Australia would spend between $350 million and $450 million on new long-range missiles, Defence Minister Robert Hill said today.
Senator Hill said the Australian Defence Force's F/A-18 and AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft would be equipped with missiles capable of destroying land and sea targets.
Senator Hill said the new weapons would be introduced into service between 2007 and 2009 with Defence to advise the government of its preferred weapon next year.
"The new weapon will significantly enhance the ADF's air strike capability, providing a long-range, accurate and lethal attack against a range of targets including fixed and re-locatable targets on land and sea," Senator Hill said in a statement.
"Combined with the new air-to-air missiles and upgraded precision-guided bombs, Australia's fighter jets will be the regions most lethal capacity for air combat and strike operations.
Senator Hill said the government would choose between three long-range air-to-surface missiles.
The three options include the Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) manufactured by Lockheed Martin, a variant of the precision-attack cruise missile KEPD 350 manufactured by the European company Taurus Systems GmbH and the Stand-off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) manufactured by American-based Boeing.
Missiles won't spark arms race: Hill
August 26, 2004 - 7:20PM
Australia's air force will be equipped with advanced cruise missiles in a move Indonesia warns could spark a regional arms race.
Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today the government had approved a short list of three missiles with the winner to be announced next year and enter service between 2007 and 2009.
The Hornet fighter-bombers and Orion maritime patrol aircraft will be equipped with the missiles at a cost of up to $450 million.
The move is intended to maintain the Royal Australian Air Force's strike capability between the planned retirement of the F-111 strike bombers in 2010 and introduction to service of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter around mid-decade.
Senator Hill said the new weapons would enhance Australian Defence Force air strike capability, providing a long-range, accurate and lethal attack against a range of targets on land and sea.
"Combined with the new air-to-air missiles and upgraded precision-guided bombs, Australia's fighter jets will be the region's most lethal capacity for air combat and strike operations," he said.
The missile short list comprises the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) with a range of 400 kilometres, the 250 kilometre range Boeing Stand-off Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) and the European Taurus Systems KEPD 350 with a range of 350 kilometres.
But there are fears the move will upset Australia's regional neighbours, with Indonesia warning Australia risked sparking a regional arms race.
"You cannot arm yourselves to the teeth and expect that will lead of itself to a sense of security. You have to work with the region to share in a sense of security," Indonesia's chief foreign affairs spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.
"It's a qualitative advance for the region. We know Australia's government has until now been against the proliferation of advanced missile technologies in the region.
"There is a risk that raising the level of sophistication could lead to some kind of a counter response."
He said it would have been better if the government had explained the move in advance, providing more transparency on the reasons.
But the government rejected suggestions the missiles would fuel a regional arms race and said the move would not come as a surprise to Indonesia.
"They expect us to continue to evolve our capability as new opportunities in terms of science and technology present. The acquisition of stand-off missiles is a logical step in that direction," Senator Hill said.
"In the same way as Indonesia and all our regional neighbours continue to build their capabilities, they expect Australia to do so."
Senator Hill rejected suggestions that this would fuel a regional arms race. "No likelihood at all," he said.
Prime Minister John Howard said acquiring cruise missiles was a wise move given the F-111 phase out and Australia's neighbours would understand the decision.
"We have good relationships with our neighbours," he said. "Our regional neighbours will understand why we have done this."
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia was in the process of briefing its neighbours, particularly Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
"They are not likely to be too concerned about it because all countries in the region continually upgrade and improve the operation of their military equipment."
Opposition Leader Mark Latham said Labor did not object to the missiles, but urged the government to explain the defence move properly in the region.
The Australian Democrats accused the government of antagonising regional countries with leader Andrew Bartlett describing it as a diplomatic disaster.
Out of curiosity, does anyone know if, say, Indonesia lets us know when & why they are buying SU-30's??
The SU30 is a defensive weapon. It's very long range expedient for Indonesian air force generals, who now have the ability to reach all the far flung corners of the Indonesian archipelago, in their new found chariot to serve personal business interests.
