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" ... .