The first US M1 Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday, in time to take part in Ukraine’s intensifying counteroffensive.
The tanks have long been among the most effective pieces of US military equipment, and are significantly more advanced than some of the Soviet-era models deployed by the Russian and Ukrainian militaries.
Earlier this year, the US pledged to send 31 of its M1 Abram battle tanks, worth an estimated $400 million, to Ukraine to help the resistance fight back against the Russian onslaught.
They are fitted with tough armor, 120mm armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds, and sophisticated communications and targeting equipment. Their powerful jet engines enable them to operate in the toughest terrain and conditions.
Each model costs around $10 million to make, according to Reuters.
It has to be crewed by a team of four (driver, commander, loader and gunner), has a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour, has a maximum range of 624 miles and runs on a 1,500 horsepower gas turbine engine.
The M1 is armed with an M256 120mm smoothbore cannon, as well as two machine guns: a 12.7mm and a 7.62mm M240.
Mr Zelensky has said he believes tanks are crucial to replenish his nation’s military hardware and hopes it will give his side a crucial advantage as it seeks to recapture territory taken by Moscow’s forces earlier in the conflict while attacks on its cities continue.
In response to the Ukrainian president’s appeal this spring, Germany originally dithered on the question of whether to send tanks but did eventually agree to ship a number of Leopard 2 models.
Disinfo Detector, a Ukrainian site that monitors Russian propaganda, noted at the time that “US Army M1 Abrams battle tank has not yet been delivered to Ukraine and therefore cannot ‘burn like a match’ during military operations against the Russian occupiers.”
The Ukrainian outlet Nexta also joined in the mockery with a post as long ago as January 2023, eight months before the tanks arrived:
US President Joe Biden in January pledged the delivery of the tanks to Ukraine, but it took time both to physically get them there and also to train Ukrainians to use them.
The training was projected to take a year but many of the soldiers mastered the equipment much quicker, CBS News reported.
The tanks’ use of depleted-uranium ammo, which can pierce tank armor, is controversial because they’ve been linked with cancers and birth defects in war zones where they’ve been deployed, the UN said.
The tanks have arrived in time to be used in Ukraine’s intensifying counteroffensive, with the Ukrainian military seeking to exploit a recent breach in Russia’s defensive lines in Zaporizhzhia.
But Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told a US defense website last week that the tanks would have to be deployed in a “in very tailored way, for very specific, well-crafted operations,” or risk being destroyed.
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