The US State Department has approved the sale of heavy armoured combat systems and CH-47F Chinook helicopters to Australia.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has approved two separate Commonwealth government requests to purchase heavy armoured combat systems, and Boeing-built CH-47F Chinook helicopters for a total of approximately US$2 billion ($2.5 billion).
The first order includes approximately US$1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) in M1A1 Tank structures/hulls provided from stock for the production of:
- 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks;
- 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles;
- 18 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges;
- six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and
- 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.
According to the DSCA, the armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) support Australia’s capability to “meet current and future threats” by “enhancing the lethality, survivability, and interoperability” of the Australian Army.
“Australia will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defence and deter regional threats,” DSCA added.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks are expected to upgrade the existing fleet, with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.
The M88A2 vehicles are set to provide additional de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the current fleet, while the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABVs) and M1074 Joint Assault Bridges (JABs) deliver new capability to the Royal Australian Engineers.
The ABVs and JABs are expected to provide under-armour bridging and breaching capability, in a bid to increase the effectiveness and survivability of Australian combat engineers and provide increased mobility for the armoured fleet.
A separate purchase of four Boeing-built CH-47F Chinook Helicopters and related equipment for approximately US$270 million ($335 million) has also been greenlighted.
The deal also includes:
- eight T55-GA-714A aircraft turbine engines;
- five AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS);
- eight Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS/EGI) +429; and
- two EAGLE+429 Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS/EGI).
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the western Pacific,” the DSCA stated.
“The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region.
“It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defence capability.”
These latest approvals come just a week after the DSCA rubber-stamped Australia’s request to purchase up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian aircraft for an estimated US$1.65 billion ($2.1 billion).
[Related: Pentagon greenlights of MQ-9B SkyGuardian]