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Ukraine Won’t Get M1 Abrams Tanks for Months

The Ukrainian military is getting M1 Abrams main battle tanks sooner than expected – but, unfortunately, not until the Fall.

The Department of Defense announced a new, expedited timeline for delivering the 31 M1 Abrams tanks U.S. President Joe Biden committed to sending to Ukraine in January. 

However, expedited delivery comes at a cost. 

Expedite Deliveries of M1 Abrams Tanks (As in Fall…)

On Tuesday, the Pentagon stated that it plans on delivering the first M1 Abrams tanks the U.S. has committed to Ukraine by this Fall as opposed to next year or even 2025.

A few weeks ago, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would be sending 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Kyiv as part of an international effort to furnish the Ukrainian military with advanced tanks to support its upcoming counteroffensive. 

But, at the time, the Pentagon had indicated that it would take up to two years to deliver the tanks. Understandably, such a slow turnaround would do little to help Ukraine in its current struggle on the ground. 

But now the Pentagon stated that it had updated its delivery schedule and aimed to have the first M1 Abrams in Ukraine by the Fall. 

“DoD, in close coordination with Ukraine, made the decision to buy the M1A1 variant which will enable us to significantly expedite delivery timelines, and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said in a press conference on Tuesday. 

The quicker delivery will come at a cost, however. Instead of sending brand new M1A2 Abrams, the Pentagon will be sending refurbished M1A1 from its stockpiles. 

At the time of the announcement, the Department of Defense had stated that the 31 M1 Abrams heading to Ukraine would fall under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). This scheme was enacted in order to provide Ukraine with new weapon systems.

The Pentagon acts on behalf of the Ukrainian military and orders necessary weapon systems. However, this approach is time-consuming because of the time required to procure the weapon system, manufacture it, and then deliver it to Ukraine. 

Ukraine has also been receiving weapon systems through the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). Under this program, the Pentagon takes weapon systems out of its own stocks and ships them to Ukraine. The PDA is much faster and more efficient than the USAI, and accounts for the majority of the roughly 40 security aid packages committed to Ukraine fall under the PDA.

It looks like, after all, that the M1 Abrams the Pentagon is sending to Ukraine will be under PDA and not USAI.

The M1A1 SA Abrams 

The refurbished tanks will be designated as M1A1 SA and sport a 120mm main gun. They are likely coming from the U.S. Marine Corps’ recently decommissioned M1A1 Abrams. 

As part of their modernization efforts, the Marines are doing without tanks and transferred more than 400 M1A1 Abrams (with the Firepower Enhancement Package) to the Army in 2021.

However, before shipping this version of the tank to Ukraine, the Pentagon will have to work with the manufacturer to remove the depleted uranium armor and replace it with conventional armor, as the depleted uranium is classified technology.

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Expert Biography:

A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.



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