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-   -   SMH article re RAAF buying c-17s (https://www.pprune.org/australia-new-zealand-pacific/212029-smh-article-re-raaf-buying-c-17s.html)

Taildragger67 20th Feb 2006 16:39

SMH article re RAAF buying c-17s
Relief for stretched Hercules to cost $2b - SMH

"dodgy Antonovs" - bit strong, innit? I thought the AN-124's record was alright?


Relief for stretched Hercules to cost $2b

By Tom Allard

February 21, 2006

THE Federal Government is poised to buy at least four C-17 Globemaster transport planes to relieve pressure on its overworked fleet of Hercules C-130s, which have given almost three years of non-stop service in Iraq.

Costing up to $2 billion for the four, the huge aircraft can carry four times as much as the C-130, land on airstrips as short as 900 metres with a full load and comfortably accommodate the Australian Defence Force's new heavyweight battle tank.

The high priority being placed on the purchase by senior Defence Force figures reflects serious operational problems during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defence Force has had to borrow similar aircraft from the US, Britain and Russia to supply its forces, causing resentment from Australia's allies, logistical headaches and even danger for forces and dignitaries travelling in dodgy Russian-built Antonovs to the Middle East.

Defence insiders told the Herald that the US-built C-17 Globemasters had been settled on after the merits of Airbus's cheaper but smaller A400M were considered. It is expected that the new aircraft will be based at Richmond, home of 36 Squadron.

"The fact is that this is the only one that can really take the Abrams," said one Defence source, referring to the heavy-armoured M1A1 Abrams battle tank Australia is buying from the US.

The decision to buy the aircraft is expected to be announced at budget time, or when the new Defence Capability Plan - a 10-year, $50 billion defence spending blueprint - is released mid-year.

The Herald understands that Defence is weighing up which is the best method to pay for the aircraft, which cost $220 million each but will cost as much again in terms of training, electronic warfare upgrades and spares.

While the US and British tend to supply their forces for a few weeks, Australian military personnel in the Middle East often need several months' worth of provisions and ammunition to overcome the stretched supply line back to Australia.

The recent deployment of SAS to Afghanistan reportedly required 18 supply trips from Kuwait by a C-17.

In Iraq two C-130 aircraft have been operating almost around the clock for three years ferrying supplies and troops.

This high tempo of operations - the C-130s have also operated in Afghanistan and in tsunami relief - has caused significant wear and tear and stretched spares and maintenance staff.

The fast-tracked purchase of the aircraft also reflects the new military doctrine for the Defence Force outlined late last year.

It said Australia would make "meaningful" contributions to coalition military operations overseas. Previously it had described such Australian deployments as "niche".

But Defence will be under pressure to make savings elsewhere, by delaying or scrapping other programs.

Defence Force finances have not met audit standards for several years and, while budget coffers are awash with funds thanks to the resources boom and the growing economy, it is unlikely that Defence will be given leave to spend as it sees fit.

However, it will be promised real increases in funding of at least 3 per cent for the next decade in the budget. A spokesman for the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, said no final decision had been made on the aircraft.

Pass-A-Frozo 20th Feb 2006 22:32

People see Russian and think "Antonov". Probably actually referring to the IL-76

numbskull 20th Feb 2006 23:34

Why should Australian taxpayers have to fork out billions of dollars to have the capability to invade other countries such as Iraq? They are the Australian DEFENCE forces after all, not the Australian Invasion Forces. If we really need them down the track for the defence of Australia then I'm sure the Yanks will provide them for us for an appropriate sum of money.

Why shouldn't they outsource this capability to the lowest cost operater such as the Russia? Or if the yanks so desperately need our soldiers on the battlefield to create the illusion of a coalition then let them pay for it.

Maybe Mr Frozo will find his job outsourced, his career prospects limited or take a massive pay cut and then understand what it feels like to be on the wrong end of a globalised competetive cost cutting excercise.

Like This - Do That 21st Feb 2006 02:56


If we are presented with a threat to our interests how do YOU propose we move defensive (!!!!) forces to the operation? A fleet of C-17s isn't just for moving people to and from places like Iraq or Afghanistan. Have you any idea how difficult it is be to lift a light mech brigade from Darwin to the Kimberley, for example?

And as for Australia invading other countries .... with what? An ADF grossly underfunded and shrunk shrunk shrunk for the last 3 decades?

I'm sure your intentions are honourable, but you're being a goose.

Aussie 21st Feb 2006 03:28


Could be another type to add to your name :)

Theyre talking about it being based in Sunny Richmond, however i dont know bout the short runway with full loads...?


king oath 21st Feb 2006 03:45

Here are Australian forces "helping" Iraq at great expense, and the cocky new Iraqi Government tells us to take our wheat and shove it because we are not nice people to trade with.

Bring em home Johnny.

Shitsu_Tonka 21st Feb 2006 03:51

How many Herc J's could you get for $2B ?!

Using carrying the Abrams as justification just shows what a stupid decision buying a bloody battle tank was in the first place.

'European Cold War era Armoured Corps Doctrine' philosophy in a 'post Soviet Oil-War dressed-up-as-terrorism' reality.

Are we going to fly four whole Abrams tanks to Iran and rock up on the doorstop of Tehran? Oh - the 'shock and awe' of it!

Time Bomb Ted 21st Feb 2006 04:11

We could always sell everything, buy 5 nuclear attack submarines and park them off the coast of any country who considers invading us.

That would save a bucket load of money. All we have to do is find a country to sell us nuclear weapons. Shouldn’t be too hard???


Capt Claret 21st Feb 2006 04:17


Bravo sir, well said.

As for the justification for the C-17s, the play has probably gone like this.

10*Gen Boddington-Smythe: "I say Smithers, what say we by some of these new fangled Abrams tanks, what?"

Fixer-upper Smithers: "Jolly good idea Sir. Here's the requisition, how many shall we order?

Some years later ....

Fixer-upper Smithers: " You know Sir, now that we've ordered these bluddy great tanks, perhaps we should think about how we're gonna transport the buggas!"

10*Gen Boddington-Smythe: "Top idea Smithers, now where's that requisition form, 4 should do."

As an aside, when the procurement of the Abrams tank was announced, an American defence analyst interviewed on ABC radio (PM/AM/The World Today?) expressed surprise that the ADF would waste money on such a large tank, when we had no capability to transport it, much less the need for it for the defence of Australia.

Shitsu_Tonka 21st Feb 2006 04:34

Capt Claret,

I remember the exact interview - around early 2004 I think. Mention was made of 'bang for buck' - wise how much further the money could have stretched on an upgrade to existing Leopards.

The Abrams was even a bit of a white elephant to the US - untl they got all empirical in the sandpit again.

Capt Claret 21st Feb 2006 05:10

G'day Shitzu,

That's the one. Now one question, is that empirical or empire-ical? ;)

tinpis 21st Feb 2006 05:20

Abrams = Haliburton staff car. :hmm:

psycho joe 21st Feb 2006 05:29

Too right.

And while your at it why aren't they using upgraded Sopwith Camels and 303 rifles. And whats going on with this DPCU business, real soldiers wore red coats. And everbody knows Australia has only ever fought wars on the Australian mainland.

I suggest you guys spend some time as a grunt with limited heavy lift support.

Taildragger67 21st Feb 2006 05:38

Originally Posted by Shitsu_Tonka
Are we going to fly four whole Abrams tanks to Iran and rock up on the doorstop of Tehran? Oh - the 'shock and awe' of it!

Four C17s wouldn't even get four tanks there - you're forgetting maint & u/s! Be lucky to have one op'able at any given time...

Shitsu_Tonka 21st Feb 2006 05:58

I suggest you guys spend some time as a grunt with limited heavy lift support.
Are you speaking from experience or guessing what it is like?

griffinblack 21st Feb 2006 08:39

Don’t buy into the C17 to carry the M1 – the likelihood of air transporting the M1 is very low. They can however take 3 (I believe) LAV 25 – that means they could deploy a Cav Tp with “stuff” with 3 maybe 4 C17’s. The tanks will be deployed by LPA/LHD’s. The C17’s would in all likelihood carry recon, advance party, airmobility/air manoeuvre assets. And of course gear – a hell of a lot of gear (bullets and beans).
Shitsu, you’re a trafficker are you not? You state: “'European Cold War era Armoured Corps Doctrine' philosophy in a 'post Soviet Oil-War dressed-up-as-terrorism' reality.” Do you know what hardening and networking (H and N) is about? Do you know what an RPG does to a Leopard tank and what it does to an M1? Do you understand warfighting in complex terrain doctrine? Let me assure you, and you just have to trust me on this, that the M1 is a good tank for what the ADF is doing (current ops) and what it is likely to do in the future.
My view – the C17 is an excellent choice. 4 is about the right number. Of course that is to replace, not augment, the C130H.

numbskull 21st Feb 2006 08:55

Psycho Joe- why would any one want to spend time as a grunt with limited heavy support.Why not just outsource the soldiering to to any one of a dozen south east asian countries. Its not like its never been done before. Mercenaries are the second oldest profession in the world. They'll do it for a hell of a lot less!!

Like This do That- Australia did invade Iraq on pretty flimsy reasons. OK we did have to support our allies but it was just a grab for their oilfields!! Why did we buy the tanks in the first place? Do we seriously expect to use them in Australia, the Kimberlies or the jungles of Asia? Or did we simply buy them to support the USA when they invade other countries? What the hell are we doing in Iraq or Afghanistan anyway? In 1914-1918 hundreds of thousands of Australians died after the the Arch Duke of Austria was assasinated to begin WW1- why did so many Australians have to die for that? Those that can't learn from history are doomed to repeat it!! Let's face it, we don't need to spend billions to have the capability of sending armed forces to the other side of the world to defend Australia.

And anyway who in Australia will be able to fix the C-17's? The only one with any heavy maint experience and the facilities has been Qantas and they're about to send that capability to Asia.

OK, so I'll be the first to admit I'm no defence analyst but as a taxpayer I think our money could be spent better.

Buster Hyman 21st Feb 2006 10:11

Well, I'd prefer an aircraft carrier...if anyone in CBR was asking.:rolleyes:

Shitsu_Tonka 21st Feb 2006 10:20


The RAAC role is close-support protection for small arms deployments - IAW the MOLE doctrine, but the Armour still has to be deployed.

I have followed the H&N arguments and agree it makes sense - but the question still remains about the numbers, and the mobility.

The Leopard is indeed vulnerable - and is really a dinosaur of the Cold War doctrine I mentioned.

Like you I agree that the C17 is an excellent, if expensive, platform and the likely roles are not to do with Abrams.

But, from a purely Air Power aspect, is the C17 the best use of funds?

Point0Five 21st Feb 2006 10:21

And anyway who in Australia will be able to fix the C-17's? The only one with any heavy maint experience and the facilities has been Qantas and they're about to send that capability to Asia.
Ummmm........ if Qantas were to send that work to Asia, the capability would remain in Australia and able to perform heavy maint on C-17s. But you aren't interested in Defence providing work for Australian Industry, now are you? :hmm:

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