Defence Policy All at Sea

Yesterday it was announced in The Australian that Peter Dutton is contemplating “fast tracked and comprehensive rebuilds of the navy’s six Collins-class boats”. It is expected that this retrofit will cost up to $1.5b per boat and won’t be completed until at least 2032.

This intervention is an indictment on both the Department of Defence and the Turnbull Government that approved the French submarine program, which Dutton is reported to quite rightly regard as “a mess”.

This was an entirely foreseeable “mess” and in fact former senior public servants John Stanford and Mike Keating forewarned this would happen 5 years ago in a series of articles posted on johnmnedue.com. (here, here, here, and here).

In short, they argued that there was little strategic rational for Australia to require a submarine fleet capable of force projection in far-off contested waters (i.e. South China Sea). This, they argued was in essence a great power role and as they noted at the time (citing ASPI) there was no evidence the US was looking for the RAN to undertake this role.

To the contrary, the US was in effect dissuading Australia from attempting this role by virtue of the fact that it opposed Australia acquiring its own superior Virginia class nuclear submarine (SSN). This is because only a SSN could provide the type of force projection capability in for-off contested waters with a regional margin of safety.

Stanford and Keating quite correctly identified the critical strategic issue at play. If Australia could not acquire or would not acquire nuclear submarines it needed to change its military strategy from long-range force projection to more defensive capabilities such as sea denial in the approaches to Australia, as well as  intelligence and surveillance roles within our immediate region.

Once you accept this strategic reality the case for a military off the shelf solution (MOTS) was obvious. Australia could have acquired technologically superior conventional submarines at under $1b per boat, delivered in the early to mid-twenties and in the process avoided a necessary, expensive and arguably futile upgrade of the Collins class submarines.

Instead of facing reality, Australia opted for a bespoke design and built submarine that attempted to square the circle by delivering an impossible comparable capability to a nuclear submarine but with diesel-electric motors. This was always a technology fantasy and hence why no such boat exists.

The price of this fantasy is tens of billions of dollars wasted on a high risk project that even if the submarines work and can be maintained as designed (a big if) will be inferior to Chinese and Russian nuclear submarines by the time they are deployed, which in any event will likely be many years late, amplifying Australia’s already pronounced capability gap due to obsolescence of the Collins class submarines that no amount of retrofitting can overcome.

Had the Turnbull Government prioritised the national interest above its own, Australia would already have (or very soon have) a regionally superior conventional submarine fleet (e.g. Soryu class) that would have fully replaced the obsolescent Collins class fleet. We are paying a completely unacceptable price in both economic and national security terms for keeping Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull in parliament for a few more years who sold out Australia’s national interest with nothing more than a grandiose work for the dole programme for South Australia to win a few seats.

Almost every aspect of the French submarine program points to highly questionable and arguably inept decision-making by both the Turnbull Government and the Department of Defence.

The strategic goal of force projection in far-off waters necessitated a SSN but they opted for SSK. They misjudged the immediacy of potential conflict which has left Australia with a critical capability gap. They have embarked on a high risk, high cost project that will not deliver a regionally superior submarine fleet when completed. That alone fails a cost-benefit test. The Life of Type Extension program being contemplated by Dutton would have been unnecessary had the right strategic decision been made from the beginning. At $1.5b per boat the LOTE program is arguably more expensive and will arguably take just as long as acquiring a technologically / capability superior MOTS solution (e.g. Soryu).

Dutton needs to go back to the drawing board because as it stands Australian defence policy is all at sea and the proposed LOTE of the Collins fleet is most likely throwing good money after bad.

That was certainly the opinion of former Collins class Commender, James Harrap who as far back as 2012 wrote about the then revolutionary advances in submarine technology (e.g. batteries, electric motors, air-independent propulsion, sonars and electro-optics) rendering then the Collins class fleet obsolete. He stated:

“These changes have been significant and whilst it may be possible (though very costly) to keep Collins operational for another decade or more, most advances can’t be retrofitted and the boat will most likely be so technically obsolete by 2022 that the credibility of the capability it offers will be seriously eroded. … The boats must be sustained in the short term, but I do not believe a service life extension for Collins is even possible, much less recommended” (my emphasis).

