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Zbz555
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exMil Ozzie aircrew guy here: There’s a couple of things going on here. First, both sides of politics here in Oz are generally supportive of the US re-engaging in Asia and accept that this is part of it. The right is probably more supportive than the left, but neither can get too carried away. The Green left/isolationist types can still mobilise a noisy minority and neither side of politics particularly wants to poke the bear too much. That’s why we will hear a lot about deployments and rotations instead of permanent bases. (Just how quick the turnaround is between deployments though is something that is easily massaged). I don’t think either side of politics is particularly deferential to China (one of the recent prime ministers from the left was heard to call a Chinese delegation a bunch of ratf**kers, actually), but they aren’t in a hurry to line up and deliberately piss-off one of our biggest trading partners. They pull a lot of punches, I guess, but no one is really in any doubt as to where we will end up in the event of any major stoush. I guess I’ll just say that because we effectively have disciplined party political positions (and few freelancers, as in the US system), we don’t tend to hear too many off-the-cuff outbursts against China or foreign policy grandstanding. It’s a little more toned down, but in the end not terribly dissimilar to US attitudes to China. Second, the Northern air force bases are pretty large and capable of moderate numbers of aircraft, especially fighters and a few tankers, but they are not really bomber bases in the style of US forces. Darwin has the length but not really the bomb dumps and tarmac space and worst of all is kind of in the middle of town. Tindal is more of a pure Air Force Base with some pretty decent facilities, but again, not really good tarmac space for U.S. Air Force style bombers or the length. And probably the bomb dumps are lacking too. Good news is that the Australian government actually put aside funds in the last White Paper to increase the capacity of both these bases to handle large bombers, but it would be premature to say that the negotiations over the cost of some of this are complete. But the intention is clearly there, particularly for Tindal. (Separately, the long-term future of the airport in Darwin is under consideration for relocation – long-term though). All things considered, the air force here in Australia is pretty happy with most of the fleet being renewed. There is absolutely no desire for another long-range bomber though. We moved on from the Pig. The intention will be to fill that niche with longer ranged cruise missiles off tactical fighters, I expect.
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Mar 11, 2016