American Abrams are two of the world's most advanced and deadliest
main battle tanks. Which one of them is better and why? And even
though some things about these tanks such as armor composition are
kept in high secrecy, we know a lot about these machines.
Abrams is a significantly upgraded Cold War-era development. Its
predecessor, the original
Abrams, was adopted by the US Army back in 1980. The tank was
named in honor to the General Abrams, commander of US forces during
Vietnam War. It replaced in service the
Patton. Eventually it proved to be
a successful design and was produced in large numbers. Throughout
the years this tank was constantly improved, upgunned and uparmored.
The M1A2 SEP v2 is the current version, which forms the backbone of
the US military armored forces. A number of older Abrams tanks were
converted to this standard. It is planned that
upgraded M1A2 series tanks will remain operational with the US
military beyond 2050.
T-14 Armata is a
more modern design. During the
recent military conflicts Russians faced that their
T-90 main battle
tank could not
maintain superiority over the modern Western and Asian main battle
tanks. A replacement was needed.
Development of the new tank began in 2011 and was kept in high
secrecy. A first batch of pre-production tanks was delivered in
2015. The Armata was first publicly revealed during the same year.
It full-scale production could begin in 2020-2021. It is planned
that once in service, the Armata will gradually replace the ageing
T-90 tanks that become out-dated.
CONCEPT BEHIND THESE
last century there were always significant differences between
Russian and Western tanks, their layout and the way their systems
The Abrams follows the lines of Cold War-era Western main
battle tanks. It uses composite armor, similar to the British
Chobham. Frontal armor is reinforced with depleted uranium armor
mesh for a higher level of protection. Furthermore the Abrams can be
fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor. Most of the ammunition
is store in the turret bustle with blow-out panels. The tank is
rather bulky, however it is well protected against most anti-tank
The M1A2 is
armed with a manually-loaded 120 mm smoothbore gun. The tank has
modern fire control system with high first round hit probability.
is operated by a crew of 4, including commander gunner and driver.
feature of the Abrams tank is its gas turbine engine. It is a
multi-fuel engine, which can run on any grade of petrol, diesel,
aviation fuel or kerosene. The engine has impressive performance and
is running silent. However it is troublesome to maintain and has
very high fuel consumption comparing with traditional diesel
the United States went for a technologically advanced, bulky, yet
very agile tank.
On the other
hand the Armata
is a new-generation tank. It is a clean sheet design with a number
of advanced features. It has little in common with the current T-90
and other older Soviet tanks. Actually it it the first Russian truly
new production tank since the T-72, that was adopted back in 1973.
Design of the Armata focuses on heavier armor and crew
survivability. Exact technical specifications of the new Armata
has an unmanned turret and is operated by a crew of 3. It is in line
with Russian tank-building concept, that the tank should be operated
by a smaller crew in order to reduce its dimensions and weight and
improve protection. However this new tank has new layout. All crew members
are seated at the front of the hull in a well protected armored capsule. The gun is loaded
automatically and ammunition is separated from the crew compartment.
the Armata focuses on heavy armor and crew survivability.
The Abrams is one
of the most protected tanks in the world. It uses composite armor,
reinforced with depleted uranium armor mesh. Also it can mount
add-on explosive reactive armor. The tank is well protected against
most known anti-tank weapons.
The US Army
aims to put a cutting-edge defensive technology, called active
protection system, on its Abrams tanks. It is designed to destroy
approaching anti-tank rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.
This technology increases overall survivability of the tank. So far
the Abrams tanks were not fielded in combat with such protection
Also the Abrmas tanks are fitted with countermeasures system, which
interrupts infra red and laser guidance of anti-tank missiles.
Armata uses newly-developed base armor, made of steel, ceramics and
composite materials. Also the Armata has a new Malakhit add-on
explosive reactive armor that is claimed to be of new generation.
Protection level of the Armata tank remains classified. It might be
one of the most protected tanks in the world.
It has been reported that the Russian Armata will be fitted
with new Afganit active protection system. However in 2018 it
appeared that there are setbacks with development of the Afghanit.
By 2018 prototypes of this system were not completed and were not
ready for testing. This tank also has a new
countermeasures system that reduces the chance of being hit by anti-tank guided missiles.
terms of protection none of these two tanks has an advantage over
Crew of the
Abrams is well protected and has some chances of surviving once the
armor is penetrated. Most of the ammunition is stored in a turret
bustle with blow-out panels. The bustle is separated from the
fighting compartment. If the bustle is hit, ammunition detonates
without killing the crew. Some rounds are stored inside the hull in
protective containers. Interior of the Abrams is lined with Kevlar
liner for protection against spalling.
