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By Ian McPhedran
Herald Sun
May 02, 2009 12:01am

A MASSIVE shift in global power away from the US has influenced the Federal Government to increase defence spending to a record $300 billion over a decade.

In the biggest military equipment upgrade in the nation’s history, the Defence White Paper details a $100 billion shopping list that includes new submarines, warships, fighter jets, cruise missiles, helicopters, spy planes, drones and cyber-warfare equipment.

The build-up is intended to defend Australia from potential threats, ranging from nuclear conflict to failed states and water wars, the Herald Sun reports.

The document, entitled Force 2030, will be launched by Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon in Sydney today.

The White Paper focuses on the massive shift in global power away from the US to countries such as China, India and Russia.

It tackles the new ball game by creating a bigger, stronger and more advanced military force.

The document argues that the primary role of the military is to defend Australia from attack.

“The main role of the ADF should continue to be an ability to engage in conventional combat against other armed forces,” the paper says.

As expected, the focus of the 20-year plan will be the navy and on securing Australia’s maritime approaches.

To this end, the Government will buy 12 “future submarines”, to be built in South Australia, eight advanced frigates and 20 2000-tonne offshore combat vessels.

The document doesn’t specify whether any warships will be built at Melbourne’s BAE Systems dockyard in Williamstown, where the navy’s Landing Helicopter Dock project is due to start next year.

The submarines will be quieter than the Collins Class boats, able to travel much farther and remain underwater for longer, and carry secure, real-time communications and uninhabited underwater vehicles.

The submarine plan will hinge on the navy chief’s ability to better manage his underwater workforce and attract new submariners.

In addition to the two 25,000-tonne amphibious ships and three destroyers already on order, it will give the navy a 15,000-tonne sealift vessel to carry supplies and troops, as well as six seagoing landing craft capable of carrying armoured vehicles.

The navy will also get 24 helicopters and access, with the army, to a further 46 multi-role helicopters.

Besides the $45 billion earmarked for the navy, the RAAF will spend more than $35 billion to replace ageing jet fighters and spy planes, acquire a fleet of large, high-altitude, unmanned aircraft and maritime patrol planes, and 10 medium-lift, fixed-wing aircraft.

The army will receive about $20 billion worth of extra troops and support equipment, including seven Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, advanced communications and intelligence-gathering equipment, helicopters and hand-launched missiles.

The document concludes that war between states, including major powers, remains a risk.

It also provides for better pay, conditions and housing for the Australian Defence Force’s 55,000 uniformed personnel.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25417217-5012587,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

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