Sunday, May 03, 2009

Submarines and Stealth Aircraft for Australia

The Australian Government released "Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030" on 2 May 2009. This is a detailed policy document ("white paper") , the unclassified version being 143 pages (PDF 1.83 Mb). The most notable proposals are for 12 long range submarines and 100 stealth fighter bombers. The document is deficient in not discussing the role automation will have in changing defence by 2030. Also the report fails to plan for the use of ICT in defence, which could provide significant savings to pay for the proposed equipment.

There has been concern from commentators over the $100B cost of the proposals and $20B in savings the Government plans to obtain from Defence to pay for them. As a former official in the ADF HQ I can understand that such savings will be difficult to achieve. However, a greater problem may be finding the increased numbers of highly trained personnel to operate all of the proposed equipment and to pay for their training and salaries.

Unmanned Vehicles

A major failing in the white paper is the lack of recognition of the role of automation in reducing the cost and extending the capability of military equipment. While Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are known in the popular press, there are also now also robot submarines: Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) , and robot tanks: Unmanned ground vehicles (UGV).

The Australian Government plans to acquire seven large high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs in the class of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Underwater and land based autonomous vehicles are less developed and currently only short range add-ons to manned platforms, but this likely to change before 2030.

Eight new Future Frigates, are envisaged to embark a combination of manned naval combat helicopters and maritime Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). However, apart from that and the long-endurance UAVs, there is no mention of the role of automation in Australia's defence.


The paper proposes 12 new longer range submarines. Using conventional technology these vessels will require larger crews that the current submarines, for which the RAN is already having difficulty finding personnel. There are ways in which the submarines to be ordered could be operated with smaller crews. Australian designed and built Joint High Speed Vessels could also extend the range of the submarines.

In addition to automation of the submarines to reduce crews they can have their capabilities extended with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) , which are essentially torpedo shaped robot submarines. Australia has expertise in this area, with the Australian National University developing a miniature short range AUV and CSIRO operating "gliders" which can operate for 30 days, covering 200 km and relaying data by satellite.

Aircraft Carriers

Australia has already ordered two "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships, to be be named HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide (Canberra class). The Spanish design has a "ski jump" on the flight deck for operating aircraft such as the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The defence department has denied that there are plans to use these ships for other than helicopter transport. However, it would seem to be reasonable for 24 of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to be the F-35B Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) model, so they can operate from the ships.

Cyber Warfare

The white paper appears to have missed the point that computers and telecommunications have revolutionised the way industry and government operate. The words "Internet" and "Web" do not appear in the document at all. The role of computers and telecommunications are discussed only as an infrastructure to be protected from Cyber Warfare, not as a primarily tool for defence planning and operations. A Cyber Security Operations Centre is proposed to be staffed by ADF and DSTO personnel. It will not be possible for the ADF to maintain the needed level of expertise without civilian assistance of organisations such as AusCert. Without outside assistance the ADF will be vulnerable to cyber attack.

The Department of Defence needs to plan to use ICT to improve both its administrative and military operations. This will require giving up the idea that expertise lies within the department and that there is a unique military approach which only defence personnel can provide. One way the proposed $20B savings can be obtained is by making the operations of the department and the ADF more efficient by increased effective use of ICT.

My experience of nine years in Defence ICT was that while the organisation wanted the benefits of ICT, it was not willing to change the way it operated so as to make the ICT effective. The result was that system projects failed or did not achieve the planed results when implemented, because old ways of working were continued with the new systems.

Excerpts from Defence 2009 White Paper 2009
9.3 For the reasons spelled out in Chapter 8, the Government has decided to acquire 12 new Future Submarines, to be assembled in South Australia. This will be a major design and construction program spanning three decades, and will be Australia's largest ever single defence project. The Future Submarine will have greater range, longer endurance on patrol, and expanded capabilities compared to the current Collins class submarine. It will also be equipped with very secure real-time communications and be able to carry different mission payloads such as uninhabited underwater vehicles.
9.4 The Future Submarine will be capable of a range of tasks such as anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare; strategic strike; mine detection and mine-laying operations; intelligence collection; supporting special forces (including infiltration and exfiltration missions); and gathering battlespace data in support of operations.
9.5 Long transits and potentially short-notice contingencies in our primary operational environment demand high levels of mobility and endurance in the Future Submarine. The boats need to be able to undertake prolonged covert patrols over the full distance of our strategic approaches and in operational areas. They require low signatures across all spectrums, including at higher speeds. The Government has ruled out nuclear propulsion for these submarines.
9.6 The complex task of capability definition, design and construction must be undertaken without delay, given the long lead times and technical challenges involved. The Government has already directed that a dedicated project office be established for the Future Submarine within Defence, and will closely oversee this project. ...

