DU Armor

One of the most interesting modifications of the M1A1 series was the new armor composite including depleted uranium (DU) plate. This armor greatly increased resistance against kinetic energy rounds. During the Gulf War, M1A1 tanks could directly engage enemy tanks while in the enemy’s line-of-sight with little risk from any eventual damage from incoming retaliatory fire. This means that M1A1 tanks could hit their targets, while Iraqi tanks couldn’t hit, or, if they hit, couldn’t damage M1A1 tanks. Also, due to DU armor, not a single US tank was penetrated from enemy fire. US tanks took many close direct hits from Iraqi Soviet-made T-72 and T-72M tanks, but enemy rounds were simply not able to penetrate the M1A1 tank’s armor. The model that had this feature was called M1A1 HA (Heavy Armor), and had a protection equivalent to 600 mm against kinetic energy ammunition (APFSDS), and 1,300 mm against chemical energy warheads (ATGM’s and HEAT ammunition).

The armor protection of today’s M1A1 Abrams models is much better than that of the original M1A1 HA tanks that saw combat during the Gulf War (1991).

Fact is, a crew inside a DU armored tank is more secure than a crew inside a tank without DU armor.

Other uses of DU include : shielding containers for gamma sources, aircraft counterweights, and those vectors of radioactive dust, DU ammunition.

2 Responses to “DU Armor”

  1. kimberly Says:

    sign me up

    • nuclearhistory Says:

      Brave Kimberly.

      The nuclear cycle generates such things as DU. One way of getting rid of it is to turn it into other stuff – including tank armour and anti tank shells.

      Course, disposing of it depends upon firing it and reducing it to dust. And its the dust, which is composed of uranium that has become so hot as to be heat treated and thus less soluable than the normal stuff.

      It is recognised as a hazard in US government reports (see the toxicological profile for uranium post).

      The hazard exists primarily in the dust, the substance itself is the product of hazardous processes inherent within the nuclear fuel cycle.

      DU armour is another military justification for the so called civil nuclear programs.

      Nuclear activity is inherently dual use. If there were no military use for nuclear technology, it probably would remain a technical curiosity.

      All uranium decays, producing radium and radon. These are the primary hazards produced by uranium stored in enclosed spaces.

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