ADF General discussion thread

seaspear

Active Member
The present Pacific aid to some of these regions appear modest and the addition of a ship that may exceed that budget could present as disproportionate
I would suggest that aid to those in the Pacific region be considered as strategic to counter "aid " from elsewhere
 
As indicated in my edit.... there have been two. One INCAT vessel chartered for the Timor response for a limited period and one that served a long time as a general purpose/training vessel. It was the latter alluded to by Tod.
And wasn't the INCAT destroyed off the Yemen coast?
 

buffy9

Active Member
Why is it big stuff like this is popping up or happening when I'm away from my phone? Shame I couldn't catch the initial material.

My two cents, but I have three in particular I'm interested in:

"A future program to develop a directed energy weapon system able to be integrated onto ADF protected and armoured vehicles, and capable of defeating armoured vehicles up to and including main battle tanks. The eventual deployment of directed energy weapons may also improve land force resilience by reducing the force’s dependence an ammunition stocks and supply lines;"

Whilst certainly some time away and tied to development in laser technology, it is still quite ambitious. Disregarding potential geography/topography, the power requirements translating into such effects would be high.

It certainly appears this and other projects post-2030 for land domain are orientated towards simply assuring funding for related capabilities, not necessarily the specific listed capability. This would fit with CoA's Accelerated Warfare, with listed funding for such projects capable of being used flexibly in a constantly changing tactical and strategic environment.

Perhaps a laser of such power (and range?) could translate into a system for counter-hypersonic use, also - noting the tolerances for heat such missiles have.

" An expanded replacement fleet for the C-130J Hercules aircraft to improve the lift capacity of the ADF in response to growing demand for these assets;"

Again far out, but nonetheless interesting. Assuming this is an informed inclusion and that there is a similar interest by allies (i.e. the US), what kind of replacement could be sought after? If being developed, a larger platform like the A400 (not necessarily A400) able to carry heavier equipment (as we are procuring) or a like-for-like replacement able to deploy more tactically, perhaps into less permissive, more contested or more cluttered environments? The ability to deploy small force elements within an increasingly expanding A2AD bubble may have something to do with this.

"A development, test and evaluation program for high-speed long-range strike and missile defence, including hypersonic weapons, leading to prototypes to inform future investments;"

Big news in regards to hypersonics. If defences remain limited, then the possession of such a system certainly gives Australia the potential to shape, deter and defend - noting many nations in the new strategic focus (NE Indian Ocean through SW Pacific) may not possess such capabilities for any particular length of time. Strategically it is a countenance to the weight of China, whose own use of hypersonics (with no real user in SE Asia proper) within or on the peripheries of the region could occur almost uncontested.

It gives potential partners another option and ensures there is another big dog in the park, essentially - regardless of the difference in actual size/weight between said dogs.

Overall it is certainly a large investment and perhaps a factor in the wider economic recovery plan. It surprises me so much is being invested, I was sure there were going to be cuts - as opposed to such a substantial increase.

My only hope is that media and ASPI are able to go into the 'how and why' with all of this, particularly with Strategist. Easy to digest articles explaining these capabilities and the strategic policy/direction could offset concerns that too much is being invested in defence within the wider community, which could be a concern noting the massive costs involved and the recovery ahead.

A lot to say but I'll leave with this before I start delving into everything in detail.
 
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Takao

The Bunker Group
It certainly appears this and other projects post-2030 for land domain are orientated towards simply assuring funding for related capabilities, not necessarily the specific listed capability. This would fit with CoA's Accelerated Warfare, with listed funding for such projects capable of being used flexibly in a constantly changing tactical and strategic environment.
This is the important bit to understand. These provide "markers in the sand", a funding line for an assessed, and important, need. Exemplars were used for constructing said funding lines, but the decision as to what answers what need will be made in accordance with existing processes. Take the protected mobile fires, for instance. That is the need - an SPG capability. Which one? It hasn't been selected yet. IFV is the same. People will make estimates and guesses, but only a handful of people know the recommendations prior to the Government's announcement.

It also allows things to change. A line for munitions will exist now, and while it may be used for (hypothetically) tonnes of 5.56 mm now, a shift in circumstances in 2025 may need that redirected to... 9 mm. So that can happen. Or it turns out there is no new C-130M; nor is there an aircraft that can do the job of a Herc. So the USAF is re-zeroing it's J's. We may choose to do that. Or buy an EM390K. Or similar.

