New news: Defence has to live within a realistic budget. THAT is your Defence White Paper in a nutshell and not the 2009 fantasy.
Budget is policy.
The effects on Defence from Tuesday's budget announcement shows that senior leadership is making both good and bad decisions on force structure cuts.
The Australian reports that some of the Army's M-1 tanks will go into storage. The article states that no reason was given. I have a few ideas on that. They drink fuel like mad, making for expensive upkeep when there are other more pressing operational demands.
C-130Hs will be retired. 4 of the 12 were already parked. The RAAF has J models and the whole of the C-130 community is having some of its business taken away by C-17 ops. I would be interested on the life (airframe hours) of the H community. A shame they can't be refurbished and turned into maritime ISR assets or other flavours of C-130 conversions.
The F-35 has been delayed. A good move. A better move would be to cancel it since by-design, it will never be combat effective against high-end threats and current aircraft can do the job better against any other kind of threat.
Sad is that Defence options for the air power roadmap seem to be that of air-policing and light strike work.
So be it.
The Gripen costs less than half of what it takes to run a Super Hornet in cost per flying hour. Defence states that the Super-F is currently trending at A$23,000 per flying hour. Classic Hornet around A$18,000 per flying hour. By inflating the Gripen cost per flying hour--assuming a contract screw-ups by the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) right off the bat--you get around A$10,000 per flying hour.
The Gripen can be turned for the next mission in 10 minutes. We don't even need the next-gen Gripen. The C/D will be OK.
For around $9B with 10 years of cost per flying hour, weapons, initial spares and training, facilities, 10pc contingency, $500M in hand-outs to local industry, we can replace most of the legacy Hornet fleet with Gripens.
So you want to fight big wars? Great. Pony up some funds for annual deployment training exercises from the U.S. which would include F-22s, F-15Es, B-1s, B-2s, and so-on.
ANZUS membership has its privileges.
Funds for jamming gear for 12 of the Super-Hornets to make them G-model "Growlers" has been put off. A better move would be to cancel this effort altogether because the U.S. Navy has stated on two occasions that it is obsolete kit.
Money has been wasted to the tune of $214M to do a submarine replacement study. The White Paper fantasy of 12 subs was a made-up number. Two issues here: Order 6 off-the-shelf subs. 6 because until Defence can prove they can crew up to that level, it is the limit. The $214M would have been better spent as a down-payment on an off-the-shelf sub. Opportunity lost for the sake of buying votes.
Defence should only start projects that can be realistically completed; and produce real value. By that measure, the F-35 effort or refurbishing classics Hornets, are disqualified. So is the home-grown sub-fantasy.
There are other places to put cuts. I would take-aim at the bloat of star-rank officers, senior-executives and civilian workforce chair-warmers.
With the right kind of management, working inside the recent budget isn't a problem. The problem is getting the right kind of work out of the Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy.