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JSF headed for new cost blowouts and delays?

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 2, 2010
Is the F-35 facing fresh delays? (JSF PO)

Reports from the US on November 1 indicate the F-35 JSF program is headed for a further schedule and development cost blowout in the wake of a ground up review by new program head, Rear Admiral David Venlet.

The reports, first broken by Bloomberg, indicate a further schedule slip of one to two years for the conventional F-35A and naval F-35C versions, and up to three years for the STOVL F-35B due to software and aerodynamic issues and delays in ramping up the production process, issues which may cost more than US$5bn (A$5.2bn) to fix.

Admiral Venlet is due to report to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the program on November 2, after which the program is expected to be ‘re-baselined’ as part of the Nunn-McCurdy review process which was initiated in April.

If true, this latest delay will add to the four years and more than US$15bn the program has already blown out by, and will push the scheduled IOC of the F-35A right up against the RAAF’s requirement of 2017.

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Comments (31)

  • James Mitchell


    I think the RAAF should just forget about the f 35 all together starting now and think about buying more f 18 super hornets or f 15 silent eagle or maybe pak fa.

  • Another waste of money. If the Silent Eagle F15 is good enough for the Saudis it should be fine for us. But no, the RAAF goes off with a gold credit card and wants the brightest shiniest toys on the shelf…as usual. Another dud to add to the Collins subs, Sea Sprite, EuroTiger, etc etc…

  • Lucas McBurney


    Have to agree James, really need to focus more on the Super Hornet as it is an incredible aircraft. Instead of the JSF, they should have seriously considered the Eurofighter Typhoon, a proven aircraft. Just my opinion and I understand being an armchair expert doesn’t account for anything, but I believe it is a lot better option than an aircraft that hadn’t been built at the time.

  • James – Super Hornet? Maybe. F-15SE? Highly unlikely. PAK-FA? Never!!!

    Don – Silent Eagle is a stop gap. Saudi hasn’t ordered SEs, it has requested the same config as the Singaporean SG and Korean K. And don’t forget, Australia has selected but HASN’T ordered the JSF yet. Froma capability standpoint, I think the JSF is still the right answer, although the timing is getting worse for Australia which has to replace the bulk of its classic Hornets by 2018.

    Lucas – After 20 years of development Eurofighter has had a lot of issues and is still far from being sorted. More Super Hornets may be the answer if the RAAF IOC goes beyond 2018.


    Andrew McLaughlin

  • Benjamin King


    I was sure we have placed orders for 9 JSF’s?

  • Darren Reed


    The Williams Foundation made the case recently for the JSF using the F-111 case as precedent. Their argument was sound in the points raised, yet failed to adequately acknowledge developmental issues with the F-111 project. Ultimately the F-111 matured into a fine aircraft, as I believe the JSF will. However the option to lease/buy more F/A-18E/F’s should be seriously considered. With these aircraft in place we can assess the JSF free from time pressure. I still have reservations about a single type fleet (with as yet unforseen issues grounding the aircraft), and a single engine type at that. Granted modern engines have exceptional reliability, but not with a stray bird (or bullet) in it.

  • Jeff


    Should get the F111 up and back in servicce as quickly as possible before the skills and knowledge disapear.
    Its a joke we brought these outdated super hornets in the first place.
    I asked a pilot at the williams air show what there going to do with his 2000kg bomb he was standing next to when the f111 is retired as the super hornet cant carry it, as its to heavy.
    His reply dig a hole at wommera and berry it.
    Politics of government should stick to what there good at b.s

  • Michael Angelico


    The face of warfare is changing. It’s highly unlikely any any RAAF fighters are ever going to be called on to engage with other high tech fighters, so the stealth capabilities of the JSF are going to be pretty much wasted.

  • Mark Cooper


    I agree surely at 55mil a piece the super hornet is at least half as good as the lightning at 110 mil and rising by the day, and we could get twice as many starting right now.

  • eNaRGe


    @ Jeff….? The ‘outadated’ Super Hornet can’t carry 2000lb bomb?
    The F-111 has had it’s day. Old, unreliable and unable to work within a network.

