Months before the expected arrival of the revered M1 Abrams Tanks in Ukraine, the United States took precautionary measures to protect its sensitive technologies against prying adversaries.

The US reportedly stripped its most advanced technology from refitted, less-sophisticated main battle tanks to prevent Russian forces from exploiting the Abrams for intelligence if it fell into their hands. Besides, US officials sought to reserve its highest-end capabilities exclusive to its own troops.

Since the onset of the invasion, Ukraine has requested the US to send them Abrams main battle tanks.  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy personally pleaded for the tanks, arguing that they would significantly help their troops defend their motherland.

Despite being initially resisted due to concerns about the tanks complexity and the logistical challenges, the Biden administration eventually agreed to send 31 Abrams earlier this year. However, the US decided to send its older M1A1 tanks instead of its earlier pledge of M1A2—a newer, more sophisticated tank. Apart from citing the same concerns on the security of its technology, officials also said that expediting the older version of the Abrams will be much faster.

M1A1 Abrams
M1A1 Abrams Tank (Image source: DVIDS)

The retrofitting of the M1A1 Abrams tanks was completed last week, and they are expected to arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks. However, it will still take several weeks for Ukrainian troops to be trained on their use, so they are unlikely to be used in the spring counteroffensive or campaigns that will take place throughout the summer. Is this a case of too little, too late? Time will tell.

More or Less, Remains Powerful

The M1 Abrams is a powerful tank in its own right. Even without its high-tech components, this third-generation American main battle tank can absolutely annihilate anything that comes on its way.

By default, it features a 120mm smoothbore cannon capable of firing various ammunition, including armor-piercing, high-explosive, and canister rounds. It also has a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and a remote-controlled .50 caliber machine gun.

Moreover, it is well-protected on all sides, thanks to its composite armor that can withstand hits from most anti-tank weapons. Mobility and durability are two of the M1 Abrams’ top qualities. That, even if the US removes all of its sophisticated technologies, it would remain a highly survivable and capable armored tank that would be a valuable asset to the Ukrainian military.