Coalition needs a 30 yr defence plan

 

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

www.citizensfordefence.org

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

US Marine Aircraft Carrier

                        US Marine Aircraft Carrier

Coalition needs a 30 yr defence plan

Bobby Bond SharpenedMark Thomson, senior analyst for defence economics, ASPI, writes a searing exposé of the lack of serious defence planning of our political masters.

The major parties have no idea and care little for Australia to have a modern highly efficient fighting force to defend our motherland. Thomson exposes in every paragraph the government’s ineptitude in having no long term goals for defence but just a few ad-hoc political decisions for short term political expediency.

The result is an almost nonexistent defence force trying to carry on operations with a 1.5% of GDP budget. It is a mathematical impossibility and a grave strategic error which is going to cost this nation dearly in the decades ahead.

Any nation serious about protecting its sovereignty should be spending 2% of GDP on operational costs which includes extensive war games at least twice a year extending to 1500 kilometres from our coastline with emphasis on northern Australia. Another 2% of GDP should be invested in a hard hitting naval battle group and hardened forward naval and airbases around Broome, Darwin, and Weipa to guard our northern shores.

That said, I feel Thomson’s suggestion that we build the fourth AWD and equip it with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence system employing the SM-3 missile deserves consideration. The Chinese DF-21 ballistic missile anti-shipping threat is all too real and is a threat against our AWD and amphibious ships alike. It is naive to think these weapons will not be distributed widely amongst Chinese clients in a few years and Australia should try to think ahead.

Air Warfare Destroyer

     Air Warfare Destroyer

Australia should also be planning to have anti-ballistic missiles installed at Broome and RAAF Scherger at Weipa to guard against any rogue state shooting a nuclear device at our capital cities. North Korea is so deranged that it could decide to take out a large city in Australia for the simple reason it cannot do so to the US because of the effectiveness of their ballistic missile shield. Thomson is correct in calling for Patriot missile protection for our troops. Patriot missiles and iron dome defence should also be used around high target military bases particularly in the north.

If the construction of another AWD allows our shipyards to continue operating until further work arrives, it could be a very useful strategic move for the future even though the politicians arrived at it for the wrong reasons.

The new work could be to build an aircraft carrier possibly based on the US marines VTOL F35B ships with another planned in the next decade. This would give our amphibious ships some air cover which could be critical if the fleet is out of range of our land bases.

The crazy idea of building 12 antiquated diesel electric submarines for a guess of $36 billion in 2009 dollar value which will really be $80 billion????, Or maybe $100 billion????, should be ridiculed for its stupidity and waste of taxpayer’s money.

Three Virginia class nuclear powered submarines should be purchased as soon as possible from the US to at least guard our amphibious battle fleet from attacking submarines and surface ships.

Surely arrangements can be made with the US government to build the remaining seven or nine submarines with nuclear power plants partially in Australia in cooperation with the US ship builders.

The Coalition do not need 18 months to produce a Defence White Paper on these issues but should be revealing in the next month or two their policy for the next thirty years in a 30 year Defence White Paper revised every 5 years or when a Defence White Paper is issued.

The citizens of this nation may then be able to better follow the muddled thinking of the major parties when it comes to the security of this nation.

Hot air is not hard defence

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

www.citizensfordefence.org

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

Aus FA18 fighter built 1984

                                     Aus FA18 fighter built 1984

Hot air is not hard defence

Air Marshal Geoff Brown, Australia’s Air Force Chief, says trust of our potential adversaries and plenty of hot air about the ability of the Australian air force will be our future blueprint for the defence of this country. (Air Force welcomes Tony Abbott’s Indonesia push, Brendan Nicholson, The Australian, 11/10).

As Australia has no defence force to speak of, trust and hot air seems an incredibly insecure basis for guarding the security of this nation.

Citizens for Defence want to see the basis for some of the hot air spruiking about the extraordinary ability of our air force.

