Australia’s defence budget: A$72,766,619.18 per day

Think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute has produceda 255 page report titled the Cost of Defence about Australia‘s2011-2012 defence budget. It pegs the daily expenditure at A$72.8 million ($77million).

While the report touches on all aspects of Australia‘smilitary. It expresses doubts that  Australiais on-track to achieve Force 2030, the high-tech, flexible force envisaged in a2009 government white paper. The issue, said ASPI, is delayed acquisition programmes.

While ASPI’s insights into the issues facing Australia‘sdefence establishment are worth reading, the sections dealing with air force,army, and naval aviation are illuminating.

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Page 69 offers a stark glimpse of how the engine problemsthe army has faced with the NH Industries MRH-90 transport helicopter haveaffected flying hours. Between 2009-2010 the army hoped for nearly 3000 hours,but ended up with less than 500.

One of the RAAF’s troubled programmes, the Boeing 737-based Wedgetailairborne warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft, produced just over 100hours in 2009-2010, far short of the 500 hours planned. The other problemchild, the KC-30A tanker (due to be inducted soon, two years late), does noteven get a chart.

On page 92 ASPI details the cost per flying hour of alltypes. The F-18 E/F Super Hornet runs the RAAF A$22,900 per flying hour. Thisis a bargain compared with the Wedgetail (A$65,800) and MRH-90 (A$34,700).

The best part of the report runs from page 197 to 207. Here defencejournalist Gregor Ferguson of Australian Defence Magazine provides awell-written review of the challenges Australiafaces training new pilots, as well as the programmes designed to meet Australia‘sfuture training needs.

Ferguson also offersperspective into the outlook for Australia‘sairlift fleet. He describes how the new battlefield airlifter (either the C-27JSpartan or C-295) will one day integrate with Australia‘sfleet of C-17s (interior shot below), C-130s, and Chinooks. The C-130, he adds, could eventually bereplaced by the A400M.

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