Australia will purchase 127 tanks and armoured vehicles from the United States in an AU$3.5 billion (US$2.52 billion) deal that comes as the federal government continues bolstering its defence force amid ongoing tensions in the Indo-Pacific.
Under the deal, Australia will acquire from the U.S. State Department: 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abram tanks, 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles, 17 M1074 Joint Assault Bridge Vehicles, and six M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicles.
Initially announced in May 2021, the first vehicles are expected to arrive in 2024 and will be deployed from 2025.
“The M1A2 Abrams will incorporate the latest developments in Australian sovereign defence capabilities, including command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, and benefit from the intended manufacture of tank ammunition in Australia,” he added.
Rick Burr, chief of army lieutenant general, said the vehicles were “essential” to Australia’s ability to maintain a credible land force.
“The main battle tank is at the core of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Combined Arms Fighting System, which includes infantry, artillery, communications, engineers, attack helicopters and logistics,” he said.
“Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region,” he added. “This system is the only part of the ADF that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments.”
The purchase order will more than double Australia’s current fleet, which stands at 59 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.
It continues an ongoing revamp and build-up of the ADF, triggered by increasing tensions in the South China Sea region from Beijing.
In December, the Australian government signed off a historic AU$1 billion weapons deal with South Korea for the purchase of 30 self-propelled howitzers, and 15 armoured supply vehicles from defence giant Hanwha.
While in September, Australia signed off the AUKUS deal with allies the United States and the United Kingdom, a move that would significantly shape the power balance in the Indo-Pacific by giving Australia access to rare, nuclear-powered submarines.