17 reasons why the M1 Abrams tank is still king of the battlefield

US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt John Houghton

US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt John Houghton

Since first coming into service in 1980, the M1 Abrams tank has become a staple of US ground forces. The 67-ton behemoth has since made a name for itself as an incredibly tough, powerful tool that has successfully transitioned from a Cold War-era blunt instrument to a tactical modern weapon.

Also read: The US Army is testing a faster and more lethal variant of the Abrams tank

In the slides below, find out how the M1 Abrams became, and remains, the king of the battlefield.

Here is one of the first M1 Abrams in 1979. The Abrams entered service in 1980, but didn’t see heavy combat until Desert Storm in 1991.

DoD photo by Eddie McCrossan

DoD photo by Eddie McCrossan

The Abrams was the first tank to incorporate British-developed Chobham composite armor, which includes ceramics and is incredibly dense.

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Despite the British-designed armor, the Abrams tanks were made in Ohio and Michigan.

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

The Abrams is highly mobile, with a top speed of more than 40 mph and an impressive zero-turn radius.

via GIPHY

Source: Federation of American Scientists

Also, in special conditions like loose sand, dirt, or packed snow, the Abrams can actually drift.

via GIPHY

The M1 Abrams sports a 120 mm smooth-bore cannon capable of firing a variety of rounds.

US Army photo by Maj. Adam Weece

US Army photo by Maj. Adam Weece

Like with any armored unit, their success depends partly on the hardware and partly on the crew. Here, a loader expertly queues up a round capable of melting through an enemy tank’s armor.

via GIPHY

Source: YouTube

In addition to the main cannon, the Abrams sports a M2H Browning .50-caliber machine gun, a staple of the US military since World War II. In some cases, the guns can be remotely fired.

US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

The M1 Abrams is just plain tough. Watch it roll over a car bomb without even closing the hatch. This would tear a lesser tank to shreds.

via GIPHY

Source: YouTube

The US as well as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Australia use the Abrams as their main battle tank.

US Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, 2nd ABCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div.

US Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, 2nd ABCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div.

When the Abrams finally saw combat in 1991, it impressed operators with it’s effective rounds and virtual invulnerability to Iraqi tank fire. No Abrams was destroyed by Iraqi tank fire during the Persian Gulf War.

PHC D. W. HOLMES II, US Navy

PHC D. W. HOLMES II, US Navy

Source: US General Accounting Office

In fact, the only Abrams lost during the Persian Gulf War were destroyed by friendly fire, sometimes on purpose so they couldn’t be reclaimed by Iraqi forces.

US Department of Defense

US Department of Defense

The Abrams benefited from having superior range and night-vision abilities compared to their Soviet-made counterparts.

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Abrams became involved in urban warfare while clearing cities. Urban warfare is the worst situation for tanks, as their range is limited by buildings and they can be attacked from above, where their armor is weakest.

US Army, Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II

US Army, Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II

Source: USA Today

US Military

US Military

Source: USA Today

In his book “Heavy Metal: A Tank Company’s Battle to Baghdad” Maj. Jason Conroy reports a lopsided victory where an Abrams unit destroyed seven Soviet-made T-72 tanks at point-blank range with no losses on the US side.

M1 Abrams tanks conduct a live fire range day. (Photo from U.S. Army)

M1 Abrams tanks conduct a live fire range day. | U.S. Army photo

Today, the Abrams remains the US’s main battle tank, one of the most successful tanks of all time, and the king of the battlefield.

US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff

US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff

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