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Category Archives: defence industry

Daniel Flitton
July 3, 2009

Paul Keating has challenged a central tenet of Kevin Rudd’s multibillion-dollar, 20-year military blueprint, warning the Government has taken too defensive a stance in response to China’s rise in the Asia-Pacific region.

Returning to his “big picture” theme of Australia’s place in the world, the former Labor prime minister said last night the effects of the global financial crisis had matched the radical transformation of global affairs following the Cold War.

“I think we can safely say that the pendulum point of world economic activity has shifted and settled upon East Asia,” Mr Keating told a Perth audience.

The US – having in the past seven years gone from the world’s largest creditor country to largest debtor – was beset by uncertainty, he said – “Its financial mendicancy, its economic structure and its social and demographic problems.”

He said the US must turn away “from the mindless fizz of ever more consumption” and bring back to life manufacturing in American cities.

Mr Keating acknowledged the countries in East Asia confronted profound strategic problems – whether China’s one-party political system could maintain economic growth, for example, how Japan would cope with a rapidly ageing population and the prospect of unification on the Korean peninsula.

But China might eventually eclipse US power in the region and the major shifts in world power offered huge opportunities for Australia.

“With all that has happened and is happening, it will make absolutely no sense for us to think of our security in isolationist and defensive terms,” Mr Keating said. “The notion of Australia’s security being found outside Asia is as absurd now as it has always been . . .”

He said Australia’s international outlook must always remain outgoing and positive.

“For these reasons, I found myself at odds with some of the text of the Government’s 2009 defence white paper,” he said.

“Much of it is unexceptional . . . but it goes on to discuss what it describes as ‘the remote but plausible potential of confrontation’ between us and ‘a major power adversary’, not suggesting who that power might be.

“Obviously, it will not be the United States. You are then left to take your pick of China, Japan, India or Indonesia.”

Mr Keating said the tone of the paper was too ambivalent and failed to state clearly whether China’s military advance posed a threat to Australia or was a natural and legitimate aspiration for a rising economic power.

Released in May, the paper pledged a doubling of Australia’s submarine fleet from six to 12, extra warships, cruise missiles and advanced jets.

The paper took a swipe at Beijing for a lack of transparency in its own military build-up and warned that “shows of force by rising powers are likely to become more common as their military capabilities expand”.

Delivering the annual John Curtin Prime Ministerial Lecture, Mr Keating said Australia could not predict what sort of new order might spring up in the face of relative American decline.

“A region of this kind might turn out to be as peaceful and as prosperous for Australia as the one we have had since the end of the Vietnam War,” he said.

Accepting the need for defence readiness, he warned: “Too often, Australia has created problems for itself when its defence policy has gotten ahead of its foreign policy. Vietnam and Iraq are prime examples.”

He praised China’s huge economic leap forward in recent decades – “This great state, with its profound sense of self and the wherewithal to make a better life for its citizens, has eased itself into a major role” – a development, he said, that would be altogether positive for the region and the world at large.

“We do know China will be a power in its own right and a big player,” Mr Keating said.

By Pia Akerman
May 04, 2009 07:44am

THE race to win a multi-billion-dollar contract to build eight naval frigates has begun, only hours after the plan was announced in the defence white paper.

The states and defence companies are already jostling to spruik their credentials, despite warnings from defence experts that the project would be years away, even if money could be found to pay for it, The Australian reports.

Premier Mike Rann has announced South Australia will bid for the ships to be built at the Techport site in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, vowing work could begin once construction of the Air Warfare Destroyers there was complete.

“There are no other facilities in Australia that can compare with Techport, so we are in a very good position,” Mr Rann said.

“The South Australian Government will be bidding to have the next generation of frigates built in South Australia both for consolidation onsite and in terms of high-level modules.

“It’s the perfect follow-on to the Air Warfare Destroyers … in terms of the skill set, the infrastructure, the hi-tech companies (in Adelaide).”

But a spokesman for BAE Systems Australia said they would be the biggest contender for the project, using the Williamstown shipyard in Victoria, acquired last year as part of BAE’s takeover of Tenix Defence.

Jim McDowell, chief executive of BAE Systems Australia, has previously spoken of his company’s “natural capability” to build a replacement for the Anzac frigates, but said there would need to be “significant” sharing of work between BAE and commonwealth-owned submarine builder ASC to handle such a vast enterprise.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Government said the state welcomed the white paper’s “significant opportunities” for the local defence industry.

Austal in Western Australia and FORGACS in NSW have also been mentioned as possible bidders for part of the frigate project.

Released on Saturday, the white paper announced plans to replace the current Anzac-class frigate with a larger Future Frigate specialising in anti-submarine warfare.

The frigates would be fitted with cruise missiles and be able to carry a combination of naval combat helicopters and maritime unmanned aerial vehicles.

Defence expert Hugh White yesterday said South Australia would probably have an advantage in bidding for the frigates, as it could probably be built on the same hull used for the AWDs.

But he poured cold water on the early enthusiasm shown for the project, saying any contractual decisions were years away.

“Those choices will not be made by the present Government, certainly not in this term of government and I would think not even in the next term,” Professor White said.

“We’re talking about a project which is at least 20 years away in terms of delivering ships.

“There are a lot of very big things to be done in naval shipbuilding in Australia first.”

Professor White said he was not convinced there was a strategic justification to replace the Anzac frigates with ships of a larger capability.,,25423976-2702,00.html

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.,27574,25417217-5012587,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

April 29, 2009 12:01am

UP TO 40 service and mechanical jobs will be created as a result of MTU Detroit Diesel Australia’s relocation to a new, green facility at Edinburgh Parks.

Premier Mike Rann yesterday opened the new state-of-the-art facility with Transport Minister Patrick Conlon and MTU Detroit Diesel Australia president Doug Seneshen.

MTU Detroit supplies high-powered engines to the defence sector for patrol boats, frigates and armoured vehicles.

The Edinburgh location will help the company grow its business.

MTU is a world leader in low-emission diesel technology and alternative fuel, including commercial fuel cells for power generators. It also services the mining, construction, power, agriculture and transport sectors.

“The move to Edinburgh Parks has offered a major upgrade for all of our Adelaide customers and employees,” Mr Seneshen said. “As a leader in high-performance and high-technology engines in Australia, it is essential we invest in world-class facilities.”

The new Adelaide facility is an indication of the company’s