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Fourth JSF SQN highlights DCP update

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 19, 2010

The updated DCP details F-35 acquisition plans.

A number of new air related project phases have been included in the latest update to the Defence Capability Plan (DCP), released by Defence Minister Stephen Smith on December 17, including acquisition of a fourth squadron of F-35 JSFs, a ‘multi-mission’ UAS, and upgrades to the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and Tiger ARH helicopter.

Update 2 of the 2009 DCP returns to a 10 year planning horizon, and hence sees the incorporation of longer term projects such as a mid-life upgrade program for the Wedgetail AEW&C platform, but also introduces the Sea 5000 Next Generation Combatant program to acquire eight frigates to replace the Navy’s existing Anzac class vessels, and Land 159 to replace small arms such as the Austeyr rifle.

Most significant of the newly listed air related projects is Air 6000 Phase 2C, to acquire an undefined number F-35 JSFs for a fourth operational squadron.

“The decision to acquire the fourth operational JSF squadron will be considered in conjunction with a decision on the withdrawal of the F/A-18F Super Hornet in the 2015-16 to 2017-19 timeframe,” the DCP notes. Delivery of these aircraft would not occur until the FY2021-22 to FY2026-27 timeframe, with IOC over the same period.

Under the DCP, first F-35 deliveries to the RAAF are still scheduled for 2014, with an IOC of 2018. Fourteen F-35s are to be acquired under Air 6000 Phase 2A/B Phase 1, with approval to acquire “at least” a further 58 under due in the 2012-13 financial year. The first 10 F-35s will stay in the US “for some time as part of the initial JSF pilot training scheme”. The next four F-35s are due in Australia in 2017, the DCP says, “to commence dedicated Australian operational test activities, primarily to ensure effective integration with other ADF air and ground systems.”

The DCP affirms plans to acquire “up to” 100 F-35s for the RAAF in all.

The DCP for the first time also lists Air 6000 Phase 3 to acquire “the JSF’s initial principal strike weapon, the Small Diameter Bomb” plus 25mm gun ammunition and possibly dispensable countermeasures; plus Air 6000 Phase 5 to acquire within and beyond visual range air-to-air missiles for the F-35 and Super Hornet, presumably the AIM-9X and AIM-120.


Another new project is JP 3023 to acquire a maritime strike weapon for the F-35. “Such weapons are likely to have long range, be fully network-enabled, be low observable, have their own sensors, be interoperable with Australia’s allies, and are also likely to have a high level of utility against well-defended fixed and mobile targets on the land,” the DCP observes. Delivery would be from early next decade.

Long held plans to acquire a high altitude long endurance Multi-Mission Unmanned Aircraft System (MUAS) have also been defined in the DCP under Air 7000 Phase 1B. Up to seven MUASs would be delivered in the FY2022-23 to FY2023-24 timeframe. These will complement the eight Boeing P-8 Poseidons expected to be acquired under Air 7000 Phase 1A for delivery from FY2017-18 to FY2019-20 in replacing the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion fleet.

Interestingly, despite a push from within and outside the ADF to consolidate them, under the DCP the various ADF pilot and aircrew training projects – Air 5428, Air 9000 Phase 7 and Air 5232 – remain independent of each other.


Other new air projects in the DCP are Air 87 Phase 3 – Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Upgrade; Air 5077 Phase 5A Combined Test Environment & Phase 5B Mid-Life Update for the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft; and Air 5333 Phase 2 Vigilare upgrade.

In all the updated DCP contains 150 projects and phases worth $140 billion in 2010 dollars. It can be viewed and downloaded here.

Comments (9)

  • Peter


    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is NOT a Substitute for the F-22 Raptor

    The widely held view in Western bureaucratic circles, that the F-22 and F-35 are interchangeable aircraft, is not true and can never be true. The F-22 provides close to three times the capability of the F-35 at a similar unit procurement cost. The F-35 lacks the performance of the F-22, the survivability of the F-22, the firepower of the F-22, and the deployability of the F-22 etc. The limitations of the F-35 are inherent in its basic design and cannot be fixed by design modifications or upgrades. Poorly defined basic specifications for the F-35 and inadequate prototyping have resulted in an expensive aircraft which cannot be used in combat situations other than benign, requires support by a lot of F-22 Raptors and aerial tankers, and requires long concrete runways for overseas deployments.

    With single engine; if something goes wrong with that engine you have to shut down the whole F-35 fleet.

    Australia has entirely different operational needs, as most roles involve long range or long endurance missions over the sea air gap. While modern engines are very reliable, the loss of the engine over water guarantees the loss of the JSF, and also requires that the Navy commit search and rescue assets to support any operational deployment of JSFs.

    The Governments decision to acquire 100 JSFs and not asking the US for an export model of the F-22, or acquiring the F-15SE Silent Eagle, the RAAF will be ineffective for the next 30 to 40 years.

  • Steve


    Get over it Peter. The F-22 is largely a one dimensional( air-air) aircraft, limited at the moment to dropping JDAMS. The SDB may be fitted under current plans as will mapping radar modes – borrowed form the F-35 – but that does not give it anywhere near a capable strike capability. An SDB is not VLO and can be knocked down by any half decent CRAM.

