US confirms Ukraine will receive M1A2 version of M1 Abrams tanks

During a press conference that was held on January 26, 2023, U.S. Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh announced that the United States will deliver to Ukraine, the latest variant in the M1 Abrams family, the M1A2 that would not come from US Army stocks. At the beginning of last week, the United States announced the delivery of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine without mentioning the model.
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U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank performing live firing at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria. (Picture source U.S. DoD )

Currently, the U.S. Armed Forces have a total of more than 2,500 operational MBTs (Main Battle Tanks) including 750 M1A1 SA Abrams, 1,605 M1A2 SEPv2, 154 M1A2C SEPV V3 Abrams and 3,700 more M1A1 / M1A2 Abrams in store.

Citing U.S. Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, "We just don't have these tanks available in excess in our U.S. stocks, which is why it is going to take months to transfer these M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine. And I think that you have to remember, I mean, as you probably know, these tanks are going to require training, maintenance, sustainment that is going to take a very long time to also train the Ukrainians on. And so, because of that -- and we took that into account -- that's why we are using the USAI capability in order to procure these tanks for the Ukrainians."

The M1A2 Abrams is the third generation of Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the M1 Abrams family used by the U.S. armed forces. The tank entered into service with the US military in the early 1990s and has been used in numerous conflicts, including Operation Desert Storm and the Iraq War.

The M1A2 version provides the U.S. Abrams tank with advanced improvements in lethality, survivability, and fighting ability required to defeat current threats. It is the U.S. Army’s first digitized, direct-fire combat vehicle.

The M1A2 MBT provides enhanced operational combat capabilities over that the previous version, the M1A1. The improvements of the M1A2 include Improved Commander's Weapon Station (ICWS), Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV), an Inter-Vehicular Information System (IVIS), a Position/Navigation System (POS/NAV), and several survivability initiatives.

The M1A2 has a digital command-and-control system that provides situational awareness updates to all the other tanks in a unit. Vetronics architecture ties all electronic components in the tank together and provides increased survivability and supportability. The commander’s independent thermal viewer (CITV) gives it a hunter-killer capacity, allowing the M1A2 to engage one target while simultaneously tracking another. The M1A2 also has improved onboard diagnostics that allow the tank to self-diagnose faults without any additional special tools or equipment.

The main armament of M1A2 Abrams consists of one 120 mm smoothbore M256 cannon which can fire a wide range of ammunition as the M829 APFSDS-T (Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot), M830 HEAT-MP-T (High Explosive Anti-Tank-Multi Purpose - Tracer), M831 TP-T training round and M865 TPCSDS-T training round.

The M1A2's 120mm M256 smoothbore main gun has a maximum firing range of 4,000 meters. However, the actual range can vary depending on factors such as ammunition type, environmental conditions, and target characteristics.

The hull and the turret of the M1A2 Abrams are made with advanced armor similar to the Chobham armor developed in the UK that gives protection against ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) and RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades). The armor of the M1A2 also includes 2nd generation-depleted uranium armor components. Depleted uranium is a dense, heavy metal that has been used in armor penetrators and ammunition, but its use in tank armor is controversial due to its radioactivity.

The M1A2 Abrams is powered by a 1, 500 horsepower turbine engine coupled to an Allison Transmission X-1100-3B automatic with 4 forward and 2 reverse gears. It can run at a maximum road speed of 68 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 426 km.