On January 28, an unnamed Iraqi official revealed to the Iraqi news outlet al-Ghad Press that the manufacturer of M1 Abrams battle tanks, General Dynamics had halted its maintenance services for the Iraqi Army. According to the source, the company took the decision because some of Iraqi Army M1A1 Abrams battle tanks were operated by irregular Iraqi Shiite forces.
“The American tank company [General Dynamics] withdrew from its position at Muthanna airport in Baghdad, after considering that Iraq is in violation of the contract with it, which states that the Iraqi army is the only side that’s authorized to use the Abrams,” the source told al-Ghad Press.
The Muthanna airport in Baghdad hosts a big maintenance facility that serves over 100 M1A1 Abrams battle tanks of the Iraqi Army. However, the Iraqi official said that all US experts left the facility in the end of 2017 and have not returned so far.
Moreover, the source revealed that the US company asked the Iraqi government to recover two M1A1 Abrams battle tanks from irregular Iraqi Shiite militias in 2017. While the Iraqi Army managed to get one tank back from an unnamed Shiite force during the battles against ISIS in Anbar province, the second one is yet to be recovered.
The US company had also threatened to fully break its contract with the Iraqi Army in case the second tank “was cloned by a regional state linked to the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU),” according to the source.
The M1A1 Abrams tank is powered by a turbine engine that requires extensive care and constant complex maintenance. This mean that all Iraqi M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, that’s considered the core of the Iraqi armored force, could face maintenance problems if General Dynamics broke the contract.