1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Defence >> Current capability

Defence maintains a force structure with the following major combat elements:

  • a surface combatant force of six guided missile frigates, three Anzac frigates (rising to eight), together with onboard helicopters, supported by a replenishment ship and an oiler supply ship;
  • five Collins-class submarines (rising to six);
  • six high-readiness Army battalions supported by a range of fire support, logistics and transport assets and a number of lower-readiness units able to provide personnel for sustainment and rotation;
  • a re-roled and re-tasked Reserve Force designed to sustain, reinforce and, to a lesser degree, rotate personnel and equipment;
  • special forces consisting of the Special Air Services Regiment, a high-readiness commando battalion and a reserve commando battalion;
  • a fighter force of three front-line F/A-18 squadrons, supported by training squadrons, air-to-air refuelling aircraft, a wide-area surveillance system, and a range of ground radars and other support elements;
  • an air strike force of two F-111 squadrons; and
  • a maritime patrol force of two P3C Orion squadrons.

These major combat elements are integrated through a number of well developed command, communications and intelligence systems.

As well as developing capabilities to deal with major attacks for which significant warning might be expected, Defence maintains some forces at high readiness, able to respond to contingencies that might arise with little warning.

In accordance with the White Paper, the Australian Defence Force will be developed for the defence of Australia and for operations in its immediate region. Forces provided for coalition operations in support of wider interests will be drawn from this base. Air or naval forces would be more suitable for higher-intensity operations - Australia’s land forces will not be developed for major continental-scale warfare operations against well-armed adversaries possessing significant armour capabilities.

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