|AUSTRALIA'S defence budget is now the 13th biggest in the world, an international league table shows.
Canberra's defence spending has leapt by about 56 per cent in the past seven years to $25.66 billion, meaning it now spends more than some European Union countries.
BIG DEFENCE SPENDERS
1. US $US696.30 billion
2. Britain $US79.27 billion
3. France $US65.74 billion.
4. China $US58.07 billion
5. Japan $US48.10 billion
6. Germany $US43.55 billion
7. Saudi Arabia $US38.32 billion
8. Russian Federation $US36.73 billion
9. Italy $US31.40 billion
10. South Korea $US28.30 billion
11. India $US27.21 billion
12. Brazil $US24.62 billion
13. Australia $US19.74 billion
14. Spain $US19.37 billion
15. Canada $US16.19 billion
Source: Jane's Industry Quarterly
However, Australia is still dwarfed by the US, which has set aside $US696.30 billion ($832.7 billion) for its armed forces this year.
The figures were compiled by defence analysts for Jane's Industry Quarterly which also found that China's defence budget of $US58.07 billion ($69.45 billion) had grown to be the world's fourth largest.
Britain and France were the second and third biggest spenders with $US79.27 billion ($94.8 billion) and $US65.74 billion ($78.62 billion) respectively.
While Jane's has forecast Australia's spending to hit $29.47 billion in 2010, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has hired a consultant to see if the amount can be trimmed by $1 billion a year over the next decade.
Part of the reason behind the rise in Australia's spending over the years has been its decision to buy more equipment for its armed forces, which have been deployed to hotspots including Iraq and Afghanistan as well as East Timor.
The figure rose from $3.5 billion in 2001 to $4.78 billion this year, according to Jane's, with fighter aircraft, tanks and helicopters all on the shopping list.
The rest of the money in the overall defence budget is used to cover wages, medical bills, food and operational costs for army, navy and air force personnel.
Guy Anderson, editor of Jane's Industry Quarterly, said Australia's strong economic growth was the main reason it could afford to boost its defence budget.
As a result, Australia had become an attractive place for foreign defence companies, such as British giant BAE Systems, to set up manufacturing bases to make products to sell worldwide.
“The rest of the world is very interested in the Australian defence market,” Anderson told AAP.
“It's an advanced and politically stable country in quite a dangerous neighbourhood and there's an explicit government commitment to defence spending.
“Australia is also a great springboard for companies into the Asian region as it is one of the better places to do business because of its stability and its strong reputation.
“So, if you are an American or French or British defence company you can go into Asia from Australia which gives you an enormous advantage.”
I'm sure guys are happy about this, I bet you would want more though ;)
Any special comments?