Pre-WWII planning in Australia created a navy, expanded a militia, outlined a broad response to the Japanese attack, assured London that ships and troops would almost certainly be offered for war against Germany, and sketched the organisation and likely destination of an expeditionary force.
But, like in 1914 and 1942, this reality is no more. Today’s era is one of a radically changing geostrategic balance in the Indo-Pacific: the relative decline of U.S. power, the end of U.S. uncontested maritime hegemony, the rise of China, and the growing multipolarity of Australia’s region.
Since the independence of Australia, Australia’s strategic environment is rapidly changing and along with it the risks that the nation’s defense policy must manage. The 2020 Strategic Update hones in on the key causes of these changes: As well as the intensifying great power rivalry between China and the United States, Australia, among many other Indo-Pacific countries, is also facing regional military modernization, the deterioration of the rules-based order, and the rise of “grey zone” activities – including cyber operations, foreign interference, economic coercion, and disinformation campaigns.
The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the 2020 Force Structure Plan together will ensure that Defence can respond to new challenges as they emerge. This delivers on the Government’s commitment to protecting Australia and its interests.
Upgrade airbases across Australia to host P-8A Poseidon and F-35
The Royal Australian Air Force has many bases throughout Australia. Air Force personnel also work in many other Defence bases and offices around Australia and overseas. The Royal Australian Air Force has four bases in New South Wales, two bases in Northern Territory, three bases in Queensland, one base in South Australia, three bases in Victoria and three bases in Western Australia.
There are two US military bases currently in Australia. One of them is operated by members of the United States intelligence community in Alice Springs, Australia and another is operated by the United States Navy in Exmouth, Western Australia.
Australia needs to upgrade all existing bases to accommodate P-8A Poseidon, transport-tanker and F-35 stealth jets.
Establish additional fighter jets and maritime surveillance capability in Karratha, Western Australia and Nullarbor South Australia.
AGM-183 ARRW integration into RAAF’s F-35
The AGM-183 ARRW (“Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon”) is a hypersonic weapon planned for use by the United States Air Force. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the boost-glide weapon is propelled to a maximum speed of more than Mach 20 by a rocket motor before gliding towards its target.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it had recently completed a free-flight test of an aircraft-launched hypersonic missile that maintained a speed of more than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound (at least 3,800 miles per hour, or 6,100 kilometres per hour).
Join the AGM-183 ARRW program with the U.S. Air Force and equip the Australian Super Hornet and F-35 with AGM-183 ARRW.
Saab GlobalEye for RAAF
Based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet airframe, the GlobalEye adds mission systems and control stations in the fuselage, and a large Erieye radar antenna and other sensors. The Global 6000 can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet giving the radar a large field of regard, and remain on station for up to 14 hours.
The GlobalEye AEW&C platform provides a range of capabilities across the full spectrum of domains, including Air surveillance, Maritime surveillance and Ground surveillance. GlobalEye brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles, including tasks such as search and rescue, border surveillance and military operations.
B-21 Raider stealth bomber for RAAF
Extended-range strike aircraft give more flexibility and the capacity for faster missile replenishment. Australia should look at options to join with the U.S. in acquiring the long-range B-21 stealth bomber. The aircraft’s development will be complete by 2022. Five aircraft are in construction in California; initial flights have already happened, with more planned in the next few months.
ASPI’s Marcus Hellyer points out that the B-21 will use two F-35 engines but have three or four times the unrefuelled range. The U.S. Air Force plans for a unit price under $1 billion, which is an astonishing amount of money to buy a B-21 Raider; on top of that, Australia needs to maintain and upgrade facilities in Australia. The B-21 is expected to be the world’s most advanced, cost-effective long-range strike capability.
Australia must make the case to our U.S. allies to procure B-21s and to house one of the world’s most fearsome deterrents right in our airbases. Unlike fighter jets, many of which have vertical structures more detectable to enemy radar return signals, smooth horizontal bombers such as the B-2 or new B-21 are designed to elude both surveillance and engagement radar and therefore conduct operations without an enemy even knowing something is there.
The Royal Australian Air Force could be operating this aircraft within half a decade, making it relevant to the current strategic situation.
An investment now will spend money that can’t be spent on submarine construction at least for a decade and overcome a lack of hitting power in the Australian Defense Force.
Strike capability will make the ADF a much more difficult opponent and thereby strengthen deterrence. That means keeping the region at peace.
