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July 09, 2021

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has today waved the white flag with the $1.5 billion C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifters, admitting they are not fit for battle and reclassifying them as humanitarian aircraft.

This project has been plagued with issues for years due to the Morrison Government’s endemic mismanagement of defence capability projects.

Over the last five years, the battlefield airlifters have only flown 35 per cent of their planned flying hours.

Final operational capability for these aircraft was meant to be achieved in December 2017, however due to ongoing problems and delays that has still not been achieved.

Last year these battlefield airlifters were added to Defence’s Projects of Interests list after it was revealed it was unlikely they’d be able to deliver the critical capability of transporting ADF personnel and equipment into battlefields.

Defence also admitted there were “deficiencies around the ADI [Attitude Direction Indicator] upgrade, which is to keep the aircraft relative, and the electronic self-protection system”.

In other words, the Morrison Government had spent $1.5 billion for a battlefield airlift aircraft that cannot fly into a battlefield.

This is a huge let down for Australian Defence Force personnel who need these aircraft to do their jobs.

It undermines Australia’s national security by leaving the ADF without a key capability.

Minister Dutton must explain what he is going to do to address this capability shortfall and how much his solution will cost Australians.

The recently announced Chinook helicopters do not have the capability that the battlefield airlifters have and are not a direct replacement.

You can’t paper over one failure with a new announcement.

These battlefield airlifters are one of many failed or failing projects overseen by a revolving door of Coalition Defence Ministers.

As always, it’s the troops who suffer and taxpayers who are left to foot the bill for the Morrison Government’s defence project stuff ups.