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“Who” Actually Operates US-Made Abrams Tanks in Ukraine?

Numerous parties assert that Ukrainian soldiers lack sufficient training to operate Abrams main battle tanks, suggesting that Western defense contractors or even American soldiers may be shouldering this responsibility—an assertion of significant gravity.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — There is a growing inquiry among certain factions regarding the proficiency of Ukrainian military personnel in effectively operating the recently deployed fleet of 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks, which have been positioned to counter threats from the Russian military.

This concern is rooted in the fact that Ukrainian military personnel received a training duration of only three months for the operation of the sophisticated M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.

This stands in contrast to the customary eight-month training period typically afforded to American soldiers tasked with operating these advanced military vehicles.

“It should be an eight-month training, but they want it done in 12 weeks (three months). It’s a fantasy. A good armored vehicle crew should know their vehicle inside out; they should know everything about it,” said a retired Russian military armored vehicle expert, Colonel Viktor Litovkin.

“The language barrier is a significant challenge. Therefore, it is expected that the actual operators of the Abrams tanks are Polish “defense contractors” rather than Ukrainian soldiers, as the Polish military began operating Abrams tanks since last July.


Numerous occurrences have been documented wherein Western contractors were observed operating weaponry of Western origin amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a consequence of the constrained timeframe for training Ukrainian soldiers.

For example, operators assigned to operate the Patriot defense system in Kiev were suspected to be “Western defense contractors” or even US military personnel.

In late May, a volunteer Polish unit was observed operating Ukrainian-owned armored vehicles and Mi-8 helicopters in the Grayvoron area of Russia.

Recently, a group of Russian soldiers claimed to have successfully destroyed a Leopard armored vehicle supplied by Germany to the Ukrainian military in a battle in the Zaphorizia region of southern Ukraine.

What surprised the Russian soldiers was that all the crew members of the destroyed Leopard tank were German soldiers, “Bundeswehr.”

The allegation was reported by the leader of the Russian anti-tank group, known as “Legend,” to the Russian news agency Sputnik.


“After destroying the Leopard tank with an anti-tank guided missile system, we approached the tank. However, we saw a mechanic who was one of the Leopard tank crew members still alive, although he was severely injured.

“When we approached him, he started shouting ‘nicht schieben’ (which means ‘don’t shoot’ in German),” said “Legend” to the news agency.

“All the other Leopard tank crew members were dead,” he added.

The severely injured Leopard tank mechanic repeatedly stated that he was not a mercenary but a regular German soldier, just like the other crew members who were killed.

Despite efforts to save him, the German soldier acting as a mechanic for the Leopard tank passed away while receiving medical treatment.

Germany has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine, providing various financial aid and weaponry. One of the main weapons systems supplied by the German government to Ukraine is the Leopard main battle tank, developed by the German company Rheinmetall. — DSA

Abrams in training



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