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Subject: Australia needs carriers?
YelliChink    4/26/2009 12:28:20 AM The RAN needs aircraft carriers According to the Oz, Kevin Rudd is about to announce a massive military build-up, including among other goodies a doubling of the submarine fleet and more and better warships. Webdiarist John Pratt thinks that we should be buying new aircraft carriers too: The RAN needs aircraft carriers by John Pratt China's navy will develop a new generation of warships and aircraft to give it much longer-range capabilities, its commander-in-chief said in comments published Thursday April 16 2009. Admiral Wu Shengli told the state-run China Daily newspaper the Chinese navy wanted to develop hardware such as large combat warships, stealth submarines with abilities to travel further and supersonic cruise aircraft. More accurate long-range missiles, deep-sea torpedoes and a general upgrade of information technology were also in the pipeline, according to Wu. “The navy will establish a maritime defence system that corresponds with the need to protect China's maritime security and economic development," Wu said. The English-language China Daily, which the government uses to deliver messages to a foreign audience, printed his comments on its front page and said it had obtained a rare interview with such a high-ranking military figure. It quoted other Chinese military figures as saying that Wu's reference to building large warships referred to highly-publicized plans to build an aircraft carrier, but also other unspecified vessels. Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie was quoted in state media in March 2009 saying China no longer wanted to be the only major global power without an aircraft carrier. China will not remain the world's only major nation without an aircraft carrier indefinitely, state press 23 March 2009 cited the nation's defence minister as telling his Japanese counterpart. Liang Guanglie made the remarks to visiting Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Friday, the Oriental Morning Post said, in discussions that took place after a recent spike in tension in the South China Sea. "Among the big nations only China does not have an aircraft carrier. China cannot be without an aircraft carrier forever," the paper quoted Liang as saying, citing Japanese official sources. "China's navy is currently rather weak, we need to develop an aircraft carrier." Liang's comment is the highest-level recent confirmation that China aims to acquire an aircraft carrier, a sophisticated piece of military hardware that can be used to project power far beyond a nation's shores. The new aircraft carriers proposed by the Chinese would end the domination of our region by the US navy. The Australian navy needs to rethink its policy on aircraft carriers. We will not always be able to rely on the US navy to provide air defence on the high seas; we will have to redevelop our own fleet air arm. The Australian navy has relied on the US to provide long range naval air power since the decommissioning of HMAS Melbourne in 1982. We are an island nation and our economy relies on our exports, most of which go by sea. If we are to protect these vital sea lanes we need to invest now. If don’t make the necessary investments we could find ourselves at the mercy of the Chinese navy – exactly the same situation we found ourselves in when the Japanese navy used aircraft flown from aircraft carriers to bomb Darwin in 1942. Although the Australian mainland was not invaded it was, of course, attacked by air and sea forces. By far the heaviest attack was the air raids on Darwin on 19 February 1942. Various estimates regarding the loss of life in this devastating series of attacks on 19 February 1942 have been put forward but these days, the "official" number seems to be 243 killed and about 350 injured or missing. The Brisbane Courier Mail" of the 20 February 1942 reported the large Japanese attack on Darwin and reported that "Damage to property was considerable" ... .
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Aussiegunneragain       4/26/2009 1:52:51 AM
I used to be a member of the carriers for Australia fan club but in recent years I've changed my mind. While I think they would be useful the LHD's that we are currently buying are going to be more useful for the types of regional conflicts we might be involved in (most likely proxy wars in the near region stoked by US/Chinese rivalry). We should be getting a third one of those before we get carriers, because even if we can afford both we certainly won't be able to man them. Our surface fleet and land based air cover can make an adequate contribution to coaliton maritime air defence operations and the reality is that a couple of light carriers are going to make the sum total of no difference to an Australian operation against China where the US wasn't involved.
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Arty Farty       4/26/2009 2:58:02 AM
Having carriers would be a massive drain on resources. Most of the effort will be spent protecting the carriers not much left for things like coastal patrols. Look at what's happening to the Royal Navy.
Submarines and shore based long range missiles (launched off jets) is adequate.
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Volkodav       4/26/2009 5:07:37 AM
I would argue that 3 to 5 small carriers would make a very valuable addition to the RAN, be affordable and sustainable.
Forget traditional power projection with squadrons or strike aircraft launched from massive decks and think more alone the line of ASW, ASVW and MCM helos / tiltrotors. Look at the benefits that could be won with the ability to launch and recover medium to high endurance UCAV's. For high intencity ops they would operate in pairs together with two or more AWD's and would be able to cover the full spectrum of missions, including (if we bought any) operating F-35B's for extra punch.
Don't think of them as capital ships that need to be escorted but rather as multi-role force multipliers that will complement our other assets. Always pair AWD's and Light Carriers so they can complement each others strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.
Imagine the RAN being built around 3 to 5 escort groups, each with a light carrier, an AWD, a couple of 1500 tonne corvettes and a multi-role support ship.
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gf0012-aust       4/26/2009 5:46:25 AM
Don't think of them as capital ships that need to be escorted but rather as multi-role force multipliers that will complement our other assets. 

Nice in theory, except that:

1) they'll cost a motzah to support and sustain
2) an enemy will regard them as capital ships and pay attention accordingly
3) fat ships do need escorts - and providing air and asw cover (as well as an AOR) makes them No1 on the menu list for an enemy 

I'm in the same boat as AG, I used to be a heavy supporter of carriers for RAN - but not so sure now unless we had the gonads to do it properly.

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Volkodav       4/26/2009 7:20:43 AM
Thats the law of the jungle, your biggest most flexible asset is your enemies highest priority target.
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Aussiegunneragain       4/26/2009 9:08:58 AM

Im in the same boat as AG, I used to be a heavy supporter of carriers for RAN - but not so sure now unless we had the gonads to do it properly.

On the matter of doing it properly I think that the fact that we would have to rely on the onoing availability of a V/STOL aircraft for 3 to 5 light carriers could seriously limit the utility of light carriers for Australia. The UK is purchasing carriers that can operate in the CTOL mode if necessary an the US and France only run CTOL types. What if the F-35B is made obsolete by new technology 20 years down the track and the US or UK don't build a new V/STOL type? It would basically mean early obsolescence, at least in the air defence function, for ships that should last at least 30 years (if not 45 - 50, if you look at the likes of the Midway or the Foch). If we were going to get carriers I would want them to be at least 30,000 tonnes and able to launch an aircraft the size of an F-35C, and we simply can't afford any of those.
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