(Australian Associated Press)
Australia will buy 127 tanks and armoured vehicles worth $3.5 billion as the federal government ramps up its land combat capability.
Under the deal, the army will receive 75 Abram tanks, 29 assault breacher vehicles, 17 joint assault bridge vehicles and six armoured recovery vehicles.
The first vehicles are due to arrive in 2024 and will be able to be deployed from 2025.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr said the tanks would be essential in Australia’s participation with coalition forces.
“Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region,” he said.
“This system is the only part of the Australian Defence Force that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the new tanks would give Australian soldiers the best possibility of success and protection.
“The M1A2 Abrams will incorporate the latest developments in Australian sovereign defence capabilities, including command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, and benefit from the intended manufacture of tank ammunition in Australia,” he said.
“The introduction of the new M1A2 vehicles will take advantage of the existing support infrastructure, with significant investment in Australian industry continuing in the areas of sustainment, simulation and training.”
But post-graduate in strategic studies Declan Sullivan has said the Abrams tanks are too heavy for Australia’s needs, labelling the purchase a missed opportunity.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 is a continuation of the army’s tank capabilities: fast, powerful, reliable and overkill and overweight for Australia’s needs, with little room to manoeuvre for future developments,” he wrote in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist in June 2021.
Australia purchased 59 Abram M1A1 tanks in 2007 but has not deployed a tank in combat since the Vietnam War.