ADDS PENTAGON SPOKESMAN REMARKS
By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US is working to provide Ukraine with Abrams tanks "faster than previously expected," the White House said Tuesday.
"So, we're working on that. There's some changes that you can make to the process to sort of speed that up," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the MSNBC network.
President Joe Biden announced in late January that the US will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks.
But Kirby said there are challenges with the tanks, with Washington not having "a lot of them just sitting on the shelf" and training how to use them.
"Just for instance, the basic training on the Abrams tank for American soldiers is 16 weeks long, and that's just the basic training on how to operate it.
"Then you have to know how to maintain it. And then you have to have a supply chain setup to actually keep the parts and supplies going while you're in combat while you're fighting and why these tanks are no doubt going to be taken some hits. So, there's a lot that has to be considered when we get them in advanced system," he added.
Later, at his news conference, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen Pat Ryder said the Department of Defense, in close coordination with Ukraine, decided to provide the M1-A1 variant of the Abrams tank.
He said the variant "will enable us to significantly expedite delivery timelines, and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year."
Ryder also noted that the US will give Ukraine the M1-A2 variant, which he said includes advanced armor and weapon systems.
"Again, this is about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later," he added.