Pentagon rushes Ukraine tanks after claiming US didn’t have enough

April 24, 2023

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) said that the US expedited its M1 Abrams timelines to supply Ukraine.
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department has apparently found enough M1 Abrams tanks to refurbish and hand over to Ukraine after initially claiming the delivery would take a year or more due to a lack of inventory.

“We’ve expedited our M1 Abrams timelines to supply Ukraine with more armored capability in the coming months, and the M1s that the Ukrainians will use for training will arrive here in Germany in the next few weeks,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters late last week. “All of this is huge progress.”

The Pentagon on Jan. 25 announced it would send 31 of the US’ premier tanks to Ukraine after expressing reluctance about the idea less than a week earlier.

That announcement came the same day Germany said it would send its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv following reported pressure by the US and other allies.

At the time, the Biden Administration said it would take up to a year for Kyiv to receive American tanks because they would not come from US stocks, but be purchased new with congressionally approved funds as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

“We just don’t have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks, which is why it is going to take months to transfer these M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine,” spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told The Post on Jan. 26.

But Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated Friday that plan had changed, announcing that US tanks “are being refurbished to accelerate their delivery” as he spoke alongside Austin after a meeting of the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Ramstein, Germany.

“In a couple of weeks you’re going to get training tanks – those aren’t quite combat-capable – and they’ll be used to train the crews on how to shoot, maneuver and maintain these tanks,” Milley said. “That’ll be part of the sustainment package to get them trained up as the other tanks are being refurbished.”

Ukrainian servicemen ride in a tank along a road in the town of Chasiv Yar near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 22, 2023.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Monday the refurbished tanks will be delivered before 2024 and “are being produced to Ukraine’s specifications” for use “in actual combat.”

“[Sending training tanks] will enable us to do the training concurrent with the production of the tanks which again are refurbishment of the tanks,” he said. “[It] allows us to expedite the timeline so that they can be training on operations on maintenance on sustainment then the personnel will marry up with the tanks obviously before the end of the year for delivery to Ukraine.”

The stepped-up pace comes after recently leaked Pentagon documents revealed Ukraine’s military is in a far more precarious situation than the US would publicly admit.

For example, one document stated that Ukraine’s air defenses that guard frontline forces will “be completely reduced” by May 23 unless reinforced.

But Austin said the bumped-up timeline would help ensure that Ukrainian troops can continue fighting off the Russian invaders.

“I am confident that this equipment and the training that accompanied it — it will put Ukraine’s forces in a position to continue to succeed on the battlefield,” he said.

A Ukrainian soldier looks out of a tank on the frontline in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, April 23, 2023.
The premier tanks are heading to Ukraine after the Pentagon expressed reluctance about the idea.

Echoing Austin, Milley said he believed the M1, which he called “the best tank in the world,” will “make a difference” once delivered.

“When [the tanks] do get here and those crews are trained and they’re used in a combined-arms maneuver tactic in combination with mech infantry, the Bradley [fighting vehicles,] they’ll be very effective,” he said. 

Still, Milley warned observers not to put all of Ukraine’s eggs in the M1 basket.

“There’s no silver bullet in war. The outcomes of battles and wars are the function of many, many variables,” he said. “In this case, you would have to make sure that your tanks are used in combined arms with mechanized infantry, artillery – all of that is synchronized with dismounted forces, etc.”

“So there is no silver bullet in this case, but I do think the M1 tank, when it’s delivered and it reaches its operational capability, that it will be very effective on the battlefield.”


  1. Oh, you mean that Washington lies?
    Too little too late White House always takes a while to wake up at each stage of the war. It hasn’t been proactive a single time since the war started. It won’t be so for the duration of it, I’m afraid. The administration will always be running after the developed events.

    • I don’t think the Pentagon lied: the problem wasn’t a shortage of Abrams, but the depleted uranium armour that wasn’t allowed to be exported.

      Therefore, they wanted to manufacture export variants with a non-classified type of armour.

      Btw, I might be confused with armor, I always forget which one is which, I am referring to the steel plates / protection, not the gun.

      Somehow they have decided that the M1A1 wasn’t so sensitive so this one could be exported or they just thought manufacturing new ones would take too much time.

      Yes, I think it is absolute bullshit and I think even the M1A2 should have been sent a year ago.

      Even if Russia will get its hands on an Abram, it is highly questionable they will be able to reverse-engineer it and even if they could, the design is way too expensive for Russia because for the price of 1 Abram they can probably have 10 T-90 tanks.

      China getting its hands on it would be scary though, I admit.

      In this case, I don’t think they lied: they “just” made terrible decisions for the wrong reasons.

      Fortunately, we will finally see some Abram action in Ukraine and a proper one, not an export version. Also, I am curious whether the Ukrainians can handle the logistics, as Abrams like fuel more than Russian tanks (they deliver awesome performance though, don’t get me wrong, every litre of Diesel is well-spent)

        • Well get a clue. There aren’t any M1s in inventory that are approved for export.

          While military technology falling into Russian hands may not seem an issue to you, it can be said that we are in this whole mess today because Russian got hold of nuclear secrets. Some things do need to be protected and there are review processes that need to be gone through.

          Obviously the Pentagon preferred Leopards be sent to simplify things with fewer systems and as we all know Germany wouldn’t give approval unless the US did. And the US doesn’t have any export versions on hand.

          I really don’t see anyone lying here but if it makes you feel good to undermine Ukraine’s #1 ally – whatever.

          • The entire affair stinks. Of course, it would be much better for Ukraine to get one type of tank, simply due to the logistics and maintenance. But, getting one chicken country to do something by approving to send our own tanks is like a child, saying to another child, “I will if you will.” That’s so immature!
            I doubt that the ruskies could reverse engineer our armor, even if they had 10 captured Abrams. That’s just a lame excuse and nothing else. Washington lies all the time.

            • I do think Honestly is right: the U.S. only wanted Ukraine to have just one tank model, but Scholz ruined this plan.

              I do think the classified armor can be a valid reason, as Russia can use a captured example to discover weakpoints or for reverse engineering.

              However, given the poor state of the Russian arms industry I highly doubt Russia is capable of adapting to this knowledge.

              I think it would be a valid reason not so send them if enough Leopard 2’s could be sent, but I don’t think these military secrets are more vital than Ukraine winning this war.

              • Bert, then what about those Abrams that Iran obtained? Don’t you think they haven’t already shared at least one with mafia land? Thus, the argument about secrecy has already been destroyed by Iran.

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