Sydney, Sep 20 (UNI) Who says the American defence system is the best in the world? Former leader of the Australian Labour Party Kim Beazley claims Australia cracked top-secret American combat aircraft codes while he was the Defence Minister in the 1980s.
''We spied on them and we extracted the codes,'' Mr Beazley was quoted as saying by the Sunday Morning Herald at Parliament during his valedictory speech today.
Mr Beazley, who was defence minister from 1984 to 1990, said when he took over the job he soon learned that the radar on Australia's Hornets could not identify most potentially hostile aircraft in the region adding that he was greatly tempted to "belt" the Liberals with this and lay to rest their claim to be best at managing defence.
''I shut up, I said nothing,'' he said.
''I went to the US and for five years, up hill and down dale, with one knock-down, drag-out after another, with Cap Weinberger, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, I tried to get the codes of that blasted radar out of them,'' he said adding that they spied on US, extracted the codes and got another radar that could identify (enemy planes).
Mr Beazley said the Americans were Australia's most important ally. ''But they are a bunch of people you have to have a fight with every now and then to get what you actually need out of them,'' he said.
Mr Beazley said the story of getting the Hornet codes was well known within Defence, but not beyond it.
The Americans kept saying they'd provide the codes, but never did.
''So we tried to crack the codes so we could enhance them,'' he said.
Mr Beazley said the Americans knew what they were doing and were intrigued by the progress they made.