For the first time in five years, 5th Aviation Regiment (5 AVN) and 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 CAV) conducted a tactical refuelling of three M1 Abrams main battle tanks by a CH-47 Chinook at Townsville Field Training Area. As part of Exercise Eagle Walk, soldiers practised fuelling procedures using an expedient method known as a ‘fat cow.’ Major George Flannery, of 2 CAV, who is Officer Commanding for the tank squadron that integrated with 5 AVN elements to conduct the refuelling, said the tanks were the most protected and lethal weapon system on the battlefield, but they were “very thirsty”.
“Our land refuelling assets, such as the HX 77 trucks, can’t always go in places with rough terrain. So with these capabilities working together, we know refuelling can occur anytime, anywhere. The training was critical to honing soldiering skills. It’s important for us to practise this method, not only to identify ways we can do it quicker and easier in the future, but also to prepare soldiers for upcoming warfighting exercises like Exercise Talisman Sabre,” Major Flannery said.
For many soldiers like 2 CAV armoured crewman Trooper Travis Brown, it was their first time being part of a tactical refuelling. “You get to see stuff you don’t see every day. For exercises like this, it’s good for us to be in a field environment, making mistakes so we know how to fix them. This leads us into the next tactical exercise more prepared for what’s to come,” Trooper Brown said.
The Australian Defence Force’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 Australian Defence Force has operated Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for most of the period since 1974. Thirty four of the type have entered Australian service, comprising twelve CH-47C variants, eight CH-47Ds and fourteen CH-47Fs.