U.S. and Germany to send tanks to Ukraine


By all reports it’s a “yes” on personnel. And a lot of the discussion around sending tanks, and whether Ukraine could even use them. Even from NATO folks. Has been about Ukrainian use of existing tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other complex systems. How quickly they’ve gotten up on new stuff. And how what they’re doing with them doesn’t match NATO doctrine, or even pre-existing Ukrainian practice. It’s been fairly novel, and very effective.

So Ukraine wasn’t using T-62s the way you use T-62s. I’ve seen a lot of commenters point out that we shouldn’t assume the Ukrainians would use M1s, Leopards, and Bradleys the way we do, but there’s no reason to believe they won’t use the fuck out of them.

That read seems to be a fair bit of what’s clearing the path here.


I admit to genuine surprise at how this has all gone. I thought we’d never see another “mechanized armour lined up on the battlefield” sort of war ever again. With terrorism, drones, cyber warfare, trade relationships, globalization, etc, the old WWII style of nation-on-nation war didn’t seem like it would happen again. Not that humans would ever stop killing each other or going to war of course, just that the style of war had necessarily changed forever. It seemed like nations depend on each other too much, and open battlefield mechanized war is so much more expensive than the alternatives.

But here are.


There are even deeper problems with the Abrams in Ukraine.

The composition of the armor and probably other aspects are classified. That triggers lots of end user documentation requirements.

It’s powered by a jet engine! (Ok, a turbine engine.) Your regular mechanic who knows how to change the oil in your Camry has no idea what to do with a turbine engine that goes at 30,000 rpm. Apparently maintenance of this thing is quite complex. It is cool though, it burns nearly any fuel and it’s quiet compared to other tanks.

And… the armor is radioactive. (There may be some old variants that are not.) Yes that’s right, it has a layer of depleted uranium armor. Again triggering a huge and complicated regulatory regime for export and end users, plus triggering burdensome requirements for eventual cleanup, especially if one is destroyed in battle.

I fully support sending Ukraine the best stuff we can send them, and I’m glad the Abrams is announced so it gives Germany and everyone else the go-ahead to send their stuff, but in reality, the Abrams may not be a practical option in the near future, and Ukraine needs stuff that’s going to work ASAP.


By now, they mean a new new new new newer newest level of really new,


It seems likeliest that when they have an Abrams that has mechanical trouble they cannot fix, they’ll scavenge it for parts, the way they have been for everything else.

In terms of “it’s a complex machine!” – the past year has taught us that the Ukrainians are incredibly good at adapting and overcoming. I expect they’ll get up to speed one how to most effectively use the Abrams within the confines of their own context.


I am still surprised that more Russian (and Ukranian) airforce action has not yet been seen. I suspect that they will have to be more involved when faced with numbers of modern Nato tanks.

Not for at least 3-4 months if training has yet to begin (could Ukranians already be training on Leopards and Challengers?). In the meantime the Russians will feel pressure to fuck things up as much as they can.

Mind you, I cannot claim any expertise in military affairs.


Sure, but your average crewmember doesnt have access to that data anyway. US does export the Abrams to other countries already and they have figured out how to control access.

Its a jet turbine that runs on JP-8. There isn’t any O-level repair. I-level (battalion) support can pull the pack and send it to D-level for repair. The pack can be replaced relatively quickly and the replacement process is fairly uncomplicated technically speaking. The brakes on my truck take longer!

Lets just say, there may or may not be DU present. The material is not radioactive to any degree that you need to worry about. You couldnt even measure it. The concern is heavy metal poisoning in the event of fire.


IIRC the Abrams is designed so that major subsystems like the powerpack (engine and transmission) can be replaced in the field. If there is any problem with the engine, you swap the powerpack instead of trying to fix it in the field. The defective powerpack is then sent to the rear for repair, after which it joins the spare parts stockpile.

ETA: @NukeML already covered this.


Almost exactly on the anniversary of this:

(Those helmets were only sent a month later, after Russia had already invaded.) So much can change in one year.


That’s true. I didn’t see anyone mention this idea, but (and I didn’t know this until I saw on Wiki), Egypt is a major operator and also assembler of them, with 1300 tanks. These must be the older versions, probably with less fancy stuff on them. Maybe some of those would also be a good option for use in Ukraine?

Right, it’s more a regulatory burden than a practical safety issue.

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Interesting analyses:


And replying to myself, they addressed those concerns. They are sending Abrams models without classified radioactive armor. Which seems like a good way to balance the concerns.


They just need three more Friedman units



Most likely, they have been for some time training on the Leopard II quietly, without fuss, and I would not put it past Germany to have been secretly training not only crews, but also training them to train other tankers.

And let’s be honest, western Main Battle Tank crews are different from USSR-based tank crews, where the Soviet/Russian philosophy was to shrink the tank to lower its profile, the NATO strategy was to reinforce the tank and protect the crew. Soviet and Russian doctrine treated tank crews as expendable, that’s why they have the main gun rounds inside the turret and use an autoloader. Russian tanks are also built so cramped that you had to be short to be selected for a tank crew.

The M1 Abrams and the Leopard II follow the same design philosophy, keeping the loader as a fourth crew member, and storing the main gun ammo in a chamber behind blast doors: if the ammo does cook off, the explosion will be directed away from the crew.

A lot of training will also be going into performing field maintenance, what to do when you throw track, how to command a tank in combined arms situations to coordinate and react. All the little things that go into being a tank crew besides merely driving and shooting.

So again, I strongly suspect that select Ukrainian soldiers have already been training on how to crew a Leo II, as well as how to properly exploit its strengths and keep it running. Germany is just showing Apple levels of reticence instead of showboating like Boris Johnson did.


I would guess that Germany has not been training Ukrainians on the Leopard but Poland has.


I considered that as well, but the current Polish government doesn’t seem the sort to do that secretly. I give it a fifty-fifty chance, as my gut tells me PiS-politicians would loudly brag about it.