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Firstly, let’s have a look at the delayed F-35 program – an issue that has received very little coverage in Australia. The government promised that all 72 jets would be in country by the end of 2023.

Well they aren’t, and no one is sure when the final nine will be delivered. Defence isn’t saying anything and the only comment from the government is it makes no difference whatsoever – in which case why not sell the last nine and stick with the 63 that we have?

Also some snarky comments about the relationship Defence Minister Richard Marles has with the Department of Defence. Next – Taipan helicopters and there have been some developments, but none of them are particularly encouraging.

I suggest that the Federal opposition does the job for which it is being paid. And finally, the impending government response into the surface fleet – and it looks like the Arafura class offshore patrol vessels will be a casualty.  If so, more than $1.5 billion has been wasted. Does anyone care?

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


  1. It will be interesting what the Fleet review has to say and the reason it has been undisclosed for so long,you can bet it says a lot of what the Government doesn’t want to hear. The state of the Fleet has be a concern for decades with successive Governments equally as guilty. Our primary surface Combatants have gradually been pared back to what is today, The Hobarts are capable ( a little under gunned for my likings) but that’s where it starts to go pear shaped. The Anzacs were never conceived to replace the Adelaides but to supplement their replacement which never happened. I believe the 20 Arafuras were intended to replace 26 ships over 4 Types, How this was supposed to be achieved ( supposedly through modules) is questionable and when they were cut to 12 (plus 2 MCM to replace 4 Huons) it became impossible.The Arafura will go down as just another Good idea officially tampered with and will join the long list of projects ( the 1975 Light Destroyer, 1997 Joint Patrol Vessel )doomed by short sighted Politicians and Bureaucracy. I don’t believe for one minute that the any recommendations from Fleet Review will ever be implemented just as the Majority of White Papers or the “ The Most Important Defence Document ever Written have.

  2. Apparently the issue with the OPV’s is “But delivery has been delayed after Defence identified changes required to improve structural fire protection of the ship and to address other safety issues”
    The question now is was Luerssen’s original design not up to spec and therefore should not have been accepted or did some genius in Defence decide to meddle with it?

    • Exactly. The parent design for the Royal Brunei Navy is fine. The Darussalam-class are fine. They have participated in RIMPAC exercises and even managed a visit to Australia:

      The issue seems to be that the Coalition government of the day wanted very rapid construction, starting in 2018, and Luerssen were encouraged to fast track the certification process. Now someone in Defence has gone “well, that doesn’t suit me” – and the end result might see around $2 billion (expenditure to date + penalties) written off because the RAN no longer want the thing they contracted for.

  3. Thanks for finally addressing the RAAF’s missing F-35s, just to clarify, has defence stated there are now 63 air frames in Australia ? because in 2023 there was zero reporting of any arrivals of the final 12 F-35s that LM promised to deliver by year’s end. If not RAAF remains 12 fighters short, not 9.


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