Australia: tank and armour upgrades planned

On 20 February, an industry consultation day took place in Melbourne for Australian businesses looking to score a piece of the work in main battle tank upgrade and armoured breaching and bridging projects.

Australia tank and armour upgrades planned
Australian M1A1 Abrams main battle tank (Picture source: Australian DoD)

As reported by Defence Connect, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the event, which took place at the Centre of Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) was intended to help local businesses start or boost their capability to address Australia's military capability.

Delegates representing 131 large companies as well as SME’s, mainly Australian, were participating in the event during which various projects in the field of main battle tank and other armoured vehicles were presented. Minister Pyne said that "With a combined value of approximately $2 billion, these projects are an opportunity for Australian companies to win work and contribute to the army’s future armoured fighting vehicle capability." The projects, known as Land 907 Phase 2 and Land 8160 Phase 1, are worth up to $2 billion.

Under the Land 907 Phase 1 project, Defence acquired 59 M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management Situational Awareness Abrams tanks, 13 M88 Hercules Armoured Recovery Vehicles, and training and support systems including simulators, special tools, test equipment, spares and ammunition. The Land 907 Phase 2 project, budgeted for $750 million to $1 billion, will look at providing the Australian Army with an upgraded Main Battle Tank (MBT) capability, with the M1A1 to be upgraded to an M1A2 variant and the M88A2 to be upgraded to an M88A3 variant.

Under the Land 8160 Phase 1 project, Defence is seeking to improve some engineering capabilities which will be based on a M1 tank chassis, maybe in three variants: an Armoured Breacher Vehicle, an Armoured Bridge Launcher and an Armoured Engineering Vehicle (AEV). The breacher vehicle's main role will be to mechanically and explosively breach minefields and clear obstacles, while the armour bridge launcher will be able to cross wet or dry gaps and allow for forward movement in the battlefield. An AEV typically features a large dozer blade or mine ploughs, a large calibre demolition cannon, augers, winches, excavator arms and cranes or lifting booms. Since the "Hobbart's funnies" of WW2, the development of special vehicles for the (combat) engineers has been progressing with an always increasing ingenuity.