|Some big cuts had to happen given the revenue projections I guess, the only thing that I'm happy about is that our potential adversaries will be in the same boat. What do people think about the choices of kit to go? What else do you reckon will get the axe? My bet is Land 17, which will make me even madder at the dickheads who canned the cheap Dutch Pzh-2000 purchase last year because it wasn't to be conducted according to the procurement process.
Global financial crisis stalls billions in Defence spendingFont Size: Decrease Increase Print Page: Print Patrick Walters and Mark
Dodd | March 03, 2009
Article from: The Australian
THE global financial crisis has forced the Defence Department to shelve plans to buy billions of dollars' of military equipment, including a new $5 billion maritime surveillance system.
The economic downturn will also mean the navy will not exercise the option to acquire a fourth air warfare destroyer worth $2 billion, and could force a one-year delay in plans to spend
$16 billion on 100 F-35 joint strike fighters.
While Defence is putting the final touches to its long-awaited white paper, the rapidly deteriorating global economy could dictate further delays in its publication beyond the May budget, according to senior government sources yesterday.
The white paper, designed to chart Australia's defence strategy to 2030, is due to be published next month, but doubts are emerging that cabinet's national security committee will sign off on the document in time. It was originally planned to be released in December.
The RAAF had hoped to replace its 32-year-old fleet of Orion AP-3C maritime surveillance planes with a combined mix of unmanned aerial systems and a new patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.
The Rudd Government yesterday effectively ended hopes for the early acquisition of the $1.5billion Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System, part of an ambitious 15-year project to revolutionise maritime surveillance requirements.
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said: "Introducing such an advanced new aircraft at this time would have caused incredible workforce pressures on the Australian Defence Force."
This was particularly the case given the requirement for the air force's AP-3C Orion fleet to be replaced by a new manned surveillance aircraft in the same period.
Australia was jointly cooperating with the US Navy in its development of a broad area maritime surveillance program based on the unmanned Global Hawk, a high-altitude long-endurance aircraft.
The Global Hawk's makers, Northrop Grumman, claimed the aircraft was versatile enough to take high-definition imagery of a submarine periscope from a cruising altitude of 22,000m. It was equally capable of switching to civilian missions such as mapping bushfires or using its state-of-the-art electro-optical sensors to photograph the licence plates of suspect arsonist vehicles.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the earliest delivery schedule under the US Navy's Global Hawk program had slipped to 2015. Defence sources say the RAAF's preference is to acquire the P-8A manned aircraft rather than the Global Hawk if the defence budget cannot accommodate both aircraft types.
The draft defence white paper, the first since 2000, embodies Kevin Rudd's plans for a stronger maritime defence for Australia, including the acquisition of 100 joint strike fighters and 12 new-generation submarines.
Mr Fitzgibbon is banking on the Prime Minister keeping his election commitment to lift defence spending in real terms by 3per cent annually, in addition to finding about $15billion in internal savings over the next decade to help fund the new white paper.
The main worry for Defence is how it will cope with the effect of continuing strong personnel and operating costs on its $22billion annual budget over the next three years, amid an alarming slump in government revenues.
Mr Fitzgibbon is relying on his department generating internal savings of about $750million over the next three years as a result of reforms recommended by management consultant George Pappas on top of a 10-year $10billion savings target already announced.
In deciding not to proceed with the planned maritime surveillance system, Mr Fitzgibbon said yesterday he was confident the US Navy BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) program would deliver a very capable unmanned aircraft.
"However, at this stage in the development of this project, it is in Australia's best interest to not knowingly risk incurring the unmanageable workforce chaos that would result," he said.
Defence would continue to "closely monitor" the progression of BAMS and other similar unmanned aircraft programs.
The US Navy had been waiting since late last year for a decision on whether Canberra would go ahead with plans to buy the Global Hawk. A decision to proceed would have required a