Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2014 Contents 27
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 01 | AUG 2014
At various times during the 1990s there was discussion about
replacing the Army’s tank capability with wheeled fire support
vehicles, but in the end any plans remained just that and the
Army retained the Leopard AS1 until replacement by the Gen-
eral Dynamics M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management (AIM)
Abrams in 2007.
The acquisition of 59 M1A1 Abrams was accompanied by seven
M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility
Lift and Evacuation System) armoured recovery vehicles, 14 Heavy
Tank Transporters (combination of the MAN TGA 8x8 tractor
truck and Drake low-loader trailer) and six Advanced Gunnery
Trainer Simulators (AGTS). A tank driver trainer and a number of
Mack 6x6 refuelling trucks have since been acquired in support of
the MBT capability.
As a direct Foreign Military Sales transaction, the only modifi-
cations made to the Australian Abrams were fitment of mounts for
the F-88 Steyr 5.56mm individual weapon; an infantry/tank tele-
phone to enable supporting infantry to communicate directly with
the tank commander when shut down; elements of the crew climate
control system from the Leopard AS1; and integration of the Infan-
try Personal Role Radio. Within several years of entering service
the factory-applied desert tan livery had been replaced the Army’s
distinctive three-tone disruptive pattern camouflage paint scheme.
The Army sees future land operations involving heavy armour as
occurring predominantly in complex terrain against a pervasive
threat from a range of highly lethal hand-held weapons at short en-
As such, Australian tanks must be able to survive multiple anti-
armour hits while manoeuvring in close contact and remaining in
the fight to support the combined arms team (infantry).
The combined arms team is a central theme in the Army’s wide
ranging Plan Beersheba, which sees the M1A1 Abrams capability
at the very core of the combined arms team’s fighting power and,
therefore, Plan Beersheba itself.
Plan Beersheba aims to maximise the effectiveness of the Army’s
36-month force generation cycle (FGC) and provide the widest
range of sustained and effective Land Force capabilities. cont. p28
he Australian Army has enjoyed
the use of a heavy tank capability
since the introduction of the Mk 3/5
Centurion main battle tank (MBT)
in the 1950s, whereupon it was replaced after
successful combat use in Vietnam by the world-
leading Leopard AS1 in 1977.
The Australian M1A1 Abrams package also
included three 120mm ammunition natures:
the anti-armour KEW-A2 armour-piercing
fin-stabilised discarding sabot — tracer
(APFDSD-T) round, the M830A1 Multi-
Purpose/Anti-Tank (MPAT) round and the
short-range but devastating M1028 anti-
personnel canister round.
The latter two natures perhaps exemplify
the close combat fire support role played by
Australian MBTs in support of dismounted
infantry and the combined arms team –
rather than a more traditional tank versus
tank role – in complex terrain against both
conventional and dispersed enemy forces.
Brought into US service for urgent use
in Iraq, the M1028 canister round contains
1,100 9.5mm tungsten balls which exit the
muzzle at 1,410m/s for a shotgun-like spread
pattern out to around 500m. The canister
round is ideal for breaking up concentrations
of enemy troops, repulsing massed infantry
assaults, destroying light vehicles and to
disrupt ambush sites in built-up areas.
In its secondary role it is also used to
clear heavy foliage and wire obstacles and
as a breaching round to level cinder block
and mud brick walls and knock man-size
entry points in reinforced concrete walls to
support dismounted infantry raids at
ranges up to 75m.
The MPAT round is a high-explosive anti-
tank cartridge with improved effectiveness
against bunkers, hardpoints and light
armoured vehicles. MPAT also has an anti-
helicopter capability, utilising its proximity
fused, air-burst fragmentation mode to
destroy targeted aircraft. The MPAT round’s
muzzle velocity of 1,400m/s ensures a very
fast time of flight to target.
A typical bomb-load for Australian Army
M1A1 Abrams would see around 25 per cent
dedicated to the APFSDS-T round, with the
remaining shared between the MPAT and
EQUIPPED FOR CLOSE COMBAT
The ammunition load out on board Australian Army
M1A1 Abrams is typically biased towards close
combat in complex terrain aginst a variety of targets.
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