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Ukraine conflict: Austria plans to invest in GBAD, personal equipment, and mobility

Austrian defence spending trend, 2014–33. (Janes)

Austrian Ministry of Defence planners are seeking parliamentary approval of a 10-year state defence financing act to give more predictability in planning and avoid future governments from cancelling projects, Janes learnt during a briefing at the ministry on 13 October. This will increase defence spending to EUR5.25 billion (USD5.16 billion) by 2027 for a total of EUR16 billion over the four years until then, as announced by the ministry on 6 October. In addition, the planners are seeking a political commitment to increase funding of the Bundesheer's budget by another EUR16.6 billion until 2032.

The latter would be spent only on materiel and arms procurement and would not be part of the running annual budget. The planners envisage three areas for this increased investment: EUR6 billion in mobility (light vehicles, engineers, special forces, and air mobility); EUR7 billion for ‘protection and effect' (various weapon systems, including ground-based air defence (GBAD) and unmanned aerial vehicles), and EUR3 billion for ‘self-sufficiency and sustainability' (including command, control, communications, and computers; electronic warfare (EW); and cyber).

The planners described GBAD as the biggest ticket item, possibly costing up to EUR2 billion. Austria's existing 24 GDF-005 35 mm anti-aircraft guns need new advanced hit efficiency and destruction (AHEAD) air burst munitions, while the Mistral short-range air-defence system and target acquisition radars require replacement. Austria is also seeking a medium-range system with a range of up to 40 km such as the IRIS-SL (Surface Launched) or the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS). At the lower level is counter-unmanned aerial system equipment with jammers and other EW capabilities, with the results of the six-month evaluation and testing of a Rheinmetall system described as “encouraging”.

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