Page last updated at 04:39 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 05:39 UK

Australia outlines military plans


Kevin Rudd: 'We must have the ability to conduct independent military operations'

The Australian government says it is to spend more than $72bn (£48bn) upgrading its military over the next two decades.

Key purchases include 100 fighter jets and 12 new submarines, replacing the current fleet of six.

Eight frigates and 24 combat helicopters are also on the list, set out in the country's first defence white paper for 10 years.

The government says it will enable Australia to defend its interests in a changing Asia-Pacific region.

The white paper is entitled: "Defending Australia in the Asia-Pacific Century; Force 2030".

The 12 new hunter-killer submarines - which will be built in Australia - will double the size of the current fleet.

One hundred F-35 fighters will be purchased over the next decade, and funds will also be allocated to counter cyber and electronic warfare.


The paper said that the US would remain an indispensable ally. But it said that China's military build-up - if it remained unexplained - could be a cause for concern in the region.

Australia is not predicting a confrontation with China, but it is planning for that worst-case eventuality
The BBC's Nick Bryant

On Friday Prime Minister Kevin Rudd denied that the spending was a response to China, saying that Australia simply needed "to take a calm, measured, responsible approach for the future".

But Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the paper acknowledged that the emergence of new powers could lead to some strategic competition across the globe.

"It's very prudent for the government to ensure against the rift that might flow from that increased strategic competition and, of course, it's very prudent for us to recommit to that doctrine of self-reliance," he told Australian radio.

"In other words, we need to be able to defend our country without necessarily relying on the assistance of other nation states."

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