Welcome to Government News’ round-up of Defence news this week.
Australia’s longest regional security exercise ends
Around 400 Australian troops are on their way home after Australia’s longest regional security joint military exercise ended.
The three-week long Exercise Bersama Lima is the annual gathering for the Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA) nations (Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), and included war games in the contested South China Sea.
The annual joint military exercises, carried out on land, air and sea, are conducted among the five strategic allies and were hosted by Singapore this year amid some allegations that the FPDA was sending a message to China by the location that was chosen.
Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Gregory Jervis, said all the Australian Force Elements gained significant training value from the exercise.
“Navy gained enormous benefit from operating in a congested maritime environment with partner navies, and Army and Air Force have come away with valuable outcomes from working within combined Command and Control environments.”
Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston said the FPDA exercises helped enhance the ADF’s ability to operate alongside regional and international partners.
“The mix of nations involved in the FPDA, along with variations in equipment and procedures, gives Australian forces an excellent training opportunity to build personal relationships and integrate as part of a multinational force for a wide scope of operations including security and humanitarian aid missions,” he said. “FPDA is a key component of our regional engagement, and we look forward to more training opportunities in 2017.”
Townsville wins Chinook helicopter contract
Townsville’s reputation as a defence hub has been further cemented after Boeing Defence Australia was chosen as the preferred supplier for the maintenance of Army’s new Chinook Foxtrot helicopters.
The Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne announced the five-year $20 million contract this week. The contract will begin from January 2017 and create 18 highly skilled jobs in Townsville, making the city the centre of Chinook Foxtrot Helicopter maintenance.
“These specialists will be employed in Townsville to work alongside soldier technicians on Army’s new sophisticated Chinook helicopters,” said Mr Pyne. “The contract integrates defence industry and Australian Defence Force workforces to provide an efficient, flexible and effective maintenance team for Australia’s Chinook helicopter capability.
“This is all part of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to growing defence industry in Australia and using our defence dollar, where possible, locally to create jobs and spur economic growth,” he said.
Next generation night fighting equipment
The Australian Defence Force will have the most up-to-date night fighting equipment available after the Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne MP and the Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne revealed the project has been given the green light.
The first tranche of Night Fighting Equipment will see Australian military supplied with new state of the art night vision goggles, helmet mounts, head harnesses and laser aiming devices.
Contracts worth $307 million were signed with L-3 Oceania, which included the equipment and ongoing support.
Mr Pyne said that the night vision goggles will be provided to Army close combatants, such as Special Forces and Infantry, as well as general combatants, such as drivers, medics and elements of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.
“These high tech goggles are leading edge and will give our fighting men and women greater capability in the field,” he said.
Australia does not produce this standard of night vision goggle but they will be maintained locally.
Mr Payne said experience over the last decade highlighted the importance of night vision technology in modern warfare.
“Deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq have proven the importance of being able to effectively fight at night,” Minister Payne said.
“The new equipment will ensure the ADF retains its night fighting edge against the enemy, a critical advantage on the battlefield,” she said.
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