posted on May, 23 2005 @ 01:17 PM
Australia has signed a formal agreement with the United States to buy a new fleet of M1A1 Abrams tanks, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced.
Under this agreement, the US Government will provide 59 refurbished and updated M1A1 Abrams tanks, seven M88 Hercules Armoured Recovery vehicles,
advanced gunnery and driver training simulators, training and other support equipment and a range of spares. This agreement is the central component
of the $530m Abrams package which also includes tank transporters, refuelling vehicles and ammunition.
Delivery of the tanks and other equipment is expected in 2007. The majority will be operated by the 1st Armoured regiment in Darwin, with a smaller
allocation to be allocated to training schools.
"The M1A1 Abrams tanks will provide a major increase in capability over the present Leopard tanks, particularly with their greater firepower and
their potential to operate in a modern, networked communications environment," Senator Hill said.
"The new tanks will also provide our soldiers greatly increased levels of protection and survivability on the modern battlefield."
The tanks that will be provided to Australia have had relatively low usage and will be refurbished to "as new" condition. Many of their internal
systems will be updated to incorporate the latest technology.
This upgrade work will start soon as part of a major tank refurbishment program being undertaken for the US military’s larger fleet of M1A1 tanks.
A particularly innovative dimension of the project is the purchase of advanced simulators for training tank crews. This is a new direction for the
Australian Army, reflecting a major increase in commitment and investment in simulation to supplement and enhance training of armoured vehicle crews.
The Abrams can reach speeds of up to 66 km/h on Australian roads and up to
48 km cross country with a cruising range of up to 480 kms carrying four crew and ammunition. Each tank is equipped with a 120 mm smooth bore cannon
as its primary weapon and a 50 calibre machine gun for the tank commander in addition to two 7.62 mm 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.