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AP: US to help Ukraine develop new strategies for more effective Abrams tank use amid Russian drone threat

The US defense official anonymously revealed that Ukraine used the tanks in a limited capacity and did not integrate taught tactics into its operations after training in Germany.
An M1A1 Abrams tank.
An M1A1 Abrams tank. Credit: US Army National Guard
AP: US to help Ukraine develop new strategies for more effective Abrams tank use amid Russian drone threat

Ukraine temporarily withdrew the US-provided Abrams M1A1 battle tanks from active combat against Russia, two US military officials told The Associated Press (AP).

AP reports that the US agreed to provide Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks in January 2023, following a persistent campaign by Kyiv asserting that the $10 million-per-unit tanks were vital for breaching Russian defensive lines. 

However, the battlefield dynamics have changed considerably since then, partly due to the significant presence of Russian surveillance and hunter-killer drones, which made it challenging for Ukraine to protect the tanks from being quickly detected and targeted, according to AP. Ukraine has already lost five of the 31 Abrams tanks to Russian assaults during Ukraine’s recent withdrawal from Avdiivka, a city in eastern Ukraine.

A senior defense official, speaking anonymously, told AP that the widespread use of drones on the Ukrainian battlefield made it nearly impossible to traverse open ground without the risk of being detected.

However, recently the Ukrainian forces denied these allegations. The tanks “are performing excellently on the battlefield and we certainly have no intention of hiding from the enemy what usually makes them hide,” the Ukrainian forces wrote.

Ukrainian forces dismiss AP report on withdrawal of Abrams tanks due to drone threats

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady and another defense official, who also confirmed the information on the condition of anonymity, stated that Ukraine sidelined the tanks from the front lines for the time being. They added that the US will collaborate with the Ukrainians to develop new strategies.

“We’ll work with our Ukrainian partners and other partners on the ground to help them think through how they might use that, in that kind of changed environment now, where everything is seen immediately,” Grady told AP. 

One of the US defense officials also said that Ukrainians have not adopted tactics that could have made the Abrams tanks more effective.

After the US announced it would provide the tanks in January 2023, Ukrainian troops were trained at Grafenwoehr Army base in Germany on how to maintain, operate, and use them in combined arms warfare. This approach coordinated tank movements with other military assets such as infantry, artillery, and air support. 

However, despite the training, Ukraine used the tanks in a limited capacity and did not integrate combined arms warfare into its operations, the defense official said to AP.

US military aid to Ukraine

In October 2023, the US delivered 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as a part of a broader support package that included up to $200 million in additional military aid. These tanks were accompanied by Ukrainian troops who received training in Germany, along with necessary ammunition and spare parts.

In April 2024, The US also announced to supply Ukraine with a significant number of long-range ATACMS missiles that will help Ukrainian forces attack Russian supply lines and airfields in deep rear areas.

The delivery of ATACMS missiles is a part of the new $1 billion military aid package from the US for Ukraine, signed into law by President Biden. This aid includes various defense equipment, such as air defense interceptors, artillery rounds, armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and airfield support. 


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