ADF General discussion thread
With the recent release of the interim ADF Posture Review, it was IMO rightly suggested that a general ADF discussion thread should be created. Having looked at some of the recommendations and how some appear to be tri-service in nature, it seemed like a non-service specific thread would be good.
Having done a quick read through, a few things do jump out at me.
One of the first was the suggestion that the airfield on West Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands should be upgraded to support P-8 operations. Judging by the aerial image of the airfield, the fact that it is only ~3 m above sea level and the 'easy access' to the islands themselves shown on the map here, added onto the fact that the Cocos Islands seem to be ~2,000 km from the closest point on the Australian mainland... I have to really question the thinking behind that.
I would support any repairs or upgrades required to enable a P-8, C-17 or KC-30 to come in and land in an emergency, which might require some extension and/or reinforcement of the runway. Similarly arranging to have some pre-positioned kit and material for runway repairs would also seem to be appropriate forwad thinking. Planning on operating a P-8 from West Island IMO makes little sense, as it seems that EEZ/Customs patrolling is really what would be required. That sort of ops IMO could best be performed by something like a Surveillance Australia Q300 MPA which could likely operate from West Island more easily than a P-8 could. Also, I had thought that there was a 20 - 30 m patrol boat already operating from Cocos Island.
A related link of thinking has occurred to me with the (relatively) nearby Chrismas Island. Expand, upgrade/expand/reinforce the runway so that a large RAAF aircraft could come in and land in an emergency, and have kit and materials to repair the runaway in an emergency, but do no plan on actually operating large aircraft from these runways on any sort of regular basis. The space around them is too limited, and the ability to get bulk stores in to support operations is too limited by reefs and/or cliffs. These access issues would also make these islands impratical IMO for the RAN to operate from on a regular basis.
There was also mention of upgrades for some of the bare bases. Again, doing so to allow safe landing by all RAAF aircraft in inventory does make sense. Upgrading some of the bare bases to 'harden' the bases would IMO require an explanation of a reasonable scenario where such upgrades would be relevant. AFAIK the bare bases have primarily been used as 'temporary' air bases during training and exercises and not in support of combat operations like intended when initially built 50+ years ago.
What might be a good idea, but would require some expenditure on infrastructure, would be for the RAAF, RAN, Army, Customs and Coastwatch to re-examine their services' respective infrastructure assets and requirements, with the potential for some facilities to be closed, moved, and/or transformed into multi-service bases. While the Posture Review did specifically mention the potential for some base closures with other bases being expanded and made into joint facilities, what I am contemplating is somewhat different, at least in part because I am including non-ADF gov't services and capabilities.
AFAIK, at present there are Coastwatch bases established at Cairns and Thursday Island QLD, Darwin NT and Broome WA. These facilities are sufficient for Coastwatch to operate MPA from.
The RAN also has facilities to operate minor warships from in Darwin NT and Cairns QLD.
Meanwhile, the RAAF has several facilities spread across the North, with full bases at Darwin and Tindal NT, Townsville QLD and 'bare' bases at Weipa QLD, and at Exmouth and Derby WA.
Given that a number of these locations are fairly isolated compared to the rest of Australia, and therefore correspondingly difficult and expensive logistically, it would seem sensible to attempt to consolidate some of these facilities. In particular having Coastwatch and RAAF aviation facilities co-located strikes me as a possibility. Particularly when looking at the Coastwatch base in Broome WA and RAAF Curtin in nearby Derby WA, as the two bases are within ~100 km of each other. A similar situation exists with the Coastwatch base on Thursday Island QLD and RAAF Scherger at Weipa QLD, with the RAAF 'bare' base being ~200 km south of the Coastwatch base and on the mainland.
More to come as other things occur to me.
Interesting thoughts, I agree with the majority of them.
I think the base hardening issue, is one that needs more attention. Not only in terms of regional bases but also in terms of existing major bases, not only from an APA style "doomsday" attack by China on Australia type scenario, but from potentially more common domestic threats, including terrorism.
The recommendations of the base security review should be significantly considered along with improved hardening against conventional military attack and perhaps even inclement weather conditions, especially if more of our very expensive aircraft assets are going to be deployed North and West more frequently...
I think hardened aircraft shelters at a minimum, beyond dispersal and revetments should be considered...
Now upgrading the physical security of ADF bases to prevent, deter and detect infiltration activities, be they from protesters, criminals, hostile powers or terrorist, IMO just makes sense. This also gets back to just what some of the expected scenarios are/were when elements of the ADF Posture Review were written? In one section, it is written that the likelihood of Australia coming under direct military attack is currently remote. If that is the case, why the interest in EM hardening aircraft shelters or establishing camoflauge/decoys? Such capabilities are indeed of potential use to an air force which anticipates its bases coming under attack. However, I was sort of under the impression that with systems like JORN, SECAR, the AP-3C and in the future E-737 Wedgetail and P-8A Poseidon, the ADF should be able to detect an inbound strike package prior to it getting close enough to actually launch weapons.
