The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in late April that the State Department approved the Australian government's request to buy additional Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) for an estimated cost of $1.685 billion.
The government of Australia has requested to buy 160 M1A1 Abrams tank structures/hulls provided from stock in order to produce the following end items and spares: 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams MBTs; 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles; 18 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges; 6 M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines. The principal contractors will be General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems, Leonardo DRS and Honeywell Aerospace, the agency said.
According to the DSCA announcement, the M1A2 SEPv3 MBTs will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to the Royal Australian Armored Corps force structure. Additional M88A2 vehicles provide de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the Australian tank fleet. The M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles and M1074 Joint Assault Bridges will be a new capability for the Royal Australian Engineers, bringing under-armor bridging and breaching capability, increasing the effectiveness and survivability of Australian Combat Engineers and providing increased mobility for the armored fleet. According to the Military Balance 2020, Australia currently has 59 M1A1 (AIM) configuration tanks, which were bought from the U.S. in 2006 and replaced the Leopard AS1 in 2007.