Sorry for the length of reply. If you dont like it skip it. *smiles*
1. The RAAFs Hornets I think are essentially upgraded F-18A/Bs with the landing hooks and so forth. So technically there is no reason they couldn't
land on a surplus USN CV with the proper training. And we are talking about fighter jocks. They'd get woodies just thinking about, as long as they
didn't have to swap uniforms.
2. I dont think manning a USN CV would be practical even though our Navy would probably love to. Reasons against:
Costs. It would have to be overhauled and refitted,and given some Oz specific kit, if only to keep industry happy in marginal electorates -I think
they call them Districts in the US. They might payout for a smaller new ship, but not on something that is effectively going to be 40-50 by the time
we get it.
Age. They are gunshy about taking on older ships after the last Government brought 2 old ex USN LSTs to refit and return to service, causing a
political firestorm when cost and schedule blew out. We've knocked back several offers from the USN to take on 4 second hand ships - The Kidds,
Ticonderogas and Spruance class vessels in the last six years to replace our old scrapped DDGs, despite the circumstances of the offers being totally
different. Walk away price $120 million while they still had steam up.
Man power. The RAN would effectively have to decommision all our available escorts (presently 10-14 depending who you ask). The carrier might not need
them, but we do for other roles. Its another reason we couldnt accept the USN Interim DD/CG offers ahead of DDG 2015, and why our three 1960s Adams
DDG were still scrapped. 2 of 6 FFGs are not getting refitted and going to scrap. And 2 of 6 of our new MCMVs are being mothballed.
Theres an overseas head hunting campaign? Great! we need it. We have been having trouble and probably want to grab RN and USN bodies disgruntled by
any announced cuts. Turnabout is fair play. the RN recruited ex RAN aircrews and handlers after the 1983/84 cuts. But knowing our politicians its
probably under funded and has its sights set too low.
In July 1984 the RAN had 16696 personnel. In 2002 it was around 12,000 with a targetted regrowth of 14,000. They were attracting (accepting?) less
than 300 recruits a year. At the time the RANs new popularity had peaked after our role in East Timor, and morale issues became public.
A report recently stated that something like 63% of the Defence budget went to "personnel related issues" including pay.
Total ADF Full time forces dropped from 70,000 fifteen years ago to under 40,000. At some point reserves may have been around 35-40,000 in the early
80s, but there has been a disasterous drop to less than 25,000 due to cost saving measures meant to rationalise and concentrate training periods.
Essentially reservists, especially the self employed, couldnt afford the time off for the training blocks. This is bad news for the army especially,
as many key support units need Reservist manning to deploy.
This has been spin doctored to cover up ALP and Howard Government negligence and underfunding in the 1980s and 1990s by conducting force reviews to
make it look like they wanted numbers to decline (and they did - to save a buck)
That they perform the miracles they do is a credit to the personnel but a double edged sword. Politicians tend to think if you manage a task, then you
don't need more funds and personnel. If (or when) people die they scapegoat the Forces.
The ADF had also recently been forced by Goverment to privatise thier media relations, recruiting promotions and actual recruit interview and
selection process and it was a massive stuff up (nearly 3000 approved applicants stuck in a 12 month backlog....Many of whom gave up in distgust
because thier files were being binned at the end of the cycle for being too old for follow up basically).
So the numbers have been back in decline.
I understand it has been patched up but the ADFs stocks are at a low ebb, despite a massive increase over the years to an $19 billion AUD defence
budget, up about $4-7 billion (largely to pay ops costs Peacekeeping, Afghanistan and Iraq), increased recruiting campaigns (fewer people per dollar
result) and long term announcements on kit ( coming "soon" to a port near you - 2015).
But Defence had some more good news, in an ironic way.
The weekend election returned the "Pro US" Government of John Howard for a third term with an increased majority in the representatives lower house.
What has scared people is that for the first time since the 1970s a sitting government looks like it will have control of the Senate upper house. Bad
news for us if they finally privatise the rest of our national telco, scrap medicare, remove the unlawful dismissal laws from workplace relations, and
in the case of the anti villification laws, scrapping them to obtain the support of the senate seat that holds the balance, now held by the ultra
conservative right Family First party.
Australians usually depend on the upper and lower houses to be split as a check and balance, and when a conservative Government is in, the Upper house
is usually in the hands of the left. Not this time and if this result is confirmed, its could be a big mistake.
But it could mean a lot for defence spending if they can pass increased allocations without hinderance.
Heres praying against the worst and hoping for the best. Sorry for the length.
I was also thinking about manning levels and I am posting another long thread at one of the other subtitle forums to do with military issues under the
heading of "RAN manning shortages..Ideas" let me know your thoughts and own views...constructively please.