The Australian government has directed Defence to implement a new strategic policy framework that signals Australia’s ability – and willingness – to project military power and deter actions against the country. Under this new framework, Defence’s strategic objectives are to deploy military power to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against our interests and, when required, respond with military force.

  • This shift in Australia’s defence posture, prioritises Australia’s immediate region – the Indo-Pacific. Australia remains prepared to make military contributions outside the immediate region.
  • Australia’s strategic objectives require new military capabilities and demonstrated resolve so the government will announce investments of approximately $270 billion over the coming decade in new and upgraded Defence capabilities, including more potent and longer-range combat systems, cyber security, and more secure supply chains.
  • This government’s investment in defence capability is already benefitting 15,000 Australian businesses, who support 70,000 Australian workers. These numbers are set to increase in line with these new opportunities for Australian industry. The government expects to increase the size/number of ADF personnel as Australia acquires new equipment and assets like the new submarines come online. This will increase the number of ADF personnel by 800, comprised of 650 Navy, 50 Army and 100 Air Force.

In summary:

  • Information and cyber ($15 billion) – bolster offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, enhance electronic warfare and command and control systems and improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. $1.9 to $3 billion in defensive and offensive cyber operations and to counter cyber-attacks on Australia, Defence and deployed forces. $3.3 to $5 billion to strengthen Defence’s network resilience from malicious actors. $2 to $3 billion in signals intelligence systems and expanding and upgrading systems for delivering top secret information and communications to strengthen Defence’s war fighting capability
  • Maritime ($75 billion) – Expanded maritime force to provide greater capability for anti-submarine warfare, sealift, border security, maritime patrol, aerial warfare, area denial and undersea warfare. $168 to $183 billion for the acquisition or upgrade of Navy and Army maritime vessels out to the 2050s. $5 to $7 billion in undersea surveillance systems. $400 to $500 million in long range maritime strike missiles.
  • Air ($65 billion) – Expanded air combat and mobility and new long-range weapons and remotely piloted and autonomous systems will be introduced. A $10 to $17 billion investment in fighter aircraft. $700 million to $1 billion for Operational Radar Network expansion. $3.4 billion to $5.2 billion to improve air launched strike capability. $6.2 to $9.3 billion in research and development in high speed long range strike, including hypersonic research to inform future investments $7.4 to $11 billion for remotely-piloted and autonomous combat aircraft, including air teaming vehicles.
  • Space ($7 billion) – Investment to improve resilience and self-reliance of Defence’s space capabilities, including to assure access to capabilities, enable situational awareness and deliver real-time communications and position, navigation and timing. $4.6 to $6.9 billion in upgrades and future satellite communications systems, including communications satellites and ground control stations under sovereign Australian control. $1.3 to $2 billion to build Space Situational Awareness capabilities.
  • Land ($55 billion) – Investment to ensure land forces have more combat power, are better connected, protected and integrated with each other and with our partners. $7.4 to $11.1 billion on future autonomous vehicles. $7.7 to $11.5 billion for long range rocket fires and artillery systems including two regiments of self-propelled howitzers. $1.4 to $2.1 billion for Army watercraft including up to 12 riverine patrol craft and several amphibious vessels of up to 2,000 tonnes to enhance ADF amphibious lift capacity.
  • Defence Enterprise ($50 billion) – Investment key infrastructure, ICT, innovation and Science and Technology programs critical to the generation of Defence capabilities. $6.8 to $10.2 billion in undersea warfare facilities and infrastructure. $4.3 to $6.5 billion to enhance Air Force’s operational effectiveness and capacity in the Northern Territory. $900 million to $1.3 billion to upgrade key ports and infrastructure to support Australia’s larger fleet of amphibious vessels. $20.3 to $30 billion to increase the supply of munitions and $1 to $1.5 billion to explore expanding industry capacity for domestic guided weapons and explosive ordnance production capability
  • Innovation ($3 billion) – The government is also expected to invest around $3 billion in innovation and science and technology.

One of the key elements of the announcement is that Australia will make significant new investments to acquire longer-range strike capabilities across air, maritime and land.

  • The government says this means it will have the ability to hold forces and infrastructure at risk from a greater distance to force adversaries to think twice before they threaten Australia’s interests.
  • Australia’s commitment to these capabilities is demonstrated with the decision to acquire an advanced maritime strike capability, the AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), from the United States Navy (USN), at an estimated cost of around $800 million which has a range of more than 370 kilometres. The new missile is a significant upgrade from our current AGM-84 air-launched Harpoon anti-ship missile, which was introduced in the early 1980s.
  • LRASM will initially be used on the F/A-18F Super Hornets and has the flexibility to be integrated onto other Defence aircraft. Training on the weapon system is set to commence in 2021.
  • Other possible missile purchases include SM-6, High Mobility Rocket Artillery System (HIMARS)-launched MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), Naval Strike Missile / Joint Strike Missile.
  • In addition to new long-range anti-ship and land strike weapons, the government be investing in the development, test and evaluation of high-speed long-range weapons, including hypersonic weapons.

Other Key Facts

  • The Defence investment includes approximately $270 billion of investment in Defence capability, compared with approximately $195 billion for the decade to 2025-26 when the 2016 Defence White Paper was released.
  • Over the decade to 2029-30, investment in the acquisition of new capability will grow from $14.4 billion to $29.2 billion.

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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.


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