Australia will buy more than 100 tanks and armoured vehicles from the US for $3.5 billion, defence minister Peter Dutton says.
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.
The deal adds to a string of fleet upgrades and inquiries for new defence equipment in the past six months, including for black hawk helicopters, howitzer artillery weapons and resupply vehicles, and a move towards acquiring nuclear-propelled submarines with the US and UK.
Dutton said the tanks, teamed up with other vehicles, would provide the ADF with critical firepower for land operations.
“The new Abrams will give our soldiers the best possibility of success and protection from harm,” he said.
The vehicles will first appear in Australia in 2024 and be initially operational in 2025.
Lieutenant general Rick Burr, who is chief of army, said the tank was yet to be superseded by any other technology and was at the core of the ADF’s fighting system.
“There are no other current or emerging technologies – or combination of technologies – that can yet deliver the capability currently provided by a main battle tank,” Burr said.
“Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region.
“This system is the only part of the ADF that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments.”