Author Topic: A Nuclear Australia  (Read 5245 times)

Offline Volkodav

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A Nuclear Australia
« on: February 06, 2014, 12:30:13 AM »
I am a fan of nuclear powered ships and I am also, shock horror, an Australian, which means I am always looking for ways to get my favourite gear into Australian service.  Specifically looking at Long Beach and Virginia Class CGNs at the moment, possibly also the Seawolf and Virginia Class SSNs, all of which I have in my stash. ;)

Basically the only way I could see the RAN operating nuclear powered warships and submarines is for Australia to have initiated a nuclear energy / weapons program in the late 40s early 50s and then begun operating DLGNs and SSNs from the early 60s.  The wouldn't design the ships themselves but would look to modify existing designs and do some local construction.

The initial ship(s) would be a greatly modified Long Beach, thinking same hull form but double ended Terrier or Talos (a single Mk10 fore and aft), midriff mounted Tartar (in place of the 5"/38s) and three twin Mk26 6" mounts, two forward of the forward Mk10 and one aft of the aft Mk10.  Would look to work in two or four Mk6 3" as well.  The superstructure would be smaller and lower than the US Long Beach, with a more conventional sensor fit, something along the lines of Albany or the converted Clevelands.  Would want two or three of these as the conceptual replacements for the pre war heavy cruisers.

Next would be a DLG (instead of the CFA DDGs), possibly a stretched and widened Bainbridge with three medium mounts (two forward, one aft) and a pair of Mk6 3" (one on each beam).  Four to six of these as replacements for the pre war, war built and post war light cruisers (real and imagined  :P). The Virginia Class would come online early to mid 80s as a replacement for the Daring and Battle Class destroyers and would be looking to eight or twelve.

Subs would be a Squadron or Flotilla (6-10) MOTS Skipjacks from the US with a locally built replacement (Trafalgar or Los Angeles) coming on line in the late 90s and Astute or Virginia in the 2020-30s.

Of course for this to all be affordable Australia develops an indigenous nuclear industry and becomes the biggest exporter of non weapons grade enriched uranium in the world as well as the (at a very tidy profit) the biggest storage location for spent fuel rods in the world.  With all the excess power produced by Australia's national power generation scheme a multitude of smelters, refineries, foundries etc pop up around the country and Australia rather than being an exported or ore and primary produce become an exported of value added and completed goods and one of the wealthiest nations on earth.

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2014, 02:11:46 AM »
May I suggest my Greater Australia story as a possible source of further inspiration for this scenario?  It introduces a nuclear powered Collins Class (read alternate Seawolf) in the 80s/90s.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 08:03:02 PM »
Yes forgot about your SSNs, the thing that really stuck with me on Greater Australia was the RAN FAA Viggens.  :)

It is my aim to build the 1/700 ships and subs I have as anything but what was in the box, may investigate an Albany and a Tiger to get the bits I want.  Could do a Tiger super structure and guns on Long Beach with the GMLS and radars off Albany, do Albany as a USN phase three CAG with Long Beaches superstructure and radars, while Tiger could be completed as a RN CG with Albany's superstructure, terrier and tartar, either no guns or a couple of 4.5" twins. 

Don't have the foggiest where I will get a Bainbridge from and I believe there are only expensive resin kits available.  The Virginia I think will be minimum change, possibly VLS as a later build version or even a CEAFAR MLU.  Maybe a cut down stern with more conventional helo facilities.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2014, 10:28:41 PM »
Australia did start a nuclear programme in the 1940s.  It's eventual outcome was the British nuclear tests in the 1950s.  The Gorton Government was very keen on Australia developing it's own nuclear weapons after the British basically sold us out in favour of becoming more closely aligned to the USA and reneged on their promises to share nuclear secrets with us.  Doing so, was very expensive and McMahon as treasurer was set against it.  When he became PM, he decided against getting the bomb and instead committed us to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  In 1967 we were about 18 months from building a bomb.  Today, we're about 8-10 years.   In the intervening period, the anti-Nuclear issue has seen the number of qualified nuclear physicists and engineers in Australia sink to a handful.

To change that, you'd have to have it possible for the Australian government to either prevent or remove the various Communist spies caught in Australia in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  That way, the US would come to believe we were trustworthy enough to trusted with nuclear secrets and so the British would find it easier to share them with us (what held them back was their desire to get at US nuclear technology, which the US in the early 1950s was refusing to share with anybody and in particular the UK and Australia which were considered riddled with Soviet sympathisers).

We were already building most of the required infrastructure - the Australian National University (to turn out physicists), the Snowy Mountain Scheme (to provide the massive quantities of electricity required for Uranium enrichment), the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) in Adelaide and Woomera to it's north for testing.

