Government orders defense procurement review review

By Peter Robert

The federal government has announced a strategic defense review, with $44.6 billion in annual spending to be reviewed or, in the government’s own words, even abandoned.

With the new government facing an increasingly complicated defense environment, the review will also cover the structure of the defense force and where defense resources and personnel are best placed to protect Australia.

If there’s one thing the government doesn’t question, it’s Australia’s commitment to our current defense partners.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said: “Exploring how our capabilities can better integrate and work with the US, UK and other key partners will also be an important part of the review.

Former Defense Secretary Professor Stephen Smith and former Chief of Defense Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston (retired) will lead the review, sending an immediate analysis to the Government as soon as possible with its conclusions expected before March next year. .

There is no doubt that a review is due given the brutal war unleashed by the Russian dictator, President Vladimir Putin, and the failure to condemn the invasion by China’s Xi Jinping.

The invasion again showed the importance of Australian-owned and operated defense contractors as a major pillar of Australian national security.

We are left with few major Australian defense manufacturers, an overreliance on foreign multinationals and massive holes in our global supply chains.

For example, we do not manufacture enough basic ammunition ourselves, and war stocks are meager compared to the thousands of artillery shells and guided missiles that are spent every day in Ukraine.

At the same time, technology itself, such as autonomous systems, real-time integration with sensors and battlefield commanders, and access to space have proven crucial to defense capabilities.

But just as a review is necessary, there is a danger in making quick decisions or reversals of direction – the cancellation of the construction of the Attack-class submarine has already left us with a huge capability gap.

Already the finger has been pointed out as a mistake the purchase of 127 tanks and armored vehicles including 75 Abrams main battle tanks (photo), and a lack of attack power by our navy.

However, main battle tanks are certainly not obsolete as some suggest simply because Russian use of tanks was a failure.

And Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has for many years waged a determined lobbying campaign for the government to buy more air warfare destroyers, with some even suggesting canceling contracts to build anti-submarine frigates by BAE Systems Australia.

Anti-submarine capabilities are essential and you can’t simply swap one ship type for another, not to mention that a second major cancellation of a naval ship contract would be disastrous for Australia’s reputation.

Expect to hear more salespeople selling their gear and bashing their competitors.

Better to calmly examine the security environment and the role of each purchase in making Australian industry more capable and self-sufficient.

More information here.

Photo: main battle tank

Subscribe for free to our @AuManufacturing newsletter here.

Melvin B. Baillie