I would caution against anyone saying "this funding curve = this platform".
 

cdxbow

Active Member
.....Perhaps a laser of such power (and range?) could translate into a system for counter-hypersonic use, also - noting the tolerances for heat such missiles have.
I have a little trouble accepting the ability of lasers in the near future to destroy atmospheric hypersonic weapons for a couple of reason. As you say they are designed to tolerate heat, not just a bit, but extreme heat and are physically robust. Secondly, travelling at 2+ km/s is going to give the laser very little time on target and it would have to keep adjusting it's focus for as long as is required to impart damaging enough energy. Add a small amount of manoeuvring and it will make it even more difficult. In an atmosphere thermal blooming can cause problems with high power lasers used over a distance, as well the atmosphere can produce other issues for lasers. Slower and softer targets can be done now, and I expect we will see soon see weapons with those capabilities deployed.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Laser limitations in the atmosphere are likely an issue which probably explains increased military interest in space. Hypersonic missiles may be laser vulnerable during their flight at the edge of space. Who knows what the X-37B is really doing up there for years at a time?;)
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I think at the moment talk of direct energy weapons on RAN ships is somewhat premature. However in the building of new warships the RAN should bear in mind the power requirements of such weapons and include that in calculating the energy requirements of the classes of ships. It's wise to prepare for probable future power generation demands, but we have no clue when those extra demands will be required. I would suggest that people focus instead on the next 10 years because we do have a good understanding of the weapons systems on RAN warships for that period.
 

buffy9

Active Member
I was referring more to the future potential of such a high powered laser to negate the protection offered by heat shielding - noting there are also many other problems assosciated with such missile defence. Regardless both are some years out as stated - all I can say is that both hypersonic defence and high-end lasers would benefit from the sharing of information.

Unfortunately I can't skim through the document atm, but I remember there being some mention of a CUAS capability in the short to mid term. Perhaps lower energy lasers (such as link below) could be explored as part of the solution? In turn it could also provide input on longer term and higher end projects in the process?

 
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ASSAIL

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
After the reveal of the “2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan“ the PM’s Media Release revealed some interesting proposals for long range strategic strike.
Long Range Strike Capabilities to Maintain Regional Security | Prime Minister of Australia
Much of the discussion on the various threads so far has concentrated on Air strike and in particular the plan to spend 800m AUD on acquiring AGM 158C, LRASM firstly for the SH and later for other air assets.
Less discussed has been the commitment to advanced naval strike, long range anti ship and land strike weapons which I assume would include (apart from NSM replacing Harpoon) a Tomahawk equivalent carried by either surface units or SMs or both.
He also discusses the introduction of additional longer range weapons in the medium to longer term although I suspect there’s a fair bit of commonality between these and the previous paragraph.
I seem to remember that the 2016 DWP vested responsibility for long range strategic strike in submarines.
 

Boagrius

Active Member
There are certainly plenty of options out there. Aside from Tomahawk, the AGM158 family ought to feature prominently, along with HIMARS + ATACMS/PrSM.

I do wonder if a box launched LRASM might be viewed as preferable to NSM on our surface combatants for its longer range and larger warhead. I say box launched as I doubt the Hunters and Hobarts would have many VLS cells to spare for ASuW/LACM weapons under current plans(?). Then again if the rumoured weight gain of the former is linked to additional Mk41 slots I'd hardly be shocked.
 

Boagrius

Active Member
Spotted this and thought it was an interesting read:
Points out, among other things, that our retaliatory options against PRC are limited by the fact that we are outranged by their standoff weapons (eg. DF-26). My immediate thought is that DF-26 would not have the range to reach us from the Chinese mainland, and would have to be deployed in the Spratly's before Curtin/Darwin/Tindal/Scherger would be in striking distance. The only systems capable of reaching back would be Tomahawk (on subs?) or maybe a combination of F35/SH + JASSM-ER + AAR.

I am not sure how feasible the former would be given that tube launch from Collins gives you a maximum 6 missile salvo, so you might need to reload and shoot repeatedly (more exposure) to generate a large enough volley to penetrate the local IADS. Same problem applies for the Attacks unless they come armed with a VLS system, which I am not holding my breath for.

