Speaking to reporters for a press briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said that while the military initially planned to send the tank’s newer M1A2 variant, it would now supply the previous M1A1 model in order to “significantly expedite delivery timelines.”
“It will … give Ukraine a very similar capability to the M1A2, which includes advanced armor and weapons systems,” Ryder said, stressing that the decision “is about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later.”
Asked about the Pentagon’s original timetable for the Abrams, the spokesman said deliveries were first slated to take “over a year,” but the military now hopes to start shipments before the end of 2023.
The tanks will be outfitted with “refurbished” hulls taken from US inventories, Ryder added, going on to predict that the cost of the procedure wouldn’t go “very much beyond” $400 million.
While President Joe Biden initially said he would not authorize the Abrams for Ukraine, his administration reversed course earlier this year after Germany agreed to send its own Leopard battle tanks, now pledging to transfer 31 M1A1 models.