Air Defense: December 5, 2001


The Royal Australian Navy is now without a long-range air defense system. The last of the guided missile destroyers, HMAS Brisbane, has been retired. The ship, 30+ years old, was a maintenance problem and took a large crew; it was too expensive to keep in service. The lack of an "area" air defense was to have been covered by an upgrade to the eight ANZAC-class frigates, but this was cancelled due to cost. While the ANZACs and the six Adelaide-class frigates will have a self-defense capability in the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, this does not enable them to defend other ships, and any Australian task force beyond the range of the Australian Air Force will be vulnerable to attack until the new Air Warfare Destroyers come into service starting in 2013.--Stephen V Cole


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