Australia — Defence Capability Updates

Stephen Smith MP, Min­is­ter for Defence / Jason Clare MP, Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel
Min­is­ter for Defence Stephen Smith and Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today pro­vid­ed an update on a num­ber of Defence capa­bil­i­ty projects and activ­i­ties.

Largs Bay Sales Agree­ment Signed

Mr Smith and Mr Clare announced final­i­sa­tion of the acqui­si­tion process for the Unit­ed King­dom Bay Class amphibi­ous ship Largs Bay.

The Gov­ern­ment announced on 6 April that Aus­tralia had been suc­cess­ful in its bid to acquire the Unit­ed Kingdom’s Bay Class amphibi­ous ship Largs Bay at a cost of £65 mil­lion (approx­i­mate­ly $100 mil­lion).

The nego­ti­a­tions for the RFA Largs Bay have now been com­plet­ed with the sign­ing of the Sales Agree­ment by the Aus­tralian and the Unit­ed King­dom Gov­ern­ments on 8 June. The third and final pay­ment of $35 mil­lion (£22 mil­lion) will now be made.

The pur­chase fol­lows suc­cess­ful sea-tri­als under­tak­en in April and inspec­tion by inter­na­tion­al Ship­ping firm Teekay con­firm­ing that the Ship is in a good mate­r­i­al state.

The Ship will now under­go essen­tial re-fit and main­te­nance work in the Unit­ed King­dom as part of the Ship’s nor­mal five–year recer­ti­fi­ca­tion cycle to allow the Ship to join the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy in Aus­tralia at the end of this year.

The Largs Bay is a 16,000 tonne land­ing ship launched in 2003 and com­mis­sioned in 2006. It was pur­chased to ensure Australia’s amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty fol­low­ing the decom­mis­sion­ing of HMAS Manoo­ra.

Addi­tion­al Bush­mas­ters to sup­port our Troops

Mr Smith and Mr Clare also announced that Defence has signed a con­tract with Thales Aus­tralia for an addi­tion­al 101 Bush­mas­ter vehi­cles.

Mr Smith and Mr Clare announced on May 12 the Gov­ern­ment had approved the pur­chase of the addi­tion­al Bush­mas­ters.

The vehi­cles, togeth­er with asso­ci­at­ed sup­port, are being pur­chased at a total cost of $133 mil­lion.

This is for the vehi­cles and fit­ting Mid­dle East Area of Oper­a­tions pro­tec­tion kits includ­ing pro­tect­ed weapons sta­tions.

It also includes fund­ing to eval­u­ate a range of enhance­ments to the Bush­mas­ter vehi­cle to increase the lev­el of pro­tec­tion it pro­vides to ADF per­son­nel. If these enhance­ments are viable they may be applied to the 101 vehi­cles.

The Bush­mas­ter is an out­stand­ing com­bat vehi­cle that has unques­tion­ably saved Aus­tralian lives in Afghanistan.

The addi­tion of these vehi­cles will take the total num­ber of Bush­mas­ters ordered by Defence to 838.

The vehi­cles will be man­u­fac­tured at Thales Australia’s Bendi­go facil­i­ty and will be deliv­ered over the next 18 months.

These vehi­cles are being pro­cured to address oper­a­tional require­ments.

31 Bush­mas­ters have been dam­aged beyond repair in recent years and their replace­ment plus a fur­ther 70 vehi­cles will sup­port cur­rent and future oper­a­tions.

Counter-rock­et radar sys­tem rolls out to For­ward Oper­at­ing Bases in Afghanistan

Mr Smith and Mr Clare also announced that Australia’s Counter-Rock­et, Artillery and Mor­tar (C‑RAM) radar had now been rolled out to a num­ber of patrol bases and For­ward Oper­at­ing Bases (FOB) across Uruz­gan Province.

The C‑RAM sys­tem pro­vides vital warn­ing of impend­ing rock­et attacks and mor­tar attacks against bases, pro­vid­ing pre­cious sec­onds for our peo­ple to take cov­er, rather than being exposed in the open.

On 1 Feb­ru­ary, Mr Smith and Mr Clare announced that the C‑RAM sys­tem was in oper­a­tion at the mul­ti-nation­al base Tarin Kowt, achiev­ing its ini­tial oper­at­ing capa­bil­i­ty five months ahead of sched­ule.

The sys­tem will roll-out to more for­ward oper­at­ing bases over the remain­der of this year.

Defence Min­is­ter Smith said that dur­ing his vis­it to Afghanistan in April, Aus­tralian Defence Force (ADF) Com­man­ders in Uruz­gan report­ed that the C‑RAM sys­tem was work­ing well.

The pro­vi­sion of the C‑RAM capa­bil­i­ty fol­lows on from the Force Pro­tec­tion Review effect­ed by for­mer Min­is­ter for Defence Faulkn­er in 2009 and under­lines the Government’s com­mit­ment to pro­vide our troops with the best avail­able equip­ment.

The Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare said the Gov­ern­ment was con­tin­u­ing its invest­ment in enhanced force pro­tec­tion capa­bil­i­ties for our troops in Afghanistan.

Since it began oper­a­tion in Decem­ber last year the C‑RAM sys­tem has pro­vid­ed ten warn­ings against rock­et and mor­tar attacks result­ing in no ADF casu­al­ties.

Most recent­ly, the C‑RAM sys­tem suc­cess­ful­ly detect­ed and pro­vid­ed warn­ing against indi­rect fire attacks on the Tarin Kot base ear­ly on 12 June and again on 14 June.

Update on HMAS Tobruk

Mr Smith and Mr Clare also pro­vid­ed an update on the sta­tus of the HMAS Tobruk.

HMAS Tobruk has been docked in Syd­ney since 11 May while Defence under­takes sched­uled main­te­nance to fur­ther assure the safe­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty of the ship and to return it to 48 hours readi­ness notice.

Dur­ing this main­te­nance process, sur­vey work has been under­tak­en to ensure the ongo­ing ser­vice­abil­i­ty of the ship’s equip­ment.

This sur­vey work con­firms that HMAS Tobruk is in a sat­is­fac­to­ry mate­r­i­al con­di­tion for a ship of its age.

How­ev­er, the sur­vey work has also iden­ti­fied that addi­tion­al main­te­nance is nec­es­sary now to keep the ship in ser­vice. This includes work on the hull, the vehi­cle ramps, the pro­peller shaft and the over­board dis­charge pip­ing sys­tem for stormwa­ter.

Com­plet­ing this work will extend the time nec­es­sary for HMAS Tobruk to remain in dock and to return it to 48 hours readi­ness notice.

It is expect­ed that this addi­tion­al work will be com­plet­ed by the end of August. In order to ensure Aus­tralia has an amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty while fur­ther work on HMAS Tobruk is under­tak­en, the Gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ous­ly announced it would char­ter the long range sup­port ship Auro­ra Aus­tralis from P&O Mar­itime Ser­vices from 8 May 2011 to 30 June 2011, with options for an exten­sion up to a month.

To pro­vide an amphibi­ous trans­port capa­bil­i­ty until the end of July 2011, the Gov­ern­ment has exer­cised the option to extend the lease of the Auro­ra Aus­tralis for an addi­tion­al month until the end of July.

Defence has also agreed with the oper­a­tor, P & O to fur­ther extend the Auro­ra Aus­tralis lease until the Tobruk re-enters ser­vice at the end of August.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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