Australia losing naval edge in regional arms race
THE Asia- Pacific arms race is heating up, with defence spending by regional nations excluding the US, Russia and India passing $ 320 billion a year.
The biggest mover is China, with an annual spend estimated at more than $ 162 billion, which is more than double its 2003 budget of $ 68 billion.
The amount pales when compared to the US defence budget of $ 610 billion a year, but it places China in second place followed by daylight and then Russia with $ 84 billion. Another big mover is South Korea, up from $ 16 billion in 2003 to $ 32 billion in 2013.
According to a report out today from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute ( ASPI), most of the new spending is on navy capabilities and that is slowly eroding Australia’s capability edge.
ASPI also warns that the build- up of naval capabilities increases the risk of “serious incidents” at sea.
“If the Australian Government were to deploy forces in maritime SouthEast Asia, the ADF could face more sophisticated capabilities,” it warns.
Another report released yesterday shows Australians know very little about defence and how $ 30 billion of their money is spent every year.
The report by a panel advising the 2015 Defence White Paper revealed that just 500 people attended almost 40 meetings in all states and territories; 260 written submissions also came in.
Other defence issues on their minds included possible threats to Australia, closer engagement with Indonesia, strengthening the US alliance, defence industry policy and capability and more information when governments deployed military forces overseas.
Australia is No. 4 on the regional arms table ( excluding the US, Russia and India) with $ 29 billion a year, growing to $ 32 billion by 2020. A new Defence White Paper due out later this year is expected to confirm that naval warfare is where the action is.