If that could occur, suddenly we might find ourselves admitted to the at least the lobby of the Nuclear Club, if not yet into the actual clubrooms.

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 01:52:14 AM »
Yes forgot about your SSNs, the thing that really stuck with me on Greater Australia was the RAN FAA Viggens.  :)

Err…wrong story.  Greater Australia had F-4s, F-14s and F-111s... ;)
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 03:59:49 PM »
Where were the Viggens? am I going senile?

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2014, 02:06:32 AM »
I have used them in a few scenarios but I think perhaps you were thinking of my story Southern Sea Eagles - The Alternative RAN FAA

Oh, and yes you are going senile…but in a good way. ;)
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 05:37:04 PM »
It was I remember now, based on the CVV carriers too  ;)

Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2014, 05:59:24 PM »
Been doing a bit of reading on Australian defence in the mid 50s through to the mid 60s and some interesting themes keep popping up including the assumption that Australia would obtain nuclear weapons even if they were US controlled devices stored in Australia.  It was also interesting that the Defence chiefs seemed to basically be ignored by the government who did not give a stuff about defence with the majority of defence ministers being under achieving seat warmers while the Chiefs were all decorated war veterans.

Also of interest was the fact that the Government was only returned on a technicality having just retained two seat by the skin of their teeth, losing the popular vote and two of the oppositions seats being disallowed in the count to form government due to them representing territories and not states.  Being pre-Vietnam Labor were at this point more flush with war cabinet and ex military experience than the Liberal party and were definitely more supportive of industry and defence modernisation than the conservatives.  Calwell and Whitlam were also both vehemently anti Communist and pro nuclear.

Thinking now of doing a Badgers in the Backyard scenario where the new PM meets with the service chief and asks them about Indonesia's Badger bomber and other recent soviet procurements and if things really are as bad as they appear to be and what to do about it.

My thinking:
  • Stop gap English Electric Lightnings to supplement Bloodhound
  • Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star
  • Fairey Gannet AEW
  • Bloodhound Mk2
  • Stop gap carrier fighter / interceptor ??? Douglas Skyray???
  • New carriers
  • Revisit defence plans quashed by previous government i.e. Vulcan (maybe B-58 depending how silly I am feeling)
  • Submarines DE plus Nucs (1/72 Skipjack here I come ;D)
  • Increased size of surface fleet to counter Indonesian Irian cruiser and Skory destroyers.
  • Maritime strike for same (Buccaneer, Vigilante or Intruder)
  • Mechanised army

Basically look to have the 1961 change of government reorienting back to the post war posture under Chiefly, rather than the she'll be right attitude under Menzies (pre and post war).  i.e. a never again approach to Australia's near defencelessness in 1942 in the face of so many warnings over so many years before hand.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2014, 02:59:36 AM »
Perhaps Australia could pick up more capable aircraft not taken up by the US for political reasons, such as the Sky Lancer and the B-58B which was larger and more capable than the B-58A.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2014, 09:46:27 AM »
That would be idea but what I am looking at is a change in government taking urgent action to reverse the "concerned but not alarmed" inaction of their predecessors.  Basically looking what was needed and what was available on MAP and for hot transfer and lease.

Basically during the late 50s and early 60s Indonesia, in particular the navy and air force had moved closed to the USSR and were equipping to drive the Dutch out of West Papua. As a side effect of this however they built a force that was on paper at least a clear and present danger to Australia, including this :
Quote
IndonesiaIndonesian Air Force : 26 Tu-16KS-1 acquired in 1961. Used during the preparation of Operation Trikora in 1962, the taking of Western New Guinea from the Netherlands (now Papua and Papua Barat). They were also planned for attacking the Colossus class aircraft carrier, HNLMS Karel Doorman. All were based at Iswahjudi Air Base, Madiun, East Java, and were grounded in 1969. No longer in service since 1970.[1]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-16

To counter this Australia had Avon Sabres, Canberras and Sea Venoms, we were completely out matched, not because the defence chief weren't advising the government but because the Government didn't listen.  In fact as the Navy were advising that they needed a new carrier that could operate moder strike and fighter aircraft the government instructing them to buy helicopters, get out of fixed wing aviation and concentrate on the only real threat, ASW, when the real threat was the Tu-16KS-1, its KS-1 Komet missiles, the Sverdlov class cruiser Irian, Skory class destroyers oh and 12 Whiskey class submarines.  So yes submarines were a threat but the complete lack of anything to protect the ASW forces from attack was mind blowing.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 12:43:52 PM »
Been doing a bit of reading on Australian defence in the mid 50s through to the mid 60s and some interesting themes keep popping up including the assumption that Australia would obtain nuclear weapons even if they were US controlled devices stored in Australia.  It was also interesting that the Defence chiefs seemed to basically be ignored by the government who did not give a stuff about defence with the majority of defence ministers being under achieving seat warmers while the Chiefs were all decorated war veterans.

