1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> Defence >> Capabilities


The changing strategic environment highlights the need for the ADF to be a flexible and adaptable defence force, which is ready to be deployed at short notice and can be sustained on operations for as long as required. Capability is the power to achieve a desired effect in a nominated environment in a specified period of time, and to sustain it for a designated period.

Defence maintains a force structure with the following elements:


  • a surface combatant force of four Adelaide-class guided missile frigates and eight Anzac class frigates, home ported at Fleet Base East in Sydney, New South Wales, and Fleet Base West, Western Australia
  • a naval aviation force comprising 16 Seahawk helicopters, six Sea King helicopters and 13 Squirrel helicopters and three Augusta A109E Power Helicopters, which operate from Adelaide-class and Anzac-class frigates and from HMAS Albatross, Nowra, New South Wales
  • a surface patrol capability comprising 14 Armidale-class patrol boats, manned by 21 crews and home ported at Darwin Naval Base in the Northern Territory, and HMAS Cairns, Cairns, Queensland
  • six Collins-class submarines, which are home ported at Fleet Base East and Fleet Base West
  • an afloat support capability consisting of an oil tanker and a replenishment ship home ported respectively at Fleet Base West and Fleet Base East
  • a mine warfare force comprising six Huon-class coastal mine hunters and a clearance diving team, operating from HMAS Waterhen, Sydney, New South Wales and an additional clearance diving team based at Fleet Base West
  • an amphibious lift force comprising two amphibious landing ships, one heavy landing ship and six heavy landing craft home ported at Fleet Base East, Darwin Naval Base and HMAS Cairns
  • a hydrographic force consisting of two Leeuwin-class hydrographic ships and their embarked survey motor boats, four Paluma-class survey motor launches, a laser airborne depth sounder aircraft and a deployable geospatial support team (formerly the Deployable Survey Unit), home ported at HMAS Cairns.

  • a special forces capability comprising a Special Air Service regiment, a Regular Army commando battalion, an Army Reserve commando regiment, and an Incident Response Regiment, operating from Barracks in Sydney and Perth
  • a medium combined arms operations capability based on 1st Brigade, consisting of a tank regiment, a cavalry regiment, two mechanised infantry battalion, a medium artillery regiment, a combat engineer regiment, a signals regiment and a combat service support battalion, operating mainly from Robertson Barracks, Darwin
  • a light combined arms operations capability based on 3rd Brigade, consisting of an infantry mobility vehicle squadron, three light infantry battalions, a field artillery regiment, a combat engineer regiment, a signals regiment and a combat service support battalion, operating mainly from Lavarack Barracks, Townsville
  • a motorised combined arms capability, based on 7th Brigade, consisting of a cavalry regiment, two motorised infantry battalion, a field artillery regiment, a combat engineer regiment, a signals squadron and a combat service support battalion, operating mainly from Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland
  • a regional surveillance capability based on three regional force surveillance units
  • an aviation capability containing Chinook helicopters, Black Hawk helicopters, Kiowa helicopters, Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopters, and Multi-role helicopters. These capabilities operate from Army Aviation Centre, Oakey, Queensland, Robertson Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory, Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland, Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney, New South Wales and RAAF Bases Townsville and Darwin
  • a ground-based air defence capability which maintains a ground-based air defence system consisting of RBS-70 missile systems home based at Woodside Barracks, Adelaide
  • a combat support force, consisting of a surveillance and target acquisition regiment, an engineer support regiment headquarters, two Regular Army engineer construction squadrons, a construction engineer works section, a topographical survey squadron, a signals regiment, an electronic warfare regiment, an intelligence battalion, a military police battalion, a ground liaison group and a combat training centre, operating from Barracks around Australia
  • a logistic support capability based on the 17th Brigade consisting of a signals regiment, three force support battalions, a personnel support battalion, three health support battalions and a psychology unit operating from Barracks around Australia
  • a protective operations capability drawn from the Army Reserve, with six brigades each comprising two or three infantry battalions; an artillery regiment, a light cavalry unit and combat support and logistic support units, home based around Australia.
Air Force
  • an air combat force of 16 F-111 and 69 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, crews, weapon systems and support infrastructure home based at RAAF Bases Williamtown, Amberley and Tindal. Thirty-three Hawk Lead-In fighter aircraft and four PC-9 Forward Air Control training aircraft also contribute to this force home based at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Pearce
  • a combat support force comprising two expeditionary combat support wings and a health services wing
  • a surveillance and response force, consisting of air traffic control radar, tactical air defence radars, and the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (a wide-area surveillance system monitoring Australia’s northern approaches). Nineteen P-3 Orion aircraft, crews and weapons systems also operate from RAAF Base Edinburgh
  • an airlift force consisting of 24 C-130 Hercules, eight B300 King Air 350 light utility airacraft and four C-17 Globemaster III heavy airlift aircraft, home based at RAAF Bases Richmond, Townsville and Amberley
  • A VIP transport squadron of five aircraft (two Boeing 737 BBJ and three CL604 Challenger aircraft) home based at Fairbairn, Australian Capital Territory
  • 57 Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft home based at RAAF Bases East Sale and Pearce
  • a further 8 B300 King Air 350 Multi-role trainer aircraft based at RAAF Base East Sale
  • Five KC-30A tanker aircraft will be acquired from 2010 for air-to-air refuelling roles and will be based at RAAF Base Amberley
  • an Aerospace Operational Support force comprising aviation medicine support and training, electronic warfare support, intelligence support, and aviation support services based at RAAF Base Edinburgh. An aerospace test and evaluation unit is also included that operates two F/A-18 Hornet aircraft and two PC-9 aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
  • three contingency bases at Learmonth (Exmouth), Curtin (Derby), and Scherger (Weipa)
  • three air weapons ranges at Delamere (Northern Territory), Evans Head (New South Wales) and Woomera (South Australia).

Defence Material Organisation (DMO)

The DMO equips and sustains the ADF through the acquisition and sustainment of capital equipment. The operational success of the ADF depends on the DMO providing equipment on time, on budget, and to the required levels of capability, quality and safety. In July 2005, the DMO became a prescribed agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997(Cwlth). The DMO is a professional service delivery organisation, principally driven by the defence policies and objectives set by the Australian Government and the requirements of the ADF. It aims to be a business-like, accountable and outcome-driven organisation with a strong and close relationship with the Government, its Defence customers and industry.

The DMO is currently managing over 210 major acquisition projects (those with a contract value of more than $20 million) and more than 150 minor projects. It also provides sustainment management services for over 100 ‘fleets’ of military equipment. To meet these demands, the DMO has many of its own staff, together with contracted industry suppliers, across Australia and overseas including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain and New Zealand.

The DMO and Australian defence industry have a significant and ongoing role to play in delivering new equipment on time, on budget and to specification underlined by capability effect, quality and safety. In 2009-10, the DMO is budgeted to spend in excess of $11.85 billion, of which an estimated 57 per cent is expected to be spent in Australia.

The demands of the Defence Capability Plan require an increase in excess of 30 per cent in the new project work rate of the DMO, and industry, over the next five years. The DMO will manage approximately $100 billion worth of work on acquisition and sustainment projects over the next decade, with about 65 - 70 per cent to be spent in Australia.

For more information about the DMO, visit: <http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo>.

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