Land Forces 24 728x90 WEB 240202 01Episode 50 but there’s no time for self-congratulations because there’s more Defence incompetence to talk about – and top of the list is the General Purpose Frigate. In this country we are told nothing, but speaking in the UK the Head of RAN Capability explained that, yes, we will be purchasing an existing design with no changes whatsoever. None. However, this new design is also expected to comply with Australian regulations and be compatible with existing Australian and allied combat systems.

In other words, this is impossible. You cannot have a ship built for another navy and for it to also be fully compliant with Australian standards – it cannot be done and people arguing to the contrary clearly have zero project management experience. Also we unpack the smearing of Luerssen and the disgraceful rumours peddled by the RAN to cover up their own failures. There is a way to fix the capability gap – build corvettes based on the Arafura design that will have 80% Australian content with the first ship delivered from Henderson in 2026.

To listen to the podcast, click here.


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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. Another excellent podcast.

    Truly the treatment of Luerssen is disgusting and a sign of a complete lack of integrity amongst Navy and Defence officials.

    Here is the opportunity to leverage Australian industry involvement and get ships in service quickly, but we cant have that apparently. Though the loser of the competition to replace the Armidale Class has managed to obtain more sales to the Australian Navy than the winner.

    Clearly in Defence there are factions and if they don’t get what they want they will sabotage other programs until they do, the proper defence of Australia be damned.
    Look at not just the Arafuras, but also the Taipans, Tigers and the dismal treatment of our Mine warfare ships to name just a few.

    Regarding the goat rodeo, while I emphatically agree we should be focusing on the improved Arafura class under an extension of the existing contract, consider this.
    Why has the Thaon di Revel class (PPA’s) from Italy not been shortlisted?
    What about the Navantia offer to build more AWD Hobart class ships?

    Here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding the Thaon Di Revel class ships

    “In October 2023, Italy plans to export two ships to Indonesia. The ships to be sold would be among those that already being built for the Italian navy in order to accelerate delivery. Transfer of technology and know-how would also included in the deal.[38] In March 2024, Fincantieri and the Indonesian Ministry of Defence have signed a 1.18-billion-euro contract for the supply of two PPA Units.”

    Just what we are looking for, fast delivery and knowledge transfer. I heard in 2019 that Italy was looking to offer these ships for direct sale as they were seen as too big for their needs.
    Available straight from a renowned manufacturer and an excellent ship as far as I can see.
    (Naval News has a excellent tour on youtube for those interested.)

    My point is where did that shortlist materialize from? Why were these ships excluded?

    The list makes little sense to me.

    A final note about the nuclear Submarines.
    Are we really saying that we will build a huge 10,000 tonne submarine as our first ever nuclear vessel? Delay, cost over runs and difficulties indeed.

    What dreams they must have in Defence.

    Keep up the good fight Kym.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Defence and the Review Team – backed by the government – absolutely refuse to provide any information about the shortlisting process, which is a disgrace. They have indicated that they looked at 20 different ships, but I doubt it. It was just a search on Wikipedia – and a very poor quality one at that as indicated by their failure to figure out the Korean designs and shortlisting the ALFA3000.

  2. If nothing else the Incompetence exhibited by the Minister and the Department of incompetent DEFENCE have solved a major Albert Einstein’s problem, QUOTE !, I do not know what weapons will be used to fight World WAR 3, but World WAR 4.
    will be fought with Sticks and Stones.
    Thank you Mr Richard Marles, we know know that the AUSTRALIAN Defence Force will fight WW3 with Sticks and STONES. We can now not concern ourselves with WW 4, four AUSTRALIA will no longer ‘EXIST”. Forget about Productivity with this Minister of Defence there is a complete Lack of ACCOUNTABILITY.
    Have a great day good people

  3. I really am stunned by the lack of coherent thoughts and actions of the Department of Defence, it’s like a script from Yes Minister or Monty Python. An influential Group don’t want Taipans so we cut them up and bury the pieces, leaving a huge capability gap in our Helicopter Fleet. Another group don’t want OPVs so we cancel the contract and besmirch the company . We commit to giving over nine Billion to Foreign Industry and then slash our Defence Force Projects because we can’t afford them. We decide that we need to make a Sovereign Industry then enact laws that make it harder to do that exact thing. The Government promises more transparency in its Departments then muzzles everyone. We’re told we no longer have the luxury of a ten year window on conflict , then commit to projects that won’t deliver capabilities for over a Decade or more. Honestly, you can hear the laughter in Beijing from here.


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