In the Days of Ming the Merciless, everybody in cabinet could basically, with one or two exceptions, be considered "under-achieving seat warmers".  Ming didn't get his nickname for nothing.  He was if anything more ruthless with any contenders in his own party as he was with the ALP.   He invariably either booted any possible future alternative leaders either upwards (Hasluck, Barwick) or out.   This one of the reasons why, when he finally did toss in the towel, you only had non-entities left such as Holt, Gorton and McMahon who got the guernsey.

Quote
Also of interest was the fact that the Government was only returned on a technicality having just retained two seat by the skin of their teeth, losing the popular vote and two of the oppositions seats being disallowed in the count to form government due to them representing territories and not states.  Being pre-Vietnam Labor were at this point more flush with war cabinet and ex military experience than the Liberal party and were definitely more supportive of industry and defence modernisation than the conservatives.  Calwell and Whitlam were also both vehemently anti Communist and pro nuclear.

One of the paradoxes of Australian Politics in the 1960s was that in the 1965 election, the then Minister of Defence, Allen Fairhall was returned to his seat on Communist Party preferences.  The Coms hated the ALP worse than the conservatives.  ;D

While Whitlam may have been pro-nuclear he accepted that door had closed well and truly under McMahon who had committed Australian to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Quote
Thinking now of doing a Badgers in the Backyard scenario where the new PM meets with the service chief and asks them about Indonesia's Badger bomber and other recent soviet procurements and if things really are as bad as they appear to be and what to do about it.

My thinking:
  • Stop gap English Electric Lightnings to supplement Bloodhound
  • Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star
  • Fairey Gannet AEW
  • Bloodhound Mk2
  • Stop gap carrier fighter / interceptor ??? Douglas Skyray???
  • New carriers
  • Revisit defence plans quashed by previous government i.e. Vulcan (maybe B-58 depending how silly I am feeling)
  • Submarines DE plus Nucs (1/72 Skipjack here I come ;D)
  • Increased size of surface fleet to counter Indonesian Irian cruiser and Skory destroyers.
  • Maritime strike for same (Buccaneer, Vigilante or Intruder)
  • Mechanised army

Basically look to have the 1961 change of government reorienting back to the post war posture under Chiefly, rather than the she'll be right attitude under Menzies (pre and post war).  i.e. a never again approach to Australia's near defencelessness in 1942 in the face of so many warnings over so many years before hand.

Well, Menzies focused primarily on domestic economic matters, rather than on Defence matters for most of his time in The Lodge.   It wasn't so much a "she'll be right" attitude as we now have our "Great and Poweful friends" to protect us, forgetting the failure of the last time we had relied on such in Singapore.  That didn't mean defence spending was neglected, just that as there was no readily identifiable regional threat, there appeared to be no real need to spend excessively on defence.   When one after another did appear, defence spending did steadily grow through the early 1960s, consummate with the perceived threat, first from Indonesia and then Communist China.  You really need to understand the significance of the West New Guinea dispute with Indonesia in 1958-60, to understand what shaped Australian foreign and defence policies since then.

I'd suggest forget the Lightnings.  Go with F-104s.  They are more in keeping with the way our defence forces were being reorientated in the 1960s and were available quite readily from the US.  If you want more SAMs to compliment them, go with Bomac.  We should be able to pick them up, sans nuclear warheads, quite cheaply from the US which was starting to decommission them.  B-47s for an intermediate bomber force (they were offered) until the F-111s become available.


Offline jcf

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2014, 01:23:38 PM »
OK, seriously defense against what?

From 1900 on the Yellow Peril shit kept changing the supposedly imposing threat.

All which seems more anglo-australian racist BS than any credible threat.

So seriously, why would Australi a need a nuclear deterrent? Of course from
the emotional BS of the prriod it seems some oarties wanted the ability to carrout a nuclear
offense rather than a defense.

As to Indonesia,  fucking get over it, they aint', and never were going to 'invade'. Christ some of you
are as bad as the US Southerners. The Brown Men aren't coming for yor White Wimmen.  :-\
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2014, 04:10:55 PM »
OK, seriously defense against what?

From 1900 on the Yellow Peril shit kept changing the supposedly imposing threat.

All which seems more anglo-australian racist BS than any credible threat.

