$40 billion tank madness

K9 Thunder

Despite the withdrawal of all allied forces from the middle east and now Afghanistan, the government still plans to spend billions on even more armoured vehicles. If the government didn’t use tanks in Afghanistan, where would they use them? Tanks could not be used anywhere in the pacific as they are too hard to deploy and would break all the roads.

What Australia really needs is a reliable anti-ship capability capable of discouraging hostile forces from approaching the edge of the continent – not tanks to ‘fight them on the beaches’ because we could not stop them earlier. 

All these locally built tanks are more about fighting elections than fighting wars.

Marcus Hellyer summarises these purchases in a handy table in this ASPI article. We have reproduced the table below with added links and a weight column. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lynx-and-boxer-and-k9-1024x223.jpg
Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle and K9 Thunder howitzer
CapabilityNumber of vehiclesBudget ($Billion)Weight each (Tonnes)Status
Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle2115.76838First tranche of 25 delivered from Europe. Local production commencing in 2022.
Infantry fighting vehicle45018.1–27.125Selection process underway.
M1A2 tank750.6–1.074Congress notified of potential purchase.
Assault breacher vehicles290.9–1.358Congress notified of potential purchase.
Assault bridges18With above62Congress notified of potential purchase.
Self-propelled howitzer & resupply vehicles90 4.5–6.847Restricted request for tender issued to Hanwha for the K-9.

We propose that new defence spending is channelled towards what’s needed to defend Australia:  

  • Long range aircraft such as the stealthy B21 
  • Off-the-shelf fuel cell submarines such as the Scorpène or Type 214 
  • Medium range anti-ship missiles 

This force structure would be more capable of defending Australia from the serious threats we now face – and far cheaper than tanks, frigates and bespoke submarines. 


Tanks are only the tip of an impending $40 billion capability iceberg (Dr Marcus Hellyer, ASPI, August 2021) 

Tanks and the ADF capability calculus (Andrew Davies, ASPI, July 2021) 

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