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US approves further Chinook helicopters, Abrams tanks for Australia

Australian Abrams tank live fire
Australia currently operates M1A1 Abrams tanks. Australian Army photo

The US State Department has approved potential sales of further CH-47F Chinook helicopters and M1 Abrams tanks to Australia, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) disclosed on April 29.

Should it be realized, the deal for the additional four Boeing-built Chinook helicopters would be worth an estimated $259 million. It would also include additional T55-GA-714A engines and navigation systems.

The four new Chinooks would refresh the Australian Army fleet of ten CH-47 currently in service. Australia first started operating the CH-47 in 1974, when the first units were delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force.

In addition to the helicopters, the US also cleared the potential sale of the latest version of the M1 Abrams tank for an estimated $1.685 billion.

The price tag includes 160 M1A1 tank structures/hulls, which would be used for the assembly and delivery of 29 M1150 assault breacher vehicles (ABV), 18 M1074 joint assault bridges (JAB), 6 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles and 75 Abrams tanks.

The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams features multiple upgrades to improve power generation, network compatibility, survivability and other vulnerability reduction measures to reduce the tank’s vulnerability to IEDs.

The M1A2 SEPv3 would represent an upgrade for the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.

While Australia already operates the M88A2 Hercules, for de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the Australian tank fleet, the M1150 (ABVs) and M1074 JABs would be a new capability for the Australian armed forces, bringing under-armor bridging and breaching capability.

Last week, the US State Department also approved Australia’s purchase of 12 MQ-9B Sky Guardian medium altitude long endurance remotely piloted aircraft system (MALE RPAS) for its air force.