    @Michael Angelico, while I agree that warfare is changing, I think it’s unwise to make your assumption.

    I’ve been suggesting for years replacing 75 sqdn with E model Super Hornets and spreading the remaining Classics between 3 and 77 sqdn (& 2 OCU) while 1 and 75 (& 6 OCU) share the Supers. By enlarging the available pool of Classics for those 2 squadrons, it should buy us a few more years until JSF matures.

  • Andrew McLaughlin


    Benjamin – No orders for JSFs have been placed by Australia. Government OK’d the acqusition of 14 aircraft last year and a contract is due to be signed in 2011.

    Jeff – The F-111 is over 40 years old and has had its day. All the bombs the F-111 can carry can be carried by the Super Hornet, so the ‘bomb’ you speak of is probably the AGM-142 missile which was on display at Williamtown. It would take many, MANY millions to integrate that weapon to the Super Hornet which already comes with a better weapon (JSOW) out of the box. Plus, it weighs 3500lbs, not 2000lbs, and thus cannot be carried on a Super Hornet pylon.

    Michael – better to be prepared, who knows what could happen in the next 40 years?

    Mark – I’m sure Boeing is thinking the same way as you are!


    Andrew McLaughlin

  • Peter Owen


    At the start, the F-35 JSF is a wrong aircraft for Australia since select in June 2002. The reason is the JSF will be inferior to the Russian, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malaysian Air Forces Su-30 Flanker series & later in the decade Sukhoi PAK-FA. Why?

    1. Lacks the range, missile payload, radar performance and especially supersonic performance to be effective in the strategic air defence role and with single engine puts lives of pilots at unnecessary risk in harsh conditions.

    2. The F-35 lacks agility and stealth performance to be effective in combat against the Su-30 Flanker series and has no ability to compete with the Sukhoi PAK-FA. This makes the the JSF ineffective in strategic air defence, if the fighter escorts are deployed and ineffective expeditionary campaigns where the opponent operates such fighters.

    3. The F-35 lacks stealth performance to penetrate modern air defence systems armed with weapons such as S-400, S-300PMU2 and HQ-9 and planned S-500, especially if these SAMS are supported by modern ”counter stealth” radars operating in the lower radar bands.

    4. The F-35 also lacks the payload and endurance to perform well, does not have the survivability for Close Air Support (CAS), and the CTOL variant demands long runways for operations, limiting choices in deployment sites.

    The F-35 is not a true 5th Generation Fighter. Why?

    1. Lacks supercruise

    2. Lacks High Agility Supersonic / Subsonic

    3. Lacks High Specific Excess Power

    4. Lacks Thrust Vectoring Control for enhanced agility

    5. Lacks Sidelooking ESA Apertures.

    6. Lacks Supersonic Weapons Delivery (Bomber Doors)

    7. Lacks Large Thrust to Weight Multi Engine Thrust Growth (Middling T/W. One engine little growth -1)

    8. Lacks High Altitude Ceiling at 45,000ft. Actually speaking, highter altitude adds potential energy to BVR missiles, which sends them further, while an enemy’s missiles must ”climb the hill”, severely reducing range. A second factor is that missiles fired from a highter altitude have less drag, again increasing range.

    9. The JSF APG-81 AESA range is short to medium. Not a long range.

    10. The JSF’s Pratt & Whitney F135 tubofan engine, will generate more heat (In full afterburner). This will make the opponent to detect the F-35 at the BVR range using the long range heat seeking missiles e.g (Long Burn 70 or 80 nm) R-27ET1 / AA-10 Alamo (Heat Seeking), (105 nm) RVV-AE-PD / AA-12 Adder Ramjet (Heat Seeking), and (30 nm) RVV-AE-PD / AA-12 Adder (Heat Seeking). Also the Su-30 Flanker variants will be armed with (215 nm) Novator R-172 Mod.2 (Active Radar) Anti AWACS & AEW&C ultra long range missiles.

    11. The JSF does’t have L-Band ESA Radar. The aircraft is stealthy for X-Band. The F-35 is only stealthy in the front aspect. No where as stealthy as the F-22 or the Sukhoi PAK-FA.