So seriously, why would Australi a need a nuclear deterrent? Of course from
the emotional BS of the prriod it seems some oarties wanted the ability to carrout a nuclear
offense rather than a defense.

As to Indonesia,  fucking get over it, they aint', and never were going to 'invade'. Christ some of you
are as bad as the US Southerners. The Brown Men aren't coming for yor White Wimmen.  :-\

Indonesia was a case of their deliberate military build up to challenge the Dutch required the exact same assets and capabilities to be a genuine threat to Australia, A threat that drove Australia into deliberately seeking to engage the US in the region, in particular in Laos and Vietnam.  Indonesia, although officially non-aligned, was more important to US foreign policy than Australia and there were serious domestic doubts that the US would support Australian interests if they clashed with Indonesia's.

What changed was the Communists in Indonesia became too assertive and the Army turned on them in 1967(68?), by defacto, guaranteeing Australian security for decades by making Indonesia a sort of friendly buffer rather than a threat.

Ironically Australia taking a more active role in our own and regional defence would have reduced the pressure to engage the US in the region and possibly limited their subsequent involvement in Vietnam.  Who knows, butterfly effect and all that.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 10:00:54 PM »
OK, seriously defense against what?

From 1900 on the Yellow Peril shit kept changing the supposedly imposing threat.

All which seems more anglo-australian racist BS than any credible threat.

Well, actually the fear of the "Yellow Peril" in Australia predates 1900, Jon.  It goes back to the 1850s during the Victorian Gold Rush when there was a large influx of Chinese who worked the gold mines.  It carried on from there and saw fresh impetus when Japan started to modernise and expand in the late 19th and early 20th century.  A lot of was "Anglo-Australian racist BS" but as we saw in WWII, Australia perceived it had experienced an existential threat from the Japanese.   After WWII, conservative governments played on the Red threat, first from within and then as China became Communist from there.   I can well remember the DLP (Democratic Labor Party - which despite it's name was an extremely conservative political party, dedicated to fighting Communism and in particular keep the ALP out of power because of fears that it had been subverted by Communists), running TV adverts in the late 1960s which played on this fear of a Communist, Asian threat from our north with big red arrows advancing across the map of Asia to Australia.  When Sukarno courted the local Indonesian Communists and the fUSSR and PRC, this seemed to mean that there was a Communist, Asian threat on our doorstep, just 200 miles from our northern coast.  So, just because it was "Anglo-Australian racist BS" does not mean the perceived fear did not exist in our society.

Quote
So seriously, why would Australi a need a nuclear deterrent? Of course from
the emotional BS of the prriod it seems some oarties wanted the ability to carrout a nuclear
offense rather than a defense.

Well, actually the reason why we wanted nuclear weapons was because they were the biggest, brightest, shiniest and most bad-arse weapons available, Jon.  We had no idea what we were going to do with them and even after tests showed that using nukes in SE Asian rainforest wasn't going to be particular effective at stopping all those nasty Communist guerrillas the emphasis switched to them being useful as ASW weapons, which is why Ikara was designed to carry a Nuclear depth charge.  When we finally decided to get stop trying to get nukes, in 1968, it was the RAN and the RAAF who wanted them.  The RAAF to go and blow cities up, the RAN to sink Soviet and Chinese submarines.

Quote
As to Indonesia,  fucking get over it, they aint', and never were going to 'invade'. Christ some of you
are as bad as the US Southerners. The Brown Men aren't coming for yor White Wimmen.  :-\

While I agree the actual threat was substantially less than the perceived threat, what you should understand is that we had seen Indonesia take over West New Guinea.   It was attempting to take over the whole of Borneo and the Malay peninsular and was talking about uniting both halfs of New Guinea and remember, at the time, we controlled the Eastern half of the island, under our League and later United Nations mandate.   This was a direct threat to not only our interests in the region but to an ally which we had signed a defence treaty with (Malaysia) and our own territory.

When deep seated prejudices are being played on by politicians who see it as a means to ensure their hold on government, then when something that comes along which smells even remotely of fulfilling those deep seated prejudices it cannot just be written of as "BS".  Many Australians, remembering the events of 1942, were muttering that it "was all happening again".   Many other nations have sort reassurance in such times of perceived threat.  Some have reached for the Nuclear safety blanket.  We can see it today with Iran and Israel.   We've seen it with Pakistan and India.  We've seen it with the fUSSR and the PRC, the UK, France, etc.

