American M-1 Abrams tanks, which were delivered to Ukraine earlier this year, have finally reached the front. A photo that surfaced online in early November appears to show an M-1 tank deployed somewhere in eastern Ukraine.
Although a second photo has also surfaced, its authenticity has yet to be confirmed. The deployed tanks were identified as the M-1A1SA model, which is not the most advanced version of the M-1. The United States had about 650 of these 67-ton tanks in its inventory as of 2022, and they are slated to be retired over the next two years as newer M-1A2 models enter service.
The US government has already delivered an initial batch of 31 M-1A1SAs to Ukraine, and could potentially send more if Republicans in Congress do not block further military aid to Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine received M-1A1SA
It was initially speculated that the tanks donated to Ukraine would be the M-1A1 FEP (Firepower Enhancement Package) models that the Marine Corps recently retired.
However, it was later confirmed that Ukraine would receive the M-1A1SA from a larger stockpile. Although the M-1A1FEP and M-1A1SA are quite similar, they lack the newer digital architecture, programmable ammunition data link, and a pair of third-generation thermal sights found on the M-1A2 tanks.
Additionally, the A2 tanks have state-of-the-art depleted uranium armor, while the A1 also has uranium armor, but of an older type. Due to US regulations, General Dynamics, the maker of Abrams tanks, must remove the uranium armor and replace it with tungsten armor before shipping the tanks to foreign countries.
This process probably contributed to the delay in the deployment of the tanks. The arrival of M-1 Abrams tanks on the Ukrainian front lines is a significant development, as they are considered among the most powerful tanks in the world. Their deployment could give Ukrainian forces a much-needed edge in their ongoing fight against Russian aggression.