Defence procurement bungles and wins
The Defence Department's acknowledgement that the AUKUS submarine deal is going to cost us $5B in payments to France before we even put a down payment on our new submarines got me thinking about how much of our defence budget is wasted on poor contract management and inappropriate purchases.
The Defence Minister recently announced that the MRH-90 Taipan multi-role helicopters were to be replaced by Sikorsky Black Hawks and Sea Hawks after the Taipans were found to be unable to perform the roles they were purchased for. In fact, the Taipans were purchased to replace our Black Hawks and Sea Hawks. In other words, we are replacing the Taipans with the helicopters they were intended to replace!
It was previously announced that our Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters were not fit for purpose and will be replaced with Boeing Apache Guardians, a helicopter that was in service before we chose the Tiger.
A significant part of our defence budget is going to the acquisition of F-35 Lightning multi-role, supersonic, stealth fighters. They may well be the real deal but we forked out a lot of money to help with development. On top of that, the F-35B version has vertical take off and landing ability and would be be a significant force advantage if deployed on our Landing Helicopter Dock ships.
Back on land, the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle has been purchased even if it can only meet one of the Army's requirements for offensive firepower and anti-missile capability. Then there's the Hawkei tactical vehicle that's currently withdrawn from service because the brakes don't work.
Of course, there have been some excellent military equipment purchases in the recent past but shouldn't we expect that all of our defence expenditure produces material that's fit for purpose and is state of the art?