Air Combat Capability
9.57 On coming to office, the Government commissioned the Air Combat Capability Review to provide advice on aspects of Australia's air combat requirements. That study and its findings were incorporated into the Force Structure Review.
9.58 The Air Combat Capability Review assessed that the squadron of F/A-18F Super Hornets being acquired as a bridging air combat capability is a highly capable 4.5 generation aircraft and, as long as it retains commonality with the planned US Navy development path, will remain effective until at least 2020. The F/A-18F Super Hornet will begin to enter service from the end of 2010.
9.59 The Review concluded that a fleet of around 100 fifth generation multirole combat aircraft would provide Australia with an effective and flexible air combat capability to 2030. A further judgement of the review was that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the preferred solution for that requirement. Other fourth and fifth generation combat aircraft considered by the Review were judged to be less capable of fulfilling Australia's multirole air combat capability requirements.
9.60 The Government has decided that it will acquire around 100 F-35 JSF, along with supporting systems and weapons. The first stage of this acquisition will acquire three operational squadrons comprising
78 Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030
Defence White Paper 2009
not fewer than 72 aircraft. The acquisition of the remaining aircraft will be acquired in conjunction with the withdrawal of the F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet, and will be timed to ensure that no gap in our overall air combat capability occurs.
9.61 Australia's future air combat capability will therefore be based on four operational air combat squadrons consisting initially of three JSF squadrons and a squadron of Super Hornet aircraft, which will be replaced by a fourth JSF squadron. Defence will continue to progressively upgrade the systems and airframes of the current F/A-18 aircraft to ensure that they remain capable and sustainable until the JSF enters service with the ADF.
9.62 Maritime strike capability will be provided by the Hornet and Super Hornet fleets using Harpoon missiles, with the Government to acquire a new maritime strike weapon for the JSF. New air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons will also be acquired.
9.63 There has been considerable public interest in the potential acquisition of the JSF. The Government has examined its capabilities very carefully in the context of the Air Combat Capability Review, and remains confident that the JSF's combination of stealth, advanced sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities, when integrated into the networked ADF, will ensure Australia maintains its strategic capability advantage out to 2030.
9.64 The Government has decided that it would be prudent for the ADF to acquire an airborne electronic attack capability. To that end, it has decided that the production arrangements for the second batch of 12 Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets will include wiring those aircraft to enable them, should later strategic circumstances dictate,to be converted to the electronic warfare 'Growler' variant - the EA-18G. Should we acquire this capability, it would provide a potent ability to protect our own communications and electronic systems while jamming, suppressing or otherwise denying an adversary the full use of the electromagnetic spectrum in the area of operations. ...

Maritime Surveillance and Response
9.69 To meet this challenge, the Government will acquire eight new maritime patrol aircraft to replace the current AP-3C Orion fleet. These new aircraft will provide a highly advanced surface search radar and optical, infra-red and electronic surveillance systems. With these systems, along with a high transit speed and the ability to conduct air-to-air refuelling, these aircraft will provide a superior capability for rapid area search and identification tasks. They will also provide a highly advanced ASW capability, including an ability to engage submarines using air-launched torpedoes. After subsequent upgrades, they will be capable of firing stand-off anti-ship missiles.
9.70 We will also acquire up to seven large high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs to supplement the manned maritime patrol aircraft. These large UAVs, with an ocean-spanning range, will markedly expand the surveillance coverage of the maritime approaches to Australia, in both area and duration. They will also have a significant overland capability to provide support to our ground forces in a range of circumstances. Strategic UAVs provide persistent ISR, enhancing our situational awareness in both the land and maritime domains. ...

