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Launch of the Defence Capability Plan 2004-2014, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.



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SPEECH

SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate

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LAUNCH OF THE DEFENCE CAPABILITY PLAN 2004-2014

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre

10:30am, Wednesday 4 February 2004

Today’s release of the public version of the Defence Capability Plan is another step towards ensuring that the Australian Defence Force will continue to have the equipment and systems that it needs to do its job.

This document represents the culmination of a review process that has gone on throughout last year. It brings equipment acquisition and capability development programs over the next decade into line with our increasingly complex security situation.

The unprecedented level of recent deployments indicates that our forces must adapt to a broad range of operational demands in widely varied environments.

As the pace of strategic change continues unabated, the Government is responsible for anticipating what equipment, systems and capabilities will be needed. In our strategic planning we continually evaluate every credible contingency so we can maintain an appropriate and balanced force structure.

When we send our forces on often dangerous operations Australians have the right to expect that they are properly equipped and prepared - with the right capabilities to get the job done safely. We owe our troops nothing less.

The new Capability Plan does not represent a radical departure from past planning.

However, the new plan does recognise that we face new challenges. These include the threat of terrorism, concerns associated with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of failed states within our region. The global situation has also brought our responsibilities, as an alliance partner of the United States, into sharper focus.

The capability plan recognises the fact that our Defence force must be able to fight and win in increasingly lethal combat on land, at sea and in the air.

Operations in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated that we still require land vehicles that will provide an edge in protection, mobility and firepower to meet the threat of modern rocket propelled weapons.

A 40-year-old tank like the Leopard does not give us that edge, so we plan to acquire a modern tank. This capability will be a key component of the Army’s combined arms approach in which every available capability is brought to bear on an enemy to defeat them with targeted and overwhelming force.

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The threat of air attack, including by missiles, makes our ships at sea and our troops ashore particularly vulnerable.

Initiatives such as missile upgrades for our guided missile frigates and the acquisition of state-of-the-art air warfare destroyers will allow us to provide layered protection to our forces on operations.

Recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that control of the air is critical to all types of joint operations.

Our initiatives include projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter, the new Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, the long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, the F/A-18 Hornet upgrades and enhanced operational and tactical air lift capabilities.

These projects will provide the Air Force with the ability to deliver potent, flexible and decisive airpower solutions to a greater range of contingencies than ever before. They are also designed to integrate airpower with operations on land and sea.

This convergence of the fighting power of the three services is made possible by networking and by the support provided by greatly enhanced intelligence capabilities.

The upgrades of our space-based surveillance capability and our geospatial information infrastructure will provide us with superior situational awareness.

Combined, projects like the long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, the wide area communications network and the joint command support system will ensure the ADF of the future is more potent, efficient and effective.

The exponential rate of technological change gives us the capacity to absorb huge quantities of information and analyse and transmit that information to decision makers in a very short period of time.

In the military arena, keeping pace with change is a matter of life or death. It also requires a significant investment in these new technologies. Not to do so will be to be left behind and to put our personnel at risk.

This is one of the reasons the Government has decided to significantly increase funding for a multi mission Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from $150 million in the last DCP - and it was then limited to maritime surveillance - to between $750 million and $1000 million in this plan.

The success of aircraft such as Global Hawk in operations over both Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the huge capacity boost these assets can bring.

The Global Hawk provides the Air Force and battlespace commanders with near-real-time, high resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery.

Since its first visit to Australia in 2001, the Global Hawk airframe has been substantially enhanced. With more fuel, larger payload and enhanced satellite control and communications, the latest generation of the aircraft has an even greater potential for high altitude, long endurance operations.

This plan envisages investing in a squadron of pilotless aircraft to provide not only maritime patrol but also land surveillance and intelligence. These aircraft would have the capacity to support operations ranging from border control a to maritime and land operations in our region and beyond. They would also be able to assist with civil tasks such as bush fire detection and response.

The DCP outlines the opportunities of such a decision for Australian industry.

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We have already shown that we can bring value to this global project in such areas as ground based command and control.

Our scientists and our industry are also working on advanced indigenous sensors capable of being integrated within such platforms.

This capability will be a quantum leap forward for the ADF and the first phase is listed for decision in the next financial year.

This document is intended to be a guide to industry. It outlines 64 projects with 116 phases currently valued at about $50 billion. With the exception of sensitive projects that were also excluded from the previous versions of the DCP, the 10-year plan lists all upcoming major equipment projects worth more than $20 million.

If we are to be genuine partners of industry we must make every effort to keep our partners well informed as to our intentions in acquisition. We hope it is useful in this regard, particularly in its suggested potential opportunities for Australian industry involvement for each project.

I have pleasure in releasing the public version of the Australian Defence Capability Plan 2004-2014.

[ENDS]