Abrams Tank: Ukraine Adds “Double Shield” To US MBTs After Losing Out To Russian Kamikaze UAVs

In a key development on the frontlines, new images have surfaced showcasing American-supplied M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) operated by Ukrainian forces. These tanks are outfitted with anti-drone armor screens, colloquially known as “cope cages.”

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This innovation represents a key advancement in tank defense, coming roughly a month after reports surfaced Ukraine’s forces had withdrawn the M1A1 tanks from the frontlines due to concerns about their vulnerability to Russian kamikaze drones.

The newly modified Abrams tanks feature comprehensive protection, including additional explosive reactive armor (ERA). These enhancements have been increasingly observed on the battlefield.

The modifications are part of a broad initiative by the Ukraine-headquartered Metinvest Group, a prominent steel and mining conglomerate that announced the rollout of these new armor screens on May 24.

According to Metinvest’s press release, the company is producing anti-drone armor for the Abrams and Soviet-designed tanks, such as the T-64 and T-72 families and the T-80 and T-90 series. However, the current visual evidence only showcases the design implemented on the Abrams.

This initiative is a segment of Metinvest’s larger “Steel Front” wartime production strategy, which has been instrumental in providing pre-fabricated protected shelters, body armor, and other essential materials to the Ukrainian armed forces.

The press release highlighted the meticulous testing process that preceded the deployment of the steel screens to the Armed Forces, noting that more than 25 protection systems have been manufactured and delivered, with seven specifically designed for the M1 Abrams tanks.

The photos released by Metinvest depict an extensive array of screens on the Abrams tanks. The primary screen is mounted on top of the turret, with additional screens protecting the tank’s front, sides, and rear. Some images also show a screen attached to the rear of the hull.

Despite these defenses, the adeptness of FPV (First-Person View) drone operators in exploiting even small gaps remains a concern. In addition to the anti-drone screens, the modified Abrams tanks boast additional ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) tiles on top of the US-standard M19 Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT) along the sides of the hull.

Soviet-designed Kontakt-1 ERA tiles have been added to the front of both sides of the hull, with whole arrays affixed to the top and underside of the front.

These advancements represent a crucial step in increasing the defensive capabilities of Ukraine-operated Abrams tanks, offering enhanced protection against the increasing threat of drone attacks on the battlefield.

Photos of an Abrams tank from Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade with added counter-FPV screens and Kontakt-1 ERA bricks.

Romania To Become Key Producer Of Ammo Abrams Tanks

According to Romanian Economy Minister Radu Oprea, Romania wants to become the leading ammunition producer for American Abrams tanks.

In a recent appearance on Digi24’s LIVE show on May 24, Oprea detailed the country’s ambitious plans to establish itself as a key hub for military ammunition production.

Oprea revealed that Romania has been diligently working on several projects to transform its defense manufacturing capabilities. “There are projects we have been working on for a long time, some have already started, some have already materialized through signed memoranda,” he said.

Oprea mentioned the memorandum signed with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS). The US Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec was present at the signing.

The partnership between Romania’s state-owned defense company, ROMARM, and GDOTS is poised to turn Romanian factories into centers of excellence for large-caliber ammunition production, specifically targeting 120mm and 155mm rounds.

These munitions will be produced in Romania and exported to Eastern and Central European countries, as well as for American Abrams tanks deployed worldwide.

“We are advanced in this project because we worked on it a long time ago,” Oprea explained, highlighting the project’s defined scope, investment requirements, and timeline.

“We want Romania to become the main ammunition producer for Abrams tanks. We have already had the inspection of experts, and it is a project we have been working on for a long time; it is materialized, and we know all the steps we have to take,” he explained.

Oprea mentioned that a gunpowder factory was essential for ammunition production, and that would soon be fully realized. He noted that the European Commission had approved the construction of the factory. This development, he stated, represented a significant opportunity for Romania’s national industry, involving both public and private capital.

Romania’s strategic moves align with its recent acquisition of American military hardware. In November 2023, the US State Department approved Romania’s purchase of 54 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks at an estimated cost of $2.53 billion.

Romanian lawmakers greenlit this purchase in May 2023, and the cost was estimated at around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) at the time.

With these developments, Romania has positioned itself as a key player in NATO’s defense infrastructure and a central supplier of critical ammunition for one of the world’s most advanced main battle tanks.