On 2 May 2009, the Prime Minister and the then Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon, released the Defence White Paper, “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030”, which outlines the Federal Government’s plan to “build a future force required for the defence of Australia and the security of the immediate region”. It is the first Defence White Paper since the Howard Government’s Defence White Paper was published in 2000, and provides for a substantial increase of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) combat strength, along with associated reform of Defence business, over the next 20 years. The Government has signalled its intention to periodically review its approach to Defence planning, and it plans to release a Defence White Paper every five years.

The White Paper, which is just over 140 pages, covers many areas of Defence’s business, including analysis of Australia’s strategic outlook and interests, the importance of alliances and international defence relationships, and Defence Science and Technology. In this article, we have focussed on two signifi cant aspects: Improving Defence Capability and Defence Management and Reform.

Key priorities

The White Paper identifies the following priorities of Australia’s Defence policy:

  1. deter and defeat armed attacks on Australia by conducting independent military operations
  2. contribute to stability and security in the South Pacific and in East Timor
  3. contribute to military contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in South East Asia, and
  4. contribute to military contingencies in the rest of the world in support of global security.

Improving Defence Capability

In support of its key strategic priorities, the Government has identified a number of key capability priorities for modernising and enhancing the ADF. Some of the significant features of the Government’s plans are outlined below.

Maritime Forces

  • 12 new Future Submarines will be acquired by the ADF in Australia’s largest ever single Defence project. The Future Submarines will have greater range and expanded capabilities than the current Collins class submarine
  • the Navy will also acquire three Air Warfare Destroyers and eight new Future Frigates, which will be larger than the Anzac class vessels currently in operation, and
  • at least 24 new naval combat helicopters will be urgently acquired, and a further 46 new MRH-90 helicopters will be acquired as a pooled fleet shared between the Navy and the Army to replace the Navy’s Sea Kings and the Army’s Black Hawks.

Land Forces

  • the reforms to the Army under the Adaptive Army initiative will be further enhanced in order to improve the Army’s long-term capacity to sustain prolonged operational deployments. This will include more effective use of the Army’s part-time components, and Defence has been directed to develop a detailed implementation plan for achieving this objective by the end of 2009
  • a new fleet of around 1,100 deployable protected vehicles will be acquired to replace existing armoured personnel carriers, mobility vehicles and other combat vehicles. They will be supported by around 7,000 new support vehicles
  • the current fleet of six CH-47D helicopters will be replaced by a new fleet of CH-47F helicopters with improved electronic warfare self-protection systems and maintenance arrangements, and
  • the Army will acquire new artillery systems, mortars and advanced missile systems, as well as access to an enhanced suite of non-lethal weapons.

Air Power

  • the Air Force will acquire around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, along with supporting systems and weapons, to replace the F/A-18F Super Hornet Fleet
  • five air-to-air refuelling craft will be acquired, along with six new Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft
  • for maritime surveillance and response objectives, eight new maritime patrol aircraft will replace the current AP-3C Orion fleet, and will have highly advanced surface search radar and optical, infrared and electronic surveillance systems. Seven new unmanned aerial vehicles will supplement the manned maritime patrol aircraft, and
  • air lift capability will be enhanced through the acquisition of two additional C-130J Hercules aircraft and up to ten light tactical fixedwing aircraft to replace the DHC-4 Caribou aircraft.

Strategic Strike

  • maritime-based land-attack cruise missiles will be fited to the Air Warfare Destroyers, Future Frigates and Future Submarines, in order to provide the ADF with additional options to conduct long-range precision strike operations against defended and difficult to access targets.

Information Superiority

  • there will be increased investment in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, including the acquisition of a satellite with remote sensing capability, upgrading the Jindalee over-the-horizon Radar system, and overhauling ISR management processes and information architecture, and
  • the Government’s ability to combat cyber warfare attacks will be enhanced by major investment in information and communications technology utilised by Defence and the establishment of a Cyber Security Operations Centre to coordinate responses to incidents in cyberspace.

Emerging capability priorities

  • Defence will explore the means by which it can strengthen its spacebased capabilities, as space assets (such as surveillance, positioning and targeting systems) will play an increasingly important role in military operations, and
  • a deployable capability to counter weapons of mass destruction will be established in the Incident Response Regiment in support of land force or special operations activities, including decontamination and measurement capabilities.

Defence Management and Reform

Another key aspect of the White Paper is the plan for further significant reforms to the management of Defence’s business. The Government has endorsed a Strategic Reform Program “comprising a comprehensive set of reforms that will fundamentally overhaul the entire Defence enterprise, producing efficiencies and creating savings of about $20 billion”.

The Government expects to achieve its objectives for strategic reform through improved accountability, improved planning, and enhanced productivity. Overall, the Government expects Defence to improve the way it does business and become a more “costconscious” agency.

The planned reforms are largely consistent with the intent of the Mortimer Review of Defence Procurement and Sustainment that the Defence Materiel Organisation should become more business-like in its operations (we reported on the Mortimer Review in our December 2008 edition of D-brief ).


The White Paper outlines an ambitious program of enhancement of, and reforms to, the force structure, readiness, sustainment, personnel and infrastructure of Australia’s military capabilities within a changing security environment, and which enforces Australia’s regional role in the Asia- Pacific. It will be supported by funding commitments of real growth in the Defence budget of 3% to 2017-2018 and 2.2% real growth thereafter until 2030.