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Precision and Power: Australian Army Refuels Abrams Tanks Using CH-47 Chinook

For the initial time in half a decade, the 5th Aviation Regiment (5 AVN) and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 CAV) executed a tactical refuelling of three M1 Abrams primary combat tanks by a CH-47 Chinook at the Townsville Field Training Area. As an element of Exercise Eagle Walk, soldiers rehearsed fuelling protocols utilizing a makeshift method known as a ‘fat cow.’ Major George Flannery, of 2 CAV, the Officer Commanding for the tank squadron that collaborated with 5 AVN units to perform the refuelling, stated that the tanks were the most shielded and deadly ωeapon system on the battlefield, but they were “extremely thirsty”.

“Our terrestrial refuelling resources, such as the HX 77 trucks, can’t always navigate in locations with rugged terrain. Hence, with these capabilities synergizing, we understand refuelling can transpire anytime, anywhere. The training was pivotal in refining soldiering competencies. It’s vital for us to rehearse this method, not only to discover methods we can execute it more swiftly and effortlessly in the future, but also to equip soldiers for forthcoming warfighting drills like Exercise Talisman Sabre,” Major Flannery articulated.

For numerous soldiers like 2 CAV armoured crewman Trooper Travis Brown, it was their inaugural experience being part of a tactical refuelling. “You witness things you don’t observe every day. For drills like this, it’s beneficial for us to be in a field environment, making errors so we discern how to rectify them. This guides us into the subsequent tactical exercise more prepared for what’s ahead,” Trooper Brown articulated.

The operational fleet of Abrams under the Australian Defence Force is maintained by the Army’s three Armoured Cavalry Regiments in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Townsville. Moreover, vehicles for training purposes are also kept at the School of Armour in Puckapunyal and the Army Logistic Training Centre at Bandiana. To back the Abrams, the ADF has manufactured seven M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System) armoured recovery vehicles.

The Australian Defence Force has operated Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for the majority of the period since 1974. Thirty-four of the type have been commissioned into Australian service, comprising twelve CH-47C variants, eight CH-47Ds, and fourteen CH-47Fs.

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