Sunday, August 8, 2010

Iraqi-purchased M1A1s roll off production line, head to Iraq

The first shipment of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks purchased by the Government of Iraq from the U.S. rolled off the production line in Lima, Ohio, this month and is being loaded in Charleston, S.C., onto a ship bound for Iraq.

Eleven M1A1 Abrams tanks, along with an M88A2 recovery vehicle, are scheduled to arrive in Iraq in August. The remaining 129 tanks and seven recovery vehicles will be delivered before December 2011.

According to Army Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, Iraq Foreign Military Sales director for Project Manager Heavy Brigade Combat Team, the tanks will be transitioned to the Iraqis at the Besmaya Combat Training Center. Once fielded, the Iraqi Army is expected to integrate the tanks into the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division located in central Iraq.

“The delivery of these tanks is a significant milestone which begins to establish Iraq’s conventional defensive capabilities,” said Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, Deputy Commanding General, Advising and Training. “A secure and stable Iraq that has the capability to defend its sovereignty will be a stabilizing influence in the region.”

The Iraqi Army and U.S. Army have been working together since 2009 to familiarize Iraqi tank crewmembers with the Abrams tank in anticipation of the Iraqi tanks’ arrival. Sixty-five crews are already trained. Iraqi crewmembers are also scheduled to receive a complete new equipment training package in conjunction with the fielding of the tanks.

The Government of Iraq purchased the equipment under a Foreign Military Sales agreement with the U.S. government. “We are proud to deliver the best tank in the world to our Iraqi counterparts,” Bentzel said.


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