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More of the same: Defence’s online Integrated Investment Program

Posted By on August 4, 2017 @ 10:58

 

In February 2016, Defence said it would produce a ‘periodically updated’ online version of its Integrated Investment Program [1] (PDF) to ‘ensure industry has access to current information’. More than 16 months later, we can finally see the fruits of its labours [2]. Despite promising to ‘further develop the content and the level of detail provided’, the online version of the program provides no greater visibility of costs or schedules than its lackluster [3] predecessor.

Nonetheless, it makes sense to see what progress has been made in the 16 months since the release of the 2016 Defence White Paper. Have projects increased or decreased in cost? Has the program slipped or remained on schedule? Unfortunately, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from what’s been served up.

To start with, the links to the projects in the ‘Enabled, Mobile and Sustainable Forces’ [4] stream are broken (see image above) at the time of writing, so around one in six projects is unavailable. To make matters worse, in some instances, the online version of the plan is clearly many months out of date. For example, it lists the replenishment ships (approved in March 2016 [5]), additional P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft (approved in March 2016 [6]) and additional CH-47F Chinook helicopters (delivered in June 2016 [7]) as all being ‘scheduled for approval’.

Elsewhere there are obvious errors. For example, the cost of the F-35 acquisition ($15.3 billion) is transposed with the cost of the Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program [8] ($2–3 billion). And the $160-million Soldier Enhancement System—Version 2 is described as the acquisition of 12 E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft [8] at a cost of $2.1 billion. Even more perplexing are the listings for air weapons projects. The Air-to-Air Weapons and Countermeasures [8] project has two start dates, 2016 and 2018, and two cost bands ($1–2 billion and $3–4 billion), depending on where you look. What’s more, the description provided is for air-to-surface rather than air-to-air weapons.

It might appear that the cost of the Armed Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Unmanned Aircraft [9] project had fallen from $1–2 billion to $500–750 million, but that’s probably also an error, because the accompanying description is for the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Assurance Program [9]. As for the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Assurance Program, its description is clearly the one intended for the E-7A Wedgetail upgrade [10].

Apart from those obvious errors, and a few minor shifts in schedule, most of the online version appears to be little changed from the original version. The exceptions are a couple of cost changes. On the positive side, the cost of maritime strike weapons [8] has fallen from $1–2 billion to $500–750 million, and the cost of future enhancements to the E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft [11] has fallen from $6–7 billion to $5–6 billion. On the negative side, the cost of the M1 Abrams battle tank upgrade [12] has grown from $750–1,000 million to $2.1 billion—which is strange, given that as recently as March this year it was being quoted within the original cost range [13] and we only paid $500 million to buy them in the first place [14]. Of course, it would be foolhardy to take any of these numbers seriously.

I don’t know what Defence paid for the online version of the program, but I hope that it wasn’t too much.  Given the substantial number of errors and small number of (potential) changes, it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Addendum: Defence has advised the author that the current online version of the IIP is not the ‘online IIP’ promised in February 2016. The ‘online IIP’ is still under development and will be released when complete.



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URLs in this post:

[1] Integrated Investment Program: http://www.defence.gov.au/WhitePaper/Docs/2016-Defence-Integrated-Investment-Program.pdf

[2] fruits of its labours: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/

[3] lackluster: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-kinda-sort-of-integrated-investment-program/

[4] links to the projects in the ‘Enabled, Mobile and Sustainable Forces’: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Enabled-Mobile-Key-Enablers.asp

[5] approved in March 2016: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/south-korea-very-much-disappointed-with-australia-over-defence-contracts-20160316-gnksmb.html

[6] approved in March 2016: http://australianaviation.com.au/2016/03/second-batch-of-four-p-8s-for-the-raaf-approved/

[7] delivered in June 2016: http://australianaviation.com.au/2016/06/three-more-ch-47f-helicopters-delivered-ahead-of-schedule-in-fms-deal/

[8] Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Potent-and-Agile-Air-Investments.asp#FighterAircraft

[9] Armed Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Unmanned Aircraft: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Potent-and-Agile-Land-Investments.asp#HelicoptersandArmedAircraft

[10] E-7A Wedgetail upgrade: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Potent-and-Agile-Air-Investments.asp#AirandMissileDefence

[11] E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Potent-and-Agile-Air-Investments.asp#ElectronicWarfare

[12] M1 Abrams battle tank upgrade: http://www.defence.gov.au/SPI/WhitePaper/integrated-investment-program/Potent-and-Agile-Land-Investments.asp#ArmourandVehicles

[13] quoted within the original cost range: http://www.afr.com/news/special-reports/defence-and-national-security/armys-plans-for-more-and-better-tanks-20170303-guqamb

[14] $500 million to buy them in the first place: http://www.news.com.au/national/m-abrams-tanks-in-the-wars/news-story/f5437db913b9d880a2a1c88d9cbe8e14

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