    Replacing the F-111 with F/A-18F Super Hornets as bridging gap for the arrival fo the JSF is a terrible mistake. Why?

    This dumbing down has resulted in a complete removal of Australia’s long range strike capability.

    Several Misinformation pushed by defence over the F-111 retirement.

    1. It isn’t survivable for future threats in the region. (False)

    This is an incredible claim when considered the following.

    Based on very limited statements that defence makes for this topic, Super Hornet and F-35 JSF won’t be survivable for future threats. Defence claims that the F-111 will have to be escort for strike missions. This depends what sort of mission. If an air campaign requires destroying enemy fighter aircraft this requires an air superiority fighter and stand-off weapons. Neither the Super Hornet, F-35 JSF and the rest of the small airframes with Low Capabilty e.g. F-16 Fighting Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and the F/A-18A through D model classic Hornets can qualify in this regard. Against advanced fighters being fielded into the Pacific Rim over the coming years, only large airframes with Higher Capability, only aircraft like the F-22 Raptor can qualify for this job. This aircraft has the ability to pick a fight on its own terms because it has speed (with fuel economy of supercrusie) to setup an attack or re-setup as needed. The F-22s subsonic super-manoeuvre capability carries over to Mach speed with quick Mach turns for the re-setup and to reduce no-escape zone (NEZ) of enemy missiles. The F-35 depends on narrow-band export friendly stealth technology, and the Super Hornet & the rest of the small airframes e.g. F-16 Fighting Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F/A-18A through D model classic Hornets & F-35 JSF will run down or bingo fuelled to a certain death. The only air superiority that Australian Defence Leadership is buying into is that of the enemy.

    ”Survivability” of the F-111 is something like this. It has growth room for numerous kinds of defensive avionics and modern weapons. For instance; defence cheerleaders of group-think state that the new aircraft that RAAF will be getting are networked. Big deal. The B-52 (older than the F-111) is networked with various technologies. There is enough space and power output to put any kind of network gear into the F-111 that you want for pennies on the dollar of gold-plated solutions. So on this topic, yet again, senior defence leadership is misleading our elected officials.

    Next, the F-111 can go down below the enemies ground based radar horizon when needed. It was designed for low level penetration. This kind of move burns fuel at a higher rate. Fuel that the Super-Hornet & Classic Hornet, F-35 JSF, F-16, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale won’t have.

    Speed on egress; the F-111 gets out of the launch or target area fast. Fast over time; again because of fuel capacity. Here again the Super Hornet & Classic Hornet, F-35, F-16, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale won’t have this kind of advantage.

    Electronic defensive jamming. Here, the Super Hornet has all aspect defensive jamming. The F-35 if naked to an adverse stealth event, only has limited–and over-hyped–in-band jamming of its radar in the forward sector. The F-111 could be fitted with any very defensive jamming gear one picks.

    Defence is taking a big risk with the overly expensive, troubled (and no longer affordable) AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile. They claim this will bring back long range strike. Yet they are currently fitting it to a fighter aircraft with the shortest range in its class; the legacy Hornet. Add that kind of drag on to the little Hornet and you are now yanking down range even more. The Super Hornet (SUU-79 pylons pointed outward 4 degrees) and F-35 won’t improve this ability much. Here again the F-111 is capable of carrying a wide variety of stand-off weapons over a much longer distance. JDAM-ER, JSOW, JASSM, AGM-84 Harpoon and AGM-84E SLAM-ER to name a few. Of interest, early evaluations of the GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) involved clearance studies from the F-111’s bomb bay. Clearing a wide variety of weapons for the F-111 brings a very good return on investment.

