The Gold Coast Bulletin

Defence new toys this year will include spy drones and radar jammers in a major dollop of military extras


FROM spy drones and radar jammers to missile defence shields and underwater weapons systems, the new financial year will see one of the biggest military defence deliveries in a generation.

They are not new acquisitio­ns and in some cases are refresh programs to upgrade or maintain old hardware to keep t h e m going until more modern replacemen­ts arrive.

But the 2021-22 Budget papers not only flag a sense of urgency required for the programs to come online amid a rapidly deteriorat­ing and uncertain region but also the push now to recruit up to 1479 military and civilian personnel to staff these stations. This year another 877 personnel will have to be found over and above current levels and retention/resignatio­n rates, incrementa­lly increasing until 2025. Fifteen of the 16 ADF aircraft will also this year have to deliver greater flying hours than previous years, the exception being the F/A-18 Super Hornet which is being wound up.

The Defence budget for the year remains unchanged since last year when $270 billion over 10 years was announced as part of the Defence Strategic Update review.

But the Budget handed down Tuesday night outlays the mammoth job to match the review’s expectatio­ns.

“To implement these objectives, Defence will prioritise our immediate region for the Australian Defence Force’s geographic­al focus … enhance the lethality of the ADF for high intensity operations that are the most likely and highest priority in relation to Australia’s security,” Defence spells out in its Budget “resources overview”.

The overview reveals COVID-19 led to production and schedule delays of the F-35A joint strike fighter acquisitio­n for Australia but during this next financial year the RAAF is expecting to get 17 more of the jets to bring its total F-35 fleet to 56. Weapons for the aircraft are also set for delivery fast track this year.

During 2021-22 the first three MC-55A Peregrine long range surveillan­ce aircraft airframe modificati­ons will be completed with their operating facility at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia to be completed in quarter two of 2022.

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