The United States, an important Ukrainian arms supplier, has committed to sending M1 Abrams to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian battlefield is undergoing important changes in terms of ground combat vehicles, with a commitment to supply main battle tanks from Poland and Germany. Germany finally agreed to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as well as approved the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from countries who are willing to transfer their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. And the United States, an important Ukrainian arms supplier, has committed to sending M1 Abrams to Ukraine. US President Joe Biden has confirmed the delivery of at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, equivalent to two NATO-standard tank companies. The announcement was made on January 25, 2023.
After weeks of pressure from Ukraine and other allies, Germany on January 25 agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, considered one of the best tanks in the world. This move paved the way for other European countries operating the Leopard 2 to send their tanks to Ukraine. Analysts suggest that the Leopard 2 tanks can be in the field within 3 months since they can be delivered faster, and training time is shorter. Meanwhile the Abrams are expected to be only brought to the field in 8 months to a year due to a more complicated training requirement and logistical issues.
The M1 Abrams was developed from 1972-1975 and has been in service with the US Army since 1980. The tank has been upgraded with many variations. It is not clear which variant will be sent to Ukraine. It has been speculated that the M1A2 version will be sent, which is a further improved version of the Abrams M1A1 main battle tank with an independent thermal imager for the commander, weapon station, position navigation equipment, and a full set of controls and displays linked by a digital data bus.
The main armament of M1A2 Abrams consists of one 120 mm smoothbore M256 cannon which can fire a wide range of ammunition. Mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament is a 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, and a similar weapon skate-mounted on the left side of the turret. The commander’s station is armed with a standard 12.7 mm Browning M2 HB heavy machine gun. Mounted on either side of the turret is a British-designed six-barrelled smoke grenade discharger designated the M250.
The crew consists of 4 people, including the commander, gunner, loader and driver. The M1 Abrams tank is considered one of the best tanks in the world today. However, the export versions for some countries are not equipped with the same armor as the US Army version, making them more vulnerable to many popular anti-tank missiles.
Britain has also committed to supply 12 tanks, while several other Western European countries are supplying armored vehicles and war supplies. A senior Ukrainian official said on January 24 that 12 countries have agreed to provide Ukraine with about 100 Leopard 2 tanks if the German government agrees.