Dutton would be wise to consult widely before rushing into the LOTE program.

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88 Responses to Defence Policy All at Sea

  1. tgs says:

    In short, they argued that there was little strategic rational for Australia to require a submarine fleet capable of force projection in far-off contested waters (i.e. South China Sea). This, they argued was in essence a great power role and as they noted at the time (citing ASPI) there was no evidence the US was looking for the RAN to undertake this role.

    There’s a valid argument to be had on this point but I’m not sure I personally agree.

    Given our economy is utterly dependent on imports of strategic resources like petroleum products I think there is a case to make that our navy needs to be capable of more than continental defense and has to be able to maintain a serious deterrent that can project force into places like the Malacca Straits.

    Not to defend the Naval Group deal which by all accounts is atrocious but more to defend the RAN’s requirements which preclude any MOTS product.

    Send are the obvious choice but Virginias are not an option, the two US shipyards are at capacity for the next decade or more simply trying to meet USN needs.

    Astute class could have been an option but you still run up against the domestical political and non-existence of nuclear industry and technical expertise issues.

  2. tgs says:

    Send = SSNs, dang autocorrect

  3. Gary says:

    What has never been explained is why we need 12 submarines instead of the six that we have now.

    If we really do need 12, why aren’t we buying 6 extra subs right now, not waiting a couple of decades.

  4. jupes says:

    Had the Turnbull Government prioritised the national interest above its own …

    Prioritising the national interest is so last century. Energy, climate change, immigration, the environment, covid, education, you name it. Virtue signalling to UN cronies takes precedence every time.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Peter Dutton is contemplating “fast tracked and comprehensive rebuilds of the navy’s six Collins-class boats”.

    Colour me sceptical in pokadots.

  6. Speedbox says:

    Prioritising the national interest is so last century. Energy, climate change, immigration, the environment…..

    Yep. + lots

  7. Roger says:

    Almost every aspect of the French submarine program points to highly questionable and arguably inept decision-making by both the Turnbull Government and the Department of Defence.

    Royal Commission, please.

  8. Rex Anger says:

    @ Justinian and TGS-

    Australia is about the most extreme case you will ever find for a Navy.

    We have 3 oceans and a massive littoral environment to cover. A glorified coastal boat will not do the job for us or our allies and never did historically.

    To proclaim localised sea denial should be the limits of our strategic interests is actually disingenuous, because of the sheer open- (and closed-) water distances involved for any shipping to and from Australia.

    Both of you seem to have correctly identified this, where our bugman classes have refused to even think.

    Even a refitted Flight III Los Angeles class with the capacity to launch VLS cruise missiles would help us, if Virginias are unavailable.

    But the Astutes might work very well too. We may well need to consider Vanguards as well.

    As far as crash-developing a nuclear industry goes, we seemed to go OK in the end with developing native ship-building.

    Just best to keep the Government and rent-seekers at Arms’ Length as far as possible, until everything is fully established for the military side. Then commercial development can be contemplated. Strategic effects must come first.

    Perhaps even run it exclusively out of the Navy until a suitable nucleus of engineers have been developed?

  9. candy says:

    If I remember correctly Tony Abbott was pursuing the Soryu class subs before he got knifed and had built a good trade relationships with the Japan as he did with China and other nations.

    Turnbull therefore wanted anything else but Japanese to prove himself better than Abbott. For sheer political reasons only.

    And because the LNP saw Turnbull as their God they went along with everything he wanted. Pretty sure that was how it went.

  10. Rex Anger says:

    What has never been explained is why we need 12 submarines instead of the six that we have now.

    Because 2 at sea, 2 docked and under light refit and 2 in dry-dock at any one is a workable situation only on paper.

    And there have been occasions in the last 20 years where the RAN struggled to even achieve that.

  11. Speedbox says:

    Rex Anger says:
    May 7, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    But aren’t the Vanguard and Astute submarines nuclear powered like the Virginia?