    Air refuelling resources are a factor in survivability. But the RAAF has invested in new air refuelling tankers, doesn’t this make things better? It depends. Defence leadership lies to the elected officials by stating that with refuelling the Super Hornet and F-35 (and even the classic Hornet with JASSM) will still give Australia long range strike ability. What they don’t state is that the F-111 has around a 1,000 mile radius with no tanking. Add tanking to the F-111 scenario and you have a much greater reach with less tanker resources. Also because of the F-111’s long legs, a force of F-111s can approach the target area (or release location for stand-off weapons) from any direction; North, South; East; West. Note; an amusing side note to this discussion is the idea that this loss of long range strike ability can be replaced by submarines and ships with cruise missiles. The answer to this silly argument is speed and response time and repeat sortie rate. How many cruise missiles can an aircraft type put on target in a few days time compared to a ship which is most likely no where near where it needs to be including no reloads?

    2. America got rid of the F-111 years ago; therefore this is part of a justification for Australia to get rid of the F-111.

    Weak. The U.S. got rid of the F-111 in a time when it was turning the B-1 bomber from the nuclear mission to the conventional-only mission. The U.S. didn’t loose long range strike ability. Premature removal of the F-111 from Australian service removes long range strike ability from the RAAF.

    3. The F-111 is too hard to maintain–along with the bonus lie of airframe fatigue. (False)

    Show someone that states that the F-111 is too costly to maintain or do engineering risk-management and I will show you a lazy person. On this topic, senior defence leadership is both physically and mentally lazy.

    The theory that the F-111 was at risk to wings breaking was an outright deception by senior defence leadership. The fact is, there are enough resources and material to keep the aircraft flying well into the 2020s. The articles in the news about the aircraft being a chemical risk to maintenance workers–for example the fuel system refurb debacle–shows again a defence senior leadership that is lazy and incompetent. All aircraft have maintenance hazards. Bad risk-management of these hazards compared to best-practices is again a result of poor leadership.

    If you can’t maintain (F-111) this aircraft for 38 man-hours per flying hour (or less), you have serious weakness in maintenance management and leadership skills.

    There’s no other aircraft that can replace the F-111. Despite its age. It’s still a very potent strike aircraft in this region. The F-111 should have been upgraded with glass cockpit (5th Generation features), new F-110-GE-129 engines, Radar Absorbment Materials in the air intakes, sensor fusion, new weapons, APG-80 AESA radar and the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) for the air crew. Over 200 mothballed airframes are in storage at Arizona desert can be refurbished and available to re-use.

    The Defence should have retired the F/A-18A/B Hornets early. Because they are too expensive to maintain, which causes high riskes & high maintance. The right aircraft to replace the Hornets are either the F-15E Strike Eagle variants or the F-22 Raptor. The Boeing Company should design the F-15F model, a single seat variant of the F-15E with multi-role capabilities & stealth technology, as an export variant for other countries to keep the production line beyond 2012 to provide an opportunity for new customers to purchase additional aircraft. As well as the F-15SE Silent Eagle.

    I just hope the Gillard Government & the Royal Australian Air Force wakes up to this.

    Just wasting money on inferiored, very expensive Super Hornets and F-35 JSFs. Not looking at any other aircraft options.

  • Peter – I’d be interested in what qualifies you to make these statements, especially the part about retaining the F-111 but retiring the F/A-18A/B because it’s “too expensive to maintain.”


    Andrew McLaughlin

  • Peter Owen


    AGM-158 JASSMs won’t help RAAF much.

    The Defence Department’s plan to equip the F/A-18A with joint air-to-surface stand off missiles (JASSMs) or similar small cruise missiles as a gap-filler to replace the F-111 is strategically unsound and will prove very expensive if war stocks are acquired.

    At the time Defence Minister Robert Hill in two press interviews said that “[new weapons for the F/A-18A] … will significantly increase the air forces capability and Surface-to-air threats have increased the importance of a stand-off missile capability for modern air forces to better ensure the survivability of aircraft”. The most likely candidate weapon is the stealthy AGM-158 JASSM, previously planned for the F-111. At a unit cost about US$400,000 each, the weapon is about 20 times the cost of a GBU-10 Paveway or GBU-31 JDAM smart bomb, is no more accurate, and has half the warhead size. The damage effect of an F-111 payload of four 2,000lb Paveways or JDAMs requires shooting no less than eight JASSMs, costing 40 times as much. The US plans to use JASSM as a niche weapon for destroying small, high-value heavily defended targets. It is not in tended to cheap, heavy guided bombs.

