Australian Procurement Changes: DCP 2006-2106
Australian Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson recently released the public version of Australia’s Defence Capability Plan (DCP) 2006-16. outlining more than $51 billion of major capital equipment proposals.
The DCP 2006-16 is a major document produced periodically from an ongoing review of capability requirements. “Australia’s National Security – A Defence Update 2005” fed into this review process, and heavily influenced the DCP. The new document also comes on the heels of an additional $2.4 billion invested over fiscal years 2011-12 to 2015-16, and can be set into the context of the currrent government’s commitment to increase annual defence spending by 3% per year over the next decade. Key features of the DCP 2006-2016 include:
- Modified helicopter plans aimed at reducing the number of aircraft types and to create a common joint training and management system. More than A$ 3.7 billion of project funding has been set aside for these purposes. Australia’s A$ 2 billion order of an additional 34 NH90 helicopters for naval and troop transport roles appears to be their first step in this direction.
- $500 million to enhance the recently-built ANZAC frigates, with a focus on improved air defense and undersea warfare detection.
- A 40% boost in funding for Army networking projects as part of the Hardened and Networked Army initiative, to be introduced across the majority of Army units as part of a Network-Centric Warfare push.
- While Australia will be buying 4 C-17 Globemaster III intra-theater heavy airlift planes, the DCP retains around $1 billion to refurbish or replace the C-130H Hercules tactical transports and DH-4 Caribou light transport fleets. The DH-4 fleet in particular has been the target of several on-again, off-again efforts to find a successor aircraft.
- This DCP also sees increased funding of more than $250 million for the Multi-Mission UAV project – AIR 7000 Phase 1B. This is the expedited project to purchase long-range surveillance UAVs – possibly even the USA’s RQ-4B Global Hawk as part of a “Pacific pool” approach.
- More than $1 billion to be invested in next generation satellite and ground station infrastructure.
- Continued improvements to the MoD’s core enterprise systems, including a new improved logistics management system project valued at more than $350 million and operational in 2012-2014.
Deferred projects include:
- Deferral of the Land 17 phase 1 project to replace the Australian Army’s 105mm and 155mm artillery for 3 years, as a result of “better understanding of the requirements.”
- More detailed analysis of the lifespan of the Orion AP-3C means that the decision to refurbish or replace the ADF’s maritime patrol aircraft can be deferred for 2 years.
Projects being discussed for the post-2016 period include:
- The ANZAC frigates may receive anti-mine upgrades in 2017-2019.
- The Australian Army’s Ground Based Air Defence capability may be upgraded around 2018-2020, in a new project valued at more than $750 million. Bofors’ laser-guided RBS-70 missiles currently form the backbone of Australia’s capabilities.
- A $350 to $450 million mid-life upgrade of the MK 127/128 Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainer in 2017-2019, and future upgrades for the 737 “Wedgetail” Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. The govdernment is also planning for structural refurbishment of the crack-prone F/A-18As, in order to ensure their continuing operational capability as Australia’s fighter fleet.
See Ministerial release; interested readers may also peruse the full public version of Australia’s DCP 2006-2016 report, or its lead-in and precursor report “Australia’s National Security – A Defence Update 2005.”