Status: 04.12.2023, 13:32 PM
By: Patrick Mayer
Ukraine has received American Abrams tanks to protect against Russia's war of aggression. One advantage dampens many of the colossus' weak points.
Kiev - The urgent warnings about the imperialist regime of the autocratic Moscow ruler Vladimir Putin are increasing again in Germany in the run-up to Christmas, while the Ukraine war continues to kill and die even in the bitterly cold winter.
Ukraine war: Abrams tanks can reportedly fight with multiple fuels
Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) has even called for a nuclear deterrent against Russia by the European Union (EU). And Dr. Christian Mölling of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) has urged the West to equip the Ukrainians with the conditions for a new offensive in 2024.
The U.S. recently delivered up to 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, which was attacked in violation of international law. While the enormous weight of 61.3 tons is not exactly suitable for the muddy floors in winter, the tank at least has another advantage: The Abrams can be refueled with different fuels.
Among others, the much-quoted X account (formerly Twitter) "OSINTtechnical" shared a photo of an M1 Abrams of the Ukrainian army on the social network. The account has more than 900,000 followers, including many journalists. So the tanks are now on the battlefield. Before the delivery of the heavy main battle tank to Kyiv, however, there were concerns about the maintenance-intensive gas turbine engine in addition to the high weight.
This is designed for the combustion of kerosene, i.e. jet fuel. The Lycoming Textron AGT1500 gas turbine is much smaller and lighter than a powerful diesel engine, such as the one installed in the German Leopard 2.
M1 Abrams main battle tank: Americans use JP-8 aviation turbine fuel
However, the U.S. armed forces usually use JP-8, an aviation turbine fuel for fighter jets and helicopters. The Americans had set up a logistical supply chain for this, for example during the Iraq war. JP-8 is more powerful and, with a lot of torque, turns even the massive Abrams into a relatively fast tank.
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Of course, the supply chain that the US armed forces possess, the Ukrainian army does not have in the conditions of constant Russian attacks on the supply lines. In other words, more pragmatic solutions are needed. And there are. For the M1 Abrams' gas turbine, almost any flammable liquid can be used as fuel in any mixing ratio. In other words, what's available on the battlefield goes into the tank.
|M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank
|Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore cannon
|two M240 machine guns and a Browning M2
|700 litres per 100 kilometres
|Maximum off-road speed:
|61.3 tons / 9.83 m / 3.66 m
Several media reports point to this fuel flexibility, while the US is keeping a low profile. As the Austrian daily Der Standard writes in an analysis, for example, the gas turbine can be operated with a variety of different fuels. The turbine is also comparatively quiet, which has earned the tank the nickname "Whispering Death" (German: "The Whispering Death").
Honeywell gas turbine of the M1 Abrams: Multiple propellants for main battle tanks
The U.S. Army is also said to have used diesel in the early 1990s. At that time, the M1 Abrams was used in Iraq in the Second Gulf War (August 1990 to February 1991).
"Theoretically, the M1's Honeywell gas turbine can burn any fuel thin enough to move through its lines," military analyst David Axe wrote in a January 2023 op-ed for Forbes magazine. Other armed forces, such as the Australian one, would refuel with diesel or standard motor gasoline instead of JP-8. However, the problem remains high consumption, while in Ukraine the Russian kamikaze Lancet drones are also a cause for concern.
Deployed in Iraq in droves: the US M1 Abrams main battle tank. (Archive photo) © IMAGO / StockTrek Images
M1 Abrams: Despite gas turbine advantage - tank needs much more fuel than Leopard 2
Axe cited a 1990 study by the Washington, D.C.-based Project on Government Oversight (POGO), according to which an M1 Abrams consumes an average of 83 percent more fuel at the same speed than the German-made Leopard 2.
For comparison, an M1 Abrams supposedly consumes up to 100 liters of fuel per 700 kilometers - the German Leopard 2A6, on the other hand, consumes around 120 liters. As the POGO once reported, according to Axe, a battalion of the U.S. Army had to keep dozens of tanker trucks ready to keep several M1 Abrams combat-capable over a longer distance due to high fuel consumption. Ultimately, Axe writes for Forbes, the Ukrainians are called upon to "accept the additional logistical burden that comes with the American tanks." (pm)