Thursday, June 28, 2007

Australia to transform naval forces

Source: CNN.

June 20, 2007.

CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) -- Australia will build an A$11 billion ($9 billion) fleet of advanced destroyers and amphibious warships, Prime Minister John Howard said, underscoring the country's plan to remain a key Asian military power.

The purchases would transform Australia's navy into one of the most powerful in the Asia region, with two amphibious carriers able to land more than 2,000 troops, 16 attack and transport helicopters and up to 23 Abrams tanks.

"They will greatly enhance Australia's ability to send forces in strength when required, particularly in our own region, but not restricted to our own region," Howard told a media briefing on Wednesday.

Howard said his government had agreed to buy three Spanish-designed F100 air warfare destroyers at a cost of A$8 billion, to be built in Adelaide by Australian firm ASC, U.S. firm Raytheon and Spanish government-shipyard Navantia.

The 6,000-ton warships will be equipped with advanced U.S. Aegis radars and may one day carry SM 3 missiles as part of U.S. and Japanese efforts to build a ballistic missile shield in Asia, in order to guard against threats like a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Two 27,000-ton amphibious warships, also Navantia designs, would be built in Victoria state in partnership with Australian defense firm Tenix, with the first to enter service with the Royal Australian Navy by 2012, Howard said.

The Navantia destroyers beat a larger and more costly rival U.S. design, while the amphibious warships were preferred over a smaller French design.

Asia-Pacific focus.

Australia has in recent years increased defense spending above A$20 billion a year amid concerns about growing instability in the Asia-Pacific, with a A$50 billion military buy-up already underway, including advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The new destroyers, with a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles, could also be equipped with Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles, local media said.

Canberra, its defense budget fattened by strong commodity exports, is also purchasing cruise missiles for fighter aircraft, including recently purchased F-18 Super Hornets.

Several nations, including Thailand and Indonesia, have warned of a possible regional arms race spurred by Australia's buy-up.

But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia needed a strong defense force and the ability to deploy overseas quickly.

"It's not that we have hostile intent towards anybody," Downer told local television.

Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said the five new ships would ensure Australia would be able to undertake "security stabilization" alongside key ally the United States.

Almost 28,000 U.S. and Australian troops this week began a major exercise across Australia's northern coastline involving an aircraft carrier battle group, tanks and and nuclear submarines. Canberra has around 1,500 troops in and around Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition, as well as a special forces task group in Afghanistan and peacekeepers in East Timor.

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At 6/28/2007 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Australian I'm surprised by your interest in our governments determination to improve the capacity of the ADF.

As a former soldier I have always been astounded at our historical belief that we are incapable of defending ourselves.

Maybe this is a step towards self reliance; but I doubt it.

If you accept the idea that all nations ALWAYS act in their own self interst, then the notion that the USA or any one else would come to our aid it we were attacked, sound very shaky.

The only nation Australia can really depend upon is Australia; and that is not meant as a "put down" to anyone.

Let us hope that this is only the beginning of a massive armament program that makes Australia truly independent.

At 6/29/2007 12:33 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

I love Australia. You guys, not the Brits, are the only ones who stood next to us (USA) when we were in danger. Everytime.

I do agree with you that every nation is interested in their own self interest. Would it not be a shame to lose such a friend?

We are still in Korea after 60 years. Who's calling for a time table?!? Where's the oil?!? It just goes to prove that some arguements are very vacuous (empty).

You would be surprised how many Americans love Aussies. We love your music, your courage, your faithfulness, and your independence. We hold our own independence so dearly close to hearts, so we understand. We were outraged when they took your guns! Yes, I know about that, too. lol. God bless you, and have a good day.

At 6/29/2007 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know how silly you sound when you gon on about them "taking our guns away"?

There have been two general elections since then and the government has won each of them.

Civilised societies don't need to be armed; we are a nation of laws, not the gun.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

At 6/29/2007 6:11 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

No, I sound reasonable. Do you lock your door at night while you sleep? Why?

Yes, civilized people obey the law. CRIMINALS DO NOT. Have you ever been raped or know anyone who has? Talk to me after that experience, and let me know if you wished you'd had a gun...

Not everyone is civil. Not even in a civilized society. Or are they building those prisons and jails for no good reason at all?

Let the child molesters roam freely? I pray you do not have any children! I would not wish something like that on my worst enemy! I'm too upset, and you may not understand why.

When they confiscate the guns, then comes tyranny. Ask the Germans. That's what Hitler did.

Oh well. I'm glad I donated to the National Rifle Association today...


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