Australia DoD confirms order of 75 US M1A2 SEP V3 Main Battle Tanks

According to information published by the Australian Department of Defense, on January 10, 2022, Australia has confirmed the purchase of 75 M1A2 SEPV V3 from the United States as well as 29 M1150 assault breacher vehicles, 17 M1074 joint assault bridge vehicles, and six M88A2 Armored Recovery Vehicles.
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U.S. soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3ABCT), 1st Cavalry Division, conduct preventative maintenance checks and services on their new M1A2C (SEP v.3) Abrams Tanks at Fort Hood, Texas, July 21, 2020. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

Australian Minister for Defense, the Hon Peter Dutton MP today announced a $3.5 billion investment in the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Upgrade (LAND 907 Phase 2) and Combat Engineering Vehicle (LAND 8160 Phase 1) projects. The first tanks will be delivered to Australia in 2024, with the projects expected to achieve Initial Operating Capability in 2025.

The M1A2 SEPV V3 MBTs will replace the Australian army’s 59 Abrams M1A1s, which were bought in 2007 but have not seen combat.

In April 2021, the U.S. State Department has released the approval of 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 Government of Australia has requested to buy one hundred sixty (160) M1A1 Tank structures/hulls provided from stock in order to produce the following end items and spares: seventy-five (75) M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks; twenty-nine (29) M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles; eighteen (18) M1074 Joint Assault Bridges; six (6) M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and one hundred twenty-two (122) AGT1500 gas turbine engines.

Citing the "Brisbane Times" newspaper, over the coming years, Australia will spend somewhere between $30 billion and $42 billion on armored vehicles. This will include a fleet of infantry fighting vehicles which will likely be announced later this year at a cost of between $18 billion and $27 billion.

The M1A2 SEPV V3 also called M1A2C is a modernized version of the Abrams M1A2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) that benefits from a number of upgrades in the areas of survivability, maintainability, full efficiency, and network capability.

The main armament of M1A2 SEP V3 includes one 120 mm smoothbore M256 cannon. The tank will be fitted with a Low Profile (LP) CROW (Common Remotely Operated Weapon System). This effort improves the tank commander’s situational awareness without compromising capability. The second armament includes a coaxial 7.62 mm M240 machine gun mounted to the right of the main gun, and a similar weapon skate-mounted on the left side of the turret for the loader can be elevated from -30 to +65º, total traverse being 265º.

Australia DoD confirms order of M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle 925 001
A U.S. Marine Corps M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle enters a U.S. Navy Landing Craft Utility on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Mar. 17, 2020, during Type Commander Amphibious Training. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) M1150 is a highly mobile and heavily armored minefield and complex obstacle breaching system. It consists of an M1A1 Abrams tank hull; a unique turret with two Linear Demolition Charge Systems (employing two Mine Clearing Line Charges (MICLIC) and rockets); a Lane Marking System (LMS); Integrated Vision System; and a High Lift Adapter that interchangeably mounts a Full-Width Mine Plow (FWMP) or a Combat Dozer Blade.

The M1150 ABV, which requires a crew of two Soldiers, improves the mobility and survivability of combat engineers while having the speed and ability to keep pace with the maneuver force. It creates a tank-width cleared a lane through a minefield by launching and detonating one of its MICLIC systems across the minefield, then proofing the lane with its FWMP while marking the cleared lane with its LMS.

Australia DoD confirms order of M1074 JAB Joint Assault Bridge 925 001
Leonardo DRS M1074 Joint Assault Bridge JAB. (Picture source Leonardo DRS)

The M1074 Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) provides the Army Mobility Augmentation Companies and Brigade Engineer Battalions supporting Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) with a survivable, deployable and sustainable heavy-assault-bridging capability. The JAB will provide a gap-crossing capability to cross wet or dry gaps to provide freedom of maneuver on the battlefield and keep pace with Abrams ABCT operations.

The JAB M1074 is based on an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank hull with a heavy (M1A2) suspension integrated with a hydraulic bridge launcher system to launch the existing Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB) Military Load Class 95 Scissor Bridge. The JAB improves survivability, mobility, and supportability for the warfighter.

Australia DoD confirms order of M88A2 Hercules armored recovery vehicle ARV 925 001
U.S. Marines assigned to Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, conduct routine maintenance on an M88A2 Hercules recovery vehicle on forward operating base Shir Ghazay, Helmand province, Afghanistan, (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The M88A2 Improved Recovery Vehicle HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System) recovers tanks mired to different depths, removes and replaces tank turrets and power packs, and uprights overturned heavy combat vehicles. The main winch on the M88A2 is capable of a 70-ton, single-line recovery, allowing the HERCULES to provide recovery of the 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tank.

The A-frame boom and hoist winch of the M88A2 can lift 35 tons. The spade can be used to anchor the vehicle when using the main winch and can be used for light earthmoving to prepare a recovery area. The M88A2 employs an auxiliary power unit to provide auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not in operation. It can also be used to slave start other vehicles, as well as a means to refuel or defuel vehicles. The M88A2 can refuel Abrams tanks from its own fuel tanks.

The M88A2 HERCULES is the successor vehicle to the M88A1, which only had a recovery capability of 56 tons. The M88A1’s mission was focused on the M60 Series tank while the M88A2 is focused on the Abrams tank.