On Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted that American M1 Abrams tanks were “already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades.” This confirmed a statement that President Joe Biden made last week when he indicated the tanks were to arrive within days.
It was only in May that Ukrainian troops began training in the operation and maintenance of the United States’ main battle tank, and some had suggested that the tanks were unlikely to see combat before the end of the year. However, it appears that timeline has now been busted. According to The New York Times, the arrival is “months ahead” of earlier estimates and means that the Abrams tanks are on hand in time to become involved in the counteroffensive Ukraine is conducting in Zaporizhzhia.
However, it’s not clear how soon those tanks will make their way to the front. Other Western tanks have often been retrofitted with cages to help protect against drones and with additional armor to guard against anti-tank weapons. That’s true of even the British Challenger 2, which arrived in Ukraine as one of the most heavily armored tanks in use. It’s likely that the Abrams will also receive some Ukraine-centric upgrades before it sees combat.
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