Have impromptu war games in the north where the navy is invading and the air force is defending with the army guarding the shores. Have some drone targets that the air force could shoot at a thousand kilometres from the coast. They wouldn’t even possess the missiles.

Our defence forces are capable of none of the above exercises.

Self delusion is the cardinal enemy of an efficient and effective defence force for Australia.

 

 

Collins Class subs a shipwreck

 

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

www.citizensfordefence.org

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

Collins submarine

                       Collins submarines based at HMAS Sterling

Collins Class subs a shipwreck

Bobby Bond SharpenedOur Collins class submarines have never been competitive or reliable with less than 20% availability over the last 12 years. (Challenge to keep Collins Class subs competitive, Brendan Nicholson, 10/10).

The subs have depth restrictions, speed restrictions, periscopes that vibrate and leak water, endless battery, generator and engine problems, and no capacity to provide the firepower and endurance demanded to adequately defend our 36,000kilometre coastline.

Collins calls the NRMA

                 Collins calls the N.R.M.A. with engine trouble

 

 

Yet the Collins subs are by far the most expensive submarines to maintain in the world with costs running at over $150 million per annum per sub despite being unavailable for combat most of the time. By contrast, a US nuclear Ohio class submarine three times the size of the Collins class costs $50 million to operate per year with excellent availability.

Five years after it became obvious to the world the Collins submarines were a military write off our government is assembling “a team of international and local engineers and naval architects” to begin planning for the 12 new future subs.

The head of the Defence Department’s submarine program, David Gould says it still has not been decided whether the new subs will be Collins clones or a new design.

The government still has to figure out what went wrong with the Collins subs according to the retiring head of Defence’s new submarine project, Rowan Moffitt. He said the navy is now cutting the pressure hulls of the subs to remove the diesel motors for major repairs. This will leave the submarines with permanently weakened hulls even if they go through extensive recertification processes.

This cacophony of failures has bedevilled the Collins class since they were commissioned.  For instance on the 21 May 2009 HMAS Waller tied up at the Henderson shipyard south of Perth for urgent battery repairs, the only seaworthy sub is HMAS Farncomb. The other four boats are either out of active service (HMAS Collins) or out of the water for major maintenance known as full cycle docking (HMAS Sheehan, Rankin and Dechaineux). This total lack of availability has persisted through to the present day with one sub available most of the time and sometimes two subs fit to sail.

For example, The sub that engages in the yearly multinational exercises off Hawaii usually embarrasses this nation by having to limp to harbour to have hose repairs or have major generator malfunctions such as the January 2010 issue with HMAS Farncomb involving failures in 1 of the submarine’s 3 French Jeumont-Schneider, 1,400 kW/ 440-volt DC generators, and this has served in many respects as the final straw.

These submarines are economically unrepairable with two years in dry-dock for maintenance for every three years of use.

Is it feasible to scrap one or two Collins-class submarines for spare parts and refurbish the remaining 4-5 subs to a level where they could reliably accomplish short missions along the Australian coastline?

Our politicians have not even had a realistic trial of 5 Collins subs against a Virginia class nuclear powered submarine to access their strengths and weaknesses. They are spending two full years funding of the defence budget without even evaluating a nuclear submarine.

Brazil is building a nuclear submarine which includes the reactor with help from the French. The British have the new Astute-Class nuclear submarine, and the US ambassador to Australia has said that the US would supply Virginia subs to Australia to improve our defence forces.

Surely our paralysed politicians could start to consider the defence of this nation by approaching these nations for a joint venture arrangement where we can acquire modern submarines.

It seems the Coalition is happy to continue to blunder on down the path the Labor party has led us for the last 6 years resulting in a nation with no effective submarine defences for the next 50 years.

Nuclear subs the only defence

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

www.citizensfordefence.org

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

Virginia sub in dry dock

Virginia sub in dry dock

Nuclear subs the only defence

The Collins class submarine is defective in 68 crucial areas of operation. This will take billions of dollars of taxpayer money to attempt to correct. The outcomes are far from guaranteed to be successful. (Secret Defence report signals Collins subs crisis, Cameron Stuart, 25-9)

The major parties are playing a game of Russian roulette with the defence of this nation by delaying decisions and refusing to fund renewal of our submarine fleet.

 Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine


Virginia submarine

The Collins failure was clearly evident in 2009 and the major parties could have bought and leased Virginia class nuclear attack submarines from the US which would have started to be delivered in 2017.

Scrap one or two Collins-class submarines for spare parts and refurbish the remaining 4-5 subs to a level where they could reliably accomplish short missions along the Australian coastline?

Lease several Virginia class subs for our immediate protection whilst we either build Virginia clones in Australia in partnership with the US builders or have them built in the US.

Why are our blinkered politicians so intent on building in South Australia yesterday’s submarine technology to fight tomorrow’s wars?

Coalition – show defence plan

Robert Bond   Director   Citizens for Defence

www.citizensfordefence.org

CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE

Jap sub attacked Garden Island naval base

Japanese sub attacked Garden Island naval base

Coalition – show defence plan

Bobby Bond SharpenedThe Australian Federal Government elections have produced a Coalition government with a healthy majority and a defence minister, Senator David Johnson sworn in to control our defence forces.

Senator Johnson to date has had quite an unremarkable stint as opposition defence minister for many years and so it is refreshing that he should come out in the Australian several days ago with headlines Defending sea lanes ‘a priority’, and quote this was one reason the navy needed highly capable long-range submarines to complement its surface warships.

Yet he is the minister in charge of defence in a party that has for years refused to consider nuclear powered submarines which are the only highly capable long-range submarines suitable for the vast oceans and seas surrounding Australia. US research shows that nuclear submarines are 2.2-6 times more effective than diesel powered subs and this firepower comes at a third of the cost.

Already, the Coalition has totally rejected the call for the Garden Island naval base in Sydney Harbour to be removed to a more suitable position on the east coast of Australia for the heavy maintenance of our ships which will be primarily stationed at Broome, Darwin, Townsville and hopefully Weipa in a forward posture setting.

Then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd introduced this policy during the recent elections and it is remarkable how many experts and commentators came out passionately and vehemently derided the suggestion. They gave no reasons for their opposition other than the cost and it has no strategic, tactical, or operational relevance to this nations defence.

Garden Island - Is this a fit place for the largest naval target in the land

Garden Island – Is this a fit place amongst the elite skyscrapers for the largest naval target in the land.

Well, citizens for defence do not claim to have the knowledge of these defence experts but surely they could explain to we laymen and women who want a robust defence force and posture  for our protection why this is so.

Whatever the cost, and it is in no way clear taken over a fifty year period that the benefits will not far outweigh the costs on purely monetary terms, the costs in potential deaths and destruction to our largest city and the elite living on the most valuable real estate in Australia will be horrendous if any war broke out.

Senator Johnson

Senator Johnson

The position is indefensible with close in missile protection having to be put in densely populated suburbs of Sydney which will in turn become targets for incoming missiles until the destruction of the Garden Island military base is achieved. There is very real potential for hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders to be killed or injured together with billions of dollars of infrastructure destroyed.

None of this need come about if the base is located somewhere between Gladstone and Cairns so that it is nearer the northern waters where many of our ships will be located. The base should be located in a semi rural setting where an iron dome of anti missile missiles can be positioned for its defence. In times of threats of attack the surrounding district and base could be evacuated of all non essential people. In addition, if the base could be positioned close to the Great Dividing Range or similar mountains, tunnels could be drilled into the mountain for storing fuel, ammunition, missiles and supplies as well as machine shops and engineering repair facilities.

Any government that ignores the need for active naval and air force bases at Broome, Darwin and Weipa or similar locations is inviting the enemy in. History has shown that if the circumstances arise in the future there are many adventurous Indo-Pacific nations willing to take advantage of our shameful complacency for the security of this nation.