    I’m all for it but I cannot see, under any circumstances, the Govt embracing the idea of nuclear powered…..anything. We can’t even have a sensible public discussion about nuclear power in this country much less actually proceed with implementation. And that sets aside the lack of regulatory framework, trained workforce etc.

  12. miltonf says:

    I remember when pissy crime was daring voters to support labor if they were displeased with him. With ‘friends’ like that…

  13. egg_ says:

    Even a refitted Flight III Los Angeles class with the capacity to launch VLS cruise missiles would help us, if Virginias are unavailable.

    +1

    Why buy new?

    The “hordes to our North” do very well out of old US military hardware.

  14. sfw says:

    Tgs is right, a nation that has no manufacturing, no oil refineries not much at all except large warehouses for imports must be able to protect its sealanes. If you can’t project power you will end up in a siege and we wouldn’t last as long as the average middle ages castles. We’d have lots of food but no way to distribute it without fuel, water would soon stop in the cities. I reckon if we were blockaded at around 90% with perhaps the occasional ship of Chinese TVs getting through we would have to give up in less than 8 weeks.

  15. Speedbox says:

    candy says:
    May 7, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    If I remember correctly Tony Abbott was pursuing the Soryu class subs before he got knifed and had built a good trade relationships with the Japan….

    Yes and as I recall, the Japanese offered us their ‘domestic’ version which was superior to their ‘export’ version. There was some dissent in Japan about them selling us their most refined version but their PM was prepared to push ahead.

    What’s more, the US was ok about it as their weapons systems fit and they trust the Japanese. Instead, we went with a hybrid version from the French which only exists on paper and the US don’t trust the French to keep secret the technology – so, another problem.

    I understand that the Japanese were utterly bewildered (and probably bemused in private) when we opted for the French option.

  16. Rex Anger says:

    But aren’t the Vanguard and Astute submarines nuclear powered like the Virginia?

    Every last one.

    I’m all for it but I cannot see, under any circumstances, the Govt embracing the idea of nuclear powered…..anything. We can’t even have a sensible public discussion about nuclear power in this country much less actually proceed with implementation. And that sets aside the lack of regulatory framework, trained workforce etc.

    Survival has a remarkable habit of focussing the mind, Speedbox.

    And governments are remarkably good at developing a tin ear and stone heart over things they deem far too important to leave to the heckler’s veto of activists masquerading as public ‘will.’

    I mean, look at Net Zero and ruinables…

  17. Scott Osmond says:

    Candy, the Japanese subs are tried and tested unlike the French rebuilds we are after, have been built in 10 months in the Japanese yards, cost about 650-70 hundred million. All reasons why the bugman class didn’t want anything to do with the deal. 50 billion means lots of sugar to go around to all the mates and with the timeline no accountability until long after those in receipt have gone off to the golf and island holiday homes. Pity the poor nation that might need to have a functional underwater capability during the late 2020s and mid 2030s when the president for life of China feels it’s time to make his mark on history’s stage.

  18. egg_ says:

    How good are old pressure vessels – the reason for the old Indo clunker going to the bottom recently?

  19. Rex Anger says:

    How good are old pressure vessels – the reason for the old Indo clunker going to the bottom recently?

    Assuming it was merely the age of the hull and not either human error or other internal mechanical failure that sent the boat below crush depth?

  20. Richard says:

    As the prized stallion gallops majestically through the tall grass of the paddock far beyond, Peter contemplates the speed at which he will need to shut the barn gate.

  21. billie says:

    thank goodness we have so much money to waste

    does anyone care apart from stakeholders (taxpayers)?

    nope, and why would the public service in Canberra care?

    if Labor were in charge, there would be even more people assigned to useless tasks

  22. Speedbox says:

    I just can’t see it Rex. Net zero etc ‘plays’ to the Left and bugger the rest of us. Going nuclear on anything will require bi-partisan support – can you see Albanese and the Labor Party supporting nuclear? Even if the more moderate faction had some mild interest, they are captive to the hard(er) Left.

    I get your point Rex, but we will have to agree to disagree on this.

    By the way, “they deem far too important” – nothing is more important than the defense of the nation but Mal (with Chrissy) seemed to have no trouble screwing us over on that one.

