The Defence budget climbed to $44.6 billion in this budget. Most of the new acquisition money is going into platforms that are arguably obsolete now and certainly will be by the time they are delivered.
Almost a billion is budgeted for these “Attack Class” diesel submarines in 2021 although delivery isn’t scheduled until the 2030’s.
Currently estimated at $7.5 billion each, these 12 boats are more than double the cost of nuclear attack submarines and seven times the cost of the ‘off the shelf’ submarines we advocate. With no Air Independent Propulsion, the Attack Class is not likely to survive in contested waters close to any sophisticated major power.
The Hunter Class frigates (top) will get $655 million in 2021. These lightly armed vessels have no plausible defence against modern missiles and would quickly be sunk in any major conflict.
These new helicopters have only half the range of the Tiger helicopters they replace and would be of dubious value defending Australia. There are also major questions of the survivability of slow low-flying helicopters over a modern battlefield given the lethality of ground-based integrated air defence systems.
The RAAF is hoping to cut the cost of flying these aircraft from $49,000 / hour to $18,000 per hour. In any event the F35 Lightning has too short a range and too small a payload to be useful defending Australia against a major adversary.
ASIO gets an extra $1.3 billion to improve their technical capabilities. Given the increasing use of ‘grey zone’ warfare by sophisticated nation states and their associated cyber-criminals this is probably justified. The threat posed by right-wing and other extremists also requires attention.
The budget also has more spending on Veterans to try to reduce the suicide rate, various missile systems and four more Chinook helicopters all of which are supported.