As I watched the slick military-supplied “news” clip of the first Australian Super Hornet mission over Iraq — where the two warplanes dropped not a single bomb on an IS target — I wondered how much that abortive mission cost the supposedly budget-strapped government and certainly budget-slapped Australian public.
Now we know. The Australian Financial Review reported the Super Hornets cost $32,000 an hour to run.
The same article also reported that the Australian military has just “disposed of by explosive demolition” 100 redundant “smart” missiles. “The Israeli-designed AGM-142 missile was meant to give the F-111s a formidable new supersonic precision-guided weapon with a 350 kilogram warhead and a range of 78 kilometres.
“Because of the severe difficulties Boeing experienced in Australia ¬trying to integrate the missiles into the F111, they became operational nine years later than intended.
“Defence says the total project cost for ‘approximately’ 100 missiles and the integration process was $406 million.
“The retirement of the 28 F-111s left the Australian Defence Force with almost 100 near-new missiles it didn’t consider suitable for use by the air force’s 24 new Super Hornet or 72 new F-35 fighter planes.”
Apparently they managed to flog off a few of these missiles and associated accessories to South Korea before they blew up the rest.
The article also noted that $2 billion had also been wasted unsuccessfully trying to integrate new weapons technology into helicopters and submarines.
Imagine what this sort of money could better be spent on?
But the Tony Abbott government is determined to spend more on war despite slashing public sector jobs, welfare and other much needed social services in the name of an alleged budget crisis.
As the defence minister's office bragged in June, Australia's military funding has risen from just under 1.6% of GDP to 1.8%. “We have brought forward $1.5 billion in spending from 2017-18, with an increase of $500 million in 2013-14 to purchase vital capability, and a further $1 billion distributed across 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.”
Some of this money is to pay for new, yet to be completed, Joint Strike Fighters from US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin. This new warplane will be even more expensive to operate than the Super Hornets now burning fuel over Iraq — so costly that the Pentagon says these costs are “unaffordable”.
Amidst the new wave of war hysteria and racism, Green Left Weekly will continue to argue that the billions being wasted on war should be spent on addressing social justice and environmental needs.
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