Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukraine Sidelines Expensive US Tanks After Russian Drones Keep Attacking Them

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Daily Caller News Foundation

Ukraine has withdrawn expensive U.S.-donated M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks from the front lines after Russian drones destroyed five of the heavy Western tanks it fought for months to obtain, The Associated Press reported Friday, citing U.S. officials.

The U.S. agreed in early 2023 to deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine sending a message of commitment to convince other European partners to provide Western tanks, as Ukraine argued they were critical to counteroffensive operations against Russian forces.

However, evolution in Russia’s use of surveillance and attack drones since then has made it more difficult for Ukraine to protect the tanks costing roughly $10 million apiece, the AP reported, citing two U.S. military officials.

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Russia has damaged or destroyed five of the U.S. tanks, which arrived in Ukraine in September, according to the AP. Droves of Russian surveillance and hunter-killer drones have been able to detect and pursue the tanks more quickly than expected.

“There isn’t open ground that you can just drive across without fear of detection,” a senior defense official said Thursday, according to the AP. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity to provide an clear operational update of the battlefield ahead of a defense ministers’ meeting focused on coordinating military aid to Ukraine.

Ukrainian commanders have pulled the tanks from the front lines and are working with U.S. advisers to develop new operating tactics, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady and a third defense officials said, according to the AP.

“When you think about the way the fight has evolved, massed armor in an environment where unmanned aerial systems are ubiquitous can be at risk,” Grady told the AP in a previous interview, clarifying that tanks are still important on the battlefield.

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“Now, there is a way to do it. We’ll work with our Ukrainian partners, and other partners on the ground, to help them think through how they might use that, in that kind of changed environment now, where everything is seen immediately,” he said.

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday a massive emergency weapons package for Ukraine just minutes after President Joe Biden signed a long-awaited national security bill. The $1 billion tranche included variety of capabilities “to support Ukraine’s most urgent requirements,” such as armored vehicles, air defenses, anti-tank weapons, artillery and counter-drone capabilities.

The DOD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

First published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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