U.S. soldiers who fought on Abrams tanks called the Red Ace during the 1991 Gulf War had to be careful to keep desert sand out of its gas-turbine engine, the Financial Times reported.
With a lot of air being pushed through the engine, “there were big concerns about it ingesting sand and not working”, said John Nagl, a US Army War College professor who led Red Ace’s platoon and later served in a tank battalion task force in the Iraq war that started in 2003.
Nagl’s experience is not unique. For decades, U.S. Army armored units have bemoaned the long logistical tails required to keep Abrams combat-ready in combat zones. "It was those concerns that prompted the counterintuitive briefings by the Pentagon last month, in which senior US defence officials repeatedly maligned the Abrams after requests from Berlin and Kyiv that the tank be sent to Ukraine," the publication noted.
Despite these concerns, the U.S. will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks manufactured by General Dynamics to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian tank battalion.
Ukraine will receive about twice as many European-made tanks, primarily the German Leopard 2, which, according to military experts, are best suited for a defensive army, the paper notes.
The intensive maintenance and logistics required to keep the Abrams combat-ready makes it less ideal for foreign armies such as the Ukrainian, which simply need a well-functioning weapon. But it is also a symptom of the U.S. defense procurement system, which critics say constantly complicates its large military platforms by loading them with outdated technology that increases costs and makes them more difficult to maintain.