03 Mei 2009

M1 Abrams Chosen as Australian Army’s Replacement Tank

Leopard and Abrams MBT of the Australian Army (photo : DefenceGovAu)

The Government will equip the Australian Army with a fleet of 59 United States M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management main battle tanks to replace the ageing Leopards, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

The project cost is about $550 million.

The Abrams tanks are significantly more capable than the current tank and will contribute to the Army becoming more lethal in future close combat.

The Government accepted Defence’s advice that the Abrams is the best capability and the best value for money with the lowest risk of the three replacement tank options examined.

Senator Hill said the new tanks would be introduced into service from 2007 and would be based with 1st Brigade in the Northern Territory.

"The tanks will be used by the Army to provide increased firepower, mobility and survivability for our soldiers on the battlefield," Senator Hill said.

"They will also improve the Army’s network centric warfare capability, supporting the development of a networked combined arms approach to operations – where armour, infantry, artillery, aviation and engineers work together to support and protect each other. "

The Abrams can reach speeds of up to 66km/h on Australian roads and up to
48 km cross country with a cruising range of up to 480kms, carrying four crew and ammunition. Each tank is equipped with a 120mm smooth bore cannon as its primary weapon and a 50-calibre machine gun for the tank commander in addition to two 7.62mm machine guns. They are capable of firing an advanced kinetic energy Tungsten penetrator against vehicles and a multi-purpose round for infantry support. They have also been designed to provide a level of protection for soldiers from nuclear, biological or chemical threats.

Senator Hill said that the Abrams, with an approximate combat weight of 63 tonnes, was only around 500kg heavier than its competitors. It can be deployed throughout the region using existing naval vessels and infrastructure. The introduction of new amphibious ships from 2010 will give the Army unprecedented mobility and deployability throughout our region and beyond.

In addition to the tanks, extra refueling, recovery and transport support vehicles, training simulators and an integrated logistic support package will be acquired from the United States. All these elements of the capability are included in the purchase price. Australian industry is expected to be involved in the provision of through-life support for the Abrams.

"The decision to purchase replacement tanks recognises the modern threat from the proliferation of shoulder-fired anti-armour weapons that our forces may encounter on their missions in the future," Senator Hill said.

"The new tanks will not only ensure that the Army can defend Australian territory but it will also provide additional firepower and protection to ensure deployed forces achieve rapid success while minimising friendly casualties."


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