BUDGET 2017 – F-35, P-8, LAND 121 top project expenditures for 2017-18

Australias first F-35A Lightning II aircraft 01 and 02 on transit to the Australian International Airshow in Avalon.Defence will spend $6.6 billion on its Top 30 major acquisitions programs in 2017-18, budget papers show.

Of that total some $1.1 billion (over 17 per cent) will be spent on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as acquisition of the RAAF’s next fighter begins to ramp up considerably. The acquisition of 72 F-35As under Project AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B has a total budget of $16 billion, of which $1.5 billion will have been spent through to June 30 this year, the Portfolio Budget Statements show.

“Major activities during 2017-18 will include: progressing the production of Australia’s next eight F-35A aircraft, including delivery of four aircraft; commencing the procurement of a further eight F-35A aircraft; continue maturing the development of a sustainment model for Australian based support; commencing detailed planning and support for the ferry of the first two Australian F-35A aircraft to RAAF Williamtown in 2018; and Australian pilots and maintainers,” the budget notes.

The budget also records the planned wind down in F/A-18 classic Hornet flying hours as the F-35 fleet builds up, falling from 16,700 in the current financial year to a planned 4,750 hours in 2020-21.

Meanwhile $853 million will be spent in 2017-18 on the ongoing acquisition of the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, with a further four aircraft planned for delivery in the next financial year, on top of three to have been delivered this current financial year.

“Major financial requirements in 2017-18 relate to the delivery of aircraft, aircrew and maintenance training devices, an operational load management system, air-to-air refuelling clearance activities, spares and transition training,” the PBS reads of the $5.3 billion AIR 7000 Phase 2 acquisition of 12 P-8As to replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orions.

Elsewhere acquisition of medium and heavy trucks, modules and trailers for the Army continues with $710 million budgeted for LAND 121 Phase 3B, while $683 million has been budgeted for the SEA 4000 Phase 3 Air Warfare Destroyer build.

“During 2017-18, this project is expected to achieve a number of key milestones including delivery of Ship 01, Hobart, to the Royal Australian Navy, the completion of sea trials for Ship 02, Brisbane, and the launch and official naming of Ship 03, to be named Sydney,” the PBS notes of the AWD program.