AUSTRALIANS will soon be able to own, and use, a slice of military history, as a huge sale of second-hand vehicles kicks off the largest disposal of defence equipment since World War II.
A vast range of war fighting kit from machine guns to jet fighters and torpedos to warships will eventually be sold.
Starting in March, up to 12,000 vehicles, including Land Rovers, trucks, semi-trailers, tankers, Unimogs, motorcycles and trailers valued at more than $100 million will be sold by Sydney-based firm Australian National Disposals, trading as Australian Frontline Machinery (AFM).
Most are about 25 years old with 125,000km on the clock and not a bullet hole in sight, in either khaki or a fetching camouflage paint scheme.
Defence is buying a new vehicle fleet for $7 billion with phase three of the project to deliver about 4600 light to heavy vehicles worth $3.1 billion.
Over the 15 years, the Commonwealth will also sell hundreds of warplanes, warships, helicopters, armoured vehicles, explosives and weapons as it moves to replace 85 per cent of military equipment.
The sale of combat equipment is subject to strict rules to prevent it falling in to the hands of potential enemies or dodgy dictators. Countries such as Fiji, Syria, Yemen and Iran, and companies dealing with such regimes, are on the banned list.
The overall sale of used gear will yield hundreds of millions of dollars that will offset the cost of weapons systems such as new generation submarines and frigates and stealth fighter jets.
The vehicle offering will eventually include 3300 Land Rovers and light vehicles, 2500 light trailers, 2430 medium trucks, 1100 medium-heavy trucks, 110 semi-trailers and 80 low loaders.
The first sale will be held in March using on-line auction house Graysonline when 70 vehicles will go under the virtual hammer.
AFM has a 12,000 square metre undercover facility at Minto in southwest Sydney where the vehicles will be sanitised, upgraded and stored for inspection by potential buyers.
Company spokesman Luke Parker said the vehicles would be thoroughly checked for hazardous materials before being sold under open auction conditions.
About 1000 will go each year and many of them will be sold with a blue slip for registration and be ready for work.
"They will be sold unreserved so we expect some absolute bargains will be there for those with the cash on the day," Mr Parker said.
Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare said the vehicles would be sold to Australian and overseas buyers to maximise the financial return to the Commonwealth.
Interested parties can register their interest with the Defence Disposals Agency at www.defence.gov.au/dda or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
THE DEFENCE GARAGE SALE
12,000 vehicles (3300 Land Rovers variants, 2500 light trailers, 2430 medium trucks)
Up to 24 ships; (Landing ships HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla, supply ship, frigates, barges)
70 combat aircraft; (F/A-18 Hornet fighters)
110 other aircraft; (C-130 Hercules, King Air)
* 120 helicopters; (Sea King, Seahawk, Blackhawk)
* 600 armoured vehicles; (Armoured personnel carriers)
* A range of communications systems, weapons and explosive ordnance (M2A2 Howitzers, 30 calibre machine guns, Hamel guns, M60D Machine guns, SLRs, torpedos). (News)