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AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE YEAR IN REVIEW

07 Dec 11. Minister for Defence Materiel Speech: Year in Review.

Thank you.

It’s not widely known, but the steel hull of the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle wasn’t designed for trucks.

It was originally designed for our Frigates in the 1980s. Then adapted for our Collins Class submarines – then adapted again for use on the Bushmasters.

It is no ordinary steel.

I saw that when I was in Afghanistan in July.

I crawled under a bushmaster that had been hit by an IED.

There were large salad bowl shaped bulges in the steel where the bomb had exploded. The steel had buckled – but it hadn’t ripped apart.

The steel took the force of the blast – and all eight men inside walked out.

It’s a good example of what the Australian defence industry does – and what Australian engineers can do.

Cutting edge work for Navy in the 1980s that’s saving lives in another decade, in Army, on the other side of the world.

Defence often gets a bad rap – but we have a lot to be proud of.

And we have done a lot of good work this year:
* We’ve increased project approvals;
* We are implementing important reforms to the way we buy and maintain equipment;
* We have delivered a lot of new equipment to our troops; and
* We’ve fixed a number of problem projects as well.

Increased Approvals

Over the past ten years the average number of Defence projects approved by the Federal Government each year has been 28.

So far this year we’ve approved 35 projects – worth more than $6 billion – and we’re not done yet, there’s more to come in the next few weeks.

Some of the projects we’ve approved this year include:
* New Romeo SeaHawk Naval Helicopters;
* A new missile defence system for our Anzac frigates; and
* 101 more Bushmasters.

Reform

This has also been a year of reform.

This year the Minister for Defence and I announced 42 reforms to improve the way we purchase, maintain and dispose of military equipment.

Last week we issued a progress report on their implementation.

A dozen have now been fully implemented. Implementation of the rest is underway.

New Equipment

In 2011 we’ve also delivered a lot of new equipment to our troops.

In Air Force:
* 24 new Super Hornet fighter jets have been delivered – under budget and ahead of schedule;
* Three of our five new Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft have been accepted – and the final two will be accepted next year; and
* We took delivery of our fifth C17 heavy lift aircraft this year – and we are considering an order for a sixth.
In Navy:
* The Anti Ship Missile Defence System on HMAS Perth has proven very effective and we’ve decided to roll the system out across the rest of the ANZAC fleet;
* The first AWD blocks have been shipped here to Adelaide from Melbourne; and
* The HMAS Choules has been purchased and arrived in Western Australia yesterday.
Perhaps most important of all – in Army we have delivered a lot of new equipment to protect our troops in Afghanistan:
* New lighter combat body armour and a new combat uniform;
* Longer range machine guns;
* Upgrades to our Bushmaster vehicles in Afghanistan to make them even safer; and
* We have installed a counter rocket system at Tarin Kot (and at a number of our forward operating bases) to warn troops of rocket attacks. So far this year they have provided advanced warning of 23 attacks.
Fixing Problems

It has also been a year with plenty of challenges.

A good example of this are our amphibious ships.

When Cyclone Yasi hit North Queensland in February we had no amphibious ships available to help.

Now we have two – next week we will have three.

The Minister for Defence and I made no secret of our disappointment with our amphibious ships – and we have taken a number of steps to rectify the problem.

In April we purchased the RFA Largs Bay from the British Government and next week she will be commissioned HMAS Choules – n

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