ScoMo’s show of strength to China: PM launches $270billion beef-up of defence forces with new 370km-range missiles, drones, artillery systems and 800 extra troops as tensions with the communist superpower escalate
- Scott Morrison will announce a major shift in defence policy to the Indo-Pacific
- The government will spend $270billion beefing defence over the next ten years
- The main aim of the beef-up is to deter aggression against Australia and its allies
- More than half of $270bn will be spent on Australia’s air and maritime forces
The federal government will spend $270billion over the next ten years on beefing up the Australian Defence Force with state-of-the-art equipment including long-range missiles and new artillery systems amid strategic and political tensions with China.
In a speech to ADF cadets in Canberra on Wednesday morning, Scott Morrison will announce a major shift in defence policy to focus on projecting Australian power into the Indo-Pacific.
It comes as the region faces growing instability after a brutal border dispute between India and China in the Himalayan mountains that killed at least 20 soldiers and with ongoing Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
The main aim of the beef-up, which will include hiring 800 extra soldiers, is to deter aggression against Australia and its allies – but the Prime Minister also wants to prepare the defence force for war in case tensions escalate.
Beijing and Canberra have been at loggerheads in recent weeks after Australia led global calls for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, which first surfaced in Wuhan late last year.
China retaliated by slapping an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, suspending beef imports and telling students and tourists not to travel Down Under in an apparent attempt to damage the Australian economy.
In May Australia unveiled The Loyal Wingman unmanned drone (pictured), its first military aircraft to be built on home soil in 50 years
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the flight deck as a EA-18G Growler lands on the USS Ronald Reagan, off the coast of Queensland on 12 July, 2019
The ADF will be increase by 800 personnel, comprised of 650 Navy, 50 Army and 100 Air Force. Pictured: Australian Army soldiers Private Samantha Dickins (left) and Private Maddison Hamilton, Female Guardian Angels at Camp Qargha, Afghanistan
More than half of $270billion will be spent on improving Australia’s air and maritime forces, including buying new AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles from the US.
The missiles, which were designed in America in 2014, cost around $5million each and can hit a target 370km away, giving Australia significant new range.
They will be attached to F/A-18F Super Hornet planes and can also be paired with other defence aircraft. Troops will be trained how to use the weapon next year.
The government is also considering buying a range of other weapons and defence systems including the surface-to-air Missile, the High Mobility Rocket Artillery System and the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System.
In addition, between $5billion and $7billion will be spent on undersea surveillance systems, and up to $17billion will go towards buying more fighter aircraft.
Up to $11billion will be spent on remotely-piloted and autonomous combat aircraft, including air teaming vehicles.
And between $8 and $11.5 billion will buy long range rocket fires and artillery systems including two regiments of self-propelled howitzers.
More than half of $270billion will be spent on improving Australia’s air and maritime forces, including buying new AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (pictured) from the US
The missiles will be attached to F/A-18F Super Hornet planes (pictured) and can also be paired with other defence aircraft. Troops will be trained how to use the weapon next year
In May Australia unveiled The Loyal Wingman unmanned drone, its first military aircraft to be built on home soil in 50 years.
The drone will fly alongside fighter jets including Strike Fighters, Super Hornets and Growlers to provide support and intelligence and can hold several systems including a radar, an infrared search and track system and a defensive laser system.
Billions will also be spent on space capabilities and cyber security as Australia faces ongoing attacks on institutions and companies from a ‘state actor’ which intelligence sources believe is China.
The shift in focus on the Indo-Pacific comes as Australia pulls out of the Middle East with the training mission at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq concluded.
Missiles, drones and artillery systems: How will Australia spend $270billion over next ten years?
Maritime ($75 billion)
Expanded maritime force to provide greater capability for anti-submarine warfare, sealift, border security, maritime patrol, aerial warfare, area denial and undersea warfare.
Between $168 and $183 billion for the acquisition or upgrade of Navy and Army maritime vessels out to the 2050s. Between $5 to $7 billion in undersea surveillance systems.
Between $400 to $500 million in long range maritime strike missiles.
Air ($65 billion)
Expanded air combat and mobility and new long range weapons and remotely piloted and autonomous systems will be introduced.
Between $10 and $17 billion investment in fighter aircraft. Between $700 million to $1 billion for Operational Radar Network expansion.
Between $3.4 billion and $5.2 billion to improve air launched strike capability.
Between $6.2 and $9.3 billion in research and development in high speed long range strike, including hypersonic research to inform future investments
Between $7.4 and $11 billion for remotely-piloted and autonomous combat aircraft, including air teaming vehicles.
Land ($55 billion)
Investment to ensure land forces have more combat power, are better connected, protected and integrated with each other and with our partners. Between $7.4 and $11.1 billion on future autonomous vehicles.
Between $7.7 and $11.5 billion for long range rocket fires and artillery systems including two regiments of self-propelled howitzers.
Between $1.4 and $2.1 billion for Army watercraft including up to 12 riverine patrol craft and several amphibious vessels of up to 2,000 tonnes to enhance ADF amphibious lift capacity.
Defence Enterprise ($50 billion)
Investment key infrastructure, ICT, innovation and Science and Technology programs critical to the generation of Defence capabilities.
Between $6.8 and $10.2 billion in undersea warfare facilities and infrastructure.
Between $4.3 and $6.5 billion to enhance Air Force’s operational effectiveness and capacity in the Northern Territory.
Between $900 million and $1.3 billion to upgrade key ports and infrastructure to support Australia’s larger fleet of amphibious vessels.
Between $20.3 and $30 billion to increase the supply of munitions and between $1 and $1.5 billion to explore expanding industry capacity for domestic guided weapons and explosive ordnance production capability.
Information and cyber ($15 billion)
Bolster offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, enhance electronic warfare and command and control systems and improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
Space ($7 billion)
Investment to improve resilience and self-reliance of Defence’s space capabilities, including to assure access to capabilities, enable situational awareness and deliver real-time communications and position, navigation and timing.
Between $4.6 and $6.9 billion in upgrades and future satellite communications systems, including communications satellites and ground control stations under sovereign Australian control.
Between $1.3 and $2 billion to build our Space Situational Awareness capabilities.
There are no Australian troops left at the Taji complex near Baghdad and the mission has been concluded.
In his speech at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Mr Morrison will outline three new strategic objectives for the defence force: to shape Australia’s strategic environment, to deter actions against Australia’s interests, and to respond with credible military force when required.
‘We must be alert to the full range of current and future threats, including ones in which Australia’s security and sovereignty may be tested,’ Mr Morrison will say.
‘This includes developing capabilities in areas such as longer-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area denial systems.’
Mr Morrison will say that the the Indo-Pacific is ‘the epicentre of rising strategic competition’ as China looks to project its power beyond its shores.
The Loyal Wingman unmanned drone (pictured) will fly alongside fighter jets including Strike Fighters, Super Hornets and Growlers to provide support and intelligence
Warrant Officer Class Two Matthew Harris embraces his partner on arrival home to Brisbane after being deployed to the Middle East with Task Group Taji 9
Australian Defence Force personnel, deployed with Theatre Communications Group 8, at the Taji Military Complex, Iraqi
‘Tensions over territorial claims are rising across the Indo-Pacific region – as we have seen recently on the disputed border between India and China, in the South China Sea, and in the East China Sea,’ he will say.
‘The risk of miscalculation – and even conflict – is heightening.’
‘Regional military modernisation is occurring at an unprecedented rate. Capabilities and reach are expanding. Previous assumptions of enduring advantage and technological edge are no longer constants.
‘Coercive activities are rife. Disinformation and foreign interference have been enabled by new and emerging technologies.
‘And state sovereignty is under pressure – as are rules and norms, and the stability these help provide.’
Mr Morrison will say that relations between China and the US are ‘fractious’ and that Australia’s new defence policy signals its ability to ‘project military power and deter actions against us.’
On 19 June China was blamed for a massive cyber-attack on Australia amid an escalating feud between the two nations.
Australian PM Scott Morrison is pictured meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping
Scott Morrison said the country was under attack from a ‘sophisticated state-based actor’ targeting companies, hospitals, schools and government officials.
Mr Morrison did not name the country, but government sources say there is a ‘high degree of confidence that China is behind the attacks’.
Australia says the cyber-attacks have increased dramatically in recent weeks and targeted ‘all levels of government’ as well as ‘critical infrastructure’.
Security chiefs say the hackers are using the so-called ‘spear-phishing’ method to steal sensitive login details by sending scam emails, and carrying out regular ‘reconnaissance’ to find weak points in Australia’s defences.
Earlier this month Australia launched six warships into the Indo-Pacific for training operations ahead of huge show of force in the region with the US Navy.
HMA Ships Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Anzac, Ballarat and Arunta all left their base in Sydney Harbour on Monday 13 June.
Australia has launched six warships into the Indo-Pacific for training operations ahead of huge show of force in the region with the US Navy. Pictured: HMA Ships Stuart (foreground), Hobart and Canberra (background) depart Fleet Base East in Sydney
They will conduct ‘task group training’ before taking part in a warfare training exercise with the US and other allies known as the Rim of the Pacific in August.
The exercise is the world’s largest international maritime warfare training mission, held every two years from Honolulu, Hawaii.
A defence spokesman said the ships are ‘currently conducting maritime task group training under strict COVID-19 preventive measures’.
In recent months China has increased training exercises in the Pacific and started trailing its first homemade aircraft carrier. Prime Minster Scott Morrison said China should not be shocked by the show of force.
How China’s feud with Australia has escalated
2019: Australian intelligence services conclude that China was responsible for a cyber-attack on Australia’s parliament and three largest political parties in the run-up to a May election.
April 2020: Australian PM Scott Morrison begins canvassing his fellow world leaders for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France are initially reluctant but more than 100 countries eventually back an investigation.
April 15: Morrison is one of the few leaders to voice sympathy with Donald Trump’s criticisms of the World Health Organization, which the US president accuses of bias towards China.
April 21: China’s embassy accuses Australian foreign minister Peter Dutton of ‘ignorance and bigotry’ and ‘parroting what those Americans have asserted’ after he called for China to be more transparent about the outbreak.
April 23: Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud calls for G20 nations to campaign against the ‘wet markets’ which are common in China and linked to the earliest coronavirus cases.
April 26: Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye hints at a boycott of Australian wine and beef and says tourists and students might avoid Australia ‘while it’s not so friendly to China’. Canberra dismisses the threat and warns Beijing against ‘economic coercion’.
May 11: China suspends beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors. These account for more than a third of Australia’s $1.1billion beef exports to China.
May 18: The World Health Organization backs a partial investigation into the pandemic, but China says it is a ‘joke’ for Australia to claim credit. The same day, China imposes an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it may challenge this at the WTO.
May 21: China announces new rules for iron ore imports which could allow Australian imports – usually worth $41billion per year – to be singled out for extra bureaucratic checks.
June 5: Beijing warns tourists against travelling to Australia, alleging racism and violence against the Chinese in connection with Covid-19.
June 9: China’s Ministry of Education warns students to think carefully about studying in Australia, similarly citing alleged racist incidents.
June 19: Australia says it is under cyber-attack from a foreign state which government sources say is believed to be China. The attack has been targeting industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison says.