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03 Apr 19. Australia’s 2019-20 defence budget increases to $38.7bn. The Australian Government’s 2019-20 defence budget has increased by A$2.3bn ($1.6bn) to A$38.7bn ($27.52bn) and A$175.8bn ($125.02bn) to 2022-23.
In its annual budget statement, the government said the rise from the last financial year is in line with its commitment to increase the defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2020-21.
The defence budget aims to increase the country’s commitment to regional and global security, boost investment in advanced defence capabilities and create several Australian job opportunities.
In a statement, Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The Morrison Government’s number one priority is keeping Australians safe and secure. The 2019-20 budget sees continued strong investment in Australia’s national security, with a particular focus on enhancing our regional security, building defence capability and supporting Australia’s sovereign defence industry.”
The country will continue to support the US-led international Counter-Daesh coalition in Iraq, assist Afghanistan in controlling its security and increase support level to South East Asian countries.
Currently, more than 2,300 Australian defence personnel are deployed around the world in support of several operations.
More than A$200bn ($142.23bn) will be invested by the government in defence capabilities over the next decade until 2028-29.
Capabilities include the purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, P-8A Poseidon aircraft, E-7A Wedgetail and EA-18G Growler upgrade, as well as continuing the country’s ship and submarine building.
In order to safeguard the government and Australian Defence Force networks from cyber-attacks, investments will continue to be made to strengthen cyber defence.
The budget has also allocated funds for investment in the Australian Signals Directorate, including the Australian Cyber Security Centre, and for the establishment of cybersecurity ‘SPRINT teams’ and a Cyber Security Response Fund.
Additional investments are also being made to support the country’s defence industry.
To achieve this, the government is implementing the Defence Industry Skilling and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Strategy, the Defence Global Competitiveness Grant programme, the Sovereign Industrial Capability Grant programme, administering the Defence Innovation Hub, as well as issuing grants and conducting events to increase the involvement of small and medium enterprises.
Approximately A$47.5bn ($33.78bn) has been dedicated by the government for the procurement of new capabilities since the 2018-19 budget release. (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Apr 19. Australian Budget 2019: What it means for Defence and industry. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has handed down his first budget ahead of a proposed election to be held in May, here’s what it means for Defence and broader national security.
While Australia’s defence expenditure looks set to increase to $38.7bn in 2019-20, it is a case of business as usual for Defence and industry, with the budget announcement signalling the government’s continued commitment to supporting the capability and development of Australia’s sovereign defence industry capabilities.
The budget outlines continued investment in key projects identified as part of the government’s 2016 Defence White Paper, which focused on delivering a series of major capability upgrades and modernisation programs across the Australian Defence Force including:
- The delivery of the first unit as part of the $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles;
- Industry partners presented their bids as part of the $10-15bn LAND 400 Phase 3 Armoured Fighting Vehicle program;
- The announcement of BAE Systems Australia as the successful tender for the $35bn SEA 5000 Hunter Class guided missile frigate program;
- Construction commencement and milestones at the $535m SEA 5000 Shipyard facility at Osborne, South Australia;
- The arrival of Australia’s first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters; and
- The signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between Naval Group and the Commonwealth and the Framework Agreement between Naval Group and ASC as part of the $$50bn SEA 1000 Attack Class future submarine program.
The 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) and supporting Integrated Investment and Naval Shipbuilding Plans set the tone for the 2019-20 budget, establishing its focus on supporting industry through the sovereign industry capability and naval shipbuilding plans sought to respond to increased regional tensions and forge a path forward, following nearly two decades of ‘valleys of death’, cost and delivery overruns and shrinking defence budgets.
Defence industry export has been a primary focus of the coalition government, with new Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds recently announced a renewed Industry Participation Plan to build on the success of the government’s Australian Industry Capability Program and Local Industry Capability Plan initiative but extends the requirement to consider opportunities for Australian industry to all Defence procurements of $4m and above ($7.5m for construction).
Focus shifting to regional security role
The 2019-20 defence budget includes renewed focus on Australia’s commitment to regional and global security to as Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said, “protect our interests at home and abroad”.
Defence will continue to play a crucial role in supporting the Pacific step-up program, while also supporting increased support to south-east Asian partners, including:
- Building Fiji’s Blackrock Peacekeeping Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp into a regional hub for police and peacekeeping training;
- Working with the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to increase security cooperation;
- Helping to develop the Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s Lombrum Naval Base in Manus Province and increase the interoperability between Australian and allied defence forces;
- Continued investments in the $504m Guardian Class patrol boat program to support Pacific Island nations;
- Increased frequency of visits and training opportunities for regional countries;
- Supporting the training of regional military forces in Australia, including the $2.25bn Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative in central and north Queensland; and
- Continuing to work cooperatively with regional countries to support their security, including through the Five Power Defence Arrangement.
