The Austrian Army is set to decommission around 750 armoured vehicles from its current fleet inventory of 1,150 vehicles, in the wake of cuts announced by the Defence Ministry in November 2011 to generate savings for investments in multipurpose vehicles.
The ministry announced that the Austrian armed forces will dispose about two thirds of its heavy equipment fleet, including various types of tanks, 20mm and 35mm anti-aircraft guns, Mistral anti-aircraft missiles, Panzerabwehrlenkwaffe 2000 anti-tank missiles and mortars, by 2014.
In order to reduce defence expenditure, the SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyers, the M578 Light Recovery Vehicles and the Saurer tracked armoured personnel carriers will be completely retired from the service.
The fleet of Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks (MBTs) will be slashed to half and only about half of the current inventory of M109 self-propelled howitzers will be retained.
However, the entire fleet of Ulan infantry fighting vehicles, Pandur armoured transport vehicles, as well as other armoured recovery and combat engineer vehicles, will remain in active service with the army.
The disposal is expected to generate revenue of up to €17m, while medium-term and long-term savings in related operating costs could, according to expert estimates, amount to more than €15m annually.
The reduction will be accompanied by scrapping, recycling or the sale of retired vehicles, under a coordinated approach which will meet all legal requirements and will be closely coordinated with the Foreign Ministry during sale to export customers.
Previous cuts, announced in 2007, had already reduced the army's armoured vehicle holdings by 260 vehicles.
In addition, the armed forces are also expected to reduce the number of personnel by approximately 1,000 by 2014, to align capabilities with realistic operational scenarios.
Image: Austrian Army's SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyer at the Military History Museum in Vienna, Austria. Photo courtesy of: GuentherZ.