Ukraine Is Getting American M-1 Tanks. It Might Take A While. & More Trending News

 

When the Polish military went on certainly one of historical past’s nice tank-buying sprees beginning a few years in the past, it added to its multi-billion-dollar purchases of brand-new American M-1A2s and South Korean Okay-2s a facet order of ex-U.S. Marine Corps M-1A1s.

Those M-1A1s are an essential case-study. The work the U.S. authorities is doing to arrange these previous tanks for switch to Poland underscores the issue of sending related M-1s to Ukraine.

The Poles are spending $16 billion to amass 1,400 tanks—1,000 Okay-2s, 250 M-1A2s and 116 M-1A1s—to complement the roughly 240 German-made Leopard 2s Polish business is upgrading and substitute the lots of of locally-made PT-91s and ex-Soviet T-72s that Warsaw has pledged to Ukraine.

Local manufacturing of the Okay-2 will get underway in Poland in 2025. U.S. tank-maker General Dynamics ought to begin delivering new M-1A2s across the identical time. Polish officers assessed this two-year hole—between their tank donations to Ukraine and the arrival of recent South Korean and American tanks—and ordered up 116 older M-1A1s as a stopgap.

But even these tanks received’t arrive shortly. The final of the M-1A1s Poland paid for again in December 2022 received’t attain Poland till December 2023. And there’s one principal purpose why. Their armor.

The M-1A1s Poland ordered are ex-U.S. Marine Corps fashions that grew to become redundant when, in 2019, the Marines made the controversial choice to disband all their tank battalions. The transfer was a part of the Corps’ complete effort to make its forces lighter and thus simpler to move from island outpost to island outpost. The choice rendered redundant round 400 M-1A1s.

These ex-Marine M-1A1s aren’t fairly as refined because the U.S. Army’s newer M-1A2s are, however they do share weapons, optics and armor with the Army fashions. That features a super-hard, depleted-uranium mesh that General Dynamics inserts into metal “pouches” on the tanks’ turrets.

The mesh’s design stays a secret, twenty years after its invention. And when America’s overseas allies purchase M-1s, they get variations of the tank with out the mesh.

Just one firm is certified to take away the mesh from current M-1s—General Dynamics. So when Poland ordered these 116 ex-Marine M-1A1s, the U.S. Defense Department sole-sourced a contract with the agency to open up the tanks’ turret pouches and take away the uranium.

The deadline for the work is December 2023. It’s not clear General Dynamics can work any sooner, contemplating its large backlog of M-1 orders.

The U.S. Army is reworking a few of the previous Marine M-1A1s into Army M-1A2s, however that work apparently received underway just some months in the past. Subtracting the M-1A1s Poland is buying, there needs to be simply shy of 300 ex-Marine tanks someplace in General Dynamics’ modernization pipeline.

The United States to this point has pledged to Ukraine 31 M-1s. The quickest supply choice could be for the Pentagon to divert a few of the previous Marine tanks. Not solely would they share components with the Polish M-1A1s, additionally they would wish just some modifications to make them exportable—foremost, the removing of any depleted uranium.

But even that might take some time, if the laborious technique of prepping Poland’s tanks is any indication.

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