  23. Terry says:

    How is this anything other than blatant Treason?

    Rather than a fully-indexed pension, these traitors should be perp-walked around parliament in chains for three days (to remind the current lot what will happen), and then introduced to solitary confinement for the term of their natural life.

  24. Rohan says:

    sfw says:
    May 7, 2021 at 12:46 pm
    I reckon if we were blockaded at around 90% with perhaps the occasional ship of Chinese TVs troops getting through we would have to give up in less than 8 weeks.

    This is prolly the more likley scenario.

  25. Speedbox says:

    Scott Osmond says:
    May 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    It’s my recollection that the Australian version of the Japanese sub was another $150m (total price around $800m) each due to some design changes for weapons systems and a number of other specific Oz navy requirements. All do-able – just had a price tag due to some re-design work and messed with the build schedule.

  26. John A says:

    Roger says: May 7, 2021, at 12:33 pm

    Almost every aspect of the French submarine program points to highly questionable and arguably inept decision-making by both the Turnbull Government and the Department of Defence.

    Royal Commission, please.

    We need some politicians with sufficient gall to shirtfront the Gauls and undo the ravages of this stupid decision.

  27. Dr Faustus says:

    We are paying a completely unacceptable price in both economic and national security terms for keeping Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull in parliament for a few more years who sold out Australia’s national interest with nothing more than a grandiose work for the dole programme for South Australia to win a few seats.

    One of the legs of the Save Pyne Strategy is presently falling off. Sanjeev Gupta’s Whyalla Green Steel and the associated Cultana solar farm and Playford battery projects appear to be headed for the knackery.

    The NSW Supreme Court gave GFG Alliance a six week reprieve from liquidation yesterday, theoretically giving Mr Gupta time to conjure a $500m refinance. Gupta’s appointment of second tier White Oak Global Advisors (an SME clipster) says low probability; the sale attempt of Cultana/Playford announced today says very low probability.

    The Curse of Turnbull strikes hard and often.

  28. Entropy says:

    Richard says:
    May 7, 2021 at 1:00 pm
    As the prized stallion gallops majestically through the tall grass of the paddock far beyond, Peter contemplates the speed at which he will need to shut the barn gate.

    Let me fix that

    the colt from old Regret had got away, and had joined the wild bush horses…. After Malcolm left the rails down. So Peter contemplates the speed at which he will need to shut the gate.

  29. Forester says:

    …had the right strategic decision been made from the beginning.

    Not replacing Abbott with Photio’s clown.

  30. egg_ says:

    associated Cultana solar farm and Playford battery projects appear to be headed for the knackery.

    c/- Zenergy (John Hewson) IIRC.

  31. egg_ says:

    The 10-year contract – which was put out for tender again after the failure of the Aurora solar thermal project to obtain finance – has been awarded to the Ross Garnaut-led Zen Energy, which in turn will tap into the big solar and battery projects that will be delivered by its former shareholder, Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance.

  32. Rex Mango says:

    At least black hand Pyne got to keep his ministerial super scheme as he jumped ship before last election (mistakingly thinking the Libs would lose) & is now safely ensconced as a Canberra defence consultant. Calling trough, this is snout.

  33. Entropy says:

    Excellent article btw. Should be published in The Australian

    This bit

    To the contrary, the US was in effect dissuading Australia from attempting this role by virtue of the fact that it opposed Australia acquiring its own superior Virginia class nuclear submarine (SSN).

    The first time I had heard that. Is this a well known thing? Why would the yanks be against the idea?

  34. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    every aspect of the French submarine program points to highly questionable and arguably inept decision-making by both the Turnbull Government and the Department of Defence

    I’ve been aware of some massive defence procurement fuck-ups in the past (i.e. just about every single purchase of just about anything) but the sheer scale of the idiocy, expense, impracticality, time frame and mind numbing ridiculousness of the decision to “purchase” these mythical frog undersea coffins dwarfs them all.

    About the only positive I can think of that the entire preposterous shambles has set an insurmountable “beyond parody” benchmark. Just like Peak Stupid.

  35. jupes says:

    Just like Peak Stupid.

