Australia pushes back F-35 buy, citing costs and US delay

Australia has pushed back plans to purchase further F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Australia will push back by two years its decision on whether to buy as many as 70 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced this morning.

Smith said the decision, which follows a similar move by the US, would save Australia $1.6 billion over the next four years. Delaying the purchases, however, will almost certainly add to the eventual cost of the already pricey aircraft, especially if other countries follow suit.

The RAAF has so far ordered two F-35As, which are under production and are scheduled to be delivered to a US-based test and development site in 2014. Australia had been scheduled to move next financial year on plans to purchase a further 12 F-35As under phase 2A of Project Air 6000, and a further 58 F-35s under Phase 2B, but that decision will now be made in 2014-15, Smith said.

Smith told reporters that a decision on whether to purchase other fighters to cover any capability gap left by the F-35 delays would be made by the end of this year. He has previously said that buying additional F/A-18F Super Hornets would be the “logical option” to fill such a gap, though consideration may also be given to extending the RAAF’s nearly 30 year-old fleet of F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornets.

The US announced earlier this year that it would delay the acquisition of 179 F-35s over the next five years as part of larger Pentagon budget cuts. That move has already contributed to a nine per cent increase in the Pentagon’s estimate of the US F-35 program’s overall cost, from US$1.38 trillion to US$1.51 trillion. The US has so far stood by plans to purchase 2443 of the stealthy fighters, but its decision to delay early purchases has drawn criticism from JSF partner nations — including Australia — who say the delays will add to their costs.


  1. Mil says


    Thanks for the info. The Website has a similair veiw I hold in defense, that of equipping Australia in the right areas. It is a similair doctrine of the way Australia fought in WW2 against a much larger army (hit “n” run wearing them down). Concentrating on a large Sub force is perfect, it brings Australia the ability to deny our coastal waters and neighbouring seas to agressors and in times of conflict hit precise sea targets with enormous reach ie flagships, supply convoys or invading transports.

    It seems undeniable that the RAAF should be thinking homegrown SU35’s, F15’s or Rafaele to fill the gaps. I lean towards the SU-35’s because they are very refined aircraft as the others are, but has the valuable addition of being produced here and it’s increasing modern arnament package ie.Indian hypersonic missles, R-37 & Yakhont etc. This is important if in times of war, as supply can become an internal issue and in times of peace creates an industry making available the basis to create experience and expand homegrown techs.

    Small but highly trained and equipped land Army, large Air Force and Specialised Navy makes for a great defense force. Particually when opponents will have long supply routes(sub strike gauntlet) and vast open deserts(air force fodder) and dense bush (commando hidey holes) to trek to get anywhere near vital cities or resources.

    Without straying to far from the topic, myself being more of a right liberaterian, the website has some good ideas on some topics others just not so. The good thing is here in Australia as in Canada with the F-35, people have independent thought and don’t just go with a flow blindly. It is good to see that people like you Pete challenge mainstream when we know it ain’t gonna work, it keeps the country out of trouble. 5-10-15 Years is just going to be too long to wait for an aircraft that might well be obsolete with the ways radar tech is being developed.

    Cheers Mil

  2. Dane says

    Why not just hand the nation to anyone that wants it? You can’t downsize something that is already running on a minimum strenght