US produces 12 Abrams tanks per month, in the 1980s it was 75

From 1979 to 1993, records suggest that the US military-industrial sector produced a staggering sum of 8,800 M1 Abrams tanks across several variations. This average production stood at 840 vehicles per year, or 75 units per month, indicating the potential ability to double the production quantity if required. 

US produces 12 Abrams tanks per month, it was 75 in the 1980s
Photo credit: General Dynamics

Today, ongoing contracts for the US Army and other clients have disclosed the new reality: the U.S. military industry’s production capabilities have narrowed down to 12 M1 Abrams tanks per month, or only up to 135 vehicles per year, as stated by Polish analysts in their media outlets. 

The analysts underscore that nowadays, American manufacturers mainly deal in upgrading old Abrams rather than making new ones from scratch. These tanks are often obtained from warehouses and earmarked for contracts for the US Army or other countries. 

Abrams tanks will not live long on the battlefield - Ukraine
Photo by Spc. Joshua Taeckens

At times, they may find only bare tank hulls, stripped even of turrets in conservation warehouses, but such materials are not discarded but instead utilized in production. 

Such technical intricacies inevitably spark debates about the actual number of Abrams tanks that could be in storage in the United States. After thorough calculations, Polish analysts estimated the presence of a total of 6,000 vehicles including tanks in US Army formations, those stored in foreign bases for the US Army, and those within the United States territory. 

This figure can be compared to the numbers mentioned in The Military Balance 2023. According to them, at the start of the year, the US only had a fleet of 2,500 M1 Abrams tanks, alongside 2,000 vehicles in storage bases, summing up to approximately 4,500 tanks. 

US produces 12 Abrams tanks per month, it was 75 in the 1980s
Photo credit: General Dynamics

Furthermore, data from ONN’s conventional weapons registry, provided by the US, states that the total number of functional tanks is only 4,200. 

It’s pertinent to note that at present, the total amount of contracts for modernized M1 Abrams tanks for the US Army and other allies equates to a ‘tail’ of over 1,500 units spanning several years. Poland expects to receive an average of 83 tanks per year from a contract of 250 vehicles closed in July 2021. 

The data provided herein clarifies why the US currently faces limitations in supplying tanks to its allies, with specific reference to Ukraine. 

Diverse sources propose that the US military stocks a hearty sum of $3.8 billion worth of parts for Abrams, Bradley, and other BBMs, more than half of which are unfortunately defective.

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