Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Sept 2015 Contents 20
example of how Australian high-tech industry can
and does effectively work with government”, he said.
“The RAAF had the only air assets involved in the
search for MH370 that were capable of conducting
an airborne acoustic search”.
Johnston’s speech closed insightfully,
search for flight MH370 has highlighted the need
for the continued investment in and support for local
capabilities, not just within government agencies and
Defence but also in our local private industry. Australia
must seek to advance its technological capacity and
capabilities, preparing the nation for the future and
future crises. It is a future in which our industry
can take its rightful place, not just as a repairer,
assembler or integrator of foreign technology, but
that of a designer, developer and supplier of services
and technology to receptive local customers and to
overseas markets. We must recognise the skills that
we do have and build on them. This may take some
time, but it is important that we ensure our industry is
viable and sustainable, and one that we can turn to
for help in dealing with the challenges we must face,
not just those in our long-term future but also those
in the short term, particularly those crises which are
impossible to predict”.
Of course, one such challenge recently encountered
in the submarine space was the main motor problem
on Collins; fibreglass bands internal to the main
propulsion motor were found to be defective creating
the potential to cause an unexpected loss of propulsion
and the possibility of serious consequences. A solution
was found with local wherewithal.
The Senator’s message was simple: Support for
the ‘fourth arm of Defence’, that is ‘Defence Industry’,
which aids a country to deal with what Binskin would
understand as ‘the fog of war’.
ACROSS THE FULL STRATA
A final point worthy of consideration is that nothing
creates awareness and interest in national defence
like participation. An aim of Australia’s Defence
leadership should be to encourage the full strata
of society to be involved in Defence. Build and
sustainment of a SEA 1000 magnitude project is a
good foster to such an idea.
AT NO EXTRA COST
But what of cost?
This author has clearly stated in past articles that
Australia should not build submarines locally at any
cost. The cost premium must be determined and
considered by way of cost benefit analysis.
With that in mind, the testimony of DCNS and
TKMS at the Senate enquiry was most revealing.
DCNS talked of the totality of the design, build,
sustainment life cycle and the interrelationship
between them. “Risks in one phase inevitably shift
costs and problems to the next phase, so you need to
treat it all together as one”, said Costello. In response,
Xenophon enquired as to the price differential in
terms of an Australian, hybrid and foreign build.
Costello wouldn’t be drawn on a number but stated
“when you examine the program over its life cycle and
when you understand the interrelationships between
all of the parts of the program, you tend to find that
differences become closer”.
TKMS provided a definitive perspective re: the
hybrid vs local build. White stated, inter alia. “. .. if you
engineer and plan one of these long-term complex
infrastructure projects ... from the outset to be done
most efficiently with proper training and technology
transfer and experience from a competent overseas
party with experience, the project will be done at
a lower cost if you plan from the outset to build all
of the units in Australia than if you try and set up
two projects. You need one project to build the first
couple overseas with its own project management
and its own facilities and its own workers. At the same
time almost, you have got to set up a parallel team to
start building the infrastructure that you additionally
need in Australia, recruit a workforce and a project
management team. I have been on public record
saying if you do that properly, it will be the lowest
cost, most efficient way to build these projects in
Australia”. He did not comment specifically on the
foreign vs local build, but did go on to say, “What the
Chief of Navy wants is a submarine that is reliably and
cost effectively able to be sustained through its life.
When you get into the through-life, there are a great
flow-on benefits from having engineered, designed
and worked with the Australian supply chain from
the beginning for all submarines, including the first
ones, in Australia. So I personally have assured the
Chief of Navy that in my experience that will deliver,
done properly, the best lowest cost sustainment of
CDF OFF THE MARK
CDF’s February remarks were problematic.
No matter how keen and willing industry might be
in supporting the ADF, its enthusiasm with respect
to preparedness management will be nugatory if
Defence is not keen and willing to lend support to
its doctrine. Hughes, author of the seminal book
on ‘Fleet Tactics’, wrote “it is not what is written in
books, rather what the warrior believes in and acts
on”. Binksin failed to demonstrate ‘belief’.
The timing and nature of Binskin’s remarks could
ground a charge that he was attempting to help
shape the public discussion on behalf of his political
masters. The CDF should not buy into politics at all,
and especially not at the expense of undermining
established and well considered doctrine.
Ironically, the politicians seem to have got it. In
the closing words of Johnston’s Senate speech, he
unequivocally supported the doctrine, “We have
an obligation to get the taxpayer value for money,
and, where Australian industry can effectively and
efficiently deliver it, it must be used.”
The timing and nature of Binskin’s remarks could ground a charge
that he was attempting to help shape the public discussion on behalf
of his political masters.
HMAS Rankin visits Hobart.
20/08/2015 4:56:34 PM
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