heavy Armor (HA) tanks. 2,300M-1's were deployed, but 528 tanks were placed in operationally ready float status and war reserve stocks. The Marine Corps used 16 M1A1's and 60 M1A1(HA) tanks.
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