Dozens, perhaps as many as 50, of the M1 Abrams tanks, the most sophisticated in the American arsenal, will take the road to Kiev. Joe Biden’s administration indicated on Tuesday night, with an official announcement expected in these hours, that it had broken the delays on sending the sophisticated armored vehicles, a choice so far resisted.
The promise to send the Abrams to Ukraine should in fact come together with Germany’s release of the shipment of German Leopard 2 tanks – part of an agreement between Washington and Berlin on the supply of the most powerful Western armored vehicles available to Kiev to fight the Russian invasion. According to a senior official, the number of M1 Abrams in play are between 30 and 50.
In reality, the American move is considered above all as a political-military covering action precisely for Germany and the allied countries: a precise delivery date for the Abrams has not been revealed and, according to analysts, it could take time, even years for the tanks US armed forces actually reach the Ukrainian forces, for personnel to be trained in their use and complex maintenance. However, the American decision meets informal and decisive requests from Berlin for a new leap in quality in the White House’s commitment, breaking the resistance it had maintained up to now citing the difficulty of operating the Abrams. In doing so, Joe Biden’s administration intends to unlock the much faster shipment of tanks from Germany and other countries – in particular the German-made Leopard 2s and supplied to many other European nations, such as Poland, who has already offered his availability.
Experts consider the new Western tanks potentially crucial for the Ukrainian military offensive against Russian troops. The message sent by Washington’s choice is therefore undoubted, contained in the same characteristics of the Abrams and in their leading role in US arsenals. The M1 Abrams are third-generation tanks, a mainstay of the American military and used in conflicts from the Gulf War to Afghanistan. In service since 1980 and were designed in the previous decade by General Dynamics Land Systems (when it was called Chrysler Defense). They were supposed to be replaced by next-generation armored systems but were instead reconfirmed and updated with increasingly cutting-edge weaponry. They are named after General Creighton Abrams, who went down in history as the best American commander of mechanized units during the Second World War. It is one of the heaviest armored vehicles in circulation. The Abrams cost approximately $9 million each, and over 10,000 have been built to date in three versions.