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M1 Abrams tanks in US inventory have armor too secret to send to Ukraine

M1 Abrams tanks in US inventory have armor too secret to send to Ukraine

As the US government prepares to send dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to the Ukrainian military, much attention has been paid to concerns about how their complex electronic components and especially their turbine propulsion systems of gas could make them particularly difficult to operate and maintain. Although it is not yet clear which specific variant the Ukrainian army will receive Abrams, the tanks will have to be in a unique export configuration. This is largely due to the highly classified armor packages found specifically in US military versions, which contain depleted uranium and are not easily exportable even to major allies. In other words, the US cannot send its M1s to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden officially announced his plans to send 31 M1 tanks to Ukraine’s armed forces today. The US government will acquire the Abrams through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). USAI provides funds to purchase weapons systems and other equipment, as well as training and other support services, on behalf of the Ukrainian military to support its long-term needs. While the exact delivery schedule is not yet known, US officials have made it clear that the process will take months, not weeks. The first tanks may not arrive until late this year or even early next year.

Also, it is not immediately clear if the M1s for Ukraine will be completely new production tanks or if they will come from another source. The US military has thousands of older Abrams in storage that could be hired by a contractor to refurbish them to like-new condition or that could be used as donors to help build tanks that use a mix of new components and remanufactured.

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