by David Crane
The U.S. Army has been at a loss to identify a mystery projectile that penetrated an M1A1 Abrams tank late last year. The round created a pencil-thin entry hole, injured some of the crew inside with limited spalling, and came to a rest in the far side of the hull, after boring a 1.5-2"-deep hole through it.
As it passed through the interior of the tank, the projectile, along with its spalling effect, took out enough critical components to disable the M1A1 Abrams tank. Since the start of the war, only two M1A1 Abrams tanks have been taken out of commission by enemy fire, and this was one of them.
So, what caused the damage? Prevailing theory is that it was either a…
PG-7VR round fired from an RPG-7V launcher, or one of a number of RPG-22 rounds. The RPG-22 is a newer, disposable launcher, developed by the Russians. According to John Roos’, who wrote a story about the incident in "Army Times", the experts studying the incident apparently think that the most likely culprit was some kind of improved RPG-22 round, made in either Switzerland or Russia.
Roos’ story is titled "Pencil-thin, but able to stop a tank: Army officials puzzle over what pierced an M1A1 in Iraq". Click here to read it.