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Australian AIM Abrams - Aussie POV


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I have decided that it was a unwise purchase.

Main reasons would be:

The Leo1 did need a replacement but it might have been better to buy a modern mobile gun system not an expensive and heavy MBT. The M1A1 was designed to fight in Europe and the Desert, around Australia there is little suitable terrain for it's deployment. Try to deploy it on one of the tropical islands and it'll just sink into the ground, not to mention the lack of suitable roads and bridges.

The other problem would be that we don't really need a MBT at all anyway, Australia has never used any of its MBTs and relies more on APCs and IFVs for all its operations. So a MGS that has the punch of a tank but is light enough to move with APCs and IFVs might have been better.

Another gripe would be we bought the only tank that has a gas turbine when there were plenty of tanks with diesel engines available.

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Keep in mind that Australian military was fielding Leopard 1s, not the Leopard 2. Whilst still a very capabale tank, its certainly not in the class of the M1A1 AIM.

Dan

Thanks Dan. How would the Leopard 2 compare to the Abrams? Was it a cost issue, if you know?

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Lots of defense contracts taken up in the same period are to be viewed as dodgy. The decision didn't seem to make sense at the time, and still doesn't.

Could it be that politicians are the same in every country? Nah. What other contracts were taken up at that time? The Abrams AIM is an excellent tank & Kwazydog said that Australians were fielding LEO1s at the time, not LEO 2s. That brings up in my mind of was there a better price in the AIM. I have no idea what the price tag is on either.

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AIUI, the Aussies got what initially appeared to be a great price on some reconditioned Abrams, plus there was a fair bit of political pressure, but the whole thing turned into a complete boondoggle. The only winners in the end turned out to be the RAAF who ended up getting the budget to buy some C-17s to move the damn things, since the infrastructure in Aust isn't scaled to cope with somthing of those dimensions.

Leo2 ~ late-model Abrams ~ CR2

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Thanks Dan. How would the Leopard 2 compare to the Abrams? Was it a cost issue, if you know?

From the best of my knowledge I would say that both are very similar in capabilities. According to the article below a bunch of different tanks were considered for the replacement, including the Leopard 2 and Challenger 2, but the deal being offered by the US included support, training and recovery vehicles and was good good to pass up. Im sure there was a bunch of political crap involved with the descision too ;)

http://anzacsteel.hobbyvista.com/Armoured%20Vehicles/m1a1ph_1.htm

Dan

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Korea, dunno, but Vietnam definately. Of course, their role in Vietnam was as a mobile gun system providing intimate assistance to the infantry attacking log bunkers in the jungle, rather than swanning across the wide open desert in glorious armoured thrust and counter-thrust against an enemy like-equipped.

IIRC, the RAAC also used their tanks in action in WWII/Pacific (again strictly in an infantry-support role).

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Our dedicated MBT group was formed because of the lack of one in Korea apparently.

They definatly sent some Centeurions to Vietnam but back then a tank filled a lot more roles than today.

Theres a letter from the Defense department about why they chose the tank:

http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/Hilltpl.cfm?CurrentId=3643

I can see why it could be useful to have the tanks but I can see more useful things we could have instead even if it was just a 550million dollar surplus.

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Well if I may chime in here on a few points:

1. Aust did field tanks in:

The Second World War (in North Africa and SW Pacific (Matilda II's and Stuarts - Including a Regt sized amphib landing at Balikpapan, Borneo as part of the BDE lodgement).

We also built our own tanks (the "Sentinel") that could mount a 6Pdr or 17Pdr gun.

We also had an Armoured Div in WA but it didn't see action.

The current 1st Armoured Regiment was formed from the 1st Armoured Car Sqn which was part of BCOF (British and Commonwealth Occupations Forces - Japan). We didn't send any tanks to Korea.

South Vietnam.

I wont comment on Timor.

2. The 1st Armoured Regt was equipped with Centurion, then Leopard 1, now M1 (I've been riding around in one today).

We went from Leopard 1 (a 1960's vintage vehicle with some updates but some missing key gear - e.g. no TI) to a pretty much "state of the art" vehicle.

