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As tensions in Southeast Asia continue to rise, with Chinese regional power projection expansion, Australia has announced a $26 billion spending increase over the next decade with planned acquisitions including new submarines and snit-submarine warfare frigates. The increase in spending is projected to eventually put defence spending in the year 2025-26 at over $58 billion. Malcolm Turnbull, the current Prime Minister of Australia, described the current government situation on defence as:

“absolutely committed to ensuring those funds are available”

The Defence White Paper that announced the funding increase detailed where in the forces the money will be spent, including:

  • 9 new Attack Submarines
  • 7 more P8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft
  • 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels
  • 3 additional Air Warfare Destroyers
  • 72 F35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter aircraft
  • 12 EA18G Growler Electronic Warfare aircraft
  • 7 MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • 2500 new military jobs created, including new roles in cybersecurity and intelligence

Describing the threat of direct attack on Australian soil as “remote”, it comes as no surprise that the increases in spending are focusing on naval and air power capability. Australia’s ally in the Pacific region, the United States along with other Asian states such as Malaysia and Japan have all been increasing spending on hard power in the region as the People’s Republic of China increases its own power in the area. This has included deployment of combat aircraft to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, involving a potential threat to Australian soil from airfields built on artificial reefs, while encounters between opposing ships and aircraft are a common occurrence. Meanwhile, tensions in the Korean peninsula continue with the North Korean claim of a successful thermonuclear weapon having been tested and the resulting South Korean closure of a shared business zone.

Prime Minister Turnbull said of Australia’s intentions in increasing defence spending that:

These are momentous times. The stakes are high. And as the opportunities expand, so does the cost of losing them…A stronger Australia would support a safer Australia, a safer region and a safer world.”

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. ‘eventually put defence spending in the year 2025-25’

    A minor point, im assuming that’s supposed to read 2025-26.

    Its good to see Australia raising its game in the pacific region. Ideally, i feel New Zealand should re-acquire some combat Jet aircraft and to enable it to work along side the RAAF in the event war.

  2. Combat aircraft for NZ would be no good, too remote to be of any use. Without nuclear power, subs would be of limited use. A strong Navy would be the way forward, with a population of only 4 million NZ can not afford much more. That just leaves cannon fodder when required. The ANZAC’s have always been in the thick of it. Joint training with other military forces could be the answer. NZ currently have fighter pilots flying with the Royal Air Force.

  3. Apparently also includes nine new frigates in addition to the destroyers, OPVs and subs mentioned above, which makes our intentions for the RN look a bit second rate

  4. The three Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers that are mentioned in the white paper aren’t new additions, they’re the ones currently being built/assembled in Osborne, South Australia. The total fleet is still the original planned three. The submarine total is also twelve “regionally” superior submarines.

    You also forgot to mention the replacement of the ASLAV and M113 that are being used and also the unusual replacement of the Tiger/Tigre.

  5. Dave B Phillips, personally speaking, yes it would be desirable for NZ to acquire fast jets, however, I my opinion is that for to long subsequent Kiwi governments have been able to decrease defence funding and to substantially reduce NZDF capabilities and capacities without censure or sanction from the ballot box that they now see defence as a luxury, not a necessity. Hence they can reduce funding and resourcing, plus left wing activists are still crowing over the canning of the Air Combat Force. Those self same activists do not like frigates either hence us only having two because of the Clark Labour government decision not to acquire the third and fourth ANZAC frigates. Their reasoning: we lived in a benign strategic environment with no foreseeable change and the acquisition of the frigates and the F16s were unaffordable. Clark campaigned on canning the F16 deal plus the last two frigates. She also wanted to get rid of the P3 Orions and the two existing ANZAC frigates.

    To stand up a new Air Combat Force would now cost in excess of NZ$4 billion, which the current government finds somewhat excessive for expenditure on defence. There is also the matter of having to replace the C130H fleet – 5 aircraft, B757 fleet – 2 aircraft and the P3K2 Orion fleet – 6 aircraft, in the near future, plus the frigate replacement in 10 years. They didn’t acquire enough NH90s, or A109s, going for the cheap option as always.

  6. Hi Elliot,

    I would like to clarify a few items.

    There will be 12 new submarines to replace the existing six Collins class.

    The seven P8A’s will be in addition to an existing order for eight P8’s bringing the total to fifteen. Four of these additional seven have just been ordered. The remaining three will be ordered in the late 2020’s.

    There will be nine new frigates to replace the existing eight Anzac class.

    There will be three Air Warfare destroyers only. The first is due to undergo sea trials this year. These will replace the existing Adelaide class frigates (currently three in commission). There will not be three additional destroyers.

    Thanks for your article.

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