Australia details big wish-list in defence white paper

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Australia’s defence white paper, which was released on Saturday, has a wide-ranging wish list that aims to revamp the country’s military in the next 20 years. This envisages a big growth in the defence budget, which is bound to face opposition from various groups.

Here are some highlights relating to military aviation, with hyperlinks to the key sections in the white paper itself.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s “potent and flexible air combat capability is a cornerstone of Australia’s defence posture,” says defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon. “Control of the air over our territory and maritime approaches is critical to all other operations in the defence of Australia.” This includes:

Acquiring around 100 fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft (above) and associated weapons systems;

• Half of Australia’s Boeing F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet fleet will be configured on the production line to enable them to be converted to the EA-18G ‘Growler’ electronic attack variant should later strategic circumstances dictate;

• Delivery of five EADS KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport for air-to-air refuelling will begin soon, increasing the range and endurance of combat and surveillance aircraft;

• Reaffirming the commitment to six new Boeing 737-based Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft to provide surveillance, command and control functions to other networked Australian Defence Force platforms;

• Buying eight new maritime patrol aircraft, which will provide advanced antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities as well as sophisticated maritime search capabilities;

• Buying approximately seven new high-altitude, long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to compliment the new maritime patrol aircraft and replace the Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orion fleet with a more comprehensive and advanced maritime surveillance capability;

• Enhanced air transport capability options through the acquisition of a two additional Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules to bring the total fleet number to 14 aircraft;

• Up to 10 new tactical battlefield airlifters with a significantly greater range, speed, payload and protection measures that the retiring de Havilland DHC-4 Caribous;

The Royal Australia Navy should “operate closely with air combat and maritime surveillance and response aircraft to establish sea control, and project force across our vast maritime environment,” says Fitzgibbon. This will include:

• A new fleet of at least 24 new naval combat helicopters, equipped with dipping sonars to detect submarines at greater ranges;

Six new NH Industries NH-90 multi-role helicopters that will replace the general utility service previously provided by the Westland Sea King fleet;

The Royal Australian Army must be “capable of conducting joint land combat in a complex operational environment and be able to defeat incursions onto the Australian mainland, territories and offshore installations,” says Fitzgibbon. This entails:

• Improved mobility through the acquisition of seven new Boeing CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters;

• Acquisition of a range of UAVs to support the ground forces.

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One Response to Australia details big wish-list in defence white paper

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