Wednesday 05 Aug 2020 | 02:57 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 05 Aug 2020 | 02:57 | SYDNEY

More aircraft carriers?


Sam Roggeveen


27 March 2008 14:58

This had the potential for a good yarn — not only does Ian McPhedran claim the Navy has asked for aircraft carriers and cruise missiles, but he implies that the wish list so annoyed the Government that it gave Chief of Navy Russ Shalders the sack. Problem is, the story contains no named sources, so it's hard to know how much to make of it.

I'm a little incredulous. It is surely not too shocking for service chiefs to ask for the moon; it just doesn't seem like a sackable offence. McPhedran does say that it was the 'last straw' in a tense relationship between Shalders and the Government, though the only evidence McPhedran offers is of Shalders disagreeing with the Government's choice of a Spanish destroyer design. But that was the previous government.

The Navy could get its carriers anyway, in one form or another. The two amphibious ships being purchased for the Navy have big flight decks with 'ski jumps' to allow Harrier-style jump jets to take off. Or the amphibious ships might be a good platform for a new generation of unmanned planes that can be used as bombers or reconnaisance platforms.

One other odd note in the story: McPhedran claims 'In the past Australia has stayed away from long-range strike missiles for fear of triggering a regional arms race.' Given that every government since 1963 has backed the F-111, the most potent long-range strike aircraft in the region, I doubt that fears of a regional arms race have been the primary consideration.