The United States has 4,400 Abrams tanks. Almost 10,000 are in operation worldwide. Very few of these may be sent to Ukraine. The tank is effective enough that, even in small numbers, it could make a significant difference as the Ukrainian military tries to hold against a possible Russian push this spring. Based on a recent analysis, these tanks cost about $9 million to build. (Click here for 30 inventions that shaped military history.)
The first Abrams was built in 1980. It has been used extensively in battle since then. Almost 1,800 were used in the liberation of Kuwait, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The Abrams is operated by an engine that uses jet fuel, which some experts believe makes it a poor weapon to send to Ukraine. Most other tanks use diesel fuel. The Abrams is also complicated to operate and requires extensive training. One thing the Ukrainian forces do not have in abundance is time. There are over 20 versions of the tank, so it can be adapted to almost any type of combat service.
The Abrams has state-of-the-art technology. This includes laser range finders, night site features and ballistics computers. According to the Military Analysis Network, the Abrams has six periscopes that give the tank commander 360 degrees of vision. According to the same source, the Abrams will be upgraded: “Further M1A2 improvements, called the System Enhancement Program (SEP), are underway to enhance the tank’s digital command and control capabilities and to improve the tank’s fightability and lethality.”
Billions of dollars in military aid have been sent to Ukraine, but the Abrams deployment will cost less than $100 million, if the current estimates are correct.
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