1st Abrams Tank Loss! Missing From The Warzone, Rare Abrams Mine Clearing Vehicle ‘Destroyed’ By Russia?

While the US-made M1A1 main battle tank (MBT) has still not been reported to have engaged in combat in Ukraine, despite being captured in videos driving near the battlezone, a mine-clearing vehicle based on the MBT’s chassis was destroyed by Russian forces in the first such loss of the system. 

A video shows the M1150 vehicle extensively damaged on the ground, presumably after taking several hits from Russian fire, with the crew abandoning it. It takes another strike before being completely destroyed.

Also called the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV), Ukraine-friendly social media handles revealed its presence with the Armed Forces Ukraine (AFU) on November 3, 2023, saying its transfer was not officially known until then. President Volodymyr Zelensky was photographed posing before one such unit in the presence of Ukrainian soldiers. 

The vehicle has two massive earth-moving plows for digging up mines while the tank moves over the ground. Linear charges are used to blow up large patches of mine. This M58 remote Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) is roughly similar to the Russian UR-77 ‘Serpent Gorynych.’ 

The rocket-like charge is fired from the turret while being connected to a wire that spools out and lands several meters ahead. It is then triggered to detonate a group of mines in a segment of a road that has been detected. 

An M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) during an event in Ukraine attended by President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a photograph that appeared on November 3, 2023. Source: X (formerly Twitter)

Video Shows Damaged Tank Being Abandoned, Destroyed

The video from an overhead surveillance drone shows the M1150 on the muddy terrain, where the plow appears to have come entirely off and misaligned. While it is not clear, the nature of the damage to the top of the turret and the chassis indicates a hit from an artillery round. 

One post said the strike was destroyed through a “success control” using a drone. From the context, it could mean that a UAV provided overhead artillery fire correction to Russian gunners. The video soon switches to thermal imaging mode and shows three crew members exiting the vehicle when an explosion occurs when they are just a few feet away. 

It is not clear if this second explosion was owing to deliberate destruction by the Ukrainian crewmen to not let the vehicle fall into Russian hands or another strike by Russian forces to completely destroy the vehicle. 

‘GeromanAT,’ a leading Russia-leaning handle, claimed it was Russian “tankers” from the 21st Brigade of the Central Military District. The M1150 meanwhile belonged to the 47th Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the AFU, according to Telegram Channel ‘Military Informant’.

“Its first combat use by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was during Operation Moshtarak in southern Afghanistan during the 2010 Afghanistan War against the Taliban,” Geroman added.

While the location of the destruction is not known, Russian Telegram channels claimed it was near Avdiivka, which Russia was reported to have captured, evicting Ukrainian servicemen from key locations in and around the town. Particularly, the tank was near the village of Stepovoye. 

Small Inventory Of Mine Clearers Gets Shorter

Ukraine is woefully short of engineering vehicles needed to break through Russia’s long and multilayered defensive line running across the east and the south. The nearly impenetrable line is made up of tank ditches, trenches, barbed wires, minefields and anti-armour obstacles called ‘dragon’s teeth’. 

Beyond these tiers, Russian Airborne Troops patrol on all-terrain and light tactical vehicles armed with Fagot anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), used to hit groups of Ukrainian soldiers trying to sneak in. The line has been breached only a few times in the south, far from what Ukraine and NATO had envisioned from the failed counteroffensive in mid-2023. 

Ukraine is assumed to have only a few of these systems, and losing one further limits its offensive options amid scarce artillery guns and their rounds. Rybar, the leading Russian military analysis forum, claimed the 47th Mechanized Brigade received six such units. 

“This loss is more painful for the enemy than even several destroyed tanks. Since in conditions of a shortage of engineering equipment and a large number of minefields, these products are critical for engineering preparation for an offensive,” Rybar said. 

Moreover, the strike too appears to have happened near the frontline, which raises the question of why such critical equipment was sent to a vulnerable location without proper cover. 

The M1A1 Abrams meanwhile has been spotted in Ukraine, based on a video that appeared on February 17 on X. ‘Ukrainian Front’, that posted the video claimed that the tank is seen with the ARAT Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) Dynamic Defense System.