    Assertions that the additional 200 nautical mile range provided by JASSMs will off set the loss of the F-111 are nonsense. Cruise missiles fly in direct paths to the target to bypass defences and exploit terrain cover. A JASSM may provide as little as 100nm of stand-off range, once tactical flight path routing is factored in. Using a JASSM as a range extender misrepresents the design aims of a weapon, intended to allow aircraft to attack from outside the 100nm radius foot print of Russian S-300PMU-2 /S-400/S-300V mobile SAM systems.

    The argument that the F-111s survivability is in adequate is also nonsense. The F-111 can penetrate low and faster and use terrain-following radar at low to toss a JDAM or JDAM-ER from below the radar horizon of a SAM system. Survivability against SAMs is not an issue for the F-111. The biggest risk to RAAF strike aircraft is the Sukhoi Su-27/30/35 Flanker. With about three hours on station endurance 100nm out and the big N011/N011M radar, the Sukhois can detect a JASSM shooter at ranges similar to that of the JASSM itself. The issue then is whether the Sukhoi can success fully prosecutes an engagement and destroys the strike aircraft. The proposed JASSM armed AP-3C solution is non-viable.

    The interesting comparison is that of a JASSM-armed F-111 vs the F/A-18 family. On a long-range mission, the F/A-18 will not have the fuel to mix it with a Sukhoi; in any event the BVR shot advantage lies with the Sukhoi. So the best game plan is to exit once the JASSMs are fired. Against an F/A-18, the Sukhoi has the internal gas and speed advantage to run it down. Against the F-111 the opposite is true, as it can sustain a much higher speed longer to run the Sukhoi out of gas, in this game the F-111 is more survivable than the F/A-18 family, F-16, F-35 JSF, Eurofighter Typhoon & Dassault Rafale. The reality is that tanker-supported F/A-18 escorts would be flown to keep the Sukhois off the strike aircraft. If the F/A-18s are to fire the JASSMs, the tankers have to be shared between escorts and shooters, drastically cutting achievable weight of fire.

    With 200 mothballed F-111s in the US, the cost of filling a hangar with structural spares is cheap. The cost to Federal Cabinet of retaining the F-111 to 2020 is a small price to pay against the clear strategic risks arising from an effective halving of the RAAF’s punch.

  • Peter Owen


    The idea of retaining the F-111 because is it outperforms the small airframes e.g. F/A-18 family, F-35, F-16, Typhoon & Rafale in the strike bomber role. The F-111 carries much better ordnance load at 31,500Ib of weapons, the F-111s combat radius can fly more than 1,000 nm, ability to get to the target area as fast as possible and escaping out hostile air spaces at very low altitudes at 200ft using the TFR mode without fighter escort. For longer ferry range the F-111 can travel 3,215 nm without refuelling. The F-111 can deliver more punch than the F/A-18 family and other aircraft, except for the F-15E variants.

    Larger airframes ( e.g. F-14, F-15, F-22, & F-111 ) are more robust than the smaller airframes is because they have more airframe hours and upgrading these aircraft with more than 10,000hrs. F/A-18A through D model Hornets have a airframe hours 6,000hrs which has already expired and upgrading the Hornets is very expensive. Is because their airframes are worn out, due to their agility etc.

    Lack of range which the Hornets carry 3 external tanks and relying air-to-air fuelling from the tanker. Can’t carry enough weapons, thus relying more F-18s to strike targets at long range with AGM-158 JASSMs.

    F/A-18 family, F-35 JSF, F-16 Fighting Falcon, Typhoon and the Rafale will be outclassed by the Su-30 Flanker series and the upcoming Sukhoi PAK-FA. Why? Because the Flankers have much better weapons being mentioned earlier, equipped with 2D or 3D thrust vectoring, which really give the Flankers much greater agility during close in dogfights and dodging the air-to-air missiles using the cobra techniques. Improved radar performance at more than 140 nm detection range at BVR, flies higher at over 50,000ft, much better range at 3,888 nm etc.

