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Land Combat and Amphibious Warfare

The Integrated Investment Program will guide approximately $195 billion of investment to 2025‐26 to deliver the future force of the Defence White Paper. The Government will invest around 18 percent of Defence capital expenditure to 2025‐26 in our land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities through greater situational awareness, firepower, protection, mobility and force sustainability. These enhancements will increase Australia’s capacity for both combat and noncombat operations, including for security and stabilisation operations and the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Key land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities

Australian soldiers will continue to receive the world‐class equipment, weapons systems and protection they need to undertake their important roles. Key weapons systems to be acquired include: new rifles and pistols; direct fire support weapons, including those used against armoured vehicles, bunkers and installations; and indirect weapons such as mortars. New improved personal protection equipment will be acquired, such as body armour, night‐fighting equipment, and protective equipment to mitigate chemical, biological and radiological threats. Defence will continuously monitor, adapt and improve the personal equipment and weapons systems to respond quickly to evolving operational requirements.

New combat reconnaissance, infantry fighting, new generation armoured and protected mobility fleets and upgrades to the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks will ensure our forces have the protection, mobility and firepower they need to defeat potential adversaries on the future battlefield. On 5 October, 2015, the Government announced acquisition of 1,100 locally built Hawkei protected vehicles and over 1,000 trailers.

Our land forces will have unprecedented knowledge of what is happening around them and the firepower to respond. A new armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) unmanned aircraft capability is programmed for the early 2020s, to facilitate the timely delivery of accurate information to commanders at all levels, and provide superior situational awareness to inform decision‐making. This capability will enhance the Australian Defence Force’s counter‐terrorism support capability overseas and could augment search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and coastal surveillance. New small unmanned aircraft will provide better real‐time ISR support to tactical commanders.

A new long range rocket system will be acquired in the mid‐2020s to provide additional firepower at greater distances (up to around 300km) to complement our existing artillery capability. Our 22 Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopters, which provide firepower for our land force operations, will be replaced from the mid 2020s by manned or unmanned systems, or a combination of both, depending on technological developments.

New protected and unprotected engineering platforms including cranes, excavators, front end loaders, forklifts, and tractors; armoured bridging and breaching platforms; aviation and fire trucks; and other support capabilities will be acquired over the next decade to support our forces.

Battlefield logistic support to our troops will be enhanced, including deployable logistics information systems, and replacement of maritime transport vessels. A riverine patrol capability will be re‐established through a fleet of lightly armed boats from around 2022 to allow operations in estuarine environments. New deployable land communication networks, including satellite and terrestrial communications, will equip our forces with the communications capabilities they need for future operations.

Amphibious capability

Australia’s strengthened amphibious capability centres around our new Canberra Class amphibious ships, which will provide the ADF with an unprecedented capability to conduct a wide range of operations in the maritime environment. These amphibious ships will enable the ADF to land a sizeable force of personnel and equipment across a broad spectrum of operations. The Canberra Class ships’ on‐board hospital and their ability to operate without wharves or port infrastructure will be a major asset in support of both domestic and international disaster recovery missions. Over time, the capability of the ships will be enhanced to better support joint command and control, including upgrades to communications and intelligence systems and semi‐autonomous self defence capabilities. In the longer term, we will replace the ships’ landing craft used to transport people and equipment from ship to shore. Together with our logistics support ship, HMAS Choules, the amphibious ships will provide scalable and flexible options for amphibious operations and sea lift.

Special Forces

Australia’s Special Forces undertake complex tactical operations across a range of combat environments. This includes a range of specialist response options when deployed overseas, such as supporting air strikes, reconnaissance and rescue missions. Special Forces are also responsible for domestic counter‐terrorism roles when required. Our capability will be significantly enhanced with new high‐end weapons, improved mission command networks and situational awareness tools, enhanced tactical mobility, specialised force protection, and logistic support capabilities. The Government will also deliver a new fleet of light helicopters (which are rapidly deployable by transport aircraft) from the mid‐2020s to enhance mobility for special operations missions.

People

Around 700 additional ADF positions will be allocated to 2025‐26 to support our strengthened land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities.

Infrastructure

We will upgrade bases including in Brisbane, Darwin, Sydney, Puckapunyal in Victoria, and Townsville, and weapon ranges and training areas such as Puckapunyal and Shoalwater Bay, Queensland to 2025‐26. Upgrades to HMAS Stirling in Perth and Fleet Base East (Garden Island) in Sydney will support the amphibious ships. New facilities will support new unmanned aircraft, including at Royal Australian Air Force bases Townsville and Tindal, Northern Territory; Shoalwater Bay; and at the Cultana and Woomera ranges in South Australia.