Abrams it is

According to todays Australian (no link)the ADF have chosen the Abrams battle tank over the Brit Chieftan and the Kraut Tiger III. abrams.jpg The Abrams, at 68 tonnes, has been criticised for being more tank than the ADF needs and difficult to transport aboard our existing navy ships. Lt Gen Leah earns my praise for this line.
I would like to thank those critics who took the time and effort to point out that the new tanks might be heavy, difficult to deploy and use fuel. I hope you won’t find it strange to hear we had actually thought about that, and they’re not a problem or we have….strategies in place
I have to tell you, us infantrymen don’t care too much about how expensive it is to run or how dificult it is too move. We just say ‘Request Tango (armoured) support’ (in a high pitched nervous voice)and leave those problems to the beancounters and logisticians. When the tank arrives, we never discuss the cost of his trip to our position, we just say things like ‘could you go over there and wiggle your tracks on top of that bunker’, or ‘could you fire your main armourment at that group of bad guys?’ Never once have I heard an infantryman say’ Wow, $3,500 just to drive out here. And whats that you say – $850 per 120mm round. I’m sorry – you stay there and I’ll try and fix the problem with my $1.20 per 5.56mm Steyr rounds To us, Bigger is better. Overkill, the main game. 68 tonnes is better for crushing slow enemy and pushing down his defences than 50 tonnes and the last time I looked 120mm smooth bore does more damage than a 105mm. In addition, something weighing 68 tonnes is better to hide behind that a 50 tonne something. Haven’t heard any infantrymen complain yet.


  • I fail to understand why an island continent requires hulking great tanks which would be logistic nightmares to move from place to place if the need ever arose? If indeed it ever does. To my mind, a far greater focus needs to be placed on superior air support and defence, rather than toys for the boys on the ground.

  • “I fail to understand why an island continent requires hulking great tanks which would be logistic nightmares to move from place to place if the need ever arose? If indeed it ever does. To my mind, a far greater focus needs to be placed on superior air support and defence, rather than toys for the boys on the ground.”

    Because tanks provide real muscle to deployed troops.

    BTW, air support has a questionable track record (see Kosovo) and Air defence? Australia has not been threatened with air attack for over 50 years, we have AWACS and tankers on the way, have upgraded our fighters and have plans to replace them in the next 11 years with better ones – surely you can’t begruge the actual troops being regularly deployed some real support?

    However whilst “I have to tell you, us infantrymen don’t care too much about how expensive it is to run or how dificult it is too move. ” is true, us infantrymen are the ones who will do without as more of the defence budget is poured into a politically motivated tank choice.

    The Abrams costs a fortune to run compared to the Leopard 2, RAAC wanted Leopard 2 and Leopard 2 has a proven upgrade path and we are buying an Abrams with the DU armour stripped out (Aust political decision).

    The poor bloody infantryman will no doubt have to go without something to fund the extra logistics required to support the Abrams.

    Leopard 2 was the smart choice, now RAAC is stuck with the political choice.

  • I doubt it will be too much more to fix and maintain the beasts Kev. A mate who is currently in has just been over to the states to attend a conversion course on the abrams. He said that they were so easy that even a very very very clever grunt or bucket MIGHT be clever enough to change a spark plug on one. Provided he was properly supervised by a raeme asm with a very large stick.

    Besides, the recovery boys get a flash new support vehicle as well.

    Niall, why don’t you go off and play with your toys and leave these big conversations to the adults who actually know what they are talking about. There’s a nice lad.

  • The logistic burden of the Abrams is huge, it was enough that the US army HAD to halt them in Iraq to bring forward fuel.

    BTW, you might tell your mate that he is clueless. Abrams uses a Gas turbine engine, it doesn’t have spark plugs, they use ‘exciters’.

    You will also note that the existing engines are old and difficult to maintain (a new one is in the works) or get spares for.

    The Gas turbine is one of the reasons that the M1 is such a gas guzzler, it uses almost as much fuel at idle as it does at full throttle, there is an answer and it is the Europack Diesel tested for the Turks, but that is additional cost (along with that of stripping out the DU armour).

