Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:06 | SYDNEY
Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:06 | SYDNEY

Defence procurement: Beyond the 'form guide'


Sam Roggeveen


28 March 2008 14:26

Debates about whether we should purchase certain expensive pieces of military kit should be far broader than just comparing the performance figures of various destroyers or fighter jets as if weighing the form of one racehorse against another. Unfortunately, the media sometimes covers defence procurement issues that way, and yesterday's Age contained a good example. The piece quotes airpower expert Carlo Kopp, who claims Australia's future fighter fleet is likely to be outgunned by Russian jets being purchased by our neighbours.

What Kopp doesn't know about the technical aspects of military aviation is not worth knowing, so he's probably right about the relative capabilities of these jets. But the RAAF hasn't engaged in an aerial dogfight since the Korean War, and our region has been more peaceful in the last few decades than we could ever have hoped. Some might argue that this peace has come about because Australia and its allies have a military capability edge, but that case needs to be made explicitly. Australia pays a hefty price for having 'the best', and we should constantly re-assess the reasons for that policy, and its opportunity costs.