What next for Australia’s defence procurements?

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Who is waiting for the Australian defence white paper? Not Canberra itself, it seems.

The defence establishment down under is moving ahead of the release in April by making some key decisions. These include wiring half of the 24 Boeing F/A-18Fs Australia has ordered so that they can be converted into E/A-18G growlers in the future, and shelving further collaboration on the US Navy’s Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Global Hawk-based (above) Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programme.

All of this goes to show that things are still fluid in the Australian defence procurement plans. What else is left then?

We should hear more in the coming weeks about Australia’s commitment to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – with some speculating that Canberra could go for fewer fighters than originally planned – and Boeing P-8 Poseidon. The naval air wing’s helicopter fleet should also come under closer scrutiny.

Watch this space as Avalon 2009, the Australian International Airshow, begins next week.

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