The US has delivered 31 M1A1 Abrams battle tanks as promised to Ukraine along with spare parts and ammunition.

Colonel Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for the US Army in Europe and Africa, in an interview with the media confirmed that the US has handed over 31 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. Ukrainian personnel, who received training alongside US forces in Germany, have also returned to Ukraine, prepared to operate the newly acquired tanks.

Mr. Martin O’Donnell emphasized: “The United States initially promised to deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a refurbished tank. The states said they would send them in the fall and we did it by then. I can confirm that these 31 tanks are now in Ukraine ready for use wherever they are needed.” The Abrams tanks will join a roster of other Western-manufactured tanks already supplied to Ukraine, including the Swedish Stridsvagn 122, German Leopard 2A4 and 2A6, and British Challenger 2.

The US official also noted that it may take some time before Abrams tanks are sent to the battlefield as Ukrainian forces ensure that they have all the necessary support elements. It is known that in May this year, 200 Ukrainian soldiers began training on M1 Abrams tanks at a US military base in Germany. The training program includes not only instruction for the crew to operate the tank, but also includes exercises for maintenance personnel. It is essential to note that the strategic choices made by Ukraine will be the determining factor in the outcome of this conflict, and the tanks must operate in sync with infantry and other military assets for maximum effectiveness.

In early August, the US officially approved the transfer of the first batch of Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Washington decided to send M1A1 Abrams tanks from the armed forces’ reserves instead of the M1A2 Abrams as originally planned. By the end of September 2023, the first M1 Abrams tank was officially present in Ukraine.

M1A1 Abrams is an upgraded version of the M1 Abrams main battle tank produced by the US company General Dynamics in 1985. In 1986, the tank was put into service with the US army. The M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank represents a significant evolution from the earlier M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT). This version incorporates several improvements, including updates to its suspension system, enhanced armor protection, and a redesigned turret gun mount. With over 4,796 units manufactured for the U.S. Army and an additional 221 for the U.S. Marines, it has become a standard main battle tank for the U.S. armed forces. Other nations, including Egypt, Australia, Iraq, Poland, and now Ukraine, have also integrated this armored vehicle into their tank fleets.

From a technical standpoint, the M1A1 Abrams features firepower, including the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun as its primary armament. This cannon can utilize various types of ammunition, including depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds. The tank is also equipped with auxiliary weaponry, including a coaxial machine gun and an anti-aircraft machine gun. Its armor protection includes Chobham composite armor with integrated depleted uranium plates, offering defense against both kinetic energy and chemical energy threats.

The tank’s mobility is a key feature, powered by a Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine, the M1A1 can achieve speeds of up to 68 km/h, facilitating mobility across diverse terrains. It can handle steep gradients, water obstacles, and trenches. Additionally, the tank is outfitted with accessories, including a fire control system, laser range finder, night vision equipment, thermal sight, NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) protection, and an automatic fire extinguishing system.

Experts assess that US tanks provided to the Ukrainian Armed Forces will not change the situation on the battlefield. Not only that, they can cause difficulties for the Ukrainian army itself. “From the point of view of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it would be better if they received a few hundred Soviet-era tanks, rather than a few dozen vehicles from different countries. Such diversity in the army is extremely bad,” said military analyst Mikhail Onufrienko.

First, this makes training much more complicated, military analyst Onufrienko explains. Second, the ability to conduct training on territory controlled by Ukraine is very limited. Furthermore, training methods for each type of tank are also different, and it is not possible to convert from one type to another. In addition, each vehicle model has its own characteristics: maneuverability, range, weight, and caliber of shells. Therefore, to prepare the squad for battle, it is necessary to seriously work on the qualifications of the soldiers operating the tanks.

Currently, Ukraine has: American Abrams, German Leopard, British Challenger, as well as modernized Soviet T-55, T-64, T-72 and T-80 from allies such as Poland, Slovenia and other countries.


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