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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4538

Mr Kennedy asked the Minister for the

Army, upon notice:

(1)   When was the Centurion tank first acquired for the Australian Army.

(2)   How many have been purchased since that date.

(3)   In which overseas theatres have they been used and when.

(4)   How many are still fully operational.

(5)   Where are the operational tanks located, and how many are located at each place.

(6)   What was the average purchase price.

(7)   What is the crew of a tank, and how many are there of each rank.

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Centurion tanks were first acquired in 1952.

(2)   Within the period 1952-1961, a total of 127 tanks of all configurations were received. In 1969 one further tank and three hulls were purchased from New Zealand and in 1970 a further 15 tanks from the United Kingdom (ex Hong Kong). These latter purchases were made to sustain the repair/rebuild cycle supporting tanks deployed in South Vietnam. Total acquisition since 1952 has thus covered 143 complete tanks of various configurations.

(3)   The only, overseas theatre where Centurion tanks have been deployed by the Australian Army is Vietnam.

(4)   At present 80 of the total fleet are fully operational, of which 18 are in depot stock. Repair programmes for the remainder of the fleet are in hand.

(5)   It would not be in the public interest to provide this information.

(6)   The average price of the tanks initially procured was $120,000. Later procurement of used tanks was at an average price of $14,000 from the United Kingdom and $8,000 from New Zealand. These acquisition costs do not reflect the cost of modifications and rebuilds, which cannot be fully established.

(7)   The crew of the Centurion tank is 4, comprising Commander, gunner, radio operator and driver. The Commander could be an officer, sergeant or corporal. A percentage of the gunners, radio operators and drivers may be corporals or lance corporals and the remainder of the crew are troopers.

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