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GOVERNMENT PRESIDES OVER $4.2 BILLION DEFENCE BUDGET BLOWOUT WHILE KEY ADF PLANES, SHIPS AND HELICOPTERS AREN’T AVAILABLE

October 14, 2020

The Morrison Government has presided over a $4.2 billion cost blowout in Defence’s sustainment budget despite the fact that the required availability for some of our nation’s most critical military ships, submarines and aircrafts are at unacceptable lows.  

As reported today, since 2016 navy fleet vessels were available for 14 per cent fewer days than planned and budgeted, RAAF aircraft flew 21 per cent fewer hours, and the Australian Defence Force’s critical helicopters flew 26 per cent fewer hours. 

Analysis of Defence’s Portfolio Budget Statements shows that in three of the past four years, Defence has underestimated their sustainment costs by over 10 per cent while consistently overestimating the availability of their key assets.

The Government is letting our troops down and Minister Reynolds needs to explain why.
 
Some of the lack of availability and cost blowouts are undoubtedly related to the long list of new equipment that is delayed under this Government, forcing older weapon systems to run longer than planned.
 
However just as worrying is the fact that some of the newest Defence equipment including the Air Force’s Joint Strike Fighters and the Navy’s Seahawk Romeo helicopters are already underperforming and are nowhere near close to meeting the required availability.
 
The Minister must explain what steps she is taking to fix this situation, otherwise taxpayers’ money will continue to be wasted and the ADF will suffer from a lack of availability of critical platforms. 

Capability

Budgeted hours

Actual hours

Shortfall

Navy major combatants (Anzac frigates, air warfare destroyers and Collins submarines)

13,838

12,653

-8.6%

Navy minor combatants

16,965

15,151

-10.7%

Amphibious and afloat support

5,834

4,367

-25.1%

Hydrographic force

8,948

6,991

-21.9%

MH-60R Seahawk helicopters

22,250

20,376

-8.4%

S-70A-9 Blackhawk

17,077

13,531

-20.8%

ARH Tiger helicopters

24,908

14,499

-41.8%

MRH 90 Taipan helicopters

32,540

25,110

-22.8%

C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter

18,500

9,115

-50.7%

AP-3C Orion aircraft

13,885

12,718

-8.4%

E-7A Wedgetail aircraft

14,400

12,936

-10.2%

F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft

46,800

43,557

-6.9%

Hawk 127 jet trainer

30,000

21,709

-27.6%

E/A-18G Growler aircraft

6,700

4,888

-27.0%

F-35A Lightning joint strike fighter

8,354

6,240

-25.3%

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