President Donald Trump wants tanks and planes in addition to fireworks for this year’s supersized Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall—that he totally promises he won’t politicize, but the GOP already has—and on Tuesday pictures emerged of the U.S. military mobilizing to transport tanks into the nation’s capital. Expected to be part of the show this year are two 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tanks, which were transported by rail from Fort Stewart in Georgia; Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which will be trucked to the Mall; as well as military aircraft, including the B-2 stealth bomber and the F-22 fighter, along with Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels.
The Trumpy “Salute to America” ceremony will force the closure of Reagan National Airport for two hours Thursday evening to accommodate the president’s ego. In past years, air traffic was unaffected. Aside from flyovers, the military hardware will be stationary because of concerns that rolling Abrams tanks through the city will crush the city’s streets under their extreme weight. The Pentagon, which has expressed reluctance to parade its war machines through the capital, did just that in 1991 during a parade after the Gulf War and the D.C. local government was stuck with the bill for repairing the damage. The Army uses specialized transportation vehicles, known as Heavy Equipment Transporters, to carry Abrams tanks on roads that distribute their weigh more evenly to avoid cratering the pavement below. Even with the “low-boy” trailer doing the work, turns can be difficult because going even slightly off course and running over a curb, for instance, will crush the sidewalk below, military experts say.
The Pentagon says it’s “still under consideration” where the tanks will be placed in the city. The Washington Post reports that Trump has pushed for the tanks to be stationed on the Lincoln Memorial, where he will be giving a speech, but it’s unclear if the site can handle the weight, and engineers are evaluating whether it would affect the Lincoln Memorial’s underground rooms. Either way, you can bet the tanks will be somewhere where Trump can see them.