Australia's recent military operations, and changes in the size and
composition of its armed forces, leads to the question: what sort of
power is Australia? In the last century, Australian forces have fought across
the globe - from Gallipoli to Iraq. Australia has also been carrying out a
major upgrade in its air and naval forces. And its done all this with a rather
small population (currently about 21 million).
is in the midst of upgrading its air force and navy. Two large amphibious
ships are going to be built, either to the French Mistral-class design or to a
Spanish design. Displacing anywhere from 24,000 to 27,000 tons, they will each
be able to carry 1,000 troops and 150 vehicles, including M1 Abrams tanks that
Australia is purchasing to replace the Leopard. These amphibious ships could
also carry the V/STOL variant of the F-35.
bulk of Australia's naval upgrades have been completed. Four of Australia's
Perry-class guided missile frigates have been upgraded, and are now capable of
firing the SM-2 missile. Vertical-launch cells for the Evolved Sea Sparrow
missile have also been added, making these frigates among the most capable in
the world. Australia also has eight ANZAC-class frigates, which are also
equipped with Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The
Collins-class submarines are probably the best diesel-electric submarines in
the world. The last phase of this project will be the construction of three air
warfare destroyers (the Hobart class).
RAAF's upgrade plan is already starting. A potential F-18F purchase has,
in fact, accelerated it. The RAAF is eventually planning on buying the F-35A as
its major combat aircraft. The RAAF has also added tankers based on the Airbus
330, Wedgetail early-warning aircraft based on the Boeing 737, and is also
looking into options to replace aging AP-3C maritime patrol aircraft, including
the P-8, Boeing's 737-based multi-mission aircraft.
this will make Australia perhaps the top power in the region. The addition of
the Canberra-class amphibious ships will give it the ability to project power -
which it has been unable to do since the retirement of HMAS Melbourne, a World
War II light carrier, in 1982. Due to a small population, it is probably not
going to be much more than a regional power, albeit it will be a dominant one.
- Harold C. Hutchison (email@example.com)