    A never-ending procession of false crests.

  36. Rex Anger says:

    Excellent article btw. Should be published in The Australian

    This bit

    To the contrary, the US was in effect dissuading Australia from attempting this role by virtue of the fact that it opposed Australia acquiring its own superior Virginia class nuclear submarine (SSN).

    The first time I had heard that. Is this a well known thing? Why would the yanks be against the idea?

    Treat that as the Bugman equivalent of putting out a false echo to confuse and draw away the pursuing torpedoes…

  37. Rex Anger says:

    Treat that as the Bugman equivalent of putting out a false echo to confuse and draw away the pursuing torpedoes…

    Either by frantic manoeuvring (known as creating a “Knuckle”) or popping a mobile or immobile decoy device

  38. Rex Mango says:

    Why wasn’t the option of retrofitting diesel motors into Virginia Class ever put on the table?

  39. rickw says:

    This was always a technology fantasy and hence why no such……

    A lot of Technology Fantasy going around these days.

  40. rickw says:

    Given that we are in deep shit.

    Why don’t we just buy new / proven subs off Japan? They’re part way through their build program for their latest design, just tack onto the end of it?

  41. Rex Mango says:

    Perhaps Sanjeev Gupta could step in to finance green subs powered by hydrogen, built in say Whyalla?

  42. Luke says:

    The Japanese have built and launched 22 submarines in three years.

    We should go cap in hand and beg them to let us buy some. We’d have six in 12 months.

    We should buy 10 and have a workable maintenance rotation.

  43. Paul says:

    Our strategic rational is shifting again. With the communists threats to our trade, we need to cultivate newer markets away from economic reliance on China, which is now proving to be a national security disaster.
    Protecting our trade routes to newer markets will become the priority as the communists take more and more control of neighbouring countries ports and sea lanes.

  44. Viva says:

    Canberra HQ isn’t called Fort Fumble for nothing

  45. Primer says:

    The aircraft capability most missed by the RAAF is the F111. Australia has no long range strike aircraft, unless you count recce aircraft that can carry a torpedo etc.
    Indonesia is getting the long range strike F 15X. The F35 is slow, carries tiny weapons load, has small combat radius, can’t turn and when IRST is standard it’s radar profile advantage will be gone. But as long as Scott isn’t concerned , you shouldn’t be either.

  46. Rex Anger says:

    @ Primer-

    I’m sure some RAAFies are huddled away in an office somewhere, steadily writing ever-more strident reports on exactly that…

  47. egg_ says:

    Canberra HQ isn’t called Fort Fumble for nothing

    Lord Trumble of Fort Fumble – fitting.

  48. egg_ says:

    The F35 is slow, carries tiny weapons load, has small combat radius, can’t turn and when IRST is standard it’s radar profile advantage will be gone. But as long as Scott isn’t concerned , you shouldn’t be either.

    Germany, UK & others rejecting the F35.

  49. Ed Case says:

    The article needs editing.
    America doesn’t want us to have force projecting submarines and won’t sell up the Virginia Class anyway?
    Okay, sounds legit, why would we want Force Projection?
    We’re a Minor Power, what we need is State of the Art Diesel Electrics like what Putins got in the Black Sea.
    The USN fucked off outta there quick smart when Putin loosed those D-Es outta Sevastopol the other week.

  50. Rex Anger says:


    America doesn’t want us to have force projecting submarines and won’t sell up the Virginia Class anyway?
    Okay, sounds legit, why would we want Force Projection?
    We’re a Minor Power, what we need is State of the Art Diesel Electrics like what Putins got in the Black Sea.
    The USN fucked off outta there quick smart when Putin loosed those D-Es outta Sevastopol the other week.

    Grigory farts in for another game of Sink the Ed October…

    #WhiteDieselSuuuuuuuuuuuuub

  51. Rex Mango says:

    RAAF should buy a dozen B1B’s currently collecting dust at Davis Monthan AB’s Boneyard. With harpoons they would shore up our seaborne defences into the 2030’s and we could have them operational very quickly compared to subs.

