1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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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 five Adelaide-class guided missile frigates (to be reduced to four in early 2008) and eight Anzac-class frigates
  • a naval aviation force comprising 16 Seahawk helicopters, six Sea King helicopters and 13 Squirrel helicopters
  • a surface patrol capability comprising 14 Armidale-class patrol boats, manned by 21 crews
  • six Collins-class submarines
  • an afloat support capability consisting of an oil tanker and a replenishment ship
  • a mine warfare force comprising six Huon-class coastal mine hunters, two auxiliary minesweepers and two clearance diving teams
  • an amphibious lift force comprising two amphibious landing ships, one heavy landing ship and six heavy landing craft
  • 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).
  • 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
  • a medium combined arms operations capability based on 1st Brigade, consisting of a tank regiment, a cavalry regiment, one mechanised infantry battalion, a medium artillery regiment; a combat engineer regiment, a signals regiment and a combat service support battalion
  • 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
  • a motorised combined arms capability, based on 7th Brigade, consisting of a cavalry regiment, a motorised infantry battalion, a field artillery regiment, a combat engineer regiment, a signals squadron and a combat service support battalion
  • a regional surveillance capability based on three regional force surveillance units
  • an aviation capability based on 16th Brigade consisting of two aviation regiments and two aviation squadrons operating both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft including Black Hawk, Kiowa, Iroquois and Chinook helicopters, and leased King Air fixed-wing aircraft
  • a ground-based air defence capability which maintains a ground-based air defence system consisting of RBS-70 shoulder-launched missile systems
  • 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
  • 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
  • a protective operations capability drawn from the Army Reserve, with six brigades each comprising two or three infantry battalions; a light cavalry unit and combat support and logistic support units.
Air Force
  • an air combat force of 17 F-111C, four RF-111C and 71 F/A-18 aircraft, crews, weapon systems and support infrastructure. 33 HawkLead-In fighter aircraft and four PC-9 Forward Air Control aircraft also contribute to this force
  • 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, the Jindalee Operational Radar Network - a wide-area surveillance system monitoring Australia’s northern approaches, and 19 P-3C Orion aircraft, crews and weapons systems
  • an airlift force consisting of 24 C-130 Hercules, 14 DHC-4 Caribou, two Boeing 707, and five VIP aircraft - two Boeing 737 BBJ and three CL604 Challenger aircraft. Two C-17 Globemaster aircraft have been delivered and a further two will be delivered during 2008.
Defence Materiel 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 currently manages over 200 major capital equipment projects (those with a contract value of more than $20m), and over 200 minor projects, across more than 50 locations in Australia and overseas. It also purchases and maintains equipment in support of Defence operations. The DMO manages one of the largest inventories of physical assets in the country, with $23.2b of in-use specialised military assets, $8.8b of asset under construction, $1.8b of general stores and fuel, and over $2.1b of explosive ordnance.

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

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

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