Procurement: USMC Thrives on Army Surplus

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February13, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps is getting another 80 M1A1 tanks from the U.S. Army. Previously, the army has given the marines 144 of these tanks. In the past, the marines would buy all their tanks from the same manufacturer that produced them for the army. But after the Cold War ended, the U.S. Army lost over a third of its personnel, and had a surplus of M-1 tanks. The marines were still using the older M60 tank, although they were in the process of buying 221 M1 tanks to replace their older M60A3s. Since M1 production ceased in the 1990s (except for those sold to Egypt, which were assembled in Egypt), it made sense to fill marine demand for M1s from army surplus. The marine corps normally has a force of about 400 tanks, but they are expanding that, and using freebies from the army. The marines make modifications to their M1A1 tanks. These include attachments for deep water fording equipment and a smoke-grenade launcher unique to Marine Corps tanks. The marines have also upgraded their M1s with a different thermal site, and brought back the external telephone (for infantry) before the army did. The M1A1 tanks cost about $4 million new. The marines pay all transportation costs from army storage sites to marine bases. The army and marine share operational data on combat use of the M1, and training techniques. The army also provides specialist training to marines on operation and repair of the M1.


 


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