  52. Ed Case says:

    With the communists threats to our trade, we need to cultivate newer markets away from economic reliance on China, which is now proving to be a national security disaster.

    Such as?
    China has been building infrastructire in Africa, we send Aid Money that gets stolen.
    India isn’t interested, it competes with us,
    Europe isn’t interested in our Sabre Rattling re China, they think we’re mad.
    South America is a competitor, without China, it’s Autarky or collapse.

  53. Rex Anger says:

    RAAF should buy a dozen B1B’s currently collecting dust at Davis Monthan AB’s Boneyard. With harpoons they would shore up our seaborne defences into the 2030’s and we could have them operational very quickly compared to subs.

    Couldn’t hurt.

    And not just Harpoons.

    TLAMs or even the hypersonic weapons the US are developing.

    If you could get those onto a drone (or manned aircraft) with the load capacity and loitering ability of something like a B-52G, you have a very useful secondary maritime and land strike option. Doesn’t matter if your targeting data comes from an RQ-4 Triton , P-8 Poseidon, fighter, attack helicopter, surface warship, submarine or even an OP party from Norforce with a radio and binoculars…

  54. Boambee John says:

    Viva says:
    May 7, 2021 at 3:13 pm
    Canberra HQ isn’t called Fort Fumble for nothing

    An American memorial in the middle (eagle on a tall column) gave it the alternative name of Phallus in Blunderland.

  55. Neil says:

    If I remember correctly Tony Abbott was pursuing the Soryu class subs before he got knifed and had built a good trade relationships with the Japan as he did with China and other nations.

    Sounds like a much better option. It would be interesting to know how much influence Turnbull had and who really makes these decisions. I think the Americans would have been happy with us buying from Japan as well.

    While i was typing i remember the abuse Bob Menzies got trading with Japan before WW2. Japan was our ally in WW1. Shows how quickly allegiances can change.

  56. roman says:

    I’ve got an idea I think Defense will love. Water-proofing some tanks. “What about air?” you ask. Snorkels! Big snorkels! But we won’t buy snorkels. No. That’s silly. We’ll buy something like a snorkel and retrofit it! It’s how we do things in Australia.

  57. Justinian the Great says:

    I am open to a debate on Australia requiring force projection capabilities albeit I am pretty sceptical. It requires much more than a better submarine. It requires an entire eco-system of coordinated, supporting military infrastructure, resources, supply chains, training and strategy I doubt we possess. That said, the the key point is that force projection, even if a worthy goal, cannot be meaningfully achieved with the French hybrid subs. It requires a SSN fleet. As we are not prepared to go down this path, or cannot go down this path for whatever reason, then we must change our strategy, which in reality means maintaining current strategy, but with better submarines deployed more quickly. This really should be a no brainer.

  58. Ed Case says:

    While i was typing i remember the abuse Bob Menzies got trading with Japan before WW2. Japan was our ally in WW1. Shows how quickly allegiances can change.

    1937 is a long time ago, Neil.
    You must be getting on.
    Anyhow, let’s put the story to bed.
    Australia’s waterfront Unions were Soviet Stooges in the 1930s, we had no beef with Japan, but the Soviet Union felt threatened by the IJA in Manchuria, and that was the reason for the Port Kembla Kerfuffle.

  59. Paul says:

    How many bottles of chateau nuef de Pape did turdbull get fot the deal?

  60. Ed Case says:

    The USN won’t sell us the Virginia Class,it’s got nothing tom do with powerless Greens in Australia.
    Let’s say the Virginia Class is a good idea.
    Why won’t the Yanks sell it to us?

  61. Professor Fred Lenin says:

    We need a Missile Corps with Australian made and designed missiles ,why do we need ultra expensive subs and surface ships . Surface ships are so yesterday,one missile can destroy a billion dollar carrier and put a thousand men out of action . One missile cann disappear a state of the art billion dollar sub . Combined with sattelites , sonar and modern radar nothing can escape them . Why buy ultra expensive manned planes when drones do the job better . Get with it get modern with ICBMs we would be a nasty little state to meddld with ,just look at what North Korea gets away with .

  62. Neil says:

    1937 is a long time ago, Neil.
    You must be getting on.

