Mystery Weapon Knocks Out Abrams M1A1 Tank In Iraq

As reported in Army Times: The incident is so sensitive that most experts in the field would talk only on the condition that they not be identified. According to an unclassified Army report, the mystery projectile punched through the vehicle’s skirt and drilled a pencil-sized hole through the hull. The hole was so small that “my little finger will not go into it,” the report’s author noted.

The “something” continued into the crew compartment, where it passed through the gunner’s seatback, grazed the kidney area of the gunner’s flak jacket and finally came to rest after boring a hole 1 to 2 inches deep in the hull on the far side of the tank.

As it passed through the interior, it hit enough critical components to knock the tank out of action. That made the tank one of only two Abrams disabled by enemy fire during the Iraq war and one of only a handful of “mobility kills” since they first rumbled onto the scene 20 years ago. The other Abrams knocked out this year in Iraq was hit by an RPG-7, a rocket-propelled grenade.

Experts believe whatever it is that knocked out the tank in August was not an RPG-7 but most likely something new — and that worries tank drivers.

“The unit is very anxious to have this `SOMETHING’ identified. It seems clear that a penetrator of a yellow molten metal is what caused the damage, but what weapon fires such a round and precisely what sort of round is it? The bad guys are using something unknown and the guys facing it want very much to know what it is and how they can defend themselves.”

“It’s a real strange impact,” said a source who has worked both as a tank designer and as an anti-tank weapons engineer. “This is a new one. … It almost definitely is a hollow-charge warhead of some sort, but probably not an RPG-7” anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade.

In the end, a civilian weapons expert said, “I hope it was a lucky shot and we are not part of someone’s test program. Being a live target is no fun.”

13 thoughts on “Mystery Weapon Knocks Out Abrams M1A1 Tank In Iraq”

  1. The bad guys are using something unknown and the guys facing it want very much to know what it is and how they can defend themselves.

    Just want to clarify something. Since when does defending your home land makes you a bad guy?

  2. Next thing you know you’re gonna be referring to these guys as freedom fighters instead of terrorists, and SciScoop is going to get labeled as a left-wing cabal. Everybody has a theory about who we’re fighting in Iraq, here’s mine: our own misconceptions.

  3. During the ground war phase eleven abrams were lost, since may 1 at least three have been lost. Of course if the crew is not killed then the public never hears about it, but several times pitcures of burning abrams have appeared on arabic tv. The latest incident in October which killed the crew was done with a 150mm arty round plus explosives detonated under the tank blowing the turret of.

  4. If you don’t like freedom fighters you can call them guerrillas or some such, but they are not terrorists by definition. From Wikipedia:

    Terrorism [snip] use of violence or the threat of violence, against the civilian population

    Abrams tank can hardly be called a civilian target.

    I personally have very little sympathy for Saddam’s followers, but I have even less sympathy for bigots. If it makes me a member of a left-wing cabal, then I am a proud member :-).

  5. …I agree that terrorists attack civilian targets and that anybody who shoots at an Abrams tank is (1) definitely not a terrorist and (2) probably suicidal. However, there are definitely terrorists (by our definition) operating in Iraq right now, they’re the ones who blew up the UN and Red Cross headquarters, not to mention the hotel, asassinating the judges, etc. etc. Now are these the same people who shoot at the tanks and helicopters? Are they from Syria or Iran or Al-Qaeda or the Saddam Republican Guard or (my personal favorite) Saudi Arabia? Who the hell knows, and that’s a main part of the problem over there right now. If the truth were known, I’m afraid in reality its a bunch of different political/religious factions made up of Everyday Iraqis who don’t care if they kill Americans, other foreigners, or other “fellow citizen” Iraqis that belong to a different sect or group or whatever. We call that terrorism; they call it business as usual. Don’t expect the American government to own up to such a possibility anytime soon, and that’s a real tragedy for both us and them. America expects The Iraqi People to stop waving their celebratory American flags just long enought to hold an election, set up a legislative body with representation from all groups, and have them play nice as a debating society across the aisles while sitting on the largest small arms arsenal in the world. Oh, yeah. Our Illustrious Leader and his Advisors musta been asleep in history class when they covered the fact that the current Iraqi border is a line drawn by the British after World War I that roped in a whole bunch of different groups of people that want to kill each other and have no sense of nationhood whatsoever. Too bad America is learning this lost history lesson through “make-up” work now.

  6. OK, this isn’t about science but unfortunately it’s definitely exploring a lot of tomorrows that Americans have taken upon themselves. Check out this timeline and think about this review of several excellent articles by Stanley Kurtz that everybody should read. Saddam is just another tin-pot dictator blip on the Iraqi timeline, and I fear we’ve got some really rough times ahead now that we’ve said it’s our turn to run the place.

  7. What about the Challenger II (now the fire control system works)? On another note, there are two further threats to the M1, and any other tank in theatre these being; HESH (High Explosive Squash Head) a very nice 120mm round whose head deforms on impact allowing the blast to be propogated through the hull causing sections of the inside of the tank to be torn off and thrown around disabling both tank and crew. The other threat is of course the A10. Small entrance hole, yellow metal – 30mm depleted uranium round anyone? And of course we all know the section on Friend/Foe identification was accidentally missed out of the Warthog user guide, just ask any APC crewman

  8. I’m leaving it in. Jenra, for future reference, what’s the best way to do spell check on Scoop articles? I obviosly ain’t usin’ one now…

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  10. Sounds like a case of failed Technical Intelligence on the U.S.’s part.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that…assuming it’s not a fluke, and for some reason it was a coalition weapon…we have several holes in our TECHINT of the Iraqis.

  11. I’m from syria and i just learned that simple but dacasdtating large tnt charges about 500 jkg are detonated under the m1a1 abrams tank and flipping it. igniting an internal fire in the vehicle.


  12. Doubt it, have you seen the pictures? it came in at an angle that would have had the A-10 flying at ground level! besides A-10’s never fire JUST one round. more like 100!!!

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