Cyber Warfare
9.85 In the past decade the growing importance of operations in cyberspace has become more apparent. Our national security could potentially be compromised by cyberattacks on our defence, wider governmental, commercial or infrastructure-related information networks. The potential impacts of such attacks have grown with Defence's increasing reliance on networked operations. Therefore, we must focus on developing capabilities that allow us to gain an edge in the cyberspace domain, and protect ourselves.
9.86 This emerging threat will require significant and sustained investment by Defence in new technology and analytical capability to guard the integrity of its own information and ensure the successful conduct of operations.
9.87 The Government has decided to invest in a major enhancement of Defence's cyber warfare capability. A comprehensive range of expanded and new capabilities will maximise Australia's strategic capacity and reach in this field. Many of these capabilities remain highly classified, but in outline they consist of a much-enhanced cyber situational awareness and incident response capability, and the establishment of a Cyber Security Operations Centre to coordinate responses to incidents in cyberspace.
9.88 The Cyber Security Operations Centre will include a continuously staffed watch office and an analysis team to respond to cyberthreats in a timely fashion. Its staff will include ADF and DSTO personnel. This new Centre will be created within the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), which already possesses significant cybersecurity expertise.
9.89 While this capability will reside within Defence and be available to provide cyber warfare support to ADF operations, it will be purpose-designed to serve broader national security goals. This includes assisting responses to cyber incidents across government and critical private sector systems and infrastructure. Whole-of-government coordination will be achieved through the appropriate representation within the Centre from relevant Government agencies. Those agencies include the Attorney-General's Department, which has the lead on e-security programs for Government and the private sector, as well as the Australian Federal Police and relevant agencies of the Australian intelligence community.

