Page 60 - Australian Defence Magazine September 2018
P. 60

“Given the unique effects that tanks provide, a Joint Land Force committed to combat without them does so at a disadvantage.”
In terms of tactical mobility the M1 eclipses all other ground-based vehicles. Tactical mobility is the combination of vehicle speed, rate of turn, climb, obstacle crossing ability and trafficability — key attributes when moving to and engaged in combat. The M1 can rapidly accelerate to around 65 kilometres per hour on road and travel off road at around 50 kilometres per hour, allowing it to sprint between po- sitions of cover.
vehicle ground pressure and engine power to weight ratio. The M1 generates lower ground pressure than the ASLAV and M113 as well as the wheeled protected mo- bility vehicles which have been routinely deployed in the region and globally. This is because a tank’s weight is evenly distrib- uted across hundreds of pieces of track, rather than four or eight wheels. Rather than an ‘elephant in stilettos’, the M1 tank is more akin to a ‘centipede in sneakers’.
Furthermore, the M1 har- nesses the power of a jet engine. The M1’s Army Ground Tur- bine 1500 horsepower (hp) gas turbine engine has the power to propel it through difficult terrain which lighter vehicles cannot ‘push’ through, such as boggy ground or jungle. The tank’s engine far sur- passes the M113AS4’s and ASLAVs diesel engines which
produce 350 and 275 hp respectively. These characteristics allow the tank to cross a variety of terrain types such as jungle, desert or savannah and crush or drive through obstacles such as barbed wire entanglements, concrete blocks, trees, car bodies and even buildings. This high degree of tactical mobility al- lows tanks to close with the enemy on ground of their choice, and their advan- tage, rather than be channelled into an
area of the enemies choosing.
Historically, tanks were often the only vehicle with sufficient tactical mobility to support Australian soldiers during the South West Pacific Campaign (fought in our region) during the Second World War. Tanks were used extensively to sup- port infantry to secure heavily fortified objectives in New Guinea, Papua and Bougainville. Australian troops also con- ducted numerous amphibious landings utilising tanks such as at Labuan, Tara- kan and Balikpapan.
In US service they were also employed to destroy other tanks, such as occurred during the battles on Saipan where the US Marine Corps destroyed 48 Japanese tanks. Likewise, the British and Japanese armies also utilised tanks during the war in Burma and Malaya. The ADF’s M1 tank has far greater tactical mobility than the tanks used during these campaigns and can rely upon far more capable assets to provide it strategic mobility.
While the M1 is larger and heavier than the M113 and ASLAV, it should not be concluded that the tank cannot be de- ployed and has poor strategic mobility be- cause of these factors. The M1 can deploy via tank transporter trucks on road and via Australian rail. Army has routinely em- ployed both methods between the North- ern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland in support of training. This capability will grow as project Land 121 delivers a range of Heavy Equipment
It can ‘pivot’ or turn on its own axis, climb a 60 per cent slope or a metre high wall and cross a gap of about three metres, such as a trench, at speed. Notably, while the tracked M113 possesses a tighter turn rate and the wheeled ASLAV a higher on road speed, both vehicles have significant- ly less capability in traversing broken ter- rain, crossing obstacles or turning in the narrow confines of a street.
Trafficability, or the tractive and push- ing power of the vehicle, is influenced by
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