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The real cost of AUKUS

We will never know the full extent of what our government has signed up to with their AUKUS deal but it is increasingly looking like we are to become the dumping ground for obsolete armaments.

On Monday, Peter Dutton issued a press release announcing that Australia has locked in the purchase of more than 120 tanks and other armoured vehicles from the United States, at a cost of $3.5 billion.

“Army will receive up to 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks, 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles, 17 M1074 Joint Assault Bridge Vehicles and an additional six M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicles.”

One wonders why Dutton waited till now to make that announcement since the US government let the cat out of the bag last year, as reported on June 1 in The Australian.

“The only reason any of this is known is because major US arms exports have to be notified to Congress – and on April 29 the world learnt of a possible sale to Australia of 160 M1A1 hulls and a great deal of related hardware.”

To give some context, Australia’s last deployment of tanks was in the Vietnam War. In 2007, we bought 59 Abrams M1A1s which have never seen combat. As one commentator quipped, “It is almost as if army buys these things and then doesn’t want to scratch the paint.”

According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Abrams tanks are too heavy for our amphibious landing boats and for many of the underdeveloped or degraded roads and bridges in our near region, as well as in large parts of northern Australia. Which begs the question, how would these tanks be used? Should there be a major conflict in the Asia–Pacific region, it would likely be fought mainly by air and naval assets.

Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst with ASPI, said the Australian government had decided that it wants to maintain the ability to engage in “close combat” in urban environments as part of counter-insurgency operations. If they didn’t use them in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria, how likely are we to be doing that in the future?

But the real kicker is that, rather than being new builds, these tanks will be made up of various refurbished and overhauled items in the US inventory.

This is because the production line for the Abrams series ended in 2013, but with 3000 of them in storage since the end of the Cold War, there is plenty of hardware around that can be rebirthed by American companies for customers such as Australia.

Meanwhile, other countries are developing unmanned tanks with drone launching capability and autoloaders, or opting for lighter alternatives, such as the US Army’s light tank ‘mobile protected firepower’ program.

Instead of just upgrading our current fleet, as South Korea is doing, whilst new technology is further developed, we have chosen to buy fully imported refurbished and upgraded platforms that are nearing the end of life-of-type, with billions of dollars heading to the US.

How good is AUKUS.

PS: Just a thought for Peter Dutton. Is there any good reason why we are not using the army to help distribute supplies at the moment? That would be a more welcome announcement.

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  1. Josephus

    Is there anything this lot don’t stuff up? Where are the global , independent aviation experts to scrutinise our lazy decision makers who waste our money to buy votes? We are a third world state on whom arms dealers and defence mega companies dump old technology. We are colonised. Serves us right, you might say… Every candidate for office such as MPs, Ministers etc should undergo a mental health test, and an intelligence test too. That might weed out the worst godbotherers and the psychopaths. Until then we are governed by clowns and spivs. Just been reading cast off Spectator magazines, before ripping them up for safe recycling. Some acceptable writing, but found eg an article saying invermectin should be allowed , as big Pharma was making a fortune out of useless or worse, toxic remedies… words fail me. I sometimes wish such people took invermectin, along with a nice tankard of bleach.

  2. Phil Pryor

    The minute this Aukus farce was touted, some yankee bullshitting military spokesman/salesman was suggesting Australia buy some old USA subs to practice subbing. The Los Angeles old rubbish was active in the 1970’s, and we have to pay retail levels for parts, repair, maintenance, controllers and advice. The main USA attack class today consists of fourteen Ohio class, each with twenty four silos firing a missile with eight retargettable warheads; thus, each sub can theoretically attack 192 targets. These crates were being teethed and tested from 1982, so are old stuff. The new Virginia types will take endless years of testing, accumulation, modification, more of everything.., until USA needs are satisfied. That could be 2035 to 2040, but who knows? Only then would Japan be armed in a strategic plot to have a USA centred northern flank to cover China. By then space tech will have subs as obsolete, unusable. Australia was to be a part of a southern flank insurance…rubbish. As for the old Abrams, three gallons to the mile, no way to transport and refuel adequately, no versatility, totally vulnerable to new weapons tech…all this lying shit to fuel the dreams of an idiot P M who cannot see past drenching and dissolving superstition, fantasy, propaganda, strutting and stroking. Poo.

  3. leefe

    In other words, it’s another monumental waste of money so ScoMoFo and Duttolini can have some new toys with which to be photographed.

  4. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Kaye.

    Gosh. We’d better stop pulling the tiger’s tail – (China) – if this is the stuff we’re going to be defending ourselves with!

    Probly a classic case of ‘Look over there. Nothing to see here.’

  5. David Evans

    Abrams? Just another way of the U.S. ridding itself of depleted uranium stock, sell it to Australia and let them worry about it…., Not another country (or land force) in the World want the bloody things, yet dutton and morrison are in raptures, stuff the diggers who will be sitting in them. And what has happened to the billions invested (and wasted?) so far on bridging systems???? We are being ripped off yet again Australia. I wouldn’t trust these clowns to buy or build a billy cart.

  6. GL

    They’re more like a bunch of children who are updating their 1966 plastic toy weapons for the 1967 plastic toy weapons in 2022. Dunceolini seems to be making up for a personal lack of something with the purchases weapons with big cannons.

