The US has officially approved the shipment of the first batch of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, US Army procurement chief Doug Bush said. According to him, the combat vehicles will enter service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces as early as September.
“They are ready. Now they should be delivered to Europe, and further – to Ukraine, along with everything that goes with them: ammunition, spare parts, fuel equipment, means for repair. So it’s not just tanks – it’s the whole package,” Bush said (quoted by CNN).
He did not specify exactly how many vehicles would be included in the first shipment. Earlier, Politico quoted sources as saying that it was about 6-8 tanks: in August they will be delivered to Germany for re-equipment and then handed over to Ukraine.
The publication noted that the AFU will receive the M1A1 model instead of the more modern M1A2, which would have taken much longer to deliver. In addition, the tanks will be stripped of the most sensitive technologies, including depleted uranium armor, before shipment.
The US announced plans to deliver 31 Abrams to Ukraine in January 2023. This number corresponds to one battalion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. To enable Ukrainian troops to operate the US tanks, a ten-week training course was organized for Ukrainians at the Grafenwoehr base in Germany. The Pentagon noted that the training would be completed in August.
Initially, the USA said that the transfer of Abrams tanks to Ukraine would take more than a year, but then the Pentagon decided to radically revise the delivery schedule in order to support the Ukrainian army’s counter-offensive, the New York Times reported.
At the same time, Germany began delaying the shipment of its Leopard 1 tanks to Kyiv, announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in May this year. According to Welt, Berlin has delivered only 10 of the 110 promised vehicles to Ukraine over the past two months. Also, the AFU has not yet received four additional IRIS-T missile defense systems. In addition, Berlin has not sent any of the 20 Marder armored vehicles specified in the May package.