Australia Beefing Up Navy to Protect Trade Lanes
Australia’s defense budget is expected to increase by nearly 24 percent over the next five years, according to a recently-released report from Strategic Defence Intelligence (SDI). A large portion of Australia’s defense budget will be directed towards the procurement of maritime security equipment, according to the report.
SDI expects Australia’s defense budget to increase from $28.5 billion in 2016 to $35.3 billion in 2020, for an average annual rate of 5.46 percent. In 2016, 26 percent, or $7.7 billion, of defense spending will allocated for the acquisition of military hardware. A large share of this will be spent on the procurement of submarines, frigates and destroyers.
“Australia is one of the major trading nations in the world, exporting and importing large quantities of commodities as well as manufactured goods,” noted Moutushi Saha, an SDI analyst. “The country needs to secure international trade routes from threats such as prohibited imports and exports, piracy, robbery, and terrorism.”
The Australian government’s SEA 1000 program outlines the expenditure on diesel-electric submarines, which is estimated to be around $37 billion between 2010 and 2035. The country is currently assessing submarines by different manufacturers. Among the top contenders are Japan’s Soryu Class submarines, Germany’s Type 216 and the submarine manufactured by Swedish firm Saab.
“These submarines will be deployed for combat, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as electronic and littoral warfare missions,” says Saha.
By 2019, Australia is also expected to receive new destroyers under the SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program. Those destroyers will provide area defense for accompanying ships, land forces and other civilian or military infrastructure in coastal regions. The frigates to be acquired by the Australian navy will be developed with a strong emphasis on submarine detection and response operations.