Ukrainian soldiers have started training to use Abrams tanks in Germany
According to a statement by US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, Ukraine is set to receive Abrams tanks by the start of the fall, aligning with the completion of training programs for Ukrainian troops on operating these machines.
“We are doing everything possible to accelerate the delivery of these tanks. According to our projections, this will happen at the start of autumn. Meanwhile, we have moved several tanks to the training field for Ukrainians to start their training. By the time the training is completed, the tanks will be available for use,” Austin declared during a Senate hearing on Thursday, Voice of America reported.
In response to Republican Senator Susan Collins’ question about whether the delivery of 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine could be expedited, the Pentagon chief elaborated that the timeline is due to the fact that the US military is not only shipping these tanks to Ukraine and preparing Ukrainian soldiers to operate them, but also creating the infrastructure to support the functioning of these tanks, which are new technology for the Ukrainians.
“As you know, this equipment is significantly different, in particular, due to the turbine engine and other quite complex systems. But we are trying to transfer this technology to the Ukrainians as quickly as possible. They will definitely have everything available by the start of autumn,” Austin affirmed.
Lloyd Austin said in late April that NATO countries and members of the Ramstein Contact Group had delivered more than 230 tanks, more than 1,550 armored vehicles, and other equipment and ammunition to Ukraine to support more than nine new armored brigades. Following the meeting of the Ramstein group, Austin said that the United States would soon begin training Ukrainian troops in Germany on American Abrams tanks.
Earlier, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief had said that the country needs 300 tanks to launch a proper offensive to regain territory occupied by Russia since 24 February 2022.
Abrams tanks to Ukraine: background
On 25 January 2023, US President Joe Biden announced plans to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, along with the necessary spare parts and equipment to maintain them. According to The Washington Post, this decision involved not only shipping pre-existing tanks but also building new ones specifically for this purpose.
Beyond the delivery of the tanks themselves, the US has also committed to training Ukrainian soldiers to operate the Abrams tanks. Initially, in early April 2023, a senior US defense official indicated that training for Ukrainians on the M1-A1 Abrams tanks would begin “relatively soon.” Subsequently, it was confirmed that the American-made Abrams tanks for Ukrainian training would arrive in Germany in the next few weeks, with 250 soldiers set to receive training.
Apart from Abrams tanks, Ukraine has received German-made Leopard tanks, which Germany agreed to supply to Ukraine after many delays amid fears of Russian escalation.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said yesterday that his country needs more time to launch a much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces as its military awaits the delivery of promised military aid.
Delays in Western decisions to supply weapons to Ukraine may have cost it its spring counteroffensive, the Institute for Study of War reported in January, stating that Western reluctance to begin supplying Ukraine with higher-end Western weapons systems, particularly tanks, long-range strike systems, and air-defense systems, has limited Ukraine’s ability to initiate and continue large-scale counter-offensive operations.