Developing the Australian Amphibious Force
“Amphibious warfare is the most complex proposition for the future of ADF combat power development to 2025." – Chief of Navy, 2005
The Australian Defence Force is in the process of evolving its amphibious capability to achieve a standing and scalable joint force capable of executing the full spectrum of amphibious operations. This represents a significant enhancement to the Australian Defence Force’s ability to conduct expeditionary operations in our region and will provide a strategic shaping effect as well as response options for emerging regional crisis or contingencies.
The core of the Australian Amphibious Force will comprise one or more of the Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) being delivered under Joint Project 2048, and a Landing Force, primarily based on 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. This includes joint command and control, surveillance/reconnaissance, logistics, and rotary wing aviation capabilities that will be task organised to achieve mission requirements. In addition, the Australian Amphibious Force may be supported by Special Forces, maritime platforms, aircraft and other joint enablers. While the force is scalable, the two baseline amphibious structures are the Amphibious Ready Element (ARE) based on a single LHD and an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) based on two LHDs and supported by HMAS Choules.
In 2012, Commander Deployable Joint Force Headquarters was jointly appointed by the Chief of Army and Chief of Navy to act as the Joint and Army Lead Authority to develop the Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability while Commander Australian Fleet remained the Navy Lead Authority. The approach being applied to developing the Australian Amphibious Capability is one of continuous experimentation and development to achieve key milestones including Initial Operating Capability of a certified and mission ready ARE in 2015 and Full Operational Capability by constituting a certified, mission ready ARG by 2017. The first major step toward the achievement of these milestones was the conduct of the Amphibious Force Generation and Certification Trial in North Queensland during 2013 and this will be followed by the conduct of a series of amphibious exercises culminating in the certification of the ARE in late 2015.
Deployable Joint Force Headquarters and other key joint and single service organisations are continuing to manage the development of this capability.