The decision to give the Armed Forces of Ukraine significantly modernized American M1A1 Abrams tanks instead of the more modern M1A2 variant was made by the Pentagon "in close coordination" with the Ukrainian side in order to expedite delivery timelines.
Pentagon spokesman General Patrick Ryder said this on Tuesday during a press briefing, Trend reports citing Ukrinform.
"Ever since we’ve made this announcement (to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine - ed.) we’ve been committed to exploring options to deliver the armored capability as quickly as possible," the Pentagon spokesman said.
According to Ryder, after further study and analysis, "the U.S. DoD, in close coordination with Ukraine, has made the decision to provide the M1A1 variant of the Abrams tank." The general stressed that this would allow "significantly expedite delivery timelines and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year."
Ryder also clarified that, had the U.S. and Ukraine continued to focus on the more modern model of the M1A2, it would have taken more than a year to deliver.
At the same time, he informed the press that the tanks set to be delivered to Ukraine would be equipped with weapons similar to the M1A2, including advanced armor protection and weapons systems, such as a 120 mm cannon and a 50-caliber heavy machine gun.