will review plans to double its fleet of submarines, with the new conservative
government under pressure to rein in its budget even as Asian neighbors
dramatically ramp up military spending.
Defense Minister David Johnston said he was unconvinced that Australia
needed as many as 12 new conventional submarines currently foreseen by military
planners. It comes as regional neighbors, led by China,
build up their naval and air arsenals amid disputes over territorial waters,
especially in North Asia.
At a cost of up to 36 billion Australian dollars (US$32.28 billion), doubling
the submarine fleet would be the country's largest single military purchase