On Friday, 22 September, Army took delivery of the first 18 Abrams M1A1 AIM Main Battle Tanks and five Hercules Armoured Recovery Vehicles (ARVs).
These first 18 Abrams were moved by road, on the Heavy Tank Transporters, to the School of Armour at Puckapunyal, where they will be stationed and used for training. These vehicles were moved via Westgate Bridge, Western Ringroad and the Hume Highway without incident.
In March 2007, the next shipment of 41 Abrams and two ARVs will arrive by sea in Darwin. Army’s fleet of 14 Heavy Tank Transporters will be on hand to move them by road when and where required.
Army has been assured by the Chief Transport Inspector of Northern Territory Roads that we will be able to access our normal training areas, as required.
Army is well practiced in deploying tanks by road from Darwin via Katherine to training areas in the south of Australia. Army is well practiced in deploying tanks by road from Darwin via Katherine to training areas in the south of Australia. The current Leopard tank and transporter exceeds 50 tonne and has moved through Katherine with the approval of the NT Chief Transport Inspector without issue.
An extensive rail study has been undertaken and a request for tender will soon by released to obtain the necessary rolling stock to support the movement of the Abrams family of vehicles in Australia. This rolling stock will be delivered in a timely manner and will not only support the Abrams but will also be able to lift a range other armoured vehicles, artillery and heavy engineering equipment.
The Australian Abrams weighs less than 62 metric tonnes in its combat configuration, which includes a full complement of fuel, rations, ammunition and crew. The transit weight without these is far less.
The Abrams is powered by a gas turbine engine and operates on diesel fuel. In its current configuration, fuel consumption and engine-wear has been reduced by around 40 per cent due to improved mechanical efficiency and the use of simulation. Indeed, by using simulation for basic training, the amount of actual driver on-road training can be reduced by 65 per cent.