This blog looks past partisan politics to find solutions and provide insights into public policy. It is the companion blog to the author's on-line training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
It covers a wide spectrum of issues from local to international concerns.
It was previously the support blog for the author's biography "Finding Home, An Autobiographical Account of a Child Migrant Growing on the Edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness” available from Amazon.
Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
…explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military.
Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.
Defence Force Pornography Meets the Real World - part 2 of 'how Australia lost the war of 2030'
Part 2 - the Sea War
In a previous article I speculated
that global financial difficulties could impose severe hardship on poor
countries that are not self-sufficient in food or fuel. This could, given the
right circumstances, lead to war on our doorstep and even invasion.
Most recently Dr Robert O’Neill of
the Australian National University Strategic and Defence Studies Centre warned
of a “growing threat from large nations with huge populations but diminishing
food and resources.” See here.
While no one knows the future we
can make real world predictions about how a conflict with our northern
neighbour might play out based on the current known strategy and the military
acquisition paths of both nations.
The first article considered the
air war and found that, based on a review of the open source technical literature;
the RAAF would be wiped out by the Indonesian forces in little time. This article
considers the sea war.
These pictures show what happens when a medium sized vessel such as a frigate or an air warfare destroyer is hit with a torpedo. Similar results are obtained with air launched anti ship missiles.
Take Control of Strategic Sea Approaches
With the RAAF out of the way (see previous article) Indonesian pilots, while grieving some losses, continue their
busy day. The Sukhoi carries the Russian Moskit and the Indo/Russian Brahmos anti-ship missiles. These are released at wave top height just as the Sukhoi pops over the
horizon at around 30 nautical miles from the target vessel. The missile
advances at supersonic speed allowing just seconds for missile defence systems
to track and engage. According to standard Russian military doctrine a number
of Sukhoi’s would release salvos to overwhelm ship defences.
Take out RAN surface vessels
No Australian vessel could
realistically survive a sustained aerial assault in this fashion. Our air warfare
destroyers are not designed to. The AWDs were developed as a force multiplier
to operate under continuous air cover, either from shore based aircraft, or as
part of an aircraft carrier battle group. In this scenario their powerful
tracking radars and long range missiles provide theatre defence while friendly
aircraft patrol against sneak attacks. A couple of vessels sitting like ducks
in the open ocean without air cover are highly exposed. They have to contend
against ‘pop-up’ attacks from just over the horizon that render their radar
effectively useless because no radar can track a target once it retreats back
below the horizon.
The critical issue therefore in
this engagement is who sees who first. If the Indonesian pilots flying at
height are picked up by the AWD’s they will likely be shot down. However, once
they get a fix on where the AWD is, an attack can be coordinated. Some aircraft
losses are acceptable if the RAN can be wiped out. Getting a fix on the AWDs is
a matter of coordinating HUMINT, SIGINT, ELINT, submarine tracking, and direct
observation from air patrols. Air power may also be supplemented by up to 10 Indonesian
frigates which may well be armed with the cutting edge Indo/Russian Brahmos
In all likelihood with the RAAF
wiped out, the AWDs will park themselves as close as possible to northern
military bases, or to population centres such as Cairns, in an attempt to
provide some sort of air defence. They would be observed and informed on pretty
quickly and Indonesian forces deployed accordingly. For a recent article on the AWDs see here.
Submarines – what submarines?
With RAN surface vessels sunk the
only military impediment to a seaborne invasion is then Australia’s submarine
fleet -at this point queue derisive laughter. Officially Australia will build
12 state of the art bespoke long range, quiet conventional submarines. These
will lurk around key waterways, discharging special-forces and raining cruise
missiles on our enemies, before slipping away. That is Department of Defence
pornography. In the real world the RAN is struggling to crew six vessels. How
they will crew the new air warfare destroyers and another six submarines is an
open and unanswered question. Submarine crews are not easy to find.
In the last 30 years Australia has
proven itself unable to build or maintain an operational submarine force
capable of sustained engagement in a high intensity conflict. That is the
politest possible way to say it. On one occasion the entire fleet was laid up
for repairs. By 2030 our current fleet will either be retired or struggling to
maintain operational readiness. The obvious solution of purchasing an off-the
shelf replacement fleet has been ruled out in favour of a make-work welfare
program for Australia’s domestic industry. There is no reason to believe
therefore that by 2030 (or at any future time) Australia will have a credible
submarine force. Indonesia in contrast has only two submarines currently but
will increase their fleet to between six and ten quiet conventional off-the
shelf vessels. See further here: http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Submarines-for-Indonesia-07004/
Large, expensive, and seldom
operational – Australia’s Collins class submarine
Australian defence planners feel
the need to have a machine that can take part in coalition operations in the
northern hemisphere, and, seeing lots of water around Australia, see a need for
a machine with great range and endurance. That means bigger, costlier and noisier
and hence less survivable subs. Indonesia sees things rather differently.
Without global ambition the shallow seas of the island arc to Australia’s north
are perfectly suited to submarine warfare by small quiet European and Russian
subs. Quite affordable. Very deadly. No problem.
What About Stealth?
In all likelihood Indonesia will
acquire the stealth version of the Sukhoi, known as the PAK-FA, within relevant
time-frames. This aircraft is a joint project between India and Russia designed
for export and to compete with the American F-22 stealth fighter. It will be a natural follow-on purchase for local Sukhoi customers - Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The PAK-FA is a genuine stealth
design meaning that it will be invisible to ship borne radar, including the
aegis radar on Australia's Air Warfare Destroyers.
In order to remain
undetected by radar all ordinance must be carried internally which will likely
preclude carriage of anti-ship missiles. However the PAK-FA will carry guided
bombs which can be released from altitude above the target vessel. Effective
stealth means that the TNI will be able to largely replicate the very
successful strategy used by the Americans in the Pacific win WWII in which
Dauntless dive bombers devastated Japanese combat vessels. Curiously Defence
has made no public acknowledgement of the existence of the PAK-FA that I am
aware of despite wide publicity surrounding trials of mature prototypes.
In the multi-polar
stealth-on-stealth world of the Pacific Rim circa 2025 purchasing air warfare
destroyers is about as sensible as investing in more cavalry before the
outbreak of WWII.
With the Australian airforce and navy out of the way expect a deadly bombing campaign. I will spare you the technical
detail. Modern combat aircraft carry lots and lots of nasty things that fall
from the sky. As Saddam Hussein discovered, ground forces cannot survive long
if the enemy owns the skies. The Australian Army has no indigenous air defence
apart from the RBS 70 shoulder fired missile. This weapon is designed for point defence against helicopters and poses no
threat to tactical aircraft. After a few days of bombardment the Australian
army would be forced to retreat south or surrender. Most likely they would pull
back to Sydney out of Sukhoi range. Given sufficient will they might attempted
‘scorched earth’ and then use guerrilla tactics to try and interrupt the TNI’s
supply line. On any scenario, Northern Australia will be over-run. Once
over-run the TNI can build or capture airfields to provide deeper air cover to
their advancing forces.
Next article: what happens to the
army – how do we fare fighting on our own soil?
Indonesian Marines conducting a beach landing during combat duty in Ache
For some visuals of what a TNI army/marine force looks like see here.
Tag line: TNI, ABRI, Royal Australian Navy, RAN, naval strategy, Collins submarine, Air Warfare Destroyers, replacing the Collins, Indonesian military build up, Brahmos missile, Australian defence vulnerability, Pacrim security.