Committed to delivering the Integrated Investment Program
The government has confirmed over the next decade to 2028-29 the government will invest more than $200bn in defence capabilities including:
- The continuous naval shipbuilding program, which is investing around $90 bn to build world-class vessels, while also building a strong and viable Australian naval shipbuilding industry;
- Continuing the purchase of the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to provide Australia with regionally superior combat and maritime surveillance capabilities;
- Continuing to upgrade the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and E-7A Wedgetail battlespace management aircraft; and
- Building Australia’s policy and intelligence capabilities to ensure Australia has a deeper understanding of the changing geo-political environment.
Continued industry growth critical to defence capability
In addition to the existing sovereign industry capability plan, the government plans to introduce a number of industry support programs, including:
- Implementing the Defence Industry Skilling and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Strategy, released by the government in February 2019, which outlines support to help the local defence industry to meet anticipated workforce and skills demand over the next decade;
- Establishing the Defence Global Competitiveness Grant program, an initiative of the Defence Export Strategy (launched in January 2018), investing up to $4.1m a year to support small to medium enterprises to overcome barriers in accessing export opportunities;
- The establishment of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Grant program, a key initiative of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan (launched in November 2018) to invest up to $17m per year in grants to build the capacity and capability of Australian small to medium-sized enterprises to deliver operationally critical capability for Defence;
- Providing advisory and facilitation services through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability for 550 small and medium enterprises, issuing over $3 m in grants and conducted stakeholder outreach events which have been delivered to more than 5,000 participants; and
- Administering the Defence Innovation Hub, which has received over 800 innovation proposals and awarded around $100m in contracts and an additional 12 Special Notice contracts worth around $10m focused on specific capability challenges.
Sharpening Australia’s cyber security capabilities
The mounting cyber attacks in recent months will see the government commit investment to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), including the Australian Cyber Security Centre, to support the collation and delivery of intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations to support the Australian government and the ADF.
As part of this continued investment to protect government networks from hostile cyber compromise and ensure the integrity of the 2019 federal election, the government has announced an investment to create the ‘SPRINT’ cyber security teams and a Cyber Security Response Fund.
Growth is good, but regional dynamics mean we need to be spending more
While the continued defence budget growth is expected to be widely welcomed by industry, the growing challenges to the Indo-Pacific region are raising questions about whether Australia’s commitment to 2 per cent of GDP is suitable to support the growing role and responsibilities that Australia will be required to undertake as regional security load sharing between the United States and allies becomes a reality.
Dr Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) reinforced this, telling Defence Connect at the Avalon Airshow in late February, “The government aspiration of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence is simply not enough any more. We need to look at planning our force structure, our capability requirements and spending on a number of factors, including allied strengths and potential adversarial capabilities, not arbitrary figures.”
“It is time for us to throw open the debate about our force structure. It is time to ask what more do we need to do and what do we need to be capable of doing,” Davis added. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Apr 19. India Approved to Buy Two Dozen MH-60R Seahawks for $2.6bn. A potential $2.6bn foreign military sale of two dozen UH-60R. Seahawks to India was approved April 2 by the U.S. State Department. Seahawk naval multi-mission helicopters, made by Sikorsky, will allow India to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue and communications relay. India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense, according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the DSCA announcement said.
Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems [LMT], which owns Sikorsky, is the prime contractor. Between 20 and 30 U.S. government or Lockheed Martin representatives will be assigned to India as a result of any ensuing contract agreement. Along with the 24 UH-60R helicopters, India also will purchase 30 APS-153V multimode radars, 60 General Electric [GE] T700-401C engines, dozens of multi-spectral targeting systems and embedded GPS/inertial navigation systems, 1,000 anti-submarine sonobuoys, 10 Hellfire missiles, 38 advanced precision kill weapons system rockets, 30 MK 54 torpedoes, 12 M-240D crew-served guns, 12 GAU-21 crew-served guns, inert and training versions of the Naval Strike Missile and a single legacy Navy MH-60B/R excess defense article aircraft. Also included are 70 AN/AVS-9 night vision devices, more than 100 radios and transponders, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services and other related elements of logistical and program support. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Asia allies take major steps forward with F-35 rollout. Japan and South Korea both reached milestones with their Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF declared initial operating capability for its first F-35 squadron on March 29th when the 302 Hikotai at Misawa Air Base in the northern part of the main Japanese island of Honshu held a ceremony to celebrate its F-35As.
Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer said in a statement that “this is a major milestone for the F-35 enterprise, as it marks the first F-35 IOC for an Indo-Pacific region customer.”
The 302 Hikotai only stopped flying its last McDonnell-Douglas/Mitsubishi F-4EJ-kai Phantom IIs at its former base of Hyakuri, north of Japan’s capital Tokyo, the week prior. Another JASDF Phantom II squadron will transition to the F-35A over the next year.