    It’s not the up front cost that worries me, it’s the ongoing cost.

  • It doesn’t really matter how much fuel a gas turbine uses, as they will run on anything that burns and is liquid. Fairly practical for something operating in remote areas.
    The Chieftan is getting pretty long in the tooth, but cheap- you can buy used ones in the UK for about 3,000 quid.
    I always liked the Scorpion light armoured vehicle- they’ve got an E-Type Jaguar motor in them, and go over 100kph over broken ground- sounds like the go for anti-logging protests.

  • BTW Niall, have a look at Black Hawk Down sometime to see what happens to PBI operating in built-up areas without close armoured support.
    Body-bags are a lot cheaper than M1-A1s, but not as politically popular.

    (Sunny Queensland- don’t ya love it?)

  • Top choice in my book.

    Fast, firepower plus accuracy, state of the art armour and electronics.

    A true ‘force multiplier’

    Let the beancounters worry about the running and maintenance costs.
    When the PBI need them, no-one will give a rats arse what it costs.

  • The problem with Abrams is that, in spite of the fact it can run on any available fuel, you still have to ship that fuel forward, and you have to ship at least twice as much as you would for a Leopard 2 (from the Swiss trials), you also need twice as many tanker vehicles (and fuel for them) to move that fuel and 2x the tanker crews and maintainers and security troops and do twice as much damage to remote roads etc, etc.

    Certainly the beancounters will worry about the running costs, they will simply take the funding in a limited defence budget from someone else and traditionally it is the PBI who lose out.

  • Harry,
    Sadly, I think you are wasting your time with your arguments on this subject here. Some things never change!

  • I was being flippant in the post and I’ve been an infantryman and a logistician but experience has told me that neither the supplier or end-user knows everything and what either of us want is only part of the formula.

    Why is Leah sarcastically defending the decision? Most probably because he?s sick and tired of hearing that mathematically, the Abrams isn?t the best choice. I think he is saying ?I know what you?re saying but there are things you don?t know?

    …it was enough that the US army HAD to halt them in Iraq to bring forward fuel

    Supply lines were stretched and they had to stop for everything – not just tanks. Unfair to use one of the greatest time and distance assaults in warfare as an example of logistic train problems.

    Kev Metcalf emailed me and, I think, sums up the problem fairly well;

    The problem we face is it seems we will wind up with about 45 Abrams in 1AR and 15 at Pucka, that force will never be suitable for mass deployment and will only ever be suitable to be used in penny packet deployments supporting Inf rather than as a flanking Bde (UK 7th Armoured Bde for example has aprox 100 Challenger 2).

    The 100+ Swiss Leopard 2 we could have got would have given us the core of a deployable Bde force.

    If Howard and Hill were under pressure, they should have called Bush and suggested that the pressure be removed, we after all turned up where many others refused.

    If we can’t afford to support our tanks in the field alone we shouldn’t be buying them – it is not incredible that we may choose to (or have to) operate them without US support, look at E. Timor as an example, Clinton made it clear that we were on our own (“no boots on the ground”), I don’t believe that GWB would hang us out to dry, but he will not be president forever.

    I don?t disagree with anything he says but I can imagine Howard/Hill could well have thought that the US suggestion that we have like items in inventory was reasonable. It is what we have done for a very long time in respect of rifles, machine guns, APCs, choppers, FGA jets, bombers, destroyers, software. Tanks are not in that list but when the Australian Army was a Brit ?sub-unit? so to speak we had their Centurians. Do I need to remind anyone of the huge logistic burden of keeping those old girls going in Vietnam. I would suggest, comparatively speaking, as much as we are talking now but the emphasis was always to help us Infantryman. Years of Leopards followed but we never deployed them and from our experience in the Territory we couldn?t have deployed them to any hot-climate theatre. (I know, the new ones will have a/c) Now we are clearly very US aligned I don?t find it incongruous that we use their tank. If we deploy an armoured group it will most probably be with the yanks and the supply will be there. If it isn’t, we will still have our own supply line.