From: "Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030", Australian Department of Defence, ISBN: 978-0-642-29702-0, 2 May 2009.
In addition to the white paper itself there are available Media Releases
the previous Defence Response to the Mortimer Review and outlines of parts of the white paper proposals:
  1. The 2009 Defence White Paper – The Most Comprehensive White Paper of the Modern Era [18.3 KB]
  2. The Australian – United States Alliance [17.3 KB]
  3. Australia’s Commitment to the United Nations and Multilateral Engagement [18.1 KB]
  4. Cooperation with South East Asia and Pacific Nations [16.6 KB]
  5. A Globally Flexible Force [25.9 KB]
  6. A New Strategic Environment [25.5 KB]
  7. A Smarter Defence for a More Complex World [26.7 KB]
  8. What the White Paper Means for the Royal Australian Navy [28.1 KB]
  9. What the White Paper Means for the Australian Army [28.3 KB]
  10. What the White Paper Means for the Royal Australian Air Force [27.8 KB]
  11. White Paper Development Process – The Most Comprehensive Yet [17.8 KB]
  12. A New Defence White Paper Every Five Years [17.1 KB]
  13. The Largest Ever Defence Reform Program [16.7 KB]
  14. Remediating Shortfalls and Underinvestment in the Defence Budget [18.1 KB]
  15. A More Potent and Capable Submarine Fleet [18.1 KB]
  16. Navy to Receive Larger and More Capable Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigates [17.3 KB]
  17. A New Era For Navy’s Fleet Air Arm [17.5 KB]
  18. Planning Underway For New Offshore Combatant Vessels [17.8 KB]
  19. Greater Strategic Sealift For Amphibious Operations [17.7 KB]
  20. New Class Of Heavy Landing Craft For Navy [16.2 KB]
  21. Navy To Acquire A New Underway Replenishment Vessel [14.5 KB]
  22. A Balanced And Flexible Army [17.1 KB]
  23. Enhanced Survivability And Mobility Of Land Forces [16.6 KB]
  24. A Networked Army On The Battlefield [17.1 KB]
  25. Modernisation For Australia’s Dismounted Soldiers [16.4 KB]
  26. Delivering A More Potent Helicopter Fleet For The Army [16.6 KB]
  27. New Artillery Systems For The Army [16.6 KB]
  28. New Fire Support Weapons System For The Australian Army [15.3 KB]
  29. Protecting Australia’s Land Forces [16.5 KB]
  30. More Language Training For Defence Operating In The Global Village [15.1 KB]
  31. UAV Technology To Play A Large Role In The Future ADF [15.3 KB]
  32. New Focus On Non-Lethal Weapon Technology For ADF [16.2 KB]
  33. Equipping Our Special Forces For The Future [15.2 KB]
  34. Government To Enhance The Incident Response Regiment [15.3 KB]
  35. Next Generation Of Air Combat Capability For Air Force [18.2 KB]
  36. Enhanced Capability for Super Hornets [16.8 KB]
  37. Recognised Air Picture Of Australia’s Primary Operational Environment To Be Developed [16.9 KB]
  38. Improved Air Traffic Control, Navigation And Communication Systems [16.5 KB]
  39. New KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport Aircraft Soon To Enter Service [16.8 KB]
  40. Air Force All Set For Advanced Airborne Early Warning & Control Aircraft [15.4 KB]
  41. Air Force To Acquire Advanced New Maritime Patrol Aircraft [16.9 KB]
  42. A New Era Of Uninhabited Aircraft Operations For Air Force [16.8 KB]
  43. New Airlift Capabilities For Air Force [17.5 KB]
  44. Navy To Be Equipped With Land Attack Cruise Missiles [16.4 KB]
  45. Government Commits To Better Integration Between Reserve And Regular Service in The Australian Defence Force [22.8 KB]
  46. Government to Enhance The High Readiness Reserves [17.1 KB]
  47. An Enhanced Intelligence Surveillance And Reconnaissance Capability [23.0 KB]
  48. Government To Acquire Satellite With Remote Sensing Capability [19.4 KB]
  49. Government To Integrate The Defence Intelligence Information Systems [19.8 KB]
  50. Enhanced UHF Satellite Communications For Deployed Forces [17.4 KB]
  51. New Cyber Security Operations Centre To Enhance Cyber Warfare Capability [18.0 KB]
  52. Enhanced Electronic Warfare Capability For Defence [22.1 KB]
  53. Joint Command Support System To Be Enhanced [20.3 KB]
  54. Government To Build A Networked ADF [22.3 KB]
  55. Government To Enhance ADF Counter-Weapons Of Mass Destruction Capabilities [20.0 KB]
  56. Government To Improve The Management Of Defence Force Preparedness [20.2 KB]
  57. Government To Reconstitute Explosive Ordnance Warstocks [17.2 KB]
  58. Substantial Boost to Simulator Training For Defence [16.7 KB]
  59. Government Agrees To An Output Focused Business Model For Defence [19.6 KB]
  60. A New Independent Advisory Board To Oversee Defence Reforms [21.9 KB]
  61. Changes To The Defence Funding Model [24.9 KB]
  62. Multi-Million Dollar Investment To Reform Defence ICT [17.5 KB]
  63. Government Reform To Defence Shared Services And Procurement Support Services [16.9 KB]
  64. DSTO Laboratories For The Future [17.4 KB]
  65. Investing In The Defence Force Of The Future [18.5 KB]
  66. Government To Improve Housing For Defence Personnel And Their Families [16.8 KB]
  67. Defence Families To Receive Improved Support [15.0 KB]
  68. Government Announces Additional Investment In Australian Defence Force Health Care [18.1 KB]
  69. Increasing Diversity In Defence [25.9 KB]
  70. Reforming The Defence Workforce [17.5 KB]
  71. Fixing Navy’s Critical Workforce Shortfall [17.6 KB]
  72. Government To Invest In Aging Defence Infrastructure And Upgrading Old Accommodation [17.3 KB]
  73. Improved Planning For The Future Defence Estate [23.0 KB]
  74. Updating Defence Ranges For The Forces Of Tomorrow [15.2 KB]
  75. Government To Replace And Consolidate Outdated Logistics Infrastructure [16.8 KB]
  76. Government To Enhance Logistics Infrastructure In Townsville [14.8 KB]
  77. Government To Enhance Logistics Infrastructure In Darwin [16.7 KB]
  78. Government To Enhance Operational Logistics Support Infrastructure In Western Australia [15.0 KB]
  79. Government To Invest In Improved Logistics Planning And Management [15.0 KB]
  80. Government To Deliver Billions In Savings [16.6 KB]
  81. The Government’s Response To The Mortimer Review [25.3 KB]
  82. Government To Support Defence Priority Industry Capabilities [17.6 KB]
  83. The Defence White Paper Delivers For Local Industry [17.3 KB]

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