How Australia’s White Paper Will Transform Its Military
(Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute; posted Feb 26-29, 2016)
PARIS --- We have compiled below three papers posted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on its Strategist blog that summarize how the major decisions in the government’s recent Defence White Paper (DWP) will transform the Australian Defence Force.

Official Australian government statements on the Defense White Paper are available here.

while the document itself is available here.

DWP 2016: The Future RAAF

The 2016 Defence White Paper emphasises the importance of a potent strike and air combat capability for the defence of Australia and its national interests. Over the next decade, Defence has committed to invest between $44.2 and $56.1 billion in key air capability developments.

The RAAF’s current air combat capability is built on a fleet that combines 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets with six E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control platforms and five KC-30A multi role tanker transports.

Below are the key platforms which the RAAF will acquire and develop over the next decade:

-- The RAAF is currently in the process of acquiring fifth-generation F-35A Lightening II Joint Strike Fighters to replace the ageing Hornet. 72 F-35As will begin to enter operational service from 2020

-- 12 EA-18G Growlers will enter service from 2018 and provide electronic warfare support

-- Seven additional P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and response aircraft will be acquired for a total of 15 aircraft by the late 2020s

-- Seven MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft will be acquired from the early 2020s to complement the surveillance capabilities of the Poseidon

-- Two additional C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft have already been acquired to bring the total to 8 heavy lift C-17As

-- Two additional KC-30A refuellers will be introduced into service before the end of this decade for a total of seven, and consideration will be given to a follow-on acquisition of further air-to-air refuellers, to take the refueller fleet to nine aircraft.

The 2016 DWP has stated that options to replace the Super Hornets in the late 2020s will be considered at the time, according to future developments in technology, the strategic environment and Australia’s experience in operating the JSF. It could include either a fourth operational squadron of JSFs or possibly a yet to be developed unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

Part of the investment in air combat capability will be targeted at better connecting the communications, sensor and targeting systems of RAAF platforms such as the JSF, E-7A Wedgetail and Growler. The DWP acknowledges that realising the full potential of new acquisitions like the F-35 and Growler is dependent on investment in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and ensuring resilient networking capabilities between these platforms and other arms of the ADF.

The strike and air combat workforce is set to increase by around 500 ADF positions. Investment is also planned for new infrastructure and facilities to support strike and air combat capability. The key highlighted proposals included upgrading facilities at RAAF Bases Tindal, Williamtown, Scherger, Learmonth and Curtin as well as on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Dedicated infrastructure work to support the JSF will take place at RAAF Bases Williamtown, Edinburgh, Townsville, Tindal, Darwin, Curtin, Learmonth, Pearce and Scherger. New dedicated facilities will also be built at RAAF Amberley to house and support the Growler.

The future ground-based air-defence system, which will be operated by the Army, will replace the current short-range RBS-70 air-defence system with a short-range man-portable surface-to-air system by the early 2020s. This will then be later supplemented by a medium-range surface-to-air missile system in the mid-to-late 2020s. The air combat fleet will also acquire advanced air defence and high-speed long-range strike weapons capable of attacking land and maritime targets.

DWP 2016: the Future Army

The new Defence White Paper outlines spending of up to $80 billion on land combat and amphibious warfare out to 2025–26. In terms of equipment modernisation, the plans have focused on greater protected mobility, situational awareness, aviation, firepower, and force sustainability. Those improvements are intended to enhance and broaden the armed forces combat and non-combat capacity.

These are the key proposals that the Army will procure and advance over the next decade:

-- An agile procurement system for infantry soldiers that will allow for the continuous upgrade of key infantry weapons systems, personal equipment, and force protection
-- New combat reconnaissance, infantry fighting, and protected mobility vehicles
-- Upgrades to extend the operational lifespan of the M1 Abrams to 2035
-- New armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft
-- The acquisition of a long-range rocket system by mid-2020 that will provide long-range fire support up to 300km to supplement the ADF’s current artillery capability
-- Logistic enablers to aid the amphibious operations involving the newly acquired Canberra Class ships
-- The re-establishment of Riverine Patrol capabilities, with a fleet of lightly armed boats for river and estuarine operations marked for delivery near 2022
-- Special operations forces will receive a boost in wide range of capabilities which include high-end close combat capabilities, force protection, enhanced command and situational awareness networks, the acquisition and improvement of specialist transportation systems, and an armada of light reconnaissance and attack helicopters

The enhancement of combat reconnaissance, infantry fighting armoured and protected mobility fleets will address specific outstanding issues in the current capabilities. Emerging threats have rendered the Army’s M-113 armoured personnel carriers obsolete, notwithstanding an expensive upgrade program in the 2000s. Consequently, they’re slated for replacement along with the 8×8 Australian Light Armoured Vehicle armed reconnaissance vehicle, which will be replaced by new Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles around 2019.