    This is why the F-22 Raptor or the F-15 Strike Eagle variants is a better replacement for the F/A-18A/Bs and keeping the F-111s to 2020+ will cost around $12 billion. This is a saving to the Australian taxpayer of some $10 billion. They are very capable of doing job better, and suited to our needs than the Super Hornet and the JSF.

    Why the F-22 over the F-35 JSF.

    1. F-22A carries twice as many Air-to-Air missiles as the F-35A.

    2. In combat; the F-22A is flown at almost twice the altitude and twice the speed of the F-35A. This increases the range of the F-22A’s Air-to-Air missiles by almost 40 percent, increasing lethality, while it doubles the range of guided bombs like the JDAM.

    3. The higher speed of the F-22A vs the F-35A allows it to control twice the area, when targets are mobile and time sensitive. In such situations, a single F-22A can do the same work as two F-35As.

    4. F-22A is much more lethal than the F-35A. It is also much more survivable than the F-35A.

    5. F-22A provides around three times more capability than the F-35A, yet costs only around 23% more per unit.

    6. At the moment, the F-22 is currently in production, yet the planned Initial Operational Capability for the F-35A is 2016 or later,and this is at the Block 3 configuration level, with the prospect of further schedule slippages with commensurate increases in cost.

    Twin engine aircraft is the most needed.

    1. For safety and better power and performance. Thus for over water operations for maritime strike.

    2. Single engine aircraft are the biggest risks for over water operations. Why? The RAAF at the time had 116 Mirage IIIO and IIID aircraft, 41 aircraft have being written off.

  • Peter Owen


    I have no formal qualifications. I’ve spoken to people, who are enthusiast of Military Aircraft. I read various up to date literature on Military Aircraft.

  • eNaRGe


    I’d think this was Carlo Kopp, but I saw no mention of super-cruise conversions to the F-111 supported by 747 tankers, so it can’t be 🙂

    The RAAF, Govenrment and DSTO have all seen more detailed and confidential information on the JSF than any of us could imagine. They seem to think, after numerous reviews, that’s it’s the right aircraft. What makes you think you know better, aside from ‘speaking to people’?

    Also, the F-22 can’t be exported and you want the RAAF to foot the bill to develop the ‘F-15F’? But I’m sure you’re right, the Classics are too expensive…..developing a brand new type isn’t though.

    Typical Pig-Mafia drivel

  • Peter Owen


    Well the APA have all seen more detailed and confidential information on the JSF. The JSF is still the wrong aircraft for Australia. Small airframes will never compete against the Sukhoi Flankers and the PAK-FA.

  • Peter Owen


    Yes. It will be great to see Boeing Corporation from St Louis to develop the single seat F-15F Strike Eagle variant with the same capabilities as the F-15SE version as an export type. So there for, extend the production line beyond 2012 to provide the opportunity for new customers to purchase additional aircraft.

  • Peter Owen


    I saw the information about the F-111 upgrade option about supercruise conversion to the F-111 strike force. Again no other aircraft except the F-15E variants can replace the F-111. They should have been updated since 11 years ago. Thus we wouldn’t have this problem.

  • Peter Owen


    Several retired fighter pilots claims the F-111 shouldn’t be retired.

  • Peter Owen


    Its only the larger airframes with high capability can qualify for this job not the F/A-18 family, F-35 JSF, F-16, Typhoon & Rafale. The F/A-18A/B Hornets should’ve been retired early, since they’ve aged in 1998.

    Look the Classic Hornets have severed this country well since been in sevice with the RAAF in May 1985, but they’ve past the airframe life 6,000hrs and of course its very expensive to maintain, high cost & high risk. To me the Americans shouldn’t banned the F-22 export, that aircraft is still needed.

  • Peter Owen


    1. Single engine is not very survivable for over water operations and elsewhere.

    2. Longer range without refuelling is needed over 3,000 nm, as well as AGM-158 JASSM for standoff strike.

    3. Much better performance (Mach 2.5) to get to the target area as fast as possible and to escape the fight fast. As well as high altitude, adds potential energy to BVR missiles, which sends them further, while an enemy’s missiles must ”climb the hill”, severely reducing range. A second factor is that missiles fired from a highter altitude have less drag, again increasing range. Being Mach 1.6, too slow you get chased down by the enemy by escaping out of the fight.

