Australia. Rudd to announce huge military build-up

NINE MSN
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is set to announce Australia's biggest military build-up since World War II.

The Weekend Australian says it will include a multi-billion-dollar investment in maritime defence, including 100 new F-35 fighters, a doubling of the submarine fleet, and powerful new surface warships.

It says the new defence white paper will outline plans for a fundamental shake-up of Australia's defence organisation to ensure that the nation can meet what the prime minister sees as a far more challenging and uncertain security outlook in Asia over the next two decades.

The white paper will consider the emerging non-traditional threats to Australia, including cyber security, climate change and its associated risk of large uncontrolled people movements.

Senior government sources say Mr Rudd has insisted that defence spending remain largely insulated from the government's budget difficulties, but the Defence Department will still have to find at least $15 billion of internal savings over the next decade to help pay for the $100 billion-plus long-term equipment plan.

Mr Rudd and Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon are expected to release the long-awaited white paper as early as next week, with the more detailed 10-year defence capability plan due to be published by mid-year.