Monday, October 02, 2017

Australian Think Tank makes a pitch for LRASM and/or TLAM....

via The Australian.
Developing a conventional deterrent capability would also contribute directly to burden- sharing with the US in a much more unpredictable and contested Indo-Pacific region.

Deterrence seeks to prevent an adversary from acting in ways inimical to a nation’s interests, by making the cost unacceptably high to the adversary.

Given the nature of the emerging security outlook, that requirement implies long-range power projection and strike capabilities for the ADF which it lacks in planned force structure, at least in the short term.

The future submarines certainly will do long-range deterrence tasks, but won’t arrive until the early 2030s, and Australia won’t have a credible force of future submarines until the mid-2040s. The future frigates won’t start appearing until the late 2020s, and they’ll face much more potent anti-ship threats at that point. In particular, Chinese anti-access and area denial is steadily pushing out further into the western Pacific, making shorter range platforms and weapons less credible as options.

The air force is already investigating Kongsberg’s Joint Strike Missile for internal carriage on the F-35, but that has only a 280-kilometre range. The F-35, along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet, could also carry the Lockheed Martin long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) which has a dual-role anti-ship and land attack capability and offers a substantial 926km range.

All air-delivered options are constrained by the range of the launching platform. The F-35 depends either on forward basing in host nations (which may not be available in a crisis) or forward tanker support for undertaking long-range strike, even with standoff weapons such as LRASM. China’s counter-air doctrine targets combat enabler platforms like Wedgetail and airborne refuellers, making getting within range of vital targets difficult for even a stealthy but short-range F-35.

A better option may lie with naval-based land-attack cruise missiles for the Hobart-class AWDs and potentially the Collins-class submarines. This option should be designed for minimal cost and risk through acquiring weapons via US foreign military sales (FMS) with the weapon of choice being mature and preferably in operational service.

The obvious candidate would have to be the 1852km range Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM), which is due to remain in the US inventory through to the 2040s, and is being upgraded to Block IV status, which will offer more flexibility in targeting, and a long-range anti-ship capability.
Story here. 

They make a compelling case for both missiles but I have one question.

What is Australia trying to do and how do they view their force/military posture?

Do they see themselves as being tied at the hip to the US?  If so then acquiring complementary capabilities is a no brainer.  Do they view themselves as first and foremost a defense force to ensure Australian sovereignty?  If so then they're building a weird force to accomplish that mission.

I can't make a reasoned determination about how they're doing till I know what they're trying to accomplish.

The disturbing thing?

I don't think they really know.  I sense but can't prove that they're trying to take a fuzzy middle road that will leave both options unfulfilled.

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