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Ukrainian army to receive M1A1 Abrams tanks by fall 2023.

| 2023

On March 21, the U.S. Defense Department published that, in January 2023, 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks would be delivered to Ukraine, but officials had speculated it would take about a year to make that happen. Now, they say, the U.S. will instead send M1A1 Abrams tanks from refurbished hulls already in U.S. inventory, and the delivery will be in the fall — faster than what was initially expected. C. Todd Lopez reports.
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U.S. Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, conduct live-fire training with M1A1 Abrams tanks during exercise Native Fury 20 in the United Arab Emirates, March 19, 2020 (Picture source: USMC Lance Cpl. Brendan Mullin)

"Since we've made this announcement, we've been committed to exploring options to deliver the armored capability as quickly as possible," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing today. "After further study and analysis on how best to do this, DOD, in close coordination with Ukraine, has made the decision to provide the M1A1 variant of the Abrams tank, which will enable us to significantly expedite delivery timelines, and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year."

The M1A1 Abrams will have "a very similar capability" to the M1A2, Ryder said, including advanced armor and weapons systems, such as a 120 mm cannon and 50-caliber heavy machine gun. "This is about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later," the general said.

In January, the initial plan was that the United States would use funds from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to procure new tanks from the manufacturer. Now, Ryder said, excess hulls already in U.S. inventory will instead be refurbished and refitted to create M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks that can be sent to Ukraine more quickly in order to meet their needs.

"You've heard us talk in the past about trying to work with Ukraine to meet not only their near-term needs, but their medium-term needs," Ryder said. "Taking territory, retaking territory, you know, as part of any offensive will be important ... as will sustaining those gains at some point in the future, as well as being able to deter future Russian aggression. This is all part of ... our broader near-term and longer-term support to Ukraine and their defense requirements."

Ryder also told reporters that training Ukrainians on the tanks is also in the works: "We will ensure that the Ukrainians receive the necessary training on these tanks in time for them to be delivered," he said. "We'll have more details to provide on that training in the future. But, again, that would be our intent — and I'm confident that we will accomplish that."

Yesterday, the Pentagon also announced the most recent round of security assistance to Ukraine. The latest round of security assistance, worth about $350 million, includes, among other things, ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System; high-speed, anti-radiation missiles; AT4 anti-armor weapon systems; grenade launchers, small arms and associated ammunition; and Riverine patrol boats.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24. 2022, the U.S. has committed more than $32.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. The United States also continues to work with allies and partners to provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to defend itself.

Technical data

The M1A1 Abrams was designed and manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems.
Weight: 63.5 tonnes (70 short tons)
Length: 32.04 ft (9.77 m)
Width: 12 ft (3.66 m)
Height: 7.79 ft (2.37 m)
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
Armor: Chobham composite armor
Main armament: M256 120 mm smoothbore cannon
Secondary armament: M240 7.62 mm machine gun, M2 .50 caliber machine gun
Engine: Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine, producing 1,500 hp (1,120 kW)
Suspension: Torsion bar suspension
Maximum speed: 42 mph (67 km/h) on roads, 30 mph (48 km/h) off-road
Operational range: 265 mi (426 km)

Ammunition capacity: 40 rounds for main gun, 900 rounds for the M240 machine gun, and 600 rounds for the M2 machine gun.
Gun elevation/depression: +20/-9 degrees
Turret traverse: 360 degrees
Gun stabilization: Electro-hydraulic
Fording depth: 4 ft (1.22 m) without preparation, 7.5 ft (2.29 m) with snorkel
Trench crossing capability: 9 ft (2.74 m)
Vertical obstacle climbing capability: 3 ft (0.91 m)
Gradient capability: 60%
NBC protection: Overpressure system and air filtration system
Fire control system: M1A1 Integrated Fire Control System (IFCS) with laser rangefinder, thermal imaging, and digital ballistic computer.

The M1A1 Abrams has been in service with the US Army since 1985 and has been continually upgraded over the years to keep pace with evolving threats and technologies. It has also been exported to several countries and has seen combat in various conflicts, including the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan.

Defense News March 2023

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