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Australia's Defence Chaos

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Given the amount of defence lemons the Australian Government has been purchasing, Australians must be getting a bit worried about Australia's capacity to defend itself militarily. For years, the Australian Defence Force has been buying major defence assets most of which either have doubtful performance levels while some of them seem not to be working at all. Doubtful maintenance and overhaul practices have also contributed to a decline in Australia's defence capacity and in a couple of cases have even cost lives.


Two of the major incidents that have been able to be contributed to the deaths of defence personnel concern Australian Navy maintenance practices.


One was the case of the HMAS Westralia, a Navy supply vessel. Despite warning being issued not to proceed, steel fuel lines were replaced by hardened plastic lines. The lines eventually melted and a fire ensued, killing four sailors.


The other was the case of maintenance shortcuts being propagated in related to aircraft, mainly choppers and in this a Seaking helicopter providing relief operations in Indonesia after the tsunami. A mistake was made, the chopper crashed and a number of people died.


The much-heralded second-hand Seasprite helicopters were supposed to provide destroyers with an effective helicopter capacity. One actually flies, the rest have been grounded and the project appears to have been written off.


The Collins-class submarines look very good but the operational capability of these vessels is severely compromised rendering them almost useless in operational terms.


The refurbishment of a large number M-113 APCs (Armed Personnel Carrier) is well overdue and well over-budget and the project may well be cut back.


The much-heralded Boeing AEW&C aircraft have problems with command and control system and are overdue in terms of delivery dates and the project is also over-budget.


The uniquely Australian Jindalee early warning 'over-the-horizon' radar system is now more than 10 years overdue and has as yet not proven to be effective. It is indeed unique. It has yet to operate and perhaps never will.


The upgrading of Australian frigates is well overdue and none of the frigates have returned to service due to software and engineering problems. The frigates are also exposed to attack as their defence systems from submarines as their ASW systems are totally inadequate.


The F35 JSF is well over-budget and years behind schedule and the aircraft is doubtful in terms of its capabilities. As the F35 was destined to replace the F111's as well as the F/A18 Hornet, the Defence Minister has had to purchase 24 F18E Super Hornets to replace the F111 as an interim measure.


Seven Armidale-class patrol vessels have been 'stored' in Darwin because of fuel leaks and other major problems and the Navy has had to revert back to both Fremantle and even Attack-class patrol vessels.


Given all the fiascos with the purchasing of new defence equipment, the Australian public must be wondering as to the competence of the people buying all this stuff as well as the competency of the various Defence Ministers, current and past, in terms of the spending of many billions of dollars on things that don't work.


As a more light-hearted aside, it has been suggested that the Australian Army should perhaps be equipped with modern boomerangs, that the Australian Air Force should be equipped with Spitfires and C47 Dakotas and the Australian Navy be equipped with a good supply of sails and a large number of rowboats.


The dud Jindalee system should be augmented with a good supply of empty cans with strings running in between them end to end as to provide effective communication.


The next class of destroyers and frigates to be purchased will be uniquely Australian. They will be called the "Titanic-Class".


The Australian Government is also known to be looking at purchasing, 15 tons of glue, 15,000 rolls of sticky tape and 14 million elastic bands.


As one is able to observe, this is Australian purchasing power at its best.


It should also be noted that a notice has been issued to any possible invading country not to consider such action during weekends, as the Australian Defence Force does not work on weekends.



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