Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/11/2012 -- BMI's Australia Defence and Security report for Q312 examines the country's strategic position in the Pacific region and the wider world. It provides an overview of the contemporary geopolitical challenges facing the country, and the challenges it may face in the future.
The report examines the trends occurring in the country's current and future defence procurement, and the order of battle across its armed forces. The report's general conclusion is that the Australian defence establishment faces some difficult decisions, as fiscal constraints make some of the ambitions outlined in the country's 2009 Defence White Paper increasingly difficult to realise. Some key procurement programmes could suffer as a result, and capability gaps may be unavoidable.
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Australia's supporting role in the United States' 'pivot to Asia' is also examined, as US Marines begin arriving in Darwin and the use of the Australian-owned Cocos Islands as a base for US drones enters public debate.
The difficulty that Canberra faces in moving closer to the US while maintaining good relations with China, its key trading partner, is also discussed. The recent decision to bar a major Chinese firm from competing for a public contract due to national security concerns highlights the duality of Australia's position on China, which it sees as a source of economic stability on the one hand and a potential source of geopolitical instability on the other.
Over the last quarter BMI has revised the following forecasts/views:
- BMI has updated the information relating to the anticipated budget squeeze that the Department of Defence is expected to face, with analysis of where this leaves the ambitious procurement programmes outlined in the 2009 Defence White Paper.
- The progress of several key procurement programmes is brought up to date, including: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the proposed upgrade of F/A-18 Super Hornets to the Growler electronic warfare configuration; new submarines to replace the in-service Collins class; and new aircraft and surface ships.
- The operational decision to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan in 2013, earlier than planned.
- The issue of refugees, who continue to reach Australia by boat with the assistance of Indonesian smugglers. This is a sensitive issue for Canberra because of Indonesia's increasingly important status as an economic and security partner.
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