The New Zealand government has approved the purchase of SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopters for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), taking up aircraft originally built as the SH-2G(A) for Australia under SEA 1411. Ten airframes comprising eight Seasprites and two spare airframes will be purchased from Kaman Aerospace under a NZ$242 million project that also includes a full motion training simulator, Penguin air-to-surface missiles, and additional components. NZ Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the NZDF currently has five SH-2G Seasprites that have been in service since the late 1990s and are due for replacement. “This package will provide the Navy with an upgraded variant, the Seasprite SH-2G(I) and increase the fleet from five to eight helicopters. It will allow helicopters to be embarked on the two ANZAC-class frigates as well as the offshore patrol vessels and the multi-role ship HMNZS Canterbury,” Dr Coleman said. “The New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence officials are acutely aware that the Australian government decided not to fully introduce these aircraft into service after concerns about a range of technical issues. As a consequence the New Zealand Ministry of Defence has invested considerable resources into examining all aspects of this project over the last two years.” Critically, New Zealand will operate its SH-2Is with three crew, rather than two for the SH-2G(A), and changes have been made to the troublesome flight control system. The first three aircraft are due in New Zealand in late 2014. All eight are expected to be in service during 2016.
For a document slated to meet the revised requirements of the Australian Defence Organisation for the next three decades, the draft 2013 Defence White Paper seems remarkably similar to the 2009 iteration, but with one important caveat: the government no longer has the finances. Kristian Hollins/CANBERRA The document, dated Tuesday 11 December 2012, was leaked …
HMAS Choules has finally returned to sea after passing tests on six propulsion and power-distribution transformers that had to be replaced when a defect was found in June 2012. The ship underwent a program of trials and training that concluded with a successful readiness assessment, Defence said in a statement. Choules is due to take part in amphibious exercises in Queensland in May and June before participating in Exercise ‘Talisman Sabre 2013’.
Lockheed Martin Australia has announced the appointment of three new members to its board of directors. Gary North was recently appointed as Vice-President for Customer Requirements at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. His main responsibility in this role is to ensure that Lockheed Martin meets the requirements of the US government and international customers for the F-35. North joined Lockheed Martin in January 2013 from the US Air Force, where he was formerly Commander, Pacific Air Forces. Dale P Bennett, Executive Vice-President of the Mission Systems and Training business area, has also been appointed to the board. He was previously President of the Mission Systems & Sensors business unit. Also joining the Lockheed Martin Australia board of directors is Sondra Barbour, who is taking over from Linda Gooden as Executive Vice-President of the Information Systems & Global Solutions business unit
The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith announced on March 26 the decision by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to close Multi National Base – Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province at the end of 2013. The decision was made after consultation with Australian forces and Afghan authorities. Mr Smith said the closure would see most Australian forces return from Afghanistan. “The effect of that closure will be that Australia will no longer have a permanent presence in Uruzgan, and the majority of Australian Defence Force personnel will return from Afghanistan to Australia,” Mr Smith said. Mr Smith also noted Australia’s ongoing commitment to training and assistance for Afghan National Security Forces, post-2014 ISAF transition, as well as a potential Special Forces contribution for training or counter terrorism purposes, under an appropriate mandate.
Senator David Johnston, Shadow Minister for Defence, has outlined his capability priorities for the Defence portfolio in a speech at the National Press Club on March 12. He said that force protection must be the highest priority; that soldiers not only require body armour but also the right level of medical care. Senator Johnston said it is important to reduce risk relating to Australia’s submarine capability, adding that the nuclear option is currently not plausible. In terms of air combat capability, he mounted a strong defence of the Joint Strike Fighter program, saying there is no alternative to the F-35. Finally, Senator Johnston stated that the maritime surveillance capability offered by the MQ-4C Triton is a critical requirement for Australia. “Getting this country running well is our first objective,” he concluded. “What will flow from that is more money for Defence, more work for industry and generally a greater confidence in the feeling that national security is not just under control but it is understood.”
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has advised Congress of the possible sale to Australia of up to 12 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers under the Foreign Military Sales program.
The contract includes airframes and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, at an estimated cost of US$3.7 billion. The notification was flagged by Minister for Defence Stephen Smith in late 2012, who said the government would seek updated price and availability information for a further 24 Super Hornets as a potential option to avoid an air combat capability shortfall.
