Navy needs a large catamaran

By Clive Williams*

It seems fairly obvious from the response of the RAN to the bushfire evacuations that it needs another option for saving coastal residents and visitors – particularly after the way it had difficulty in responding to the evacuation of Mallacoota. That is not an adverse reflection on the navy but rather on the shortcomings of its equipment.

Continue reading

Why Australia must plan to fight alone

By Hugh White*

Many people believe that Australia would never need to defend itself unaided. Even if US support cannot be taken for granted in the future, they think that we needn’t ever stand alone, because we have many potential allies among our neighbours. These optimists expect that countries like Japan, India and Indonesia, to name just a few, are natural strategic partners because they share our concerns about China.

Continue reading

South China Sea conduit code closer

By Carl Thayer*

Several questions about Vietnam and the South China Sea are looked at by Carl Thayer.

Q1. What is your forecast for the general situation in the South China Sea in 2020? ANSWER: Two separate but inter-related developments will play out in 2020. First, China will continue to press ASEAN members to complete a South China Sea Code of Conduct through diplomatic negotiations. As witnessed by the ASEAN-China senior officials meeting in Da Nang this year, China will press to complete a second reading of the COC as soon as possible.

Continue reading

Walk away from subs deal considered

Defence secretly considered walking away from the $50 billion French submarine deal during protracted and at times bitter contract negotiations, and started drawing up contingency plans for the new fleet, the ABC reports.

The revelations are contained in a new report by the auditor-general that also confirms the program is running nine months late and that Defence is unable to show whether the $396 million spent so far has been “fully effective”.

But the Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the program was complex.

Continue reading

Anti-ship missile evolution

By Jon Lake of Asian Military Review

There are a bewildering array of weapons systems optimised for the destruction of surface vessels. At the height of the Cold War, the RAF’s Blackburn Buccaneer aircraft had an arsenal that included TV- and radar-guided Matra Martel missiles, longer-range BAE (now MBDA) Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles, Texas Instruments (now Raytheon) Paveway laser-guided bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, while during the Falklands War, the courageous and highly skilled Argentinian pilots wreaked havoc on Britain’s naval task force – largely using unguided ‘iron bombs’. The Royal Navy (RN) was saved from disaster largely because some of these weapons had not fused by the time they hit their targets. During an engagement between the US Navy and Iranian forces in 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis), US aircraft attacked enemy vessels using AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, AGM-123 Skipper rocket-propelled bombs, Walleye TV-guided bombs, and unguided 1,000lb (453kg) bombs.

But with the increasing sophistication and lethality of today’s anti-aircraft defences, anti-ship attacks are better carried out without having to overfly the target, and ideally from significantly greater stand-off range, and to do this requires the use of (ideally guided) anti-ship missiles (AShMs).

Continue reading