Saturday 24 Feb 2018 | 19:28 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Feb 2018 | 19:28 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: What's wrong with aircraft carriers?



2 July 2008 17:50

Chris Skinner replies to Alan Wrigley's email about the navy and its aircraft carrier ambitions:

Alan Wrigley's comments illustrate better than I could possibly describe how he views the force structuring process as a contest for investment resources that is played out in Canberra through the business processes and committees of the regime of the day.

In the recent book ‘The Collins Class Submarine Story’, by Dr Peter Yule and Dennis Woolner, Wrigley is described as ‘An aeronautical engineer recruited to apply quantitative analysis and a critical understanding of policy to decisions on the development of the defence force...’ He was also an implacable opponent of the Collins submarines on the basis that Australia’s strategic area of interest lay primarily in the Indonesian archipelago, an area he knew well, and hence needed boats designed for closed waters like the Baltic!

Elsewhere the same book says he advocated against the involvement of Australian industry in the submarine program as being unviable in the longer term. The subsequent success of ASC to win the contract for the Air Warfare Destroyer demonstrates clearly how Wrigley failed to understand the benefits of local industry involvement and investment in infrastructure and skills.

Finally the Navy has never made any secret of its interest in the STOVL version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. What matters is a balanced force structure to protect Australia and its national interests and (as recently appended in the Budget papers) the promotion of international security and stability. If we need to provide air strike capability and don’t have an available airfield close by then why would the ADF not want to operate STOVL aircraft? These would be ADF aircraft probably operated by RAAF aircrew – not by Navy per se.

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