May 31, 2023

East Valley Times

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M1 Abrams tanks are hiding a very important secret: they will reach Ukraine but it won’t be easy

A soldier walks past a line of M1 Abrams tanks (AP, File via Christian Murdoch/The Gazette)

Joe Biden said US to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to UkraineIt reversed months of arguments from Washington that Ukrainian troops were too difficult to operate and maintain.

As Washington prepares to deploy them now, it warns that their complex electronics, and especially their gas turbine propulsion systems, will make them difficult to operate and maintain. Although it is not yet clear which specific variant of the Abrams Army Ukraine, the tanks should be in a unique export configuration. Why? due to Highly rated shield sets Found in US military versions, it contains depleted uranium (DU).

They cannot be easily exported even to key partners. because, The process can be very complicated.

The M1 Abrams is America’s main battle tank. In service since 1980, and one of the most powerful in the world. As described The Washington PostIn modern versions of the vehicle, depleted uranium layers of armor provide considerable protection to the occupants.

After the Gulf War, the US Army developed it M1A2 Abrams, has been continuously improved over the past two decades. Weigh more than 70 tonsReaches up to speed 72 kilometers per hour (42 mph) And a weapon 120 mm main gunOne M2 .50 caliber machine gun and a pair of M240 7.62 mm machine guns.

Managed by a team four players, Specifically as a gunner, loader, driver and commander, the Abrams can provide the mobility, firepower and shock effect needed to exploit enemy weak spots and sustain offensive advances.

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The total cost of an Abrams tank can vary and be much higher 10 million dollars per tank if training and maintenance are included.

Although it will be a few months before their debut, The tanks will allow Ukrainian forces to launch counterattacks and minimize casualtiesThey told the news agency AP Three army commanders, including two in the army’s tank division.

The M1 Abrams is America's main battle tank, in service since 1980 (via Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/RUTERS)
The M1 Abrams is America’s main battle tank, in service since 1980 (via Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/RUTERS)

Although the exact delivery schedule is not yet known, US officials clarified that the process will take several months. The first tanks are likely to arrive in Ukraine Only in late 2023 or early 2024.

It is also not clear whether they will be brand new tanks or from some other source. According to the special site driverThe U.S. military has thousands of old Abrams in storage that can be restored to like-new condition by a contractor or used as “donors” to aid in the construction of tanks that use a mix of new and remanufactured components.

“Whatever happens, they need to be an exportable system before going to Ukraine. So what that process ultimately means will center around your armor pack,” they write. driver. “To say that mixed armor packs (and these tanks) rank highly is almost an understatement. Development of the original version of this armour, often referred to as ‘Heavy Armour’ or ‘Special Armour’, was carried out under A top secret Special Access Program (SAP) called Green Grapes. SAPs have additional layers of highly granular security protocols to protect the disclosure of particularly sensitive national security information. In 1988, the classification level was downgraded to top secret, the site explains.

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A Operational Safety Guide Now categorized as: “If [la] When special armor, including skirts and gun shields, is breached and the interior is exposed, a duly authorized responsible (confidential) person shall immediately cover the exposed area and take steps to repair the breach by welding or discharge the exposed armor to a repair facility. can be done.

Over three decades, several new armor packages have been developed for the Abrams, including advanced ceramics, so operational security measures around their protective features are even more stringent.

The first tanks will arrive in Ukraine only in late 2023 or early 2024 (REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo)
The first tanks will arrive in Ukraine only in late 2023 or early 2024 (REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo)

M1 variants are now in service Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, But None of them are shielded with DU.

“Alternatively, exportable armor packages that do not include DU have been developed for the M1 series. Full Abrams subtypes with other capabilities compared to the latest versions in US service have been developed specifically for export, such as the M1A1Ms operated by the Iraqi Army,” he says. driver.

Due to this problem, Speed ​​limits This would allow the Biden administration to supply tanks to Ukraine. Even if they are removed from storage and rebuilt, they are more likely to be Armor packs to be replacedA complicated process.

It also raises the question of whether it is possible to buy export variants from other countries with already degraded armor and other systems. Two major foreign Abrams operators Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian Army has about 1,360 M1A1s, and the Saudi Armed Forces have about 370, of which 170 are in storage.

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Both countries are important partners of the United States and have complicated relations with Russia, so it will be more difficult to help them if this aid leads to a breakdown in their relationship with Moscow.

Another issue Logistics and trainingThis will further affect how quickly the Ukrainian military can bring them into combat and their ability to use them effectively.

The Panther 2 tanks that Germany has approved for shipment are in service with several European countries and may be replaced earlier than the US. Newly constructed or substantially altered.

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