Coincidentally this also popped up:
...which got me wondering whether Aegis Ashore might find a home in our far north. I would have thought that a mobile system (THAAD + Patriot) would be more survivable in the face of a peer threat but AA might provide better coverage & defensive output while it's alive(?).
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Hugh White isn't the most popular defence analyst around and even though his recent work isn't in vogue, I wouldn't necessarily dismiss it out of hand because he does raise valid points that should be discussed. So I would read the his article, AFA Weekly: Morrison’s defence fantasy, cited by Van Jackson because it has quite significant relevance to the Van Jackson article and to the wider topic of Australian deterrence.

How can Australia deter the PRC? What weapons systems / capabilities has it got that is going to cause the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CCP to shake in their boots? Last time I looked nothing apart from ANZUS and given the way that the US has been treating its friends and allies in recent times, there is no guarantee that they will honour the ANZUS Treaty either, even if there is a change in the White House. So let's put ANZUS to one side because that's a different Pandora's box, and work with the scenario that ANZUS doesn't exist.

Australia doesn't have nuclear weapons so that's the its first problem. There's no political will to obtain them, plus the little matter that it's a signatory to the Nuclear Weapons Non Proliferation Treaty and Australia tends to uphold agreements that it signs, unlike some other nations.

It also does not have any long range missiles such as IRBM so is dependent upon submarines or aircraft to launch missiles on the PRC homeland, but then they are restricted in range to no more than 500 nautical miles because of the non proliferation treaty. Hence the ADF cannot strike the PRC hinterland beyond 450 - 500 nm from the coast.

The CMC have little concern for casualties so a large loss of life in the achievement of a political and military objective would not be cause for concern. Remember that in the PLA any military objective is also a political objective. This means that the ADF would have to destroy most if not all of a PLAN Task Force and the associated PLAAF Force. The question is would the ADF be capable of destroying such a force and still have enough platforms, weapons and personnel remaining to repeat the same against another similar sized or large force, possibly more than once? How many times the PLA will attack an objective to secure it depends upon how much of a political significance that the CMC has placed upon it. So you cannot assume or assess how the PLA will react or respond through a western military lens, because they simply don't operate like we do. Everything in their world has a political dimension that has to be accounted.

The real question is what price is Australia willing to pay for its deterrence and what kind of deterrence does it want? If it wants the kind of deterrence where it can threaten the PRC homeland then it has to be prepared to pay the price for the capabilities to give it that capacity.

I have purposely left out alliances with other nations, because I wanted to discuss this in purely an Australian context.
 

Boagrius

Active Member
Interesting read. Despite the rhetoric in the recent defence review about deterring action against Australia or its interests, the mooted procurement direction does in fact strike me as more reflective of a strategy of denial. None of the platforms currently planned (or any combination thereof) seem likely to deliver a meaningful ability to strike at mainland China, but they do seem compatible with a policy of anti-access in our immediate region, and in the archipelago to our north.

My gut tells me that Hugh White may have a different view of how best to achieve this A2/AD capability than most on here, but I will readily defer to more learned members on that one.
 

oldsig127

Well-Known Member
The real question is what price is Australia willing to pay for its deterrence and what kind of deterrence does it want? If it wants the kind of deterrence where it can threaten the PRC homeland then it has to be prepared to pay the price for the capabilities to give it that capacity.
Which is one of the reasons Hugh White is disrespected. He has an uncanny ability to make everything, but everything, about whatever he wants to propose.

Australia has no chance of owning a strategic deterrent. None. We might be able to influence an ally to provide it and that's about it.

The deterrence we're striving for is regional, to make incursions into our own back yard either not worth the trouble, or at least expensive enough to give pause. Submarines in particular give us reach, the rest though are aimed at making "close" approach further from our coast to buy time and (hopefully) support, and to make actual continental incursion tough enough to require a huge logistical effort along long external lines which are mostly under threat.

How about we drop the notion of MAD. It's not intended, and not happening and better in a fantasy fleets thread.

oldsig
 

Stampede

Active Member
Hugh White isn't the most popular defence analyst around and even though his recent work isn't in vogue, I wouldn't necessarily dismiss it out of hand because he does raise valid points that should be discussed. So I would read the his article, AFA Weekly: Morrison’s defence fantasy, cited by Van Jackson because it has quite significant relevance to the Van Jackson article and to the wider topic of Australian deterrence.

How can Australia deter the PRC? What weapons systems / capabilities has it got that is going to cause the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CCP to shake in their boots? Last time I looked nothing apart from ANZUS and given the way that the US has been treating its friends and allies in recent times, there is no guarantee that they will honour the ANZUS Treaty either, even if there is a change in the White House. So let's put ANZUS to one side because that's a different Pandora's box, and work with the scenario that ANZUS doesn't exist.

Australia doesn't have nuclear weapons so that's the its first problem. There's no political will to obtain them, plus the little matter that it's a signatory to the Nuclear Weapons Non Proliferation Treaty and Australia tends to uphold agreements that it signs, unlike some other nations.

It also does not have any long range missiles such as IRBM so is dependent upon submarines or aircraft to launch missiles on the PRC homeland, but then they are restricted in range to no more than 500 nautical miles because of the non proliferation treaty. Hence the ADF cannot strike the PRC hinterland beyond 450 - 500 nm from the coast.

The CMC have little concern for casualties so a large loss of life in the achievement of a political and military objective would not be cause for concern. Remember that in the PLA any military objective is also a political objective. This means that the ADF would have to destroy most if not all of a PLAN Task Force and the associated PLAAF Force. The question is would the ADF be capable of destroying such a force and still have enough platforms, weapons and personnel remaining to repeat the same against another similar sized or large force, possibly more than once? How many times the PLA will attack an objective to secure it depends upon how much of a political significance that the CMC has placed upon it. So you cannot assume or assess how the PLA will react or respond through a western military lens, because they simply don't operate like we do. Everything in their world has a political dimension that has to be accounted.

The real question is what price is Australia willing to pay for its deterrence and what kind of deterrence does it want? If it wants the kind of deterrence where it can threaten the PRC homeland then it has to be prepared to pay the price for the capabilities to give it that capacity.

I have purposely left out alliances with other nations, because I wanted to discuss this in purely an Australian context.


So we feel threatened and decide to attack China.
We get all twelve of or attack Class subs in the water at the same time with 100 percent reliability complete with added vertical launch tubes to add to our attack capability. We launch a uniformed attack, , positioned unmolested off the Chinese coast we gain 100 percent mission success with every single missile striking its intended target.
Rounds spent , all twelve subs return safely home complete with mission success.

So what was the mission
Was it a success
and what would be the response.

All for getting the subs, but we need to be realistic as to how they are employed.
This conversation goes for every bit of kit across the ADF.

Does our defence inventory make our defence policy or is it the other way round?
Not a big deal when choosing an infantry rifle, but the big ticket stuff needs to be fit for purpose and that purpose must fit the bigger picture.

Big decisions and a very difficult crystal ball to read and prepare for in the 2020's.

Good to see this subject being debated.



Regards S
 

Boagrius

Active Member
My interpretation of the long range strike capability referenced in the Strategic Update (along with the broader intent) is that it is still very much directed at hostile forces operating in our region or its approaches, not the PRC itself (SCS assets at most?). Even the pursuit of hypersonics could simply take the form of an HCM like HAWC, which would be unlikely to reach much further than the existing AGM158 family. I do think this makes sense, as I - like others - very much doubt that a true strategic deterrent is within our grasp here.
 
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Takao

The Bunker Group
Hmmm.....walking carefully here....

To build a military that works you also need a threat - I'd suggest that there are a number of issues out of the 1980s - 2000s that highlight how a lack of focus made for an ADF that was average in most areas and poor in the rest - an almost jack of all trades, master of none. We have learnt that doesn't work, and is likely to work less against a future concept of war that is more likely to see peer-peer combat than over the past few decades.

So, to make a viable force that can fight in some conditions you need that threat. And it just so happens that there are options now that are much more realistic than over the past 30 years. But....the problem with highlighting a threat to build against is you have to define how you fight it. And that's where we hit a problem. In a war between China and Australia only, it is more likely than not we lose (depending on scope and location). The only way to win that war is to not fight it.

Enter deterrence.

Deterrence is a great idea. You can avoid the costly war just by scaring them. Except for one tiny, itty bitty issue - it's going to cost a lot. You either need nukes or overwhelming conventional mass. A classic case lies in the Royal Navy at the turn of the 20th century. It was felt that having a large Royal Navy would prevent war with Germany, France, Austro-Hungary, Russia or America. Except....that mass wasn't large enough to stop 1914. Likewise, Iran and North Korea have reasonable protection from the US thanks to their nukes - just like the Soviet Union was never struck in the 1960s or 70s to disrupt trade with North Vietnam - nukes provide deterrence.

