US will sell obsolete but refurbished Abrams M1A2s to the Balkans

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA — Gradually, Washington will look for customers around the world to sell older versions of its main battle tank, the Abrams M1. There must be room for the new versions: SEPv3, SEPv4, and Abrams X. It is not yet clear what will be the fate of the next-generation tank Abrams X. At the moment it is a techno-god demonstrator with many improvements, but whether Washington will decide to invest it remains a mystery.

3,000 M1 tanks in stock, but US refrains from delivery to Ukraine
Photo credit: Yandex

However, Washington needs to retire its older armored fighting vehicles. Potential customers are countries that do not have their own tank production, as well as those with small defense budgets. Let’s not forget that if at some point next year, the Abrams performs well on the battlefield in Ukraine, Washington will have free advertising to more quickly make room for newer platforms.

Romania could become one of these customers. At the beginning of April, Bucharest confirmed its desire to acquire American tanks – It is about the Abrams M1A2 series, and according to information in the Romanian media, the Balkan country will want to acquire at least 54 tanks.

Romania has already officially requested these tanks from the USA. I.e. the procedure has been set in motion, but a decision from Washington will be awaited as this purchase must go through lawmakers on the Hill. I.e. the order is for over 100 million euros. The Romanian Parliament will have to do the same for the same reasons.

Romanian media say the tanks will be second-hand, but used by the US military, not another operator. Although the M1A2 version is a modification of the base Abrams from the 1990s, Romania will keep the tanks undergoing another upgrade.

There is no information on what modernization the Romanians will want, but let’s recall that the M1A2 uses a second-generation gunner’s thermal sight. This is not bad at all, considering that optical sights are still being produced today, not only for tanks but also for heavy and light small arms firearms with integrated second-generation electro-optical converters.

The M1A2 SEP version, which is the base for this line, also has upgraded third-generation depleted uranium armor components with graphite coating. It will be interesting here if Washington will allow the export of this armor for the Romanian tanks. recalls that this armor has a status of “secret for national security” and Washington does not even export such armor to Great Britain, or information about its development.

The US has plenty of tanks to sell in the coming years. The 31 tanks are currently being “upgraded” for Ukraine and the 54 tanks are a very small part of the US Army’s inventory. According to open data, Washington has over 8,000 M1A1 and M1A2 tanks combined.

According to sources, the M1A2-specific inventory includes 1,605 M1A2 SEPv2 units and 154 M1A2 SEPv3 units. However, some say there are at least another 1,500 M1A2s in stock.

Romanian tanks

Romania has so far not operated tanks outside the Soviet era. The main battle tanks are the TR-85-800 and the TR-85M1 Bizonul. However, Romania managed to modernize both models to the NATO standard. These two tanks are the main backbone of the Romanian tank divisions. They are about 300 units. The inventory of the Romanian army also includes the Soviet tank T-55, which, according to some sources, numbers 120 units.


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