M1 Abrams tanks
M1 Abrams tanksREUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

US Abrams tanks are likely to arrive on the Ukrainian battlefield in September, six people familiar with the plans told Politico on Thursday, as Kyiv’s forces push to retake territory in a counteroffensive that is picking up steam.

The plan is to send a handful of Abrams tanks to Germany in August, where they will undergo final refurbishments. Once that process is complete, the first batch of Abrams will be shipped to Ukraine the following month, according to the report.

The potential August and September deliveries mark the most specific time frame provided for when America’s main battle tank is expected to roll onto the battlefield.

US President Joe Biden officially announced in January that the US will send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, reversing months of persistent arguments that the tanks were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.

In March, the Pentagon said it is speeding up its delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, opting to send the refurbished older model that can be ready faster, with the aim of getting the 70-ton battle powerhouses to the war zone by the fall.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said several weeks later that the US would soon begin training Ukrainian forces on how to use and maintain Abrams tanks.

The US is sending older M1A1 models instead of the more modern A2 version, which would have taken a year to get to Ukraine, noted Politico.

The arrival of the tanks in the coming weeks will add a new, lethal dimension to Ukraine’s inventory as its forces struggle to break through entrenched Russian defenses along a front line that stretches for hundreds of miles.

Although Ukrainian troops have made some advances on one axis of attack in recent days, they are taking heavy artillery and aircraft fire as they move slowly through dense minefields and enemy foxholes.