Taking each option highlights that neither is feasible for Australia. Both also provide additional risks - especially with our neighbours between us and China. The reality is we can't do it. Enter Big Brother - either Britain (until 1943) or the US (from 1943). In the latter's case there is the ambiguity of their nuclear umbrella that helps.

So, what about the latest work? Well, I'd suggest it is the result of an interesting conundrum between shifting the force to include a specific red focus and the fact we are too small to actually do it. We can infer it though.

But....

There is a partial deterrence capability. Our geography provides all the deterrence we could want - no-one is invading us anytime soon. But (and here is the problem with White's traditional thinking) the air/sea gap is also irrelevant. Australia's interests extend beyond that. Having a strong, capable ADF that can go toe-to-toe with China, at least initially, means that Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam now have additional, capable force to back them. Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and the other Pacific Islands have a counter-balance that can help them. Australia may not always be the most popular country with them - but they know we will seek to keep them free of malign influence. Adding this together makes some deterrence possible.

20 years ago, the chances of a modern ADF 3-star JTF rapidly reinforcing Malaysia with modern weapons would have been a joke. Now? Almost. 2025-2030? Yes. And with enough teeth to make any nation moving south bleed hard. Now - we may end up losing that JTF. But the political cost to a nation that did that, the risk of bringing in the Americans or Brit's, and the sheer cost in casualties - that all will have some deterrence effect.
 

Boagrius

Active Member
Hmmm.....walking carefully here....

To build a military that works you also need a threat - I'd suggest that there are a number of issues out of the 1980s - 2000s that highlight how a lack of focus made for an ADF that was average in most areas and poor in the rest - an almost jack of all trades, master of none. We have learnt that doesn't work, and is likely to work less against a future concept of war that is more likely to see peer-peer combat than over the past few decades.

So, to make a viable force that can fight in some conditions you need that threat. And it just so happens that there are options now that are much more realistic than over the past 30 years. But....the problem with highlighting a threat to build against is you have to define how you fight it. And that's where we hit a problem. In a war between China and Australia only, it is more likely than not we lose (depending on scope and location). The only way to win that war is to not fight it.

Enter deterrence.

Deterrence is a great idea. You can avoid the costly war just by scaring them. Except for one tiny, itty bitty issue - it's going to cost a lot. You either need nukes or overwhelming conventional mass. A classic case lies in the Royal Navy at the turn of the 20th century. It was felt that having a large Royal Navy would prevent war with Germany, France, Austro-Hungary, Russia or America. Except....that mass wasn't large enough to stop 1914. Likewise, Iran and North Korea have reasonable protection from the US thanks to their nukes - just like the Soviet Union was never struck in the 1960s or 70s to disrupt trade with North Vietnam - nukes provide deterrence.

Taking each option highlights that neither is feasible for Australia. Both also provide additional risks - especially with our neighbours between us and China. The reality is we can't do it. Enter Big Brother - either Britain (until 1943) or the US (from 1943). In the latter's case there is the ambiguity of their nuclear umbrella that helps.

So, what about the latest work? Well, I'd suggest it is the result of an interesting conundrum between shifting the force to include a specific red focus and the fact we are too small to actually do it. We can infer it though.

But....

There is a partial deterrence capability. Our geography provides all the deterrence we could want - no-one is invading us anytime soon. But (and here is the problem with White's traditional thinking) the air/sea gap is also irrelevant. Australia's interests extend beyond that. Having a strong, capable ADF that can go toe-to-toe with China, at least initially, means that Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam now have additional, capable force to back them. Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and the other Pacific Islands have a counter-balance that can help them. Australia may not always be the most popular country with them - but they know we will seek to keep them free of malign influence. Adding this together makes some deterrence possible.

20 years ago, the chances of a modern ADF 3-star JTF rapidly reinforcing Malaysia with modern weapons would have been a joke. Now? Almost. 2025-2030? Yes. And with enough teeth to make any nation moving south bleed hard. Now - we may end up losing that JTF. But the political cost to a nation that did that, the risk of bringing in the Americans or Brit's, and the sheer cost in casualties - that all will have some deterrence effect.
The threat contingency that frequently occurs to me (a layman) is coercion via an attempt to significantly disrupt or deny our SLOC (blockade). The capabilities outlined in the Strategic Update seem reasonably well directed at denying PLAN/PLAAF the ability to do so out to ~2035 (?).
 
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