A new fleet of the enhanced armoured fighting vehicles will be delivered to the Australian Army over the coming years, with the $3.5 billion order officially approved by the Commonwealth government.
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Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has announced the government will push ahead with its request to procure 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks under the LAND 907 Phase 2 project following approval from the federal cabinet.
A separate order for 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABVs), 17 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges (JABs), six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines as part of LAND 8160 Phase 1 has also been confirmed.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks are expected to upgrade the existing fleet, with no changes to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.
The M88A2 vehicles are to provide additional de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the current fleet, while the M1150 ABVs and M1074 JABs deliver new capability to the Royal Australian Engineers.
The ABVs and JABs are tipped to deliver under-armour bridging and breaching capability, helping to increase the effectiveness and survivability of Australian combat engineers and provide increased mobility for the armoured fleet.
“Teamed with the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Combat Engineering Vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers, the new Abrams will give our soldiers the best possibility of success and protection from harm,” Minister Dutton said.
“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.
“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.”
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr AO, DSC, MVO said the acquisition would provide the Australian Army with a “credible land combat capability”, integrated with joint and coalition forces.
“The main battle tank is at the core of the ADF’s Combined Arms Fighting System, which includes infantry, artillery, communications, engineers, attack helicopters and logistics,” LTGEN Burr said.
“Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region. This system is the only part of the ADF that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams protection, accurate and lethal fire, mobility and situational awareness cannot be delivered by any other platform. There are no other current or emerging technologies – or combination of technologies – that can yet deliver the capability currently provided by a main battle tank.”
The first vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in 2024, with Initial Operating Capability expected in 2025.
[Related: M1A2 Abrams order greenlit]