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Australia to buy new tanks from US

PLA Daily 2004-03-11

CANBERRA, March 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The Australian army will buy 550 million Australian dollars (about 423 million US dollars) worth of US tanks to upgrade its fighting ability, Defense Minister Robert Hill announced here Wednesday.

The army will import 59 M1A1 Abrams battle tanks to replace the 100 30-year-old German-built Leopards.

Hill told reporters the new tanks will "provide increased fire power, mobility and survivability for our soldiers on the battlefield."

The Abrams weights 67 tonnes and features a 120mm gun, a gas turbine engine and a top speed of 67 km per hour.

The Australian daily said on Wednesday the much-talked deal will further strengthen the Australian-US alliance.

A report carried on the newspaper said the purchase means "Australian and US forces will be able to conduct more joint training exercises and that trained Australian crews could be flown to war zones to pilot US tanks."

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