The replacement of Army’s ‘B’ vehicle fleet is proceeding with the replace of a proportion of the existing Land Rover fleet with the locally built Hawkei protected mobility vehicle. The Hawkei will augment the successful Bushmaster fleet, which entered service over the past decade and proved its worth in Afghanistan. However, the 700 strong Bushmaster fleet is set to be replaced around 2025 upon attaining its life of type. The Armoured Personnel Carrier fleet has also been ticketed for replacement around 2024 by new Infantry Fighting Vehicles which will have superior protection, firepower and networking capabilities.

On the aviation front, the Army continues with its modernisation program. After long and troubled gestations the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter and the MRH-90 battlefield lift helicopters are at operational capability. However continuing their troubled history, the latter is set for role-specific upgrades in support of domestic counterterrorism and the former are to be replaced by the mid-2020s by either manned, unmanned or a combination of both armed reconnaissance systems. In addition to the in-service Shadow 200 unmanned aircraft, the introduction of advanced armed, medium-altitude unmanned aircraft has been slated for the early 2020s.

DWP 2016: the Future RAN

The 2016 Defence White Paper represents the most ambitious plan to regenerate Royal Australian Navy since World War II—at least according to the Turnbull government. The Navy will receive approximately $48.75 billion for defence capability projects over the next decade, allowing the force to conduct challenging warfare operations, meet future operational demands and undertake a range of tasks including patrols, anti-pirate operations, border security and hydrographic survey.

The next decade will be busy for RAN, as the force acquires and develops a range of key platforms. Navy will see:

-- The acquisition of 12 future submarines to replace 6 Collins-class submarines, for entry into service from the early 2030s. A rolling acquisition process to extend construction into the late 2040s to 2050, with a down select decision regarding bids from Japan, Germany and France expected in 2016
-- Continuous production of nine future frigates to replace Navy’s eight Anzac-class frigates, to begin in South Australia in 2020, after a competitive evaluation process, for delivery from the late 2020s
-- Three Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD) entered into service in the early 2020s. (To ensure the vessels keep pace with regional capabilities, continuous upgrades will be made throughout their service life.)
-- 12 new offshore patrol vessels to replace the current fleet of 13 Armidale-class patrol boats. Construction to begin in 2018, for entry into service from the early 2020s.
-- The progressive replacement of the current fleet of two large and four smaller ADF hydrographic survey vessels with a combination of military and commercial hydrographic and oceanographic survey capabilities from early 2020s
-- 24 new-build MH-60R Seahawk naval combat helicopters currently being accepted into service, to enhance Navy’s anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations

In order to meet the potential capability gaps over the coming decades, the DWP pledged upgrades for a number of RAN’s current platforms. The Collins-class submarine will receive upgraded communication and sensor capabilities during periodic refits. Navy’s fleet of Anzac-class frigates will continue to be upgraded (five of eight are now completed) with a suite of anti-shipping missile defences including weapons, combat systems, and sensors with the CEAFAR radar.

The Canberra-class LHDs will receive further investment to enhance sensors, countermeasures and weapons. Four Huon-class Coastal Mine Hunters will have their life extended until the 2030s to allow time to develop and evaluate remotely operated mine countermeasures. Finally, Bay-class landing ship HMAS Choules will be upgraded in 2017, with improved command and communications equipment, fitting aviation support systems and a new self-defence system.

Approximately 800 additional ADF positions will be allocated over the next decade to support this growing maritime force. The DWP acknowledges this workforce will need to continue to increase beyond this point, in order to operate the larger fleet of submarines.

HMAS Stirling in Perth and Fleet Base East in Sydney will receive upgrades to training, wharf and support facilities over the period to 2026, while training areas, testing ranges and other defence bases, including defence recruitment facilities, will be upgraded to support RAN’s capabilities.


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