Japan plans to eventually acquire a total of 157 F-35s, which will include 42 F-35Bs. It plans to use the latter variant, which is capable to short take off and vertical landing operations, to equip Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter destroyers. The ships, which are currently only capable of supporting helicopters on board, will be modified to handle F-35 operations.
Meanwhile, neighboring South Korea welcomed the first two F-35As on its soil that same day, when the aircraft were ferried across the Pacific to an air base in Cheongju, 140 kilometers southeast of the capital Seoul.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted Wang Jung-hong, head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration as saying that South Korea expects the F-35 “to enhance the Air Force’s operational capabilities in response to the neighboring countries’ introduction of stealth fighters, and to strengthen the readiness posture against threats from all directions.”
The first South Korean F-35A was rolled out in March 2018 at Lockheed-Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas and since that time the Republic of Korea Air Force or ROKAF has been training up its initial cadre of pilots and maintainers on its jets at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. According to Yonhap, eight more F-35s are due to return to the country by the end of this year. The U.S. ally has 40 F-35As on order under a 2014 contract worth about $7bn, all of which will be delivered by 2021. Defense News understands that the first unit to operate the South Korean F-35s will be the ROKAF’s Cheongju-based 17th Fighter Wing. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
30 Mar 19. South Africa’s Denel may wind down manufacturing for Airbus A400M. South African state arms company Denel is in talks with Airbus about winding down production of parts for the European planemaker’s A400M military aircraft, Denel said on Saturday. Denel, a cornerstone of South Africa’s once mighty defense industry, is battling to emerge from a financial and operational crisis. In February it said it could sell stakes in some divisions as part of a strategy to return to profits within two years. The company has also been trying to renegotiate onerous contracts and exit parts of its business which are no longer viable, after making a 1.7bn rand ($117m) loss in the 2017/18 financial year.
Denel said it was yet to finalize terms with Airbus for the winding down of production for the A400M.
“The two companies agreed that the continued manufacturing of aircraft parts by Denel is no longer sustainable in its current form,” Denel said in a statement. “Alternative options are now being considered between the two parties.” Denel will try to minimize the impact on jobs at its Aeronautics division, it added. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
01 Apr 19. National security and relationships key to coexistence in Woomera. The Commonwealth government has released the report of a review by Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM into coexistence arrangements in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), South Australia. The government has announced that it supports the findings and recommendations of the Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area and thanked Dr de Brouwer for his work in preparing the report.
Assistant Minister for Defence David Fawcett said that the WPA would remain a critical national security asset, “The WPA is one of the few places in the world where the capabilities of next-generation warfare systems such as hypersonics, fifth-generation fighters, electronic attack capabilities, and a wide range of defence science activities can be tested.”
The WPA is a globally unique military testing range. It covers 122,188 square kilometres in north-west SA, about 450 kilometres north-west of Adelaide. It is the largest land testing range in the world, and the WPA is mainly SA Crown land covered by pastoral leases, exploration and mining tenements and native title.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said that in addition to Defence activities, the WPA has significant Aboriginal cultural and heritage value, as well as being important for scientific research, environmental and tourism activity.
“The government is committed to coexistence in the WPA. While Defence requirements will continue to take precedence, the area will remain open to other activities on a case-by-case basis, such as mineral exploration and the development of new mines,” Minister Canavan said.
Dr de Brouwer’s review included 12 recommendations, such as:
- Building on the success of current arrangements, contemporary coexistence in the WPA should focus as much on strong and productive relationships as on sound legal and policy frameworks;
- Defence and the SA government should employ a collaborative co-design process to determine the feasibility of a more flexible grid-based arrangement for the WPA green zone;
- All users of the WPA should give greater emphasis to managing the introduction and use of technology in the area;
- To manage the risks to national security associated with investment in the WPA, a key consideration for Defence when it assesses WPA access applications should be whether companies have substantive Australian ownership, control and influence; and
- Defence and Aboriginal groups in the WPA should continue to build on their already strong relationships.
The WPA is a prohibited area regulated by legislation and is a Defence premise used for the testing of war materiel under the management of the Royal Australian Air Force. The WPA is an important Defence capability and testing and evaluation asset that plays a significant role in Australia’s national security.
The WPA comprises extensive lands north of the Indian Pacific railway, from north of Watson in the south-west up to its north-west corner in the Great Victoria Desert (which stretches across the SA-WA border), across to Coober Pedy, and west of Roxby Downs down to Woomera in the south-east.
The review gave clearer guidance to non-Defence users seeking to access the WPA and proposed appropriate security measures and safeguards.
Dr de Brouwer has over 30 years of experience in public policy and administration. He was secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy from 2013-17, following senior positions in the Prime Minister’s Department, Treasury, Australian National University (as a professor of economics) and the Reserve Bank. The SA government also played a key role in shaping the review’s outcomes. Continued close co-operation with WPA stakeholders would also be required as Defence leads implementation over the coming months. (Source: Defence Connect)
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