M1A1 Firing Line
An M1A1 main battle tank, commanded by Sgt. Michael J. Fiscella, Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, makes its way to the firing line at Combat Center’s Range 500 Sept. 19. Third Platoon, Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, fired one M1028 120 mm Canister Round per tank, familiarizing the tank crewman with the destruction the rounds can cause. Pfc. Michael S. Cifuentes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


  • The M1A1 Abrams is a better tank compared to the T-72 Russia deploys in Ukraine
  • The M1A1 Abrams has "a very similar capability" to the M1A2 variant despite being older
  • Two advantages the M1A1 has over the T-72 are the accuracy and lethality of its rounds

Even an older variant of the American M1 Abrams main battle tank would perform better than the Soviet-era equivalents Russia is deploying in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Business Insider published this assessment made by former United States Army armor officer Jeffrey Edmonds Thursday after the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it would send the M1A1 variant of the Abrams to Ukraine.

The U.S. previously pledged to deliver 31 newer M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine under the DoD's Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, but choosing the older variant of the domestically produced platform "will enable us to significantly expedite delivery timelines, and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday.

"This is about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later," he said in a briefing.

Despite being an older variant, the M1A1 will have "a very similar capability" to the M1A2, including advanced armor and weapons systems, Ryder claimed.

The M1A1 also lacks the critical weaknesses of some Soviet-era tanks, such as the vulnerable turret ammunition storage of the T-72 series of tanks that can result in these tanks blowing up.

As the M1A1 stores its ammunition behind a separate compartment behind the turret that has blast doors, any ammunition cook-off will most likely result in the blast being directed away from the crew.

"In a standoff between the two, I would not want to be in the T-72," Edmonds, now a Russia expert at the Virginia-based Center for Naval Analyses nonprofit research group, said.

Two other advantages the M1A1 has over the T-72 are the accuracy and power of the depleted uranium rounds that can be fired from its 120-millimeter smoothbore gun, according to Edmonds.

"It's hard to say what contributes more to the lethality of the tank, but from my understanding, the bulk of the killing power comes from the round itself," he said.

M1A1s proved lethal against Iraqi T-72 series tanks during the first Persian Gulf War, the latter of which are still used by both sides in Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. has not yet said anything specific about providing depleted uranium tank shells to Ukraine, per Business Insider.

In addition to being able to hit targets from long distances, the M1A1 is also agile and sturdy, being able to maneuver quickly and survive several hits, according to the outlet.

A total of 23 M1 Abrams tanks were either damaged or destroyed at the end of the Gulf War, according to a 1992 performance report compiled by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Among the nine vehicles that were destroyed, seven were destroyed by friendly fire, while the remaining two were intentionally destroyed to prevent capture by the Iraqi Army.

U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams Iraq 2005 retouched
U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams tanks maneuver in the streets as they conduct a combat patrol in the city of Tall Afar, Iraq, on Feb. 3, 2005. DoD photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons