Pick your surprise for Defence #auspol

Below from Defence. The 5th C-17 and the Bay class ship were a last minute surprise. So too sometime in the  future will be another order for Super Hornets.

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Budget 2011-12

Defence Capability

Over the next 12 to 18 months, Defence is developing First and Second Pass approvals of Defence Capability Plan projects worth over $6 billion.

In addition to the recent decisions to acquire a fifth C-17A Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft and the amphibious ship Largs Bay, approvals will be sought for a range of key capability acquisitions including:

· Air 9000 Phase 8 Future Naval Aviation Combat System

This project will replace the current fleet of Seahawk and cancelled Super Seasprite helicopters with multi-role naval combat helicopters, weapons and related training, infrastructure, logistics and support arrangements.

· Land 121 Phase 3 Project Overlander

Phase 3 will deliver Light and Lightweight unprotected Class vehicles and Medium and Medium Heavy protected and unprotected vehicles for land forces. While this phase of Overlander is post second pass, it will be reconsidered by Government when Defence completes the current tender evaluation activities for Medium and Medium Heavy protected and unprotected vehicles.

· Land 121 Phase 5A Project Overlander

This phase of project Overlander will deliver further Light and Lightweight unprotected Class vehicles for ADF tactical training critical for our personnel in preparation for operations.

· Joint Project 2072 Phase 2A Battlespace communications systems

This project will rollout the communication infrastructure to high readiness land formations and units of the ADF.

· JP 2048 Phase 3 – Replacement Watercraft

This project will provide ship to shore vessels to transport forces and equipment ashore and re-embark them back onto the Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ships.

The Australian Government is continuing its investment in the package of enhanced force protection capabilities for our troops in Afghanistan.

Over the period 2009-10 to 2012-13, the Australian Government will invest $1.1 billion for these force protection capabilities. This initiative includes $480 million of expenditure in 2011-12. This is in addition to about half a billion dollars of existing force protection measures for a total over the financial period 2009-10 to 2012‑13 of $1.6 billion of enhanced measures for force protection.

Our forces in Afghanistan are performing extremely well in dangerous circumstances on a daily basis and their support and protection is, rightly, our highest priority.

More broadly the Government is continuing its investment in Force 2030, as set out in the 2009 Defence White Paper, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century. A comprehensive package of air, land, maritime and networked information capabilities is being progressed to ensure the Australian Defence Force of the 21st Century will have the capabilities required to meet future strategic challenges.

For more information and access to the Portfolio Budget Statement go to http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/11-12/index.htm

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999

And the big news this week

The big Defence news for this week is some silly story of an erroneous press leak from Defence that claimed an entertainer had sex with the troops. The real news that was overlooked was that the retiring boss of DSTO (Defence Science and Technology Organisation) stated that the F-35 is the right choice for Australia.

The sad thing is the guy actually believes it. This is a pretty amazing magic trick of an evaluation seeing as most of the development and testing of the aircraft is yet to be done. Is he misinformed, poorly skilled at making an evaluation, or one of those that once their big decision from their desk has been made, it can’t be reversed? I give those as the only choices because there is significant evidence that states that the F-35 program for Australia, at up to $16 billion dollars, shows otherwise.

Recently Lockheed Martin, the company trying to sell the F-35 to Australia, stated that now the jet can be had with a fixed price. Where, price and cost are two different things. Of course this is brought out as a good thing. Until you read the disclaimer that says, unless all parties sign up with the original schedule, that this won’t happen. Guess what? There won’t be any fixed price on the F-35 any time soon.

One of my internet friends has a great piece on how Lockheed has a pretty good hand on the reins of U.S. Department of Defense and Capital Hill decision making. So how can the industry and political pushing of the F-35 be anything but dishonest?

Business Spectator caps things off by correctly stating that in the coming years, the choices that Defence is making for fighter aircraft will be a big gamble by pretending they are competitive. This becomes more interesting when one looks at the early story of F-22 export efforts.

Meanwhile the head of the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) Greg Combet er I mean Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement made a statement. Sorry I got confused. It seems Mr. Combet is holding the hand of the actual head of the DMO by cleaning up messes that the highest paid civilian in Defence service should have been doing already. There will be a big review of various big dollar Defence projects.

“It will provide scrutiny of the level of project management being applied and will monitor the Government’s investment in these military capabilities on behalf of the Australian taxpayer.”

Funny. I thought that was the original job the DMO was being paid lots of money for in the first place. That effort by Mr. Combet is a different way of stating that the DMO is a failed organization.

As for the Sunday morning news shows: Again, they don’t have a clue.

Defence perception, minus reality

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The warning signs are there for any thinking person to see. Yet Defence senior leadership keeps rolling along with big, complex defence programs as if they can be successfully completed.

There is an aphorism from a book written by Colonel David Hackworth, a combat veteran of many wars who served in the U.S. Army. In the book About Face he tells the the following story: “A German general from long ago divided his officers into four classes: the clever, the stupid, the industrious and the lazy. The general believed that every officer possessed two of these qualities. The clever and lazy, for example, were suited for command (they’d figure out the easiest way to do a task); the clever and industrious were suited for high-level staff work. The lazy and stupid, he maintained, were an unfortunate by-product of any system and could be slotted in somewhere; but the stupid and industrious were just too dangerous, and the general’s standing order was to have them removed from the military completely, the moment they were identified.”

Consider the recent speech by The Hon. Greg Combet MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement. While addressing the Hunter Defence Forum, he mentioned what sounded to be great words of home industry participation opportunity with the assistance of senior defence help. Which by itself sounds good until Mr. Combet states: …”later this morning the Chief Executive Officer of the DMO, Dr Stephen Gumley, will outline some of the ways that companies can be ‘Defence ready’’.

Here it is that we have a government “portfolio” that is proven to be seriously dysfunctional in the areas of weapons system procurement and program management, ready to step forward and tell others how it’s done. Some of the blame for the Defence cost blow-outs over the years point directly to the office of the DMO. This is a warning flag of the first order and should make any taxpayer that helps contribute to over $20 billion a year in Defence spending, cringe. Mr. Combet may mean well, but is he well informed?

Commentator Bruce Haigh stated the other day that: “Fitzgibbon is captive to the lowest common denominator which is now the prevailing culture in the Department of Defence.” If so, shouldn’t issues like this be handled before letting the same suspects possess decision making ability on billions of other peoples money?

Defence is looking at someday replacing the current submarines in the fleet. However, the Navy has a difficult enough time putting even three of the six submarines in service to sea. Should the taxpayer be asked to fund six new subs years from now only to have half of them tied up to a dock?

The deal for new Navy destroyers will run somewhere over $8 billion dollars. The ink is barely dry on the deal and there are concerns how to pull the program off. For some years now Defence has failed to properly upgrade older warships with new weapons systems. This being the infamous FFG debacle that went over cost yielding frigates that are at risk of not being able to deal with modern threats.

Another recipient of massive defence spending will be the RAAF. Here, in a comedy of errors, the Australian public will end up giving away an aircraft that still had relevant airframe life in it well beyond 2010: the F-111. Next for show, the Australian public is generously handing over a small hand-full of billions trying to upgrade an aircraft that was designed to be thrown away into the trash after 5000 or so flying hours: The old classic F-18. Next, in a snap decision, the Australian public will hand over about $6 billion dollars to purchase a fighter aircraft that, while it will have excellent radar and electronic systems and is safe to fly, doesn’t possess the muscular flight power to deal with threats in the region: The F-18F Super Hornet. This of course was to fill a gap that was created by Defence in the first place by selecting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in a no-bid contract. The F-35 has only a few test flight hours on it, has unknown cost issues and is a flat-out unknown product. Here Defence wants us to fork out over $16 billion dollars just for the privilege.

That is the short list. Will senior defence officials be able to shed themselves of the “industrious and stupid” that are throwing away billions of dollars that don’t belong to them? The new Defence Minister will have to take more drastic action to clean up the mess in place or risk being part of the problem. For Mr. Fitzgibbon, the honeymoon is over.