The small number, four I believe, a nominal training capability.
The F111 was a long range nuclear stike platform, bought by Menzies who was dabbling with an Australian nuclear weapons programme at the time, aswell as a stated capability to bomb Djakarta.
The disquiet about the additional F111 purchase in the 90's probably a slight carry over from the above, aswell as a deflection of heat from certain contemporary issues.
Cruise missiles in the region will excite the tiger mentality of the neighbours-Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore etc.
I think the government and the press better served labelling the missiles as a "stand off" capability as opposed to cruise missiles- with all the imperialist, colonialist connotations that will incense our tiger friends!
That said, long range missiles will be excellent for our next excursion with the USA- Tehran, Pyongpang?
Last edited by Gnadenburg; 28th Aug 2004 at 02:00.
How far would these missiles go toward filling the "gap" when the F1-11 is retired? Would it be a "ploy" to justify the earlier retirement of that fleet?(reported as costing in the order of $500million AUD per annum to operate).
Location: Over 250 posts so far. Perhaps I support Pprune by posting regularly.
About 75% of the capability provided by the F-111 fleet, according to flight international.
I don't think it's a ploy, the decision has been made that the pigs have to go, due to age, cost and whatever else. This cruise missile capability will go some way toward plugging the gap when the F-111s are gone.
We need to have the latest toys if we are serious about our "deputy dawg" role in the region!!
Its very true to say that our defence capabilities will be greatly deminished with the phase out of the F111. Even if the JSF is brought into service on time it still leaves a very large gap in our defence. An increase in tanker numbers (and pilots on speed) would act as a force multiplyer but he fact is we will still not have a long range weapons platform. Just remember the F111 strike capability can be weighed against the likes of the B52 so the introduction of a long range strike missle will fulfill the gap to only a point. (75% seems to be the number as above).
I have a feeling we will be letting the US onto our shores in the form of "training bases" in the not to near future. its begs the question: how much is a alliance with the US worth on a world scale.
It must be remembered that the cost per flight hour has been greatly decreased rather then increased in recent years especially with thimplementation of the cold storage facility etc. The ability to support and maintain the F111 into the future has become more reasonable however the FB-22 sounds like a firm contender for a replacement.
I read with utter dismay Beazely's response........yeah , we should have got Megawati's approval and then all would have been OK. When are you cheese d!cks going to stand up and be counted......when Darwin is under seige is too late to be harping that perhaps our defense procurement was in error. The old diggers I know hold you in contempt, and for just reasons. Gnadenburg, perhaps I mistake your intent, but who cares whether Malaysia or Singapore are incensed. Our role is to protect our shores, not to appease malcontents when they do not get their own way.
I totally agree with your contempt of Beasley for his absurd comments.
I also believe that these missiles only partially fill the huge void created by the departure of the PIGS and therefore do not constitute an increase in offensive capability. The comments made by politicians from our neighbouring countries are mainly aimed at their own domestic consumption so as to paint Oz as the "bad guy". I spoke recently to the most senior engineering officer (in charge of the F-111 fleet) at Amberley and he said that since the digital upgrade to the "C" model (& other modifications) the serviceability of the aircraft is higher that it has ever been in all the years that the F-111 has been in service. If the F-111 was to remain in service and became the delivery platform for these new missiles then our neighbours would have something to complain about as that would be a significant increase in capability.
Firstly, name a country in our region who has purchased a long range offensive weapons system.
Outside our immediate region- did we not question the North Korean long range weapons programme?
I didn't say long range weapons, but our neighbours are all grabbing the latest Flankers etc. We give foreign aid to countries like India and China who then have their own carrier groups etc. They should be looking after their own and not relying on our generosity.
To hear Beazley say we should ask Indonesia's approval on our defence purchases is ludicrous.
Why should they have any problems with our purchases? We'd only ever use them against those with hostile intent...