    Kev, you are right, but mainly from a tankies perspective.
    Harry, you are right, your maths are very good but we have to accept that global economies and politics sometimes says 2 + 2 = 5
    Niall, you?re wrong. You need to accept Infantry are thin skinned.
    Paul, you’re right, things don’t change, but neither of us should be surprised about that. I’m sure some Leigionaire claimed the MK 4 battle chariot was too heavy and thus overloaded the fodder supply line.

  • Didn’t a EU country refuse parts supply in GW2? That should be considered.

    Domestically the M1`s serve as a deterrent forcing enemies to seek other methods.

    If needed OS then I think the US would happy for Au to just supply the personnel making it a lot cheaper and easier logistically. But is that the way its being set up?

  • “Didn’t a EU country refuse parts supply in GW2? That should be considered.”

    Not that I’m aware of, but even if it were the case there are a lot of different Leopard 2 operators (Spain, Norway, Poland, Greece as diverse examples) from whom we could source parts if need be.

    Domestically Leopard 2s would serve as a deterrent as well.

    “If needed OS”, your plan only works if we are operating in direct support of the USA and have their logistic support – historically it’s not uncommon for us to turn up well before the US, or in the case of E.Timor with out them.

  • Thanks Harry, Well if the Leopard is the most logical or any other tank then they should be considered.

  • “Because tanks provide real muscle to deployed troops.”

    Assuming the tanks are deployed. Why no Leopards in East Timor? Are we better off investing in a light armoured tank with lower logistic requirements for situations like this?

  • Leopards were on standby to go to E.Timor, but there was little organised resistance so they were not needed.

    If the TNI had provided a limited number of RPGs or similar to the militias, many of our lighter AFVs would have become a lot less viable.

    We already have light AFVs, what the army wants is something survivable in an RPG heavy environment, that carrys a heavy punch – that is an MBT, not a light tank.

  • If that is so, why did they choose that new IFV? It looks like a sitting duck.

  • Aust doesn’t have an IFV, which vehicle do you mean?

    Do you mean the Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle?

    If so, that is not meant to fight, it is meant to get troops near the fight (the modern equivalent of truck mounted infantry).

  • No. More than truck mounted. ADI claim ‘…monocoque all welded …to withstand 5.56 and 7.62 mm ball and AP mines. Still I saw my machine gunner put a 7.62 round thru an APC (whilst sitting on top) and since then never thought I was bullet proof inside one.

  • I just missed out on playing with the LAV 25 and the bison variant. Aparently they are lighter faster and better armoured than the APC plus have the ability to dump a section on or beyond the objective whilst offering a bit of protection. I still don’t know if i would trust them to withstand a 762 ball from right on top, but then there are very few things that i would.

  • The purpose of the Bushmaster (from project Bushranger) is to provide transport for motorised Bns.

    It is an IMV, not in IFV – just the modern personnel carrying equivalent of a military truck.

  • Very well, it is a modernised truck. Thankyou.

    The fact the US armour is useable in Europe and in the Mid East, should be a signal it is suitable for here.

    I always thought the Abrams had excellent fire direction control, with ammuntion capable of busting any opposing tank. Why buy crap when you can have this?

    “It’s heavy” so is fifty tonnes. I always thought the British tanks were in fact slower anyway?

  • You might have noticed that here is neither Europe nor the Mid East, however that isn’t the issue.

    The Leopard 2A4 and A5 use the same 120mm gun as the Abrams (the Germans developed it, the US adopted it).

    The Leopard 2A6 (that the Swiss Leopard can be upgraded to) uses a better gun (one that delivers the same hitting power as the Abrams without the political difficulties of using DU ammo).

    The Brit tank (Challenger 2, not Cheiftan BTW) was excluded from the competition early. The Swiss Leopard 2 (that we are looking at) weighs 62500 kgs and has a diesel engine that develops 1500hp, just like the US Abrams Gas Turbine engine, except it uses around half the fuel to do it.

    It isn’t about the weight of the tank, its the costly logistical tail that the Abrams requires.