Super Hornet’s ‘easily matched’ threat

Much has been said by senior Defence officials that the Super Hornet in various words will have no problem matching the growing threat in the region it may face: The Russian designed Flanker series fighter aircraft. These threat aircraft have grown in capability since the days of the Cold War.

No mater, Defence people have stated that they can be handled. But can they? Some think that such a match-up may be difficult. The Defence Think-Tank known as Air Power Australia has released a new paper on air-to-air combat: The Russian Philosophy of Beyond Visual Range Combat. It should make for some worrisome reading in Defence circles. Here it is important to know that in a parity or near parity air battle, if you have more missiles than the other guy, that is an edge all it’s own. It gets more interesting.

The family of U.S. missiles that Defence is banking on, while having seen “combat” have gone up against threats that didn’t have the ability to jam the missiles being fired at them. The technology of the aircraft that the U.S. AIM-120 “AMRAAM” has shot down, have all had poor defensive gear vs. such a shot. Even then in all the combat shots of the AMRAAM, it has only put up a 50% +/- hit rate. What will this missile do against a threat that can actually have a better chance of defending against it?

Then again, BVR (Beyond Visual Range) air combat isn’t that simple as a nose-on match-up. Where the Russian aircraft have built in Infra-red search and track,(not a a questionable after-thought like the crazy centerline drop-tank infra-red search and track device being cooked up by the U.S. Navy) more powerful radars, much more raw performance in the aircraft and finally more air-to-air missiles by sensor type, variety and quantity. The Super Hornet goes into the fight with very little margin of getting any result but an equal exchange in losses or worse.

Australia can’t afford to have fighter aircraft that are parity or near parity or worse to the threat. It needs air-to-air domination that will rack up a sizable score against an enemy.

But we can’t say that can we? The Super Hornet will easily match the threat (ABC windows video) and well, it will always dominate. Again, because of these statements, Defence has not justified the tens-of-billions of dollars for more advanced combat aircraft.

When Defence can actually come up with a justification of why they need something better than a Super Hornet then they should be allowed to press on. But they haven’t done it. Just like they haven’t done their homework on the Super Hornet. So when, organizations like APA are belittled by Defence inspired cheerleaders and those directly in Defence, a disservice to all Australians happens. The debate is being limited by a group of mind-guards in Defence. It happened before. It will happen again. This puts the future defence of the nation at serious risk.

Industry connections

Boeing is making it’s hard push to gain more control in Australian Defence industry.

-The Boeing Company, through its Integrated Defense Systems Industrial Participation organization, today opened a new office in Seattle, Wash., to help increase business opportunities for Australian companies. The Office of Australian Industry Capability (OAIC) at Boeing will work closely with the Australian Department of Defence and Australian industry to identify bid opportunities for Australian aerospace companies within Boeing’s major commercial and defence programs, as well as key supplier partners.-

Connected with the new government leadership hope of having more domestic work for Defence projects….

-The policy states: “A Rudd Labor government will ensure that as much of the defence budget as possible is spent in Australia. Labor will emphasise preference for Australian content and require tenderers to develop detailed strategies for involving Australian industry to the greatest extent possible.”-

Sounds nice, however real change from the way things were done in the past? Not if  a faulty DMO is still the focal point.

Joel Fitzgibbon: Defence Minister

-Mr Rudd appointed Joel Fitzgibbon Defence Minister, and Stephen Smith Foreign Affairs Minister.-

Well, now we know for sure. 
-Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said last night Mr Rudd had increased the size of the team running defence from the Howard government’s “1½ ministers and a parliamentary secretary” to two ministers and two parliamentary secretaries.-

Of course, unless DMO’s act is cleaned up,  any reformation of the Defence establishment will be only a half-measure.

Dr. Nelson: Leader of the Liberal Party

There you go. “He is his own man”, we heard so much = Doesn’t take advice from pros that supposedly know their job. Some interesting stories about him during his education tour. Snap decisions in Defence that well, you know, and now this. To be fair, he always did well by the troops face to face on tours and played that part well and to be fair I am sure he was sincere about it. Looks cool on a motorcycle and good to hang out with I’m sure. Take care sir.