    OK i meant i read about it.

    But i would still like to know what influence Turnbull had for the final submarine decision.

    My understanding of how our system works is that the PM would have the final say but i guess they would just follow Departmental advice

  63. Primer says:

    “Combined with sattelites , sonar and modern radar nothing can escape them” .
    One out of three is not bad. Deep submerged subs are not detectable by satellite or radar.
    Sonar is useful at relatively short range. The beauty of subs is their undetectability.

  64. Rex Anger says:

    ,why do we need ultra expensive subs and surface ships

    Because Fred, for all the bombs you can drop on a piece of land or sea, it isn’t yours until your own side has dropped anchor in it or stood firm and dug a hole.

    Swatting things at a distance with big missiles is good offensive and defensive policy, but what you cannot see or detect, you cannot strike.

    And after several thousand years of warfare, the Eyeball, Human Mk1 is still one of the most reliable and foolproof detection, acquisition and ranging devices we have. Drones are useful, but a human on the spot can make a snap decision and reoriebtation to prosecute a spurious or marginal contact with a far higher probability of success than a fully automated or human-remote system ever will.

    As far as successful strikes go, you may also need a lot of missiles to overcome the other guy’s countermeasures. For all China’s BS about its IRBMs, they still need to saturate a US Carrier Group withnthe damn things (same tactics the Soviets practiced, by the way…) to be assured of at least getting a hit on something.

  65. Rex Anger says:

    I am open to a debate on Australia requiring force projection capabilities albeit I am pretty sceptical. It requires much more than a better submarine. It requires an entire eco-system of coordinated, supporting military infrastructure, resources, supply chains, training and strategy I doubt we possess.

    Rest assured that a lot of that ecosystem already exists. That is how the ADF has sustained 30-odd years of rolling warlike operations. Despite near-perpetual fund starvation and peacetime Public Servant fripperies.

    The ADF in its post-WW2 guise has always been built around and predicated on power projection. Even if only on a smaller scale than the US and UK.

    It was just allowed to wither in the last decade with the near one-eyed focus on Iraq and Afghanistan. Kinda like the ‘Peace Dividend’ and the Dibb era of the 1980s and early 90s, albeit with more lethal ‘exercises’ grumbling away out of the public’s sight and thus out of mind.

    We have hit another wake-up call, a la 1999. Just with a bigger and stroppier problem. And with an ADF potentially more able to respond tactically, but almost paralysed strategically by idiots with political agendas…

  66. Ed Case says:

    The Elephant in the room is:
    Why wouldn’t the Yanks sell us the Virginia Class?
    The bottom line is:
    Australia needs subs for Defense, but the Yanks say no.
    I’m unconvinced that Abbott made the right call, if he had it would be a first, perhaps Turnbull did make the right call, short of buying State of the Art D/Es from Putin, what else was he going to do?

  67. Rex Anger says:

    The Elephant in the room is:
    Why wouldn’t the Yanks sell us the Virginia Class?
    The bottom line is:
    Australia needs subs for Defense, but the Yanks say no.

    And your proof that the bugmens’ ambit about this was true and accurate, is?

    #OneEdOnly

  68. lotocoti says:

    Sea Assertion versus Sea Denial has been argued for the last forty years.
    We have neither the economy, nor the political will, to seriously attempt either.

  69. egg_ says:

    Sea Assertion versus Sea Denial has been argued for the last forty years.
    We have neither the economy, nor the political will, to seriously attempt either.

    The Yanks are probably well aware of this.

  70. Ed Case says:

    Address your questions to Jussie, Mulga.
    He’s the dude that said the Yanks refused to sell us the Virginia Class.

  71. Rex Anger says:

    Address your questions to Jussie, Mulga.
    He’s the dude that said the Yanks refused to sell us the Virginia Class.

    And you’re the one running with it, Grigory.

    Furthermore, you idiot troll, Justinian simply reported opinion pieces from a pair of strategists. Whose statements in and of themselves may or may not be true.

    #NoVexationWithoutInvestigation

  72. Entropy says:

    Anyway, to make the sub squadron viable, particularly SSN, it would need to imbedded with the USN anyway.

