Monday, September 15, 2008

101 tanks never fired in anger, one owner

FOR sale: 101 used Leopard main battle tanks, in going order, never seen any action except war games, please apply Australian Defence Force, price negotiable.

The army is offering its 1960s vintage Leopard 1 tanks for sale to a foreign buyer and is negotiating with several unnamed countries, The Australian reports.

The once formidable German-built Leopards are now surplus to requirements. Much of the ADF's inventory is being upgraded or replaced under a $20 billion-a-year defence acquisition program.
The tanks never saw action, although a squadron was loaded in preparation for deployment to East Timor in 1999 but then unloaded because in the words of one senior armoured corps officer: "It might have sent the wrong message to the Indonesians."
The Howard government bought the army 59 refurbished M1A1 Abrams from the US as it was concerned the Leopards had passed their use-by date and were vulnerable to the latest anti-armour missiles.

The 42-tonne Leopards, worth $600,000 each in their day, entered service in 1977 as a replacement for the British-made Centurion. They were verging on obsolescence in Germany when they were acquired by the ADF.
The pensioned-off Leopards are now under canvas in a field at the army's Bandiana storage facility in Victoria awaiting a foreign military buyer

"The Leopard fleet consists of around 100 vehicles. Discussions are continuing with a number of potential buyers," a Defence spokeswoman said.


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