One question which came to mind when I initially started writing this. IIRC the Australian rail system has been a hodgepodge of different gauges, and that a continuous rail link using standard gauge between Sydney and Perth was not completed until 1970. From memory, one of the potential issues encountered during early 1942 was that much of the track heading N-S between Adelaide and Alice Springs was narrow gauge, and that the track, locamotives and rolling stock would have been insufficient to move, never mind support a deployed force in the Far North. Can anyone offer any sort of commentary about changes or improvements to logistical arteries within Australia? Given that portions of the Trans-Australian Railway is just a single set of standard gauge track for long distances, it seems that many of the more remote locations the ADF might like or need to operate from would require resupply by sea. What I am interested in is whether alternate routes and methods of resupply are viable.
In regards to the railways the major lines are all compatible with NSW standard gauge railway, but that does not mean all the lines are now standard gauge. Trains can run up as far north as Darwin down to Adelaide across to Melbourne or Perth up to Sydney and Brisbane, branch lines in states other than NSW are the domain of the local gauge. Some of the coal lines in Qld can accept standard gauge rolling stock as they currently bring down coal to Newcastle and on occasions Port Kemble (Wollongong)
History of Rail in Australia
What that tells me is that there is the potential for trouble transporting goods and personnel from one area within Australia to another by rail. That might be an area where Gov't should look into, and it could even permit dual use by enabling mining companies to transport materials into and away from mines to different ports. This could become invaluable to the mining companies if any of the ports which they are currently expanding reach their respective max capacity, or suffer closure due to a natural or maritime disaster.
My dad work for NSWGR for 44 years, just this last Christmas we were talking about the early day’s on the rail back in the days of steam, military trains were the normal mode of transport. He was telling me all about the military trains that he worked on out to Denman with EO, up to Jennings/Wallangra in the New England and of course Moorebank. Wherever there was a rail line a military train of some description was on it (Bathurst, Dubbo, Bogan Gate and Oaklands). Break of gauge was the single biggest strangler in the early days of Federation. There was small revival of the military train used by Army in the North down to South Australia, with the expansion some time ago of Cultana training range wonder if the put a rail head there?
Following a request in the F-35 thread, I thought it made some sense to post this in the general ADF thread, since the question seems to be about the system approach to warfighting, particularly from the ADF/Oz POV. So here goes...
With the advances made in sensors, comms/networks and computers, potentially much more is possible. From what I understand, it is the intention that Vigilaire should be what amounts to a theatre-level data fusion centre. By taking data feeds from JORN, the Wedgetails, civil/military ATC systems, Link 11 and Link 16 systems as well as the AWD's, a picture of the airspace from the mid-Indian Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean can be formed.
What is so important about a capability like this, is that it enables decision makers to allocate assets based upon better information than potential hostiles would be likely to possess. A potential example which comes to my mind would be for a potential hostile to be picked up by JORN while it is well away from any potential Australian targets. While due to the limitations of JORN (not able to provide target quality data) the direct engagement is not possible, if appropriate criteria are met then another asset could be used to collect more information on the potential hostile. If on further target interrogation the potential hostile is determined to be an actual hostile, then appropriate assets could be taked with responding. That might be an intercept and force-down/shoot-down by RAAF fighters, to a SAM launch from a RAN vessel or GBAD system like the RBS-70.
What some thing like Vigilaire and the related computers, comms and sensors allows or provides, is the ability to set the terms of an engagement. In point of fact, give that Vigilaire seems more scaled to be able to provide information up to theatre-level, then it might allow terms to be set for an entire campaign.
To illustrate this, I will actually reference something from our friends at RepSim, namely their wonderful Youtube vide of a H3 MilSim - F-35A v Su-35S - YouTube. For those who are curious, this sim clip was linked in the RAAF thread on Feb. 14th of this year, with the sim occurring over QLD.
Now I do this not to rag on anyone or to trash anyone's reputation, but the sim does provide a very good backdrop to illustrate the potential for a system like Vigilaire and a systemic approach to warfighting.
Now in the sim, there is an engagement between a hypothetical RAAF force of F-35A's vs. Su-35's over QLD and I believe parts of NSW, with the hypothetical event occurring c. 2018-ish. Now something the sim ignored, was the impact Vigilaire and other elements of the ADF's systemic approach to warfighting would have.
Vigilaire, via contacts detected by JORN, would have allowed the inbound Su-35 fighters to be detected, potentially several thousand kilometers before they reached the Australian mainland. In fact, if the hostile fighters required tanking to reach Australia, JORN would likely have had sufficient range to detect the tankers, as well as monitor where they are. Vigilaire would have then likely been used to cue other assets to look at the inbound Su-35's, once it becomes apparent that they are headed to Australia. Again using the significant range capability of JORN, this would most likely occur somewhere over the Timor, Arafura or Coral Seas, still a few hundred km's away from mainland Australia, never mind any major population centres on the eastern and southeastern seaboard. All of this detection range, as just amount of space a hostile needs to cross, would give the ADF time to get assets into position to respond.
