Australian army to expand M1A1 Abrams MBT fleet with U.S. acquisitions
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency on April 29 announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Heavy Armored Combat Systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1.685 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.
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Australian M1A1 Abrams during exercise Hamel 15, a sub-mission of exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia, on July 14, 2015 (Picture source: Australian DoD/Wikimedia Commons)
The Government of Australia has requested to buy 160 M1A1 Abrams tank structures/hulls provided from stock in order to produce the following end items and spares: 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks; 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles; 18 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges; 6 M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines. Also included is the development of a unique armor package, Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station Low Profile (CROWS-LP), Driver’s Vision Enhancer, mission equipment, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, system and engine spare parts, technical data, publications, Modification Work Orders/Engineering Change Proposals (MWO/ECPs), U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics assistance, quality assurance teams, transportation services, program management, New Equipment Training (NET); and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated value is $1.685 billion.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure. Additional M88A2 vehicles provide de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the Australian tank fleet. The M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABVs) and M1074 Joint Assault Bridges (JABs) will be a new capability for the Royal Australian Engineers, bringing under-armor bridging and breaching capability, increasing the effectiveness and survivability of Australian Combat Engineers and providing increased mobility for the armored fleet.
The principal contractors will be General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, MI; BAE Systems, York, PA; Leonardo DRS, Arlington, VA; and Honeywell Aerospace, Phoenix, AZ. The purchaser typically requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor(s). Implementation of this sale will require the assignment of approximately 10 additional U.S. or contractor representatives to Australia.
According to the Military Balance 2020, Australia currently has 59 M1A1 (AIM) configuration tanks (hybrids with a mix of equipment used by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps but without depleted uranium layers in armor). These tanks were bought from the U.S. in 2006 and replaced the Leopard AS1 in 2007. In 2016, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell stated that the Australian army may upgrade its current M1A1 fleet to the M1A2C under LAND 907 Phase 2. In 2017, the Australian Government was considering expanding the Army's fleet of Abrams to 90 tanks.