The Australian Defense Force will sell off its $40m worth of military equipment to make way for a more affordable version, the Defence Department announced Tuesday.
The purchase will be made as part of a $7.6 billion Defence Procurement Strategy that also includes $5.2bn in military spending for 2019-20.
“We are continuing to build Australia’s national capability,” Defence Minister David Johnston told a news conference.
Australia’s military was created in 1949 under the Australian Security Force (ASF) and has grown from 2,000 soldiers to about 12,000 by 2025, the department said.
But there have been recent controversies, including the death of two soldiers who died while training in Afghanistan.
It said the move was intended to save $1.8m per year.
There are also concerns about the country’s defence budget.
Last month, the government was forced to cancel the $7bn purchase of five new F-35 fighter jets, which were due to be delivered to the Australian Army this year, after a parliamentary inquiry found the Australian taxpayer was on the hook for the cost of the program.
In a statement, Defence Minister Johnston said the $40mn would be used to purchase a new fleet of helicopters, with an estimated cost of $1bn.
He said the Department of Defence had a plan to ensure the country “remains able to provide a high-quality and efficient capability to support the defence needs of the Australian people and their allies.”
The department said the purchase would allow the military to “accelerate our modernization programme and deliver a high standard of capability to our defence workforce.”
“The acquisition of new helicopters will ensure that we can continue to provide Australians with the capability to conduct air, sea and land operations,” it said.
The move will add to the department’s already large backlog of procurement contracts, which includes $18bn worth of contracts.
Under the Defence Procuresment Strategy, the military will also be able to use the money for the purchase of more civilian goods and services.
A $1,000 donation from every household would go towards the purchase.
This comes as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said he was looking into the sale of a new squadron of fighter jets.
More to come.