Friday, October 07, 2011

Calm down dears

Contrary to some rumours, the Greeks have not just bought 400 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. The original press report, on which subsequent rumours are based, refers to the refurbishment or upgrade of second-hand US tanks currently in storage in Europe, and their acquisition by Greece, a process which has been ongoing since last year.

The problem for the Greek Army is that it still operates a number of very old M48/60s, which need urgent replacement. Leopard-2 stocks from Holland and Germany are depleted, and there is no option for replacement with that type, despite some 350 earlier Leopard 1 models currently being operated by the Greek Army.

The Army is thus seeking alternative solutions from the US Army. The only obstacle is the poor operational condition of US equipment, requiring large funds for their re-activation. It does, however, revisit an old ambition of the Greek Army, which nearly purchased Abrams tanks in a deal negotiated in 2001.

So far no work has been done on this new initiative, but Letters of Offer (LOA) and acceptance are expected soon, following approval by the US government. A fleet of AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles is also to be ungraded, making this a routine upgrade contract for armoured vehicles that are now older than the Second World War was long.

As for the Abrams tanks, you wouldn't be using M1A1s for a military coup - which would not, in any event, be delivered before 2014. Their fuel-hungry gas turbines make them highly unsuitable for such purposes. You would be better off with M113s, of which the Greek Army has a considerable stock. The target, as always, is the Turkish Army, which is the ever-present threat.