US speeds up Abrams deliveries to Ukraine by switching to M1A1s
The plan announced by the DoD will see US tanks delivered to Ukraine this autumn rather than early 2024, as was mulled under original proposals.
Pentagon press secretary Brig Gen Pat Ryder said: 'Since we've made this announcement, we've been committed to exploring options to deliver the armoured capability as quickly as possible.'
The DoD decided to provide M1A1 variants of the Abrams to 'significantly expedite delivery timelines'.
Similarly to M1A2, the M1A1 features a 120mm M256 smoothbore main gun and a 50-calibre heavy machine gun.
The DoD announced it would supply 31 M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine in January, following the UK's announcement that it would donate Challenger 2 MBTs to Kyiv.
Ryder said the Abrams for Ukraine would be excess hulls drawn from existing US inventories and refurbished and refitted to create the M1A1s.
The US is also working on training Ukrainians to use the tanks, with Ryder saying more details on this would be provided in future.
Ukrainian crews are already learning how to operate the British Challenger 2s and Leopard 2 MBTs donated by European partners.
On 20 March, the US also announced further support for Ukraine, including more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) ammunition, anti-radiation missiles and AT4 anti-armour systems.
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