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US backtracks on M1A2 tanks, sending older variant to Ukraine

After months of deliberations, top US Army officials have decided that sending the M1A1 Abrams tank to Ukraine is faster than sending the M1A2 as originally planned. (US Marine Corps)

The Pentagon announced on 21 March that the 31 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) promised to Ukraine will not be M1A2 model as initially planned.

In order to get platforms to Ukraine faster, the US will pull 31 M1A1 tanks from US Army stocks and spruce them up for battle, said Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder on 21 March. The variant change will “significantly expedite delivery timelines” and will ensure that the tanks will arrive by “the fall timeframe”.

The funding for the assistance to Kyiv will come from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which will enable the Pentagon to pay General Dynamics to modify the M1 tank hulls.

Scott Taylor, director of US business development at General Dynamics Land Systems, told Janes that the tanks will be refurbished according to the US Army's 10-20 mission capable standards.

“We've been working on a lot of different options, weeded out some of the tougher options, and now that the US government and the army have decided, we're fully prepared to support their time schedules and the quantity that they want to send,” he said on 21 March.

The tanks are being taken from the army's forces that will be used as “seed stock” to meet Ukraine's needs. “They're taking them from areas that don't have as urgent of a need,” he said.

Outside of making the tanks mission capable, General Dynamics is modifying them to meet export standards, he said. Taylor declined to go into specifics on modifications that could be made based on export limitations.

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