Australia announces a spectacular strengthening of its military navy

Australia is continuing its militarization effort by presenting, on Tuesday February 20, a plan to significantly strengthen its navy. Canberra plans to increase its defense spending by more than €6.5 billion, and is targeting twenty-six large surface combatants over the next decade, more than double the eleven ships it currently has. actual hour.

“This is the largest fleet we will have since the end of the Second World War”said Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles. “The Royal Australian Navy must be capable of ensuring the safety and security of our maritime routes (…) as they are essential to our way of life and prosperity”he added.

Australia will add six Hunter-class frigates, three destroyers, eleven multi-role frigates and six advanced surface combatants capable of operating unmanned to its fleet. Several ships will be armed with American Tomahawk missiles capable of carrying out long-range strikes deep inside enemy territory – an important instrument of deterrence.

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Growing tensions in the region

The announcement comes after a massive increase in firepower from China and Russia in the region, amid growing tensions between Washington’s allies and these authoritarian governments. Australia, which formed the Aukus military alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom, seeks in particular to counter China’s influence in the South Pacific.

The plan is to see Australia increase its defense spending to 2.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP), above the 2% target set by its NATO allies.

Some of the ships will be built in the Australian shipyards in Adelaide, enough to employ more than 3,700 people, while one model of ship will be acquired in the United States and another type of ship could come either from Spain, either from Germany, South Korea or Japan.

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The government has “no more time to waste”

In 2021, Australia announced plans to acquire at least three US-designed nuclear-powered submarines, abandoning an agreement with France to develop conventionally-powered submarines, for which it had already invested billions of dollars. These Virginia-class submarines will not carry atomic weapons and are instead expected to carry long-range cruise missiles. They will represent a radical strengthening of the country’s capabilities in the Asia-Pacific maritime region.

While most experts agree that Australia should be able to achieve a significant naval capability, the country’s major defense projects have long faced delays, sometimes for electoral reasons. They saw cost overruns, government reversals, policy changes and projects that prioritized local job creation over the real needs of its defense.

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The government must overcome the mistakes of the past and has “no more time to waste” as competition intensifies in the region, said Michael Shoebridge, a former senior Australian defense official and now an independent analyst. Arms purchasing procedures must be simplified, he believes, otherwise Canberra risks again “delays, construction problems, cost explosions − and in the end, ships that enter service too late with systems overwhelmed by events and technological change”.

The World with AFP

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