120 NEW ARNOURED VEHICLES PURCHASED
Australia will spend more than $3.5billion to purchase 120 tanks and other armoured vehicles from the United States.
The upgrade could see the Australian Army gain up to 75 Abrams tanks, 29 assault breacher vehicles, 17 joint assault bridge vehicles, and six armoured recovery vehicles.
Peter Dutton says the tanks, teamed up with other vehicles, would provide the ADF with critical firepower for land operations.
‘Teamed with the infantry fighting vehicle, combat engineering vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers, the new Abrams will give our soldiers the best possibility of success and protection from harm,’ Mr Dutton said.
‘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.
‘The introduction of the new M1A2 vehicles will take advantage of the existing support infrastructure, with significant investment in Australian industry continuing in the areas of sustainment, simulation and training.’
The vehicles are set to arrive in 2024 with the defence minister confirming the new purchases.
The new additions reveal the government’s interest in building a solid fleet of armoured vehicles in contrast to recent purchases of submarines and jet fighters.
The M1A2 Abrams will replace the army’s 59 Abrams M1A1s which have not seen combat since they were bought back in 2007.
The last time the army deployed a tank was in the Vietnam War, where Australian troops – predominantly army personnel – until January of 1973.
Armoured vehicles are expected to cost Australia between $30billion and $42billion in the next three decades as China continues to gain a military advantage.
This cost includes the purchase of ‘essential’ infantry fighting vehicles that come at a price between $18billion and $27billion.
The tanks have been kitted out with an upgraded armour package which claims to provide better protection against improvised explosive devices.
The decision comes after Australia was forced to pursue nuclear submarines because of China’s military build-up in the South China Sea and nearby Papua New Guinea, sparking fears of war.
In recent years, Communist China has built military bases in the South China Sea and terrorised smaller Asian nations like the Philippines and Vietnam with a series of naval exercises.
University of Sydney Associate Professor of Northeast Asian Politics, James Reilly, said the arms race between China on one side and Australia and the US on the other in this part of the Pacific could lead to war.
‘I personally am deeply concerned about, what we call in international relations, security dilemmas where each two sides to a dispute keep taking more and more measures that they believe are reasonable and defensive but the other side responds in kind,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We end up with spirals of increasing army, military build-ups, mistrust and increasing risk of war.
‘The risk of war increases the more the countries are arming each other.’