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Defence Minister: Australia can't afford a defence gap

In response to the revelation that the defence forces may face a significant capability gap as a result of significant schedule delays and budget variations, Australia's defence minister has announced that the federal government will take a more hands-on approach to defence capability projects.

Richard Marles, Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, stated on ABC Radio on Oct. 10 that the new approach is aimed at speeding up and ensuring accountability for the projects.

“We cannot afford capability gaps,” he said. “We’ve got the Hunter Class frigates which are four years behind schedule. And, again, there’s the prospect of a capability gap.”

According to a media release on Oct. 10, 28 of the projects with a combined budget of 97 years behind schedule are facing delays and having approved budgets totaling more than $69 billion (US$43.9 billion).

The government has also identified that at least 18 projects are over budget, with variations totaling $6.5 billion from the approved budgets.

Among these programs is the $44 billion Hunter Class Frigate program, which has been delayed by four years and is facing a $15 billion increase in expected costs, and the $1.4 billion C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlifters, which were delivered four and a half years late and are unable to fly into battlefields.

10 October 2022


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