Here is where the systemic response starts to come into play. The responding asset could at this point be either a vessel or aircraft, and that response might be collecting more information. Perhaps something along the lines of a Wedgetail or an AWD getting within a few hundred km's and using radar and/or EO sensors to take a look at the contacts JORN detected. The could change the situation from a few suspicious contacts heading towards Australia to several small, fighter-sized aircraft heading to Australia. In fact, EO systems might allow stills or video imagery to be taken which could be used to identify type of aircraft, fitout and operator. I bring this up because the old F-14 Tomcat had a video camera system which had a range of 50 miles. It is certainly possible that by ~2018, an EO system might be in service which could take still images of sufficient quality to ID a Flanker-type aircraft from 80+ miles off, and then using the systems which make up Vigilaire, relay that data to commanders. Another consideration, especially if an AWD is involved, is that shots could potentially be taken with the inbound Su-35's end up passing within ~200 km's of the AWD, and depending on the systems in place, the Su-35's might well be unaware that they had been engaged and fired upon until their RWR's start warning them of inbound SM-6's or whatever other SAM the RAN might have in service at that point. Taking the systemic approach a step further to illustrate, there is potential for the AWD to take the shots, with a Wedgetail using its MESA to provide targeting information and guidance updates, all without tipping off the Su-35's that they have even been detected, nevermind what is being guided right at them.
Now moving right allow. Assuming that an AWD was not in just the right position to allow the RAN to engage the inbound Su-35's, the determination that the inbounds were Su-35's would then likely cause an F-35 scramble. I would expect that such a scramble would perform significantly better than those in the sim, in part because the F-35's would have so much warning of the inbound threat, that they could achieve optimal positioning. I would expect that Wedgetails, in concert with Vigilaire, JORN and other systems, could provide constant tracking of the Su-35's as they approached their target areas. This would then allow the F-35 pilots to decide which vector they wished to approach the Su-35's from, potentially coming in outside the frontal arc of the Su-35's nose radar. Between this, as well as targeting information from LPI radar and/or EO systems, as well as from the Wedgetail, again the Su-35's could find themselves being fired upon before they were even aware they had been detected.
With the systemic approach, assets detect contacts of interest and respond to them, sometimes that response is to destroy the contact. Other times that response is to cue other assets.
I like the sound of Vigilaire. It makes me think of a ground-based BACN on steroids.
The Systemic approach seems to get lost on people(like me) as i never had an understanding of how it worked.With all our equipment networked, ISR ,tracking/target systems,working to show the "big picture" so the right mix of force can be bought to bare on the enemy.
If we have enough warning ,and we can dictate were and when we fight and with what platform,seems to me ,to give alot more flexibility for the ADF to work as a fighting "team".
Interesting to note that a number of options are available to the ADF to deal with an enemy,weather it be JSF(Hornet)AWD,Manpads ect.Seems alot of flexibility has been built into the ADF systemic approach to warfare.
What would be interesting to see, is if Vigilaire and/or a follow-on system could also integrate tracking of maritime contacts. Within Australia's area of interest. This could include data feeds from RAN vessels and aircraft, RAAF aircraft, JORN and SECAR, Coastwatch, BPC, etc.
The potential amount of information available, utilized properly, could permit even very small amounts of ADF assets to effect serious damage on an enemy. Imagine the impact on an enemy task force of a combined RAN/RAAF op, where one or more RAN surface vessels engage in OTH Harpoon AShM attacks, based off targeting information being relayed and collated from multiple sensor systems. Then add to that a standoff maritime strike package being delivered by RAAF fighters coming in from a different vector. The objective of these to strikes would be to drive the task force away from Australia proper, and just maybe, possibly perhaps right at one or more RAN SSG's which are just quietly lurking, waiting for a change for add to the chaos.
Having an enormous sensor footprint, and having it properly and appropriately integrated to make use of the information, can allow one to effect significant impact with relatively minor assets.
Interesting.So in theory if our SSG(were close enough) could fire a SM-6 or AMRAAM it could be used as an air defence asset while info is being sent/updated by the "system" to engage SU-35.
I assume if we add a jamming capability(F/A-18 Growler;) ) where "fake targets" trick a SU-35 into thinking we are somewhere, we are not,we would have an advantage in dictating the fight.
Now im beginning to understand why you guys always look at a system's approach over a specific platform.
There is very little in today's "big" announcements. Other than every submarine builder in Europe is going to get a few million bucks from the CoA to do some design work. Not a bad result for them.
Defence Ministers » Prime Minister, Minister for Defence – Joint Media Release – New Defence White Paper 2013
New White Paper: because its no longer about major policy change just another election cycle gimick
Defence Ministers » Prime Minister, Minister for Defence, Minister for Defence Materiel – Joint Media Release – Next stage of future submarine project announced
New Subs: We will consider everything that we were considering before
Defence Ministers » Prime Minister, Minister for Defence – Joint Media Release – Release of final Defence Force Posture Review report
Defence Posture: no need to move anyone (ie spend money)
We do however now know that Self Propelled Artillery has been canned and that the government is still committed to a $40 billion dollar submarine force of 12 subs. The White Paper has also been moved forward a year earlier than expected.
Just an observation.
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