Collins-class life extension with Tomahawk cruise missiles
As part of the LOTE program, starting in 2026, a single Collins-class submarine will complete modernisation every two years. The LOTE upgrade, which is still in development, will see the ship’s power and propulsion systems overhauled, as well as their sensors upgraded.
Safran told Global Defense Corp that the company had successfully replaced legacy periscope with next-generation masts as part of the Swedish Gotland-class submarine Mid Life Update program. The Collins class shares the same DNA, both classes being designed by Kockums.
If Tomahawk is selected as part of LOTE, the necessary hardware and software modifications to accommodate the advanced weapons will be undertaken during that time.
The officials revealed that, since AUKUS was announced, all three partners have made significant progress in their collective endeavour to provide the Royal Australian Navy with a conventional-armed nuclear-powered submarine capability at the earliest possible date.
Significant progress is also being made by AUKUS partners on advanced capability collaboration, with officials from the three countries discussing cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.
In November 2021, the three AUKUS countries signed the agreement in Canberra. The purpose of ENNPIA is to provide for the exchange of information on naval nuclear propulsion, which is necessary to enable the “scoping phase” of the AUKUS submarine program to proceed. The program’s scoping phase is expected to last for 18 months.
The officials stated that the agreement will stay in force until 31 December 2023. After this, the agreement will be automatically extended four times, once every six months.
Shore-based anti-ship coastal defense
The RBS15 Mk4 anti-ship missile features a long circular-shaped fuselage, which tapers towards the front end to form a cone-shaped nose section.
Gungnir can be seamlessly integrated into the existing infrastructure of forces such as trucks, aircraft, and ships.
The flexible RBS15 launcher unit system is built on an ISO standard 20ft container footprint. It includes the main components and systems necessary to enable the launch of the RBS15 missile.
The J-band active radar target seeker onboard the Gungnir is integrated with a highly accurate inertial navigation system (INS). The state-of-the-art target seeker offers all-weather operational capability. It provides a greater degree of precision while discriminating targets and engaging them even in the most adverse conditions.
A new data link installed in the missile system enables the operators to retarget the missile during the flight. The missile is also equipped with an anti-jam global positioning system (GPS) and other advanced autonomous technologies that enhance its survivability.
The missile will independently identify and engage targets at 300 km range, without depending on global satellite navigation systems or data links.
The shore-based missiles can be placed in Geraldton, Karratha, Brome, Darwin, Cairns, Bundaberg, Wollongong, Hobart, Twelve Apostles, and Esperance.
Royal Australian Navy SEAL
Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), also called Special Air Service (SAS), Australian special forces unit that exists within Australia’s Special Operations Command. The SASR and Australian Commandos are sometimes referred to as ‘Tier 1’ SF units because they are the units usually tasked with direct action. Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) is part of the Australian Army.
However, the Australian maritime threat environment has escalated recently. The prospective AUKUS submarine would have Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) delivery vehicle launch and recovery capability. Royal Australian Navy should independently operate a Tier 1 direct action force in three major submarine bases in Australia.
Australian Defense Force (ADF) should create a joint strategic command to integrate the joint operation of the Royal Australian Navy’s SEAL and the Australian Army’s SASR commando regiments.
Laser weapons and BMD capability for Hobart-class destroyer
The Australian Department of Defence confirmed on 17 February 2022, a P-8A Poseidon detected a laser illuminating the aircraft while in flight over Australia’s northern approaches to the Australian exclusive economic zone.
Such actions are not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries.
The vessel, in company with another PLAN ship, was sailing east through the Arafura Sea at the time of the incident. Both ships have since transited through the Torres Strait and are in the Coral Sea.
The Royal Australian Navy’s three Hobart-class destroyers are set to undergo an Aegis combat system upgrade which will increase the Australian Defense Force’s (ADF) air and missile defence capability.
As part of these upgrade packages, the Royal Australian Navy could potentially upgrade the Hobart-class destroyer with High Energy Laser with SM-6 BMD, Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS), Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0 or AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System or XN-1 LaWS developed by the U.S. Navy.
Lasers are also inexpensive, meaning they could be in a position to track and destroy incoming anti-ship missiles, rockets, or larger platforms such as enemy helicopters, drones, and ships with multiple successive shots without needing to expend expensive interceptor missiles.
Australian warships have encountered the Chinese navy in the South China Sea during a voyage that saw them sail close to contested islands claimed by Beijing.
