News.com.au

By Ian McPhedran

The National Security Committee of Cabinet is set to sign off this week on a shipbuilding rescue plan that could save hundreds of jobs.

The plan represents phase one of the government’s 2015 Defence White Paper and is likely to be released ahead of the new strategic document due out in August.

It is understood that the document will focus on a beefed up Navy and RAAF to counter China’s massive military build-up, and no new money for the army.

It will include a renewed emphasis on regional partnerships in South-East Asia and new funds for language training.

Extra money will also be channelled to cyber security and space where satellite security is increasingly important for the Australian Defence Force.

The shipbuilding plan calls for an urgent “rolling build” of future frigates and offshore patrol vessels worth more than $20 billion.

Combined with the possible construction of the navy’s $50 billion future submarine in Adelaide the plan will guarantee work for local shipyards such as BAE Systems in Melbourne and ASC in Adelaide for decades to come.

For the first time ever it will include a fully funded defence capability plan that will detail how some $100 billion of taxpayer funds will be spent on military equipment during the next decade.

China along with North Korea, Iran and global terrorism will be identified as key security threats to Australia and key allies including the United States in the top-secret non-public version of the report.

Defence analyst at Sydney University’s US Studies Centre and former Army Major James Brown said the US and Japanese militaries were more concerned about China’s activities now than in 2013, so the new White Paper needed to get the balance right for how Australia will plan for China’s rise in both the best and worst case scenarios.

“I don’t expect there’ll be a lot of new funding for Army capabilities in this White Paper, rather the focus will be on making sure Army has the systems and enablers needed to deploy where it needs to and fight on arrival. That includes developing Army’s new amphibious capabilities”, Mr Brown said.

“I don’t expect there’ll be a lot of new funding for Army capabilities in this White Paper, rather the focus will be on making sure Army has the systems and enablers needed to deploy where it needs to and fight on arrival. That includes developing Army’s new amphibious capabilities”, Mr Brown said.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said the 2015 Defence White Paper would provide increased certainty to the shipbuilding industry by outlining Australia’s future naval requirements.

“We will lay out a clear, fully-funded plan for a strong and secure Australia. The Abbott government will make the necessary decisions to create a sustainable naval shipbuilding industry that Labor failed to make,” the spokesman said.

News Corp understands that the Navy is pushing for a speedy resolution of the future frigate purchase and it favours a modified version of the Spanish F-100 hull being used for the AWD.

This article was originally published at News.com.au