    4. More ordnance load to carry x8 or x12 air-to-air missiles for BVR and WVR as well as laser guided and high explosive bombs is needed.

  • D!L@NJ@N


    Australia should have a combination of a variety of aircraft. It is wrong to believe that one airframe (F-35 JSF) can complete all aerial tasks to the highest standard. Frankly, the range of the aircraft is too small for Australia as we are a large country and our air to air refueling capabilites will not be adequate enough to keep the aircraft flying for the prolonged periods we need it to. Australia should keep and obtain proven aircraft like the Super Hornets and F-15 Eagle (100+ kills to 0 losses in air to air combat).

    1. Super Hornets x 30 – great ground attack capabilities and adequate air to air ability and also has reduced RCS

    2. F 15 SE (Silent Eagle) x 30 – excellent air to air ability, proven ground attack qualities, has great range and also has reduced RCS (almost 5th gen)

    3. F 35 (JSF) x 40 – technologically superior and stealthier to most current and projected aircraft, has the ability to be upgraded significantly if need be and also has stealth

    Having these 3 airframes in the RAAF will give us significant advantage over our neighbour’s (Sukois). It will cover all of our needs in air to air and ground attack combat. The F-15 and F-18 are reliable and combat tested aircraft against a variety of russian built aircraft. The F-35 will be a great all round aircraft as the tactics in aerial warfare is changing as we have already seen most engagements occur from BVR.


  • Peter Owen


    I’ll never call the F-35 JSF a technologically superior and stealthier to most current and projected aircraft.

    Single engine is a old habit, puts lives of pilots at unnecessary risk in harsh conditions. Not very survivable.

    The JSF doesn’t have L-Band ESA Radar. The aircraft is stealthy for X-Band. The F-35 is only stealthy in the front aspect. No where as stealthy as the F-22 or the Sukhoi PAK-FA.

    The JSF’s Pratt & Whitney F135 tubofan engine, will generate more heat signature (In full afterburner). This will make the opponent to detect the F-35 at the BVR range using the long range heat seeking missiles e.g (Long Burn 70 or 80 nm) R-27ET1 / AA-10 Alamo (Heat Seeking), (105 nm) RVV-AE-PD / AA-12 Adder Ramjet (Heat Seeking), and (30 nm) RVV-AE-PD / AA-12 Adder (Heat Seeking).

    Also what the western air forces and the Government, don’t realise is that the Su-30 Flanker variants will be armed with (215 nm) Novator R-172 Mod.2 (Active Radar) Anti AWACS & AEW&C ultra long range missiles.

    You got a great point there about the F-15SE Silent Eagle, should be about x 85 – with excellent air-to-air capability, proven ground attack qualities, has great range and also has reduced RCS (almost 5th gen).

    The F-15 Eagle and Strike Eagle is my top favourite air superiority and multi-role fighter.

    The Boeing Company from St Louis should design the F-15F model, a single seat variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle with multi-role capabilities & stealth features, AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120C/D AMRAAM, JDAMs, AGM-154 JSOWs, AGM-158 JASSMs, GBU-12, GBU-15 Laser Guided Bombs with Sniper XR and AAQ-13 navigation pod with TFR sensor and IRST sensor for air-to-air detection for BVR.

    (F-15F Strike Eagle or Silent Eagle a single seat variant) An export variant for other countries to keep the production line beyond 2012 to provide an opportunity for new customers to purchase additional aircraft. As well as the F-15SE Silent Eagle.

