Australian investors are holding their breath after a massive leak of confidential military contracts led to an unprecedented loss for the Australian taxpayer.
Key points:The documents revealed a lucrative trade of goods and services between the US and the US military that included medical and medical-related equipment”The documents reveal a lucrative trading between the United States and the United Kingdom”The Australian Government has since said it would seek to recover $1 billion from the companies it is suing over their sales of military equipment and technology to the US government.
The documents, obtained by the Australian Financial Review, were published online by the military contractor, Lockheed Martin, last week.
The US military has previously claimed that Australia was selling military technology to Australia for more than $1.5 billion.
But a series of internal documents obtained by The Australian, which include detailed financial details, reveal that while the US is the sole customer for the military equipment, Lockheed has a close relationship with the Australian Government and the Department of Defence.
The leaked documents also show that the US Government was providing Australia with technology to assist in its war against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“The US Government is not in the business of selling weapons to Australia,” a US Defense Department spokesman told the Australian in a statement last week, declining to comment further on the case.
“It is a matter for the Government of Australia to determine its response to this issue.”
“The Government of the United State of America has no interest in acquiring military hardware, and is working with our Australian counterparts to develop and deliver the appropriate capabilities for our nation’s defence.”
The documents show that Lockheed’s contracts to sell US military equipment to Australia included medical equipment, medical-focused training services and medical and military-related training facilities.
The Defence Department is the largest customer for Lockheed’s military-focused gear, according to the documents, with the company supplying the US with “approximately $1,000 million worth of military-grade equipment”.
However, the Australian claims that it is not the only customer of Lockheed’s equipment.
The Australian claims it has a direct line of communication with US and UK military personnel who have purchased Lockheed’s weapons systems, including the F-35 fighter jet, which has been touted as a military success story by both the US President Donald Trump and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Australian Defence Department has repeatedly defended the sale of Lockheed aircraft to the UK, and said it has the best export control policies in the world.
“The Department of Defense has an extensive list of approved customers that it considers are critical for Australia’s defence industry,” a Lockheed spokesman said in a response to the leaked documents.
“This list of customers is available to the Department on the Department’s website at www.defence.gov.au.”
The Australian’s complaint against Lockheed is the second major US military procurement scandal to affect the country’s defence industries in the past two years.
In February, it was revealed that Lockheed had supplied US troops with weapons and equipment that were not approved for use in combat.
The Pentagon had to issue a report on its handling of the case in August, which outlined a series that included allegations that US troops had been used as human shields.
“Lockheed Martin is an American company that provides the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard with military aircraft and systems,” the Australian Defence Minister, Nigel Scullion, said at the time.
“Australia’s Government is committed to protecting the Australian Armed Forces and to upholding the international rules-based international order that Australia is a signatory to.”
“Australia will respond to these claims with appropriate legal action, and ensure it does not have to contribute to future military procurement programs with US or UK equipment.”
Read more at the Australian Business and Investment Review (ABRI)