Gnadenburg. I probably should have used the SU-27 as my example. But I think Fire wall has more eloquently made the point I was clumsily intending.
Obi wan. Since you didn't use smilies, I don't quite know if your last sentence was one of irony, considering our recent military forays. Could that action & our recent acquisitions be twisted by the region to see us as a more aggressive neighbour? Just a thought, no political pot stirring intended.
Buster Our recent forays in the region consisted of bringing law and order to East Timor after Indonesian backed militia went ballistic when the people voted independence from Indonesia, and doing the same for the Solomons.
Indonesia invaded and held East Timor for 25 years, and killed 1000s in their military campaign against Aceh. Hardly makes us the 'most aggressive' in the region.
As for Iraq, if our neighbours think the people of Iraq were better off under Saddam, well...
An Australian government, liberal or labor, who did not use the fundamentals of diplomacy to avert a mini-arms race in the region, would be failing the Australian public.
So what if we send Downer to Jakarta or KL to explain our shift in defence policy regarding "cruise missiles". Swallow your xenophobic pride and realise this a soft kill in itself- probably preventing the purchase of long range French or Russian weapons by our tiger friends.
At the moment, any regional adventures have defence planners countering a short range fighter/bomber, surface and sub-surface threat. Long range missiles change the paradigm. The threat uncounterable with the ADF in it's present form.
Settle down. Firstly, there are only two navies in the world capable of invading Australia or laying siege to Darwin. The United States Navy and the Japanese navy of 1941.
Secondly, the Chinese do not have aircraft carriers; or for that matter, any capability ( barring ICBM's ) of projecting their influence beyond the Formosa straight or a Himalayan scrap with India.
The arms race between China-Taiwan and China-India is an example of an unwinnable arms race, the likes of which we should be avoiding through diplomacy!
Not a conventional navy but here's a hypothetical. How would you stop a thousand fishing boats full of soldiers headed to Darwin. The ADF couldn't hope to stop them all.
As for India and China, its not just their arms build up. Both are countries who aspire to things like a space program - in fact China was the third country to launch an astronaut into space. India is busy creating an IT and service industry to take outsourced jobs from western countries - and still both receive foreign aid from Australia.
What have your scenarios got to do with long range cruise missiles for Australia?
You sound like a red neck- firstly invaded by muslim hoardes in fishing boats and secondly an arms race between India and China that has nothing ( Mr Kopp may argue this ) to do with us.
The very limited aid, of which I know little about ( except Steve Waugh's support for Indian orphanages), may well be reciprocated by trade deals. I don't know frankly - but nothing is for nothing usually!
One thousand fishing boats? I am sure the ADF could sustain heavy attrition on such an unbalanced force.
Surely, they need to have big support ships for logistics such as the transportation and supply of heavy weapons . Which would fall prey to naval and air forces. Otherwise you are suggesting they land in Darwin with rations and light weapons, to engage with Australian armoured forces?
Please don't counter with another absurd scenario.
Enough said, but I reiterate. Swallow your xenophobic nationalistic pride and realise that diplomatic explainations of an ADF shift in policy, a great victory or soft kill if it prevents an arms race in OUR region.
Last edited by Gnadenburg; 30th Aug 2004 at 05:04.
G to B OK, try this on for size. It doesn't need to be a thousand fishing boats. It can be one guy with a bomb (dirty or not) acting on behalf of a country who didn't like what we were doing. (Did you guess we would be in Timor, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, Iraq more than a few months before we did go in). How do we counter this? With the implied threat (ability) to go break his toys in there own country from long range. The thought that we have this ability helps keep us safe from this.
My guess would be interoperability with our US allies. Much the same as buying into the Abrams tanks. The power of hindsight has probably proved it was a mistake to get rid of a carrier capability. Something like a modern harrier carrier or helicopter assault ship would have come in handy for supporting both civilian and military aid in our region.
Last edited by OZBUSDRIVER; 30th Aug 2004 at 12:17.