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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 02:02 | SYDNEY
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Subs and jets: Pick a number

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This post is part of the The military numbers game debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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19 April 2012 16:47


This post is part of the The military numbers game debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

A few notes to keep our conversation about the 'military numbers game' ticking along. First, I want to thank John Birmingham for bringing the attention of Fairfax readers to our debate.

Second, ASPI has entered the submarine debate with a new Strategic Insights paper, 'Mind the Gap: Getting serious About Submarines'. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it seems to come down pretty hard on the idea that the Government can have both a bespoke, domestically-produced new submarine design and a doubling of the overall fleet. In fact, if it wants the first, we may even end up with no operational submarines at all in the early 2030s.

Third, I want to note Hugh White's claim, near the end of his most recent contribution to this debate, that 'if we are serious about exercising independent strategic weight, we need many more than six or even 12 submarines, and many more than 100 frontline aircraft.'

Hugh and I discussed the fighter requirement in September last year, and he seemed sympathetic to my argument that Australia was in too much of a hurry to acquire the Joint Strike Fighter. I also argued that the need for greater numbers of fighters was not urgent. Our capability in comparison to regional neighbours is likely to remain strong for some time, and although I agree with Hugh that about the power shift taking place in the region, China's expeditionary military power is far from serious enough to warrant a bigger Australian combat air force.

Photo by Flickr user practicalowl.

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