Armata tank was also built with crew survivability in mind. All of
its crew members are seated in a well protected armored cell. It is
a world's first production tank with completely unmanned turret and
with such crew layout. The crew is completely separated from
automatic loader and ammunition. The tank has improved resistance to
damage. It can operate even with penetrated armor, as far as the
crew cell is intact.
Overall the Russian
Armata might be slightly superior in terms of crew survivability due
to its protected crew cell and entirely isolated ammunition.
is armed with a 120 mm/L44 smoothbore gun. Even though it is not the
most advanced tank gun available on the market today, it packs a
formidable punch. It is accurate and has a range of effective fire
in excess of 4 km. Its effective range was successfully demonstrated
during numerous military conflicts throughout the world. The gun is
loaded manually by the gunner. The M1A2 Abrams was one of the first
tanks with a hunter-killer engagement capability. The tank commander
uses a panoramic sight to search for targets. Once the target is
selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner
completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time
commander looks for the next target. Such engagement method allows
to acquire and engage targets faster. Currently similar target
acquisition systems are present on most main battle tanks.
Armata is armed with a new 125 mm smoothbore gun. It has longer
range and is more accurate than previous Russian tank guns. The new
tank gun is supperior to that of the
T-90 tank. It has more muzzle
energy than the gun of the Abrams. However at longer ranges the Russian tank
guns were traditionally not as accurate as Western tank guns. In
order to coupe with this drawback the Armata can launch long-range
anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary
projectiles. These missile have a range of up to 5 km and can also target low flying helicopters.
The gun is completed with an autoloader. This feature allowed to
reduce the crew to 3 men. The Armata is fitted with a brand new fire
So far it is
unclear how accurate is the gun of the Russian Armata is, in order
to compare it with the Abrams.
Abrams tanks are powered by a gas turbine engine, developing 1 500
hp. Basically it is a modified helicopter engine, adapted for use on
tanks. It is compact for its power output. So even though the Abrams
is heavy and bulky, this tank is surprisingly nimble due to its
powerful engine. It is much faster than many other tanks and has
superior cross-country performance. Furthermore its gas turbine unit
has more advantages over traditional diesel engine, typically used
on tanks. It is a multi-fuel engine, which can run on kerosene,
diesel, petrol or aviation fuel. It can start at extremely cold
temperatures. Also the engine is remarkably quiet. Due to this
feature the Abrams is even nicknamed the Whispering Death. The gas
turbine engine has servicing intervals significantly longer than
those of diesel engines. However the gas turbine engine has a number
of drawbacks. Notably it is
troublesome to maintain and has very high fuel consumption comparing
Armata is powered by a new turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1
200 hp. It is a new-generation engine, that is much more compact and
powerful than previous Russian tank engines. This engine is not yet
proven and might have a number of teething problems. However this
Russian diesel is way more fuel efficient and easier to maintain
than the American gas turbine.
The Abrams accelerates faster than the Armata and has superior
cross-country performance. However overall in terms of engine power
and mobility both tanks have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Abrams was churned-out in thousands. A number of these tanks were
exported to the US allies and friendly states, such as Australia,
Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. The Abrams is a proven tank. It
saw action in numerous hotspots around the world. Furthermore only
few of these tanks were ever destroyed. So the Abrams deserves
reputation as being one of the best tanks in the world.
On the other
hand the Armata is a new clean sheet design that is still being
developed, improved and tested. Only a small batch of pre-production
tanks was built. This tanks never saw combat. There are some signs,
that indicate that Russia is preparing to launch a full-scale
production of these tanks. Series production of this tanks could
begin in 2020-2021. It is likely that the Armata will have a number
of teething problems, as many of its components are also brand new
the Abrams has an advantage of being proven and reliable design,
that performs well during various military conflicts.
new Russian tank is on par with the US Abrams tank. In some areas it
is slightly superior than the Abrams, however it has got no
The Abrams has
technical superiority in mobility and cross-country performance.
This tank is a proven design, that recommended itself well
during numerous military conflicts.
has an advantage of survivability and crew protection. Though this
tank is still a raw design, that will
likely to have numerous teething problems.