    The F/A-18 Super Hornet has got positive and negative side about its characteristics. Why? For example.

    the positive side about the Super Hornet:

    1. More internal fuel at 14,500Ibs for the E model and the F model at 13,600Ibs than the Classic Hornets internal fuel at 10,860Ibs

    2. Fantastic Digital Avionics

    3. Carry a little bit ordnance load at 17,700Ibs than the Classic Hornets load at 17,000Ibs

    4. Twin engines for safety

    The negative side about the Super Hornet:

    1. Poor turning capability at heavy weight at 66,000Ibs

    2. No Acceleration. Top Speed Mach 1.6, will get chased down by the Sukhoi Flankers

    3. Lower Thrust to Weight Ratio

    4. The Super Hornets APG-79 AESAs range is 160 nm very similar to the JSFs APG-81 AESAs range at 150 nm detection range. Lack of range of short to medium. Which is still inferior.

  • Andrew McLaughlin


    Peter – that’s enough thanks…you’ve totally monopolised what was once an interesting conversation. Seeing as you can offer no more than being an enthusiast and having talked to enthusiasts, let’s give someone else a go please.

  • Peter Owen


    Ok, you’re right Andrew. I’ve monopolised the same info. I’ll let someone else have there own info. Yes I realise you like my interesting opinion.

    Cheers Pete.

  • Peter Owen


    One more info.

    Refusing to sell the F-22A Raptor to allies is an insult that will also harm American interests, by killing production and closing American options.

    Thats all for now.


  • James Mitchell


    I still think the RAAF should still have a look at F 15 silient eagle, you have to admit, it is a great aircraft.

  • Peter


    @ eNaRGe – For those who claim the F/A-18 can temporarily fulfil both roles into this uncertain future, then I
    simply say, think again! The F/A-18 fleet cannot currently meet its peacetime fighter availability
    requirements and further costly structural and enhancement programs will diminish this
    availability even further.

    Especially the Super Hornet as a bridging gap, will not survive in a fight now in our region – now, right now. Not another five years down the track, 10 years down the track. It’s a Super Dog, but certainly not a Super Hornet. The sting in the tail is certainely not there.

    Whether the JSF is actually cheaper than the F-22 is irrelevant; the JSF won’t be capable of doing the job in our nearer and wider regions awash with advanced Russian fighters and Chinese fighters and thus cannot guarantee regional air superiority. Now with the Chinese J-20 Black Eagle prototype which rolled out of Chengdu facility on 22nd December 2010 and first flew 11th January 2011, is far superior to the American fighters. This aircraft is basically a lot more stealthy than the JSF, will fly faster and higher, be more agile with thrust vectoring nozzles and it can carry more weapons internally. This J-20 has been designed to compete with and defeat the F-22. They haven’t even bothered with the JSF, and why would it?

    One should not be surprised that the F-22 is superior, despite the type not for sale. Many of its electronic systems are identical or superior to the JSF including electronic warfare and networking data links, also the F-22 has two engines, thereby more electrical power and electronic cooling capacity, greater radar
    aperture, more thrust to weight ratio, less supersonic drag, more manoeuvrability, super-cruise (which
    enhances both engagements of, and escape from, known threats), superior stealth technology and
    a similar ability to carry and release precision munitions. Given this open-sourced information
    has been public knowledge since the late 1990s, then why has the F-22 been roundly and
    consistently rejected by the Department as a potential contender for at least the last six years?

    For the moment F-22 is in production and will cease next year in 2012 and in operational service providing unsurpassed levels of air defence and strike deliverables.

    The fundamental point must be that no matter how many JSFs are procured, if the aircraft
    cannot guarantee control of the regional battlespace at a time and place of our choosing, then
    what utility does it have for this nation’s defence? Can the JSF or other smaller airframes (Super Hornet, Typhoon, Rafale and F-16) assert dominance over the Su-27,Su-30 Flanker variants, T-50 PAK-FA and J-20 Black Eagle? The very clear answer is no.

    If Defence does not rethink in a timely, objective and coherent way their current plans, they should take them out, put them in the stocks and pillory them.

    But for the moment, it’s too early to draw conclusions about (J-20) its stealth capability, but I can say it looks like the F-22 in the front section and MiG 1.44 demonstrator at the aft section and potentially has—when fully developed —that kind of performance. I’m sure sooner or later down the track during its flight testing, at some stage the J-20 will demonstrate its AESA platform etc.

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