Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Australia revealed a comprehensive ten-year strategy on Tuesday to double its major warship fleet and increase defense spending by an additional US$7 billion in response to the escalating arms race in the Asia-Pacific region. The plan outlines the expansion of Australia’s navy to 26 major surface combatant ships, a significant increase from the current fleet of 11. Defense Minister Richard Marles stated that this would constitute the largest fleet since the end of World War II.

The move comes in the wake of substantial military build-ups by nations such as China and Russia, contributing to heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia’s plan includes acquiring six Hunter class frigates, 11 general-purpose frigates, three air warfare destroyers, and six state-of-the-art crewless surface warships. The fleet is expected to feature Tomahawk missiles, providing a substantial deterrent capability with long-range strike capabilities.

In an effort to bolster national defense, Australia plans to increase its defense spending to 2.4 percent of its gross domestic product, surpassing the two percent target set by NATO allies. The initiative aims to create more than 3,000 jobs, with some ships being built in Adelaide and others sourced from the United States, as well as designs from Spain, Germany, South Korea, or Japan.

Australia’s defense projects have historically faced challenges, including cost overruns and policy changes. In 2021, the nation shifted from a non-nuclear submarine plan with France to acquiring at least three US-designed nuclear-powered submarines. The current plan underscores a significant step forward in Australia’s naval capabilities, but experts caution against repeating past mistakes and emphasize the need for an efficient procurement process to avoid delays and cost overruns in the face of regional competition.

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