US State Department Approves $1.94 Billion M1A1 Main Battle Tank Structures Sale to Australia

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) 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.

Australia will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to 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.

Australian Army M1A1 Main Battle Tank
Australian Soldiers return fire in a M1A1 Abrams tank during exercise Hamel 15 a sub-mission of exercise Talisman Sabre in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jordan Talbot/Released)

Also included is 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 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. The proposed sale improves Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing the lethality, survivability, and interoperability of the Australian Army. Australia is one of U.S. most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region.

An M1A1 Abrams tank and M113AS4 armored fighting vehicles from the Adelaide-based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, prepare to deploy with the Battle Group during Exercise Predator's Strike.
An M1A1 Abrams tank and M113AS4 armored fighting vehicles from the Adelaide-based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, prepare to deploy with the Battle Group during Exercise Predator’s Strike. (Photo by Andrew Dakin/Released)

Australian Army 59 M1A1 (AIM) configuration tanks (hybrids with a mix of equipment used by 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. As of 2017, the Australian Government was considering expanding the Army’s fleet of Abrams to 90 tanks. 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. The Land 907 Phase 2 upgrade will occur over the next 10 years with the intent to have a fully operational capability by 2025.

The Abrams has the firepower, mobility and survivability to provide the key component in the combined arms team. The Australian Army’s operational fleet of Abrams is held by Army’s three Armoured Cavalry Regiments in Adelaide, Brisbane and Townsville. Additionally, vehicles for training purposes are also held at the School of Armour in Puckapunyal and the Army Logistic Training Centre at Bandiana. To support the Abrams, the ADF has produced seven M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System) armoured recovery vehicles. The Abrams is also supported by Heavy Tank Transporters to fulfil its logistics requirements while on operations.

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