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  • Writer's pictureAustin Pollock

Multiple projects to be scrapped following a review of Australia's defence forces

A declassified version of an independent report into Australia's defence capabilities was handed down on Monday.

The government has released its response to the report today, labelling it as the single biggest re-evaluation of defence in 35 years.

It was conducted by former defence force chief Angus Houston and former Defence Minister Stephen Smith and recommends delaying or scrapping some projects.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said today that Australia faces the greatest strategic challenges since World War II.

"That's why we're investing in our capabilities and investing in our relationships to build a more secure Australia," he said.

Among many recommendations in the Defence Strategic Review is to cut back parts of the land combat vehicle program, which was originally slated to produce up to 450 infantry fighting vehicles.

However, the program will now be reduced to only 129 vehicles, and the second instalment of the self-propelled howitzer will be scrapped. The ADF will prioritise the purchase of land-based missiles to deter regional threats.

The report proposes accelerating and expanding programs for certain landing craft, long-range missiles, and mobile land-based missiles.

The DSR includes over 100 recommendations and addresses funding issues and budget constraints, highlighting that certain projects have outdone capacity by 24% over forward estimates. Recommendations for naval, aviation, cyber, and space projects are also included in the report.

Defence Minister Richard Marles labelled the report as the "most important re-evaluation" of defence in 35 years. Marles added today that Australia's defence posture currently "is no longer fit for purpose."

The report also highlights the challenges facing the defence budget. With $7.8B reprioritised to other projects to enable the government to focus on six priorities.

The first is Australia's nuclear-powered submarines which were outlined last month. The second is for larger range strike capabilities for the ADF. The third is to better enable the ADF to operate out of bases in the north of the country.

The fourth priority is to "provide for a much quicker transition of new technologies into the service and that is particularly with respect to pillar two of the AUKUS arrangement." The fifth is to invest in the recruitment of defence personnel. And the sixth priority is to improve cooperation with countries in the region and the Pacific.

"Ultimately, what the DSR recommends and what the Government is going to put in place, will give rise to an army with a much more focused mission, with a much more enhanced capability," Mr Marles said.

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