  7. Carole

    Let’s hope a Labor government is elected soon and pulls out of this deal. After all, if Morrison can dump perfectly good French subs, surely we are entitled to reject the American castoffs. How could any Prime Minister no matter how deranged appoint a failed Queensland cop to such a sensitive portfolio. The mind boggles. I pity our service men and women if China is provoked into a war against us. We wouldn’t stand a chance.

  8. New England Cocky

    Why does this article suggest another fomrmof the big noise street cars to compensate for small penises syndrome? Scummo & Co have been suckered AGAIN!!!!!

    Think about this:
    1) …. In the Tianamen Square event of the 1980s PRC China mobilised 250,000 troops to suppress and defeat the Chinese people;
    2) ….. The Indonesian invasion of Timor Leste in the 1990s had three divisions of Indonesian troops in the landing wave who were replaced by a fresh three (3) divisions three weeks later.
    Now tell me, how many troops can the Australian Army muster, including sick parade & all desk jockeys? LESS than ONE DIVISION TOTAL!!
    So tell me when will these new military toys be any practical use to Australian military forces in the context of a foreign invasion force landing on Bondi Beach at 0500 hours on any week-day when there are no surf board riders to defend the coast?

  9. Pete Petrass

    “PS: Just a thought for Peter Dutton. Is there any good reason why we are not using the army to help distribute supplies at the moment? That would be a more welcome announcement.”
    That is a very good point, the Army have thousands of truck drivers just sitting around doing nothing.

  10. Terence Mills

    We’ll fight them on the beaches and in the deserts and in the paddocks but not just yet, wait until our second hand tanks have been refurbished……………….but in the meantime we will fight them on the seas and on the oceans but we’ll have to wait for our submarines to be delivered in about twenty years……………………….but in the meantime we’ll fight them at the polling booths and at the ballot boxes and we’ll scare the shit out of them so that they’ll vote for us.

    Spudley P, Dutton

  11. Glenn K

    Everyone misses the obvious. Dutton wants these to use against the Australian population. Crowd control and fear mongering.

  12. Kate Ahearne


    Be careful. You’re no more a mind-reader than I am, and I’m not.

    This site is not provided for people who want to abuse the privilege. I don’t like Peter Dutton at all, but there is no evidence that he plans to turn these or any armaments against the Australian people.

  13. Andrew J. Smith

    Up to date modern defence equipment and optimal human resources, not.

    Recently had an American, after reading The Economist, dribbling on as to how important AUKUS and nuclear subs were, without understanding anything about Australia’s defence strategy and shambolic procurement over the years; plus the fact that there are apparently insufficient submariners.

    An analogy is the office technology procurement in the APS of the ’80s when photocopiers would be ordered when they had not left the factory (to spend program funds before end of financial year), or worse, used but reconditioned photocopiers were imported then sold as new via Australian distributors…..

    Next Australia will change to left hand drive simply so we can import used IC engine vehicles from the US and EU, after they are banned….. becoming subordinate to US and UK again under the guise of the Anglosphere and WASP libertarian socio-economic ideology; compliant colonial or branch office economy.

  14. Gary Smith

    “PS: Just a thought for Peter Dutton. Is there any good reason why we are not using the army to help distribute supplies at the moment? That would be a more welcome announcement.”
    That is a very good point, the Army have thousands of truck drivers just sitting around doing nothing.

    There is no point Army driving trucks when they have nothing onboard. You all think the current shortages in Supermarkets is only caused by deliveries from Distribution centres to Stores; however, this is only part of the story. Most distribution Centres are running low on staff as well as supermarkets in receiving goods. If some journos would do some simple research before posting such dribble, the true facts would emerge. As for thousands of Army drivers sitting around and doing nothing, a great deal of ADF personnel have been deployed domestically in assisting State authorities in the current environment.

  15. Kaye Lee


    The thought was prompted by General Frewen saying there were “plenty of jabs in the country” yet continual reports of shortages.

    I do understand your point about it not just being distribution but our ADF are a highly skilled well-organised mobile workforce who are very good at emergency support – there are innumerable ways they could offer temporary assistance as they have been throughout this pandemic.

    I am sorry you considered the article dribble – it was really about the value of our armaments purchases….or was it just the PS that annoyed you? I’d be interested to hear your views on either. Could the ADF be used to help with the ambulance shortage again for example?

  16. Williambtm

    Australia is the only country in this World with a national government that has an alliance with America.

    No, not an ally of Australia and its people, just a military alliance for their Federal Lib/Nat Federal governing self.

    There is very little of worth or of human value exported to Australia from the USA.

    Obsolete battle tanks sent to Australia in large wooden crates, not unlike Australia’s USA purchased F111s,
    they also arrived in Australia in an array of large wooden boxes.

    The balance of the 72 X white elephant F-35s have still to be delivered.

  17. wam

    AUKUS requires only a slight re-arrangement to describe dutton
    U SUKA.
    The ADF purchases have been for show and served to keep the LNP voters on track. They follow the shakespeare ‘strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then are heard no more.’ Which is to the lib governments advantage because they are lucky to get away with paying double the price for shoddy goods. At the same time as selling assets and bargain prices. ie double get away?

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