As part of a massive overhaul of the army’s fleet, Australia committed to buying upwards of 120 tanks and other armored personnel carriers from the United States for $3.5 billion.
The Purchases are Massive
Despite the government’s recent concentration on other big purchases, the pledge to buy 75 M1A2 battle tanks demonstrates the commitment of the government to a sophisticated fleet of military vehicles.
After the US administration cleared the new purchase last year, Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced the upgrades on Monday.
The vehicles will supplant the army’s 59 Abrams M1A1 vehicles, which were purchased in 2007, but have yet to be deployed.
Australia will also supply 29 attack breacher vehicles for clearing mines and bombs, as well as 17 combined attack bridge vehicles and six armor rescue vehicles.
“The new Abrams, when combined with the infantry combat vehicle, combat engineering trucks, and self-propelled artillery pieces, will provide our forces with the highest chance of success and protection from violence,” Mr. Dutton added.
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“The M1A2 Abrams will combine the most recent improvements in Australian national defense systems, including control, command, telecommunications, computing, and information systems.”
“It will as well benefit from the planned production of tank ammo in Australia.”
“With considerable investment in Australian industry ongoing in the fields of maintenance and support, simulations, and education, the deployment of the new M1A2 tanks will take advantage of existing infrastructure required.”
The acquisition has sparked controversy in the defense community about the utility of vehicles.
Some state security experts claim that heavily armored vehicles would indeed be unnecessary in a Marine and air confrontation with a large power like China.
Are the Tanks Needed?
Ever since the Vietnam War, Australia has not used a tank in battle.
Australia will invest around $30 billion, as well as $42 billion, on armored vehicles over the next few years.
This will also include a fleet of troop combat vehicles, which are expected to cost near $18 billion, as well as $27 billion, when unveiled later this year.
The government of Australia decided to keep the opportunity to engage in “close combat” in urban locations as part of counter-insurgency activities.
This is according to Marcus Hellyer, a senior consultant with the Australian Strategic Research Council.
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“Tanks are usually one of those divisive topics; you either love them or you despise them,” he explained.
“The question isn’t so much should we obtain tanks,’ but rather, ‘what kind of tanks should we get?'”
“The problem is we spend $30-$42 billion on armored vehicles in total. Is that the correct investment mix for the ADF as a whole?”
Lt. Gen. Rick Burr, Australia’s Chief of Military, said tanks and combat engineer vehicles were critical to the country’s opportunity regarding war that could be combined with forces from other nations.