  73. Entropy says:

    That is also how we would develop a nuclear industry too.

  74. Perfidious Albino says:

    We should just buy half a dozen Soryu’s now instead of Collins LOTE. Pay the Japs to build them here if needs be. Then rethink the longer term, but off the shelf UK or US seems eminently sensible.

    Keep building surface warships here and keep building.

    Then amp up the pay grades to make it compelling to join.

  75. Rayvic says:

    “Almost every aspect of the French submarine program points to highly questionable and arguably inept decision-making by both the Turnbull Government and the Department of Defence.”

    A fair assessment.

    Dutton should act in the national interest by cancelling the French submarine program, and starting again.

  76. nb says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUtE0TLR4Uc
    The Duran – Australia – China war drums. General’s leaked briefing warns of conflict ahead.

  77. Texas Jack says:

    It’s a pity we don’t treat our Quisling like the original. Vidkun was executed by firing squad in October 1945 for crimes against his native Norway. Ours lives delusionally on, tweeting merrily in a big house in Point Piper.

  78. Ed Case says:

    That is also how we would develop a nuclear industry too.

    Someone doesn’t want us to have a Nuclear Industry, that’s the message i’m getting from the refusal to sell us the Virginia Class, and going further back, Labor’s opposition to Nuclear Power, even tho it had no objection to the sale of Yellowcake.

    Quisling gets bad press but he was an inept politician, always 2 steps behind, and he became the scapegoat. At worst, Turnbull fits that mold.

  79. Perfidious Albino:

    We should just buy half a dozen Soryu’s now instead of Collins LOTE. Pay the Japs to build them here if needs be. Then rethink the longer term, but off the shelf UK or US seems eminently sensible.

    There’s a fair chance the Soryu Class is now off the table due to Defence Support inviting the Chinese to the briefing on the ability of the Japanese sub, despite the Japanese firm request to adhere to the secrecy provisions they asked for.
    Perhaps the bureaucracy deliberately torpedoed the Soryu bid because there were not enough gifts like the French were promising?
    Dunno, but I’d really like to see some bank accounts being looked at very closely.

  80. In addition,

    Pay the Japs to build them here if needs be. Then rethink the longer term, but off the shelf UK or US seems eminently sensible.
    Keep building surface warships here and keep building.

    There is something quite rotten in Australian Defence acquisition and this needs to be sorted out first.

  81. Boambee John says:

    Winston

    Dunno, but I’d really like to see some bank accounts being looked at very closely.

    Rumour had it (unconfirmed of course) that the Collins Class project team carpark featured a lot of Saabs.

  82. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha says:

    We should just buy half a dozen Soryu’s now instead of Collins

    My understanding is that the Soryu’s don’t have the range or carry enough torpedoes for Australian requirements?

  83. Tel says:

    Canberra HQ isn’t called Fort Fumble for nothing

    The Canberra Class ships are aptly named … clunky, slow, inelegant and with no clear purpose … but expensive! The only thing you can do with them is intimidate small Pacific island nations hoping they don’t have any anti-ship missiles.

    Hopefully they get redeployed for helping out with the next bushfire or flood whichever comes first … at least we get some use out of them.

  84. Boambee John says:

    Zulu

    My understanding is that the Soryu’s don’t have the range or carry enough torpedoes for Australian requirements?

    Over the next 20 years, they would have more range and carry more torpedoes than the Froggie Tadpoles.

  85. Rex Anger says:

    Someone doesn’t want us to have a Nuclear Industry, that’s the message i’m getting from the refusal to sell us the Virginia Class,

    #EdOctoberStrikesAgain

    #NoWhiiiiiteSuuuuuubs

    #NoVexationWithoutInvestigation

  86. Pyrmonter says:

    JohnMenadue.com

    What has become of the Cat?

  87. Primer says:

    ‘What has become of the Cat?’
    Alas Pyr, the Cat has always sheltered libertarians who believe I should pay for their easily avoidable, not even inconvenient, risk behaviour choices because it’s their ‘right’.
    Moses, with stone tablets so engraved, must be arriving any time now.

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