Many within the RAAC wanted Leopard 2A6 to replace Leopard AS1 but it wasn't to be.

Why a new tank - as part of the requirement to provide protected mobility to support the recently protected Infantry into close combat - all part of the then current idea of "Hardened, Networked Army". The M1 is armoured and provides networked feeds.

Why the M1?

A combination of lower cost ("special rates for Digger mates") and deployment deals.

The idea being the M1's that are here are essentially "home trainers". Should we be asked to provide an armoured capability as part of a US coalition then we will deploy crews and man US vehicles "in theatre" (a bit like the "reforger" concept for Europe in the 70's and 80's).

The C-17's were bought to ensure we could deploy them if necessary ourselves.

Limitations:

1. We didn't buy any armoured engr equipment to spt the gun tks (bridge layers, mine ploughs / rollers, etc.). This is now being addressed.

2. We are also upgrading our road tpt fleet to provide lift if required.

3. Concurrently the reopening of the Darwin Adelaide rail link has provided a non road solution to getting the vehicles around the country as required.

4. The recent White Paper has outlined some planned purchases to ensure they have sea lift.

Did we need a new tank? Well Leopard came into service in 1975 and it was worn out after 30+ years (hull cracks, etc.) so it wasn't just a whim.

Did we buy the "right" tank?

Well from a pure crew sense, I don't think so (the Leo 2A6 is a Porsche, the M1 is a F250 Ute).

But in a total defence approach in terms of interoperability, logistic spt, etc. I'd say "yes".

In a region where people are buying Regts of T-72's for bargain basement prices, we need to maintain our technological edge.

Did that cover it?

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Did we buy the "right" tank?

Well from a pure crew sense, I don't think so (the Leo 2A6 is a Porsche, the M1 is a F250 Ute).

bold words there mate, I know some americans who might disagree.;)

of course, Canada bought some surplus Leo 2s from the Dutch, so I dont necessarily disagree with that sentiment...although they do seem to require as much maintenance as a Porsche... :)

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/archive/2009/03/19/canada-s-new-used-leopard-2s-and-the-long-road-to-becoming-operational.aspx

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bold words there mate, I know some americans who might disagree.;)

And of course they are entitled too.

I'm referring more to the quality of finish and other subtle issues. Both do the same job but in my opinion having ridden in all three, the Leo 2A6 does it better (as I think I was alluding to).

of course, Canada bought some surplus Leo 2s from the Dutch, so I dont necessarily disagree with that sentiment...although they do seem to require as much maintenance as a Porsche... :)

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/archive/2009/03/19/canada-s-new-used-leopard-2s-and-the-long-road-to-becoming-operational.aspx

Actually, I think you’ll find they have leased them.

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Well if I may chime in here on a few points:

But in a total defence approach in terms of interoperability, logistic spt, etc. I'd say "yes".

In a region where people are buying Regts of T-72's for bargain basement prices, we need to maintain our technological edge.

Did that cover it?

Umm, who bought regiments of T-72s for bargain price in your region?

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Canada leased 20 leo 2s from Germany, all of which were shipped to Afghanistan and bought another 100 used Leo 2s from the Netherlands, none of which are anywhere close to a battlefield.

Oops you’re right, my mistake.

Still if they “sourced” 120 of them, they can’t be all bad. :)

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Leopard 1 was all about mobility over protection even when it first came out. That's why it was such a 'sports car'. I dimmly recall reading the original tank's protection wasn't very much greater than a Sherman's! The tank was already outclassed in 1967 when T64 was fielded, then T72 came out in 1971. The NATO countries pushed 105mm gun technology as far as they could... then jumped to 120mm, leaving Leopard 1 behind.

Australia, I recall, was given a deal on the Abrams they couldn't refuse. But it came with strings attached. No big changes, no fancy German deisel power packs - the offer was 'as is' or nothing.

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