The U.S. currently has the M-1 Abrams, its top-of-the-line tank.It has become the latest country to agree to bring its newest tanks to Ukraine after months of arguing that tanks were too complex to operate and maintain in order to repel a Russian aggression.
However, US officials say it will likely be months before the Abrams tanks arrive in Ukraine. Once they take effect, the tanks will give Ukraine a major new capability to launch offensives against entrenched Russian forces.
The number of tanks to be deployed is unknown, and Ukrainian tank crews will first need to be trained in both operations and maintenance.
The news comes on the heels of an announcement that Germany was expected to send on its own.When Seeking permission to export German-made Leopard tanks. Other countries operating Leopard are expected to follow suit.
Ukraine has been demanding Abrams tanks from the US, but the Pentagon was reluctant until just last week.
“We’re not there yet,” said Colin Carle, undersecretary of defense for policy, when asked about meeting tank demands last Thursday.
“The Abrams tank is a very complex piece of equipment. It is expensive. It is difficult to train and it is not the easiest system to maintain,” Karl told reporters on Wednesday.
In Germany last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said the allies were focused on getting what Ukraine needed by spring.
“So we have a window of opportunity between now and this spring. It’s the right feature,” Austin said.
In recent weeks, defense officials have stressed that the Abrams tank is not what Ukraine needs right now, as it requires significant maintenance and runs on jet fuel rather than diesel like other tank models. Despite its difficulties, Abrams will provide an important capability for Ukraine to continue its offensive, even if it is in the medium to long term.
It is unclear why the United States reversed its position to provide M1 Abrams to Ukraine.
The US has pledged to conduct combined arms exercises for 500 Ukrainians a month. It is a method of moving in battalion-sized groups and coordinating operations between air and ground. This extensive exercise is in addition to specific training the United States has recently undertaken on complex weapon systems, such as the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the Patriot Air Defense System.
The United States has provided more than $26.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Biden administration took office.