“Australia is an important ally in the Western Pacific that contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. Australia’s efforts in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations have made a significant impact on regional political and economic stability and have served US national security interests. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and facilitates burden sharing with our allies,” the statement reads. “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability in current and future coalition efforts. Australia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these additional aircraft into its armed forces.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
The first of two new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships was officially named NUSHIP Canberra in a traditional Navy ceremony at BAE Systems’ Williamstown, Victoria yards.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, as well as CDF GEN David Hurley, Chief of Navy VADM Ray Griggs, and Spanish Minister for Defence Pedro Morenés Eulate.
The vessel was named by Mrs Vickie Coates, wife of the late RADM Nigel Coates who passed away in June 2010. The vessel will initially be known as NUSHIP Canberra, and will be formally commissioned as HMAS Canberra once it has been accepted into service by the RAN.
The LHD is the third Australian ship to bear the name Canberra – Canberra (I) was a County Class heavy cruiser which was sunk during the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942, while Canberra (II) was a Perry/Adelaide class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) which was decommissioned in 2009. In 1943 the USN also named a Baltimore class heavy cruiser USS Canberra in recognition of the valour displayed by the HMAS Canberra at Savo Island, the only time a US warship has been named for a foreign warship or a foreign capital city. NUSHIP Canberra has been assigned the pennant number ‘02’
Dr Mike Kelly has been sworn in as the new Minister for Defence Materiel at a ceremony at Government House on February 2.
Dr Kelly replaces Jason Clare who has retained Home Affairs and picked up the role of Cabinet Secretary in a Gillard government cabinet re-shuffle following the resignation of two key front bench ministers. Dr Kelly is a former Army Colonel who entered the Parliament in 2007 as member for the bell-weather NSW seat of Eden Monaro, and said his appointment to the front bench was a great honour.
“I am intensely aware of how important this job is, having seen first-hand during my military career what can happen if you don’t get it right. At the end of the day, you’ve got a soldier out there depending on their equipment for his or her survival. There can’t be any greater responsibility for a Minister to remind themselves every day that, at the end of the chain, somebody’s life is at stake.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has delivered the National Security Strategy outlining Australia’s role in fostering global and regional security as focus shifts to the Indo-Pacific. “… our strategic landscape is becoming more crowded and more complex. But it also remains true that it is the relationship between China and the United States, that more than any other, that will determine the temperature of regional affairs in coming decades. We remain optimistic about the ability of China and the United States to manage change in the region. But their relationship inevitably brings with it strategic competition, as China’s global interests expand.”
The statement noted an end to the threats of the “9/11 Decade”, predominantly the war on terrorism, and the rise of cybersecurity as a national security priority. To that end, the Prime Minister also announced the opening of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, bringing together elements of the Department of Defence, Australia Federal Police and Intelligence agencies to address the cyber threat.
“Australia is an attractive target for a range of malicious cyber actors, from politically-motivated hackers and criminal networks to nation-states,” Ms Gillard said
During their AUKMIN meetings in Perth, Defence Minister Stephen Smith an his UK counterpart Philip Hammond discussed the possibility of Australia joining with the UK’s planned Type 26 Frigate program when it comes time to replace the RAN’s eight Anzac class vessels under project SEA 5000.
At a joint media briefing held at Fleet Base West in Fremantle on January 17 after the ministers had toured the base and inspected RAN vessels including HMA Ships Perth, Arunta, and the submarine HMAS Farncomb, Mr Smith said, “down the track, currently scheduled for the end of the 2020s, we will need to look at a future frigate program. The (UK) is going through comparable deliberations with its proposal for a type 26. And so one of the things that Philip and I have had a preliminary conversation about, (is) the extent to which into the future there could be collaboration on future frigate programs.” The Type 26 is designed to replace the UK’s Type 23 class and will have a modular design which can accommodate different combat systems.
“It’s designed as a platform that can be fitted with different combat systems for different types of operations around the world,” said Mr Hammond. “So we believe this really would be something that is worth exploring as a win-win collaboration between the UK and Australia, who would be the first nation to join with us in this program.”
Interestingly, when asked by Mr Hammond how many vessels Australia was looking at, Mr Smith replied “Half a dozen, six,” meaning the eight Anzacs may not be replaced on a one-for-one basis. The UK is currently planning to acquire 13 Type 26 vessels.