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AEW, New Helos Top Aussie '04 Budget

Defence will spend $3.065 billion in 2003-04 on approved major capital projects that will increase Australian Defence Force capabilities. In addition $358 million is planned for expenditure on new major capital projects and new phases of existing projects.

"The major capital equipment spending in 2003-04 will enhance Navy, Army, Air Force and intelligence capabilities while also furthering our election commitment to adopt a more strategic industry policy approach," Defence Minister Robert Hill said.

"Defence’s capability depends critically on industry’s capacity to develop and manufacture new equipment and to maintain and repair existing assets ­ all in response to our changed strategic environment."

Spending on major projects in 2003-04 includes:

--$526 million for armed reconnaissance helicopters, a training system including simulation devices for aircrew and maintenance personnel, a software support facility and a ground mission management system. The first helicopters are planned to enter service from December 2004.

--$171 million for wheeled light armoured vehicles for the Army to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance. The Army has a current fleet of 113 vehicles which primarily equip the 2nd Cavalry Regiment located in Darwin. The third phase of the project includes the acquisition of an additional 144 vehicles and the completion of the surveillance variant, gunnery trainer and the commander’s weapon station. The additional vehicles will be used by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd-14th Light Horse Regiment, which is located in Brisbane.

--$515 million for four airborne early warning and control aircraft and associated supplies and support. The project remains on schedule and on budget, with a planned in-service date of 2007. The design for the airborne element of the system is essentially complete, with the first Boeing 737 aircraft commencing modifications early in 2003. The second aircraft is due to commence modification activity in mid 2003. The first production radar commenced testing in November 2002, and is due to be delivered to Boeing in September 2003.

--$226 million for the SEA 1348 ANZAC ship project - 10 ships, associated shore facilities and logistic support. Six ships have been delivered and are in service with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy. The HMAS Toowoomba will be launched this week.

-ends- Major Capital Projects To Increase ADF Capabilities