Hindsight shows us that the threat from Indonesia ended with the overthrow of Sukarno.  Even then though, the perceived threat continued long after, well into the 1990s.  It wasn't until Suharto in turn was overthrown that it has receded.  It still lurks though, in the backs of the minds of many Australians.  It is "BS" but it's hard to dispel. 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 10:09:34 AM by Rickshaw »

Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 10:38:52 PM »
And you just need to watch or read Indonesian news to see the BS is a two way stream, in fact it is quite amusing to look at some of the Malaysian and Thai perspectives on Australia, in particular when they get wind of the "designed for Western Sydney Bogan" electioneering and political spin reference refugees and illegal entry to Australia via boats.

What doesn't help is we do have a sizable and vocal element who are in reality "dumb, drunk and racist". 

Personally I work on the principle if you have an aircraft carrier an your nearest neighbour, who is not an enemy but not an ally either has an effective weapon systems designed to sink carriers then you should look to buy something to protect the carrier just in case, i.e. a missile armed fighter type and an AEW type.  Don't care what colour their skin is, their religion or their language, if they have the capacity to hurt you and you really aren't sure that they wont hurt you then you take some security measures.

Nuke weapons are over the top but I really am a backer of nuclear energy and believe it would be a good base load option for Australia.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2014, 12:01:15 AM »
Perhaps Australia could pick up more capable aircraft not taken up by the US for political reasons, such as the Sky Lancer and the B-58B which was larger and more capable than the B-58A.

Would a B-58 re-engined with 20000 lb thrust Bristol / RR Olympus 301, as used on the late model Vulcan B2, be capable of supersonic speed with these non-afterburning engines?  Would this engine have provided lower fuel burn and increased range at low and high altitude?

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 10:13:26 AM »
Why not go with the Mirage IV?  It would have fitted with what we were already buying and would have appeared as a natural extension to it.  Re-engined with the proposed Spey, it would have been an excellent aircraft for what we wanted, particularly mated with an indigenous nuclear free-fall bomb.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2014, 10:45:52 AM »
Why not go with the Mirage IV?  It would have fitted with what we were already buying and would have appeared as a natural extension to it.  Re-engined with the proposed Spey, it would have been an excellent aircraft for what we wanted, particularly mated with an indigenous nuclear free-fall bomb.

Could do but I was looking more at panic buys for the RAAF, a bit like the early 80s when the new government found out the Mirages missiles and cannon shells were expired and we effectively didn't have or shortly wouldn't have a capability at all.  (I may have the wrong end of the stick on this one but remember something to that effect being reported at the time of the Magic buy)

The B-58 question was following some youtube watching and reference reading and it just got me thinking about a super-cruising Olympus powered low level penetrator B-58, probably belongs on another thread although I never object to cool stuff wearing roos. ;)

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2014, 04:46:55 PM »
Given the timeframe maybe a emergency option could be a V-Bomber:  Here are some advanced Export Victors John did for me a while back.  All crew would have ejection seats + there are uprated engines, external bomb pods and tail gun:



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Offline Volkodav

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Re: A Nuclear Australia
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2014, 05:29:26 PM »
Love the Victor, in particular the B2, always thought it a shame politics killed it off when it still had so much potential to be used in so many different roles.  Scherger was a fan of the Vulcan and apparently actively lobbied (unsuccessfully) for Australian adoption from the late 50s.  My thinking was sort of along the lines of the PM asked for advice, got the advice and followed the advice of his service chiefs.  I suppose it would come down to what was most readily available at the time, maybe followed by a longer term solution.  So possibly a lease of an existing type in-service with an ally, followed with a buy of something more sorted or permanent or even just buying and keeping the leased stuff if it works.  This way it could be leased or bought Vulcan, Victor, Valiant or Stratojet followed by improved versions of such or something different to replace the remaining Canberras once the initial capability had been stood up. Here we would have the Mirage IV, Vigilante, F-111, F-105, Vulcan or Victor B3 or even an Olympus Hustler (getting silly I know).

My thinking on the Lightning was that it would be a direct counter to the Badgers and Beagles, a point defence interceptor that would be replaced down the track by a IADS.  I chose the Lightning because it fits the time frame and I want it wearing roos  ;D.  I was thinking along the lines of the Lightning force being stood up as 31 and 32 Sqn and being groups with 30 Sqn (Bloodhound MkI).  Eventually the three squadrons would all be part of the IADS with an improved SAM i.e. Bloodhound MkII with the Lightings cascaded to a revitalised RAAF Reserve for service into the 80s and 90s.

There would still be a tactical fighter that could well still have been the Mirage III to replace the Sabre, there would still be Neptunes, Orions, Hercules and Carabous.  There would be a tanker, there would be an AEW platform and there may have been an anti ship strike capability or maybe that would have belonged to the RAN.  Basically a slightly larger, more fleshed out RAAF that was better able to defend the nation against existing regional capabilities.