The next package of military aid to Ukraine, which announced by the US administration in addition to additional shells, missiles and ammunition, there is one interesting new item that is of “great concern” to the Russian occupiers – depleted uranium shells for 120 mm tank guns M1 Abrams, which are about to join the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. What kind of shells are these?

The American M256 smoothbore gun (actually an improved German Rh-120 L44 from Rheinmetall), which is mounted on M1 Abrams tanks, has a wide range of ammunition, but the main means of fighting enemy tanks is the so-called Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) or armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber projectiles (BOPS).

The United States will supply depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. What is it?

The APFSDS is essentially a huge feathered arrow made of heavy metal that is packed in a tray that matches the caliber of the gun. After the shot is fired, the pallet is separated and only the feathered metal arrow weighing 4-5 kg is sent to the target. Unlike conventional projectiles, APFSDS does not contain explosives; the kinetic energy of the core is enough to penetrate armor 2-3 times thicker than the caliber of the gun. When the core hits the armor, it destroys it and destroys itself, causing a flurry of shrapnel inside the tank that hits the crew and equipment.

снаряди зі збідненого урану

APFSDS shells are manufactured in many countries around the world, including Belgium, Germany, France, Israel, the United States, Japan, Poland, and South Korea. The main material for the core is tungsten alloy. However, France and the United States use much more effective depleted uranium, which has a 20% higher penetration rate.

The first APFSDS depleted uranium projectile for the M256 tank gun in the 120×570mm NATO format was adopted by the United States in 1984. In 1988, an improved version of this projectile, the M829A1, was developed. During Operation Desert Storm, U.S. tankers nicknamed this particular projectile the “silver bullet” for its impressive effectiveness against Iraqi (read Soviet) tanks.

The United States will supply depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. What is it?

In 1994, an improved version of the M829A2 was introduced based on the Gulf War. In 2003, a projectile with an improved core shape that could “bypass” jet armor was designated M829A3. The latest version of this projectile, the M829A4, was adopted in 2016.

Interestingly, the export version of the M829A1 was called the KE-W Terminator and was made of… tungsten alloy. It also received a series of updates, the latest of which was the AKE-T, based on the M829A4 projectile, but also with a tungsten core.

It is not yet known which of the M829 series shells Ukraine will receive, but most likely it will be M829A3 and M829A4.

So, once again. This is depleted uranium. It is impossible to make an atomic bomb out of it, even a dirty one. But the use of such shells will lead to additional pollution of the Ukrainian environment. But… this is the best way to destroy Russian tanks during tank duels and armored offensives. So, thank you very much, USA!

The United States will supply depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. What is it?

Specifications of projectiles M829A3 / M829A4
Developer/manufacturer – Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Armtech Defense, Aerojet GenCorp, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems
Caliber – 120×570mm NATO
Year – 2003/2016
Projectile length – 935 mm
Projectile weight – 18.7 kg
Core length – 670 mm
Core diameter – 25 mm
Core weight – 4.74 kg
Core material – depleted uranium
Initial velocity – 1555 / 1650 m/s
Armor penetration – 650 mm at a distance of 2000 m