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We need more bombers and drones quickly, says Shadow Minister

written by Adam Thorn | November 2, 2022

The Loyal Wingman, now Ghost Bat, autonomous aircraft flying in Woomera, SA in 2021 (Defence, FLTLT Ricky Treloar)

Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie has said Australia must quickly invest in bombers and drones to prepare for a potential conflict.

In comments made at a business breakfast in Perth, the former SAS commander called for an increase in defence spending “well above” 2 per cent of GDP and argued that “the window is closing fast” for Australia to be ready for a major war.

“I don’t want to discuss particulars here today except to make clear that we need to build strike capabilities that can hold an adversary at risk beyond the archipelago to our north,” he said in words reported by The Australian.

“(We need) strike bombers, precision-guided missiles and unmanned autonomous vehicles – in the skies and in the seas below.”

He also urged Defence to better target younger people to encourage them to sign up for the military.


“Emphasising the service ethos is critical. Duty, honour and country,” said the Shadow Minister.

“They may seem antiquated, but they are values and principles that call people to stand and fight for something bigger than themselves. Aren’t these values we would all want to see in our employees?”

Hastie’s storied service saw him deployed to Afghanistan as a Cavalry Troop Leader before becoming a troop commander in the SAS as well as touring the Middle East and Indo-Pacific. He first entered parliament in 2015, where he won the Canning by-election for the Liberals.

It comes after Australian Aviation reported in September how Hastie urged the federal government to explore the potential of purchasing the in-development B-21 Raider.

He referenced remarks from Admiral Phil Davidson, the former Commander of Indo-Pacific Command, who last year warned China could take military action against Taiwan over the next six years — a timeline referred to as the ‘Davidson window’.

“We’re now five years [away] if we go with his timeline [and] we’re not going to see a nuclear submarine in the next five years,” he said.

“The question is, what are we going to do to hedge against that happening in the next five years, which is [why] we need to start talking about strike capabilities like missiles and potentially B-21s out of the United States.

“We need to be able to hold an adversary at risk, at distance, out passed the archipelago to our north, and in order to do that, you need strike capabilities — missiles, aircraft and long-term, nuclear submarines.”

The B-21 is the ‘sequel’ to the UFO-like B-2 Spirit, which can carry nuclear weapons and costs $2 billion each.

Introduced in the late 1980s, the batwing bomber is seen as the US’ most prestigious and prized aircraft, with only 20 in active service.

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Comments (8)

  • Mitchell


    Here’s a novel concept. Instead of piling up weapons and tools of destruction. What can we do to be harbingers of peace? It’s like guys who collect hammers, soon they look for something to hit with them. Someone has to say no more.

  • Rocket


    “out passed the archipelago to our north”

    Past perhaps?

    Hastie or Australian Aviation really needs to work on spelling. Not the first error in grammar or spelling that sometimes make a sentence not make sense.

    However, I entirely agree with him about the B-21. We are kidding ourselves to even think that we’ve had a strike platform that is anywhere near the F-111s we withdrew from service and buried in landfill, to be replaced by rubbish that can’t fly as far, can’t carry as much and can’t go anywhere with or without stealth without a tanker the size of a block of flats on radar in their shadow.

    The US should sell us the B-21 because if they don’t then all the rhetoric about being their “closest ally” is just weasel word crap.

  • John


    Emphasise the service ethos by all means but stop using defence personnel for disaster clean up. It takes them away from their training and works against their sense of value to Australia.

  • David Heath


    I’m puzzled. The Libs had TEN YEARS to do something, but now that the ALP has been in power just six mo nths, they’re bitching and moaning about the lack of action.

    They don’t do irony, do they…

  • Grant Spork


    Australia needs the capability to produce our own aircraft, jet engines in large numbers. The F16 is a platform which first flew circa 1972, though has been upgraded to a similar cockpit as an F18. Britain, Sweden, Italy are building a “tempest” this may include collaboration with Japan and India. We could also go with a Korean fighter Jet which they are now producing. Australia should be building solid state missiles which are reliable and can be built in large numbers. In every measure we should be considering sustainment of our assets. Drones may be launched from our existing helicopter landing Ships, which do not have deck strength to take F18’s. Australia needs to be capable of making all the standard ammunition for these platforms. We should consider that some nations in Asia will defect from democratic and USA alliances and may join China in a hot war, or declare neutrality. That complicates all planning. Australia does need to reintroduce National Service for those between 18 and 50. This should include the capability to recruit 800,000 militia to serve in a regional conflict mostly on home soil and the Pacific Islands. That requires uniforms, boots, personal armour, machine guns and guided rockets, helmets etc. Those who serve should get higher welfare when required, free dental care and a higher pension when they retire.

  • Robert Carter


    Right now the USA has placed 17 B1 bombers in long term storage. Australia could lease or buy these from America and have a capable deterrent within 2 years.

  • AJP


    Was this guy not the Assistant Minister of Defense in the previous Government? God the irony!

  • Daryl Paul Kay


    Highly unlikely that the B-21 will be available to export customers,and the ticket price might be a bit out of Mr Hastie’s range.

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