TechAustralia mulls over bolstering Ukraine's military with tanks, helicopters

Australia mulls over bolstering Ukraine's military with tanks, helicopters

M1A1 Abrams tanks during training in Germany.
M1A1 Abrams tanks during training in Germany.
Images source: © 7th Army Training Command

3:44 PM EST, March 1, 2024

The possibility of Australia transferring tanks and helicopters to Ukraine started gaining media attention in 2023. Notably, the Defence Express portal, which focuses on military news, reported that Ukrainian representatives had taken formal diplomatic steps. Vasyl Myroshnychenko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, along with Kateryna Ogir, the leader of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, made a joint appeal during a Canberra meeting for the Australian government to provide Ukraine with decommissioned Abrams tanks and MRH-90 Taipan helicopters.
To date, Ukraine has received 31 Abrams tanks as part of the support from the United States. Initially, there was consideration of sending the M1A2 Abrams variants; however, the older and refurbished M1A1 variants were ultimately sent to the battlefield. These tanks come with a 120 mm gun, and 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine guns, weigh 63 tons, and have a length of almost 33 feet, and yet, they can reach speeds of approximately 42 mph.

Ukraine wants Abrams tanks from Australia

Australia possesses 59 M1A1 Abrams tanks, each upgraded for Situational Awareness, which includes enhanced thermal imaging for the gunner and the Far Target Locate system, along with improved armor. The intention behind their potential transfer to Ukraine is influenced by Australia’s military upgrade to the newer Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 variant, similar to those ordered by Poland.

Is there a chance for MRH-90 Taipan for Ukraine?

Regarding the MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, Australia has retired 45 units due to multiple technical issues and a tragic crash in late July 2023, which resulted in the loss of four Australian soldiers. The dilemma lies in Ukraine’s timing; their request came after the scrapping process of these helicopters had begun. Nonetheless, in February, news surfaced that retired military engineers offered their services free of charge to refurbish the grounded MRH-90 Taipan fleet. Australian sources close to the scrapping process have hinted that a "handful" of these helicopters might still be salvageable and restored to flying condition.
The MRH-90 Taipan is a versatile helicopter powered by two engines (Rolls-Royce Turboméca RTM322-01/9 or General Electric T700/T6E1) that collectively produce over 5,400 hp. It can reach speeds of about 186 mph and operates at altitudes up to 20,000 feet, with seating for up to 20 passengers.
Ukraine’s quest for stronger air capabilities is driven by the need to counter Russian air superiority since the war's onset. Apart from seeking F/A-18 Hornet fighters from Australia and Mirage 2000 fighters from France, Ukraine is eagerly awaiting the delivery of F-16 fighters promised by several European nations. These are anticipated to reinforce Ukraine’s air defenses by March or April, according to recent updates.
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