US speeds up delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine war zone

US speeds up delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine war zone
Abrams tanks (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP, File)

The Pentagon is speeding up its delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, opting to send a refurbished older model that can be ready faster, US officials have told the Associated Press

The aim is to get the 70-ton battle tanks to the war zone in eight to 10 months, the sources said.

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams tanks, which could have taken a year or two to build and ship, but officials said the decision was made to send the older M1A1 version, which can be taken from Army stocks and will be easier for Ukrainian forces to learn to use and maintain.

The plan has not yet been publicly announced. Pentagon officials are expected to make the announcement soon.

The Biden administration announced in January that it would send the tanks to Ukraine, after insisting for months that they were too complicated and too hard to maintain and repair.

The decision was part of a broader political manoeuvre that opened the door for Germany to announce it would send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow Poland and other allies to do the same.

It is unclear how soon the US will begin training Ukrainian forces on how to use, maintain and repair the tanks, which could affect the amount of time it takes for them to be used in battle.

The Pentagon will also have to ensure that Ukrainian forces have an adequate supply chain for all the parts needed to keep the tanks running.

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