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Ukraine conflict: US weighing ‘multiple options' for delivering first tank battalion

The US will send 31 Abrams M1 main battle tanks (MBT) to aid Ukrainian forces. (US Army)

The US will send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine in the coming months, but the Pentagon is still weighing how the equipment will get there, the US Army's top acquisition official said.

Hours after Germany announced it would send Leopard 2s to the battlefield, US President Joe Biden's administration said it would send enough of its primary tank to make up one Ukrainian tank battalion as part of a USD400 million security assistance package.

The Pentagon has not yet decided which variant of the Abrams it will send and how quickly the tanks can get to Ukrainian forces is still an open question, Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, told reporters on 25 January.

“We're working on multiple options” for the tanks' sourcing and delivery, and army officials will present those options for Pentagon senior leadership to choose, he said during a briefing.

The process of training and equipping is expected to take months not weeks, according to a senior administration official who spoke during a separate briefing. Bush said the timelines were still “dynamic”.

Officials are still weighing procurement decisions such as whether to build new tanks or take from existing reserves, but none of the tanks will be built from scratch, Bush explained. The US has thousands of older M1s that serve as seed vehicles and can be modified, he said. “That doesn't mean it's easy or fast necessarily.”

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