The Australian warships, led by HMAS Canberra, transited through the increasingly tense region as they made their way to the Philippine Sea for training exercises with the American and Japanese navies.
Naval intelligence services under Royal Australian Navy
Australia is a vital ally and partner of the United States. The United States and Australia maintain a robust relationship underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests, and cultural affinities. Economic, academic, and people-to-people ties are vibrant and strong.
Since that time, the United States has been the most important security ally. The close security relationship with the United States was formalized in 1951 by the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security (ANZUS) Treaty which remains the cornerstone of Australian security arrangements.
The United States is strengthening a network of secretive military bases across Australia that could be used if China ever wages a war against Australian interests.
Maritime and naval intelligence sharing with Indian Ocean nations would foster and strengthen Royal Australian Navy to offer first-strike capability around the region.
China is reportedly pushing for more security pacts with Pacific Island nations after its agreement with the Solomon Islands.
Beijing and the Solomons signed the deal last month, raising concerns in New Zealand and Australia about growing Chinese influence in a region traditionally under their sway.
Royal Australian Navy and Defense Department station naval intelligence officers across the Indo-Pacific region would offer real-time maritime intelligence for Australia and the U.S.
F-35B for Royal Australian Navy
Japan’s decision to modify its Izumo-class aircraft carriers to operate the F-35B has rekindled debate over the ships in Australia. For reasons good and ill, military procurement decisions often have a transnational impact; civilians and soldiers feel the need to match their friends as well as their enemies, and big acquisitions can change the symbolic landscape that which military organizations operate in.
The Japanese decision also has more practical consequences, as it increases the interoperability returns for an Australian acquisition, and may marginally reduce the cost of buying the F-35B.
Indeed, in light of the British decision to fly F-35Bs from its two large carriers, almost all of Australia’s major defense partners will field carrier-borne F-35Bs. As was the case with Japan, the Royal Australian Navy almost certainly can rely on the theoretical and practical work that the U.S. Marine Corps has done on optimizing the effectiveness of the F-35B on its own large amphibious assault ships.
Royal Australian Marines
The Marines’ mission is unique among the services. The Marine Corps plays a major role as the first force on the ground in most conflicts. Today, Marines are stationed around the world at all times, ready to deploy quickly whenever and wherever needed. Total service commitment ranges from four to six years.
The Marine Corps members are called marines, not soldiers, and they typically have to go through much more intense basic training than those in the Army do, creating a reputation for being some of the toughest and most highly trained fighters.
Both the Army and the Marine Corps are responsible for defending Australia, but they have different roles within that responsibility.
The Marines Corps’ job is to seize and control land, oil rigs, or ships. One of the Marines’ defining features is that they are amphibious fighters, which means they fight on the land by way of the sea, which sometimes requires underwater combat.
Because they can deploy anywhere in the world within a few days, they’re often the first to arrive at a conflict or carry out an objective.
While they have many tasks similar to those of the marines, the Army is generally composed of land-based fighters who use troops, tanks, and artillery to get the job done. They do use planes and helicopters as needed, and some of the Army special forces are trained in amphibious combat, but all of this is to further their missions on the ground.
Because both the Army and the Marine Corps have different purposes and jobs, they go about their missions differently.
A Marine Expeditionary Unit will usually have assets in the air, on land, and in the sea. Other units will get backup from the Navy and Air Force, whether that comes in the form of planes, helicopters, or ships.
The Army also gets backup from the Air Force and Marine Corps, but they don’t usually get help from the Navy.
Australia can adopt a similar approach as the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC), and the Raiders go on special missions with small teams, often behind enemy lines. Joining this group requires you to pass several testing and selection phases before beginning your nine-month Raider training.
High Mobility Artillery Rocket System for Australian Army
HIMARS is a lightweight mobile launcher, transportable via C-130 and larger aircraft for rapid deployment, that fires Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets, Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, the next-generation Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and Extended-Range GMLRS rockets.
HIMARS carries a single six-pack of GMLRS rockets or one TACMS missile on the Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) 5-ton truck and can launch the entire MLRS family of munitions. The company claims that with a recognised and proven range of 300 km, HIMARS delivers affordable, quick, long-range precision strikes.
The Lockheed Martin-built system consists of a launcher loader module and fire control system mounted on the M1140 five-ton truck chassis. A specialized armored cab provides additional protection to the three crew members that operate the system.
Poland is placing an order of 500 HIMARS with a local production facility. The U.S. has delivered HIMARS to the Taiwanese Army.
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