    In 2006 the USAF advised that the F-22 had demonstrated its Radius of Action of 415nm (about that of an F-18A) of which only 50nm was at its much touted super-cruise. Great for Japan or Israel perhaps with their much closer threats but hardly suitable for the continental and oceanic distances facing Oz.

  • James Mitchell


    Hey peter, do you know that the F 22 is not for sale, america has said that so many times i have lost count.

  • Peter


    Steve – The Raptor or the Strike Eagle variants is suitable for the continental & oceanic distances not the small airframes (F-35 JSF, Super Hornet, F-16, Typhoon & Rafale)… again single engine not suitable etc. You know Australia had 116 Mirage IIIO & IIIDs, well 41 were written off due to the engine failure.

  • Peter


    Steve – Even though the Raptor is largely a one dimensional( air-to-air) aircraft with limited strike capability, the F-22 has been the subject of intensive yet always dishonest criticism in Australia, most often through misrepresentations of the aircraft’s diverse capabilities, its applicability to Australia’s needs and its affordability.

  • SpudmanWP


    Um, in case you missed it:

    1. The F-22 has a shorter range than the F-35. The F-22 would need a tanker before the F-35 would. The F-22 also requires a longer runway than the F-35.

    2. It has no IRST/FLIR so it cannot do a positive ID on a target and cannot use laser guided munitions.

    3. The F-22 cannot carry a 2000 lb weapon (internally or externally) which means no bunker busters, cruise missiles and no anti-ship missiles. The F-22 can carry exactly 4 weapons (AIM-9, AIM-120, SDB, 1k JDAM).

    4. The F-22 cannot carry the HARM.

    5. Any engine trouble that grounds the F-35 fleet would also ground the F-22 fleet. Just because teh F-22 has two engines does not mean that they would let it fly if there were serious issues with the engine.

    6. The F-22 costs twice as much as a F-35.

    7. Last but not least… IT’S NOT FOR SALE 😉

    Seriously, stop drinking the APA Koolaid.

  • Peter


    SpudmanWP – I strongly disagree with your or any JSF advocates statement, the Raptor doesn’t have a short range. From what I found from the information is that the F-22 has more internal fuel, more range than the JSF etc, again even though the F-22 has limited strike capability its irrelevant. In case YOU have missed it: Remember single engine is the most terrible, very dangerous and too vulnerable for any combat aircraft. All fighter pilots are going to be horrified when it fails and flying like a glider and dropping like a stone. It will happen on my watch at anytime. The JSF costs twice as much as a F-22, NOW at US$1 Triilion which is not very affordable. Seriously, why don’t you go on the APA and find out for yourself. High capability large fighters are characterised by the best aerodynamic performance as possible from the technology base, as well as the most powerful radars and other sensors available, much better missile payload and long range endurance etc. This trend has existed since the Great War and has always seen major powers push the envelope of technology to provide the most capable designs achieve. AGAIN the JSF is the wrong aircraft for Australia. Why don’t you and JSF advocates stop drinking this pathetic rumours.

  • Peter


    SpudmanWP & JSF advocates – The fact is that JSF will never fulfill its mission at all. Its not designed to perform air superiority roles. Even though it does perform that role, its too overweight, heavy and sluggish, due to the fuselage which has too much cross section and the wings that are tiny which doesn’t provide enough lift and drag, the airframe is too thinned skinned, which means that the 22mm bullet from the rifle or any gun fire can very easily penetrate the JSF’s engine that causes the engine to catch on fire and creates an blow torch, with fuel circulating around the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine. Certainly the JSF is not well adapted to perform the long strike roles either, due to a very pittiful missile payload, no long range endurance and no acceleration. Look, it does have some wonderful systems with touch screen cockpit features, but the shape of the airframe design itself is so wrong and very controversial. As I said again, small airframes like the JSF & Super Hornet (with inferior speed, agility), Typhoon, Rafale and the Gripen are not designed for heavily defended airspaces with small missile payload, low power sensors and radars, lack of long range endurance to able to strike at the combat radius of 1,000 nm or more. You can’t have an combat aircraft that anything relies only EWSP jammer, short to medium range AESA radars, BVR and cruise missiles as stand off and straight level. You’ll be a dead duck. Ask yourself. Why is the large airframes needed for Australia? Is because they have the best aerodynamic performance as possible from the technology base. As well as the most powerful long range AESA radars, EWSP jammer and other sensors available, with much better missile payload and long range endurance etc which is very important for Australia’s needs. Seriously, this is the reason why the JSF is a wrong warplane, is you’re putting all pilots at a huge risk that cannot compete with the Russian/Chinese fighters and SAM systems proliferating in the region, the JSF is copping so many difficulties in performance, weight and cooling capacity, plus significant software and system integration problems and major cost overruns. Why should Australia deserve to be partners with Lockheed Martin, to join up on the most pathetic JSF program or paper plane? It’s definately going to ruin the RAAF, the pilots will fly worse, they’ll get less training, which is certainly the most important aspect to train combat pilots, they’ll be far less pilots is because the whole force will have to shrink. And you’re just having a show piece that the RAAF can’t do anything. In the next 30 to 40 years the RAAF will be ineffective. Thanks to the Howard Government that joined up the pittiful Baby Seal program in June 2002, wasting billions of dollars on the taxpayers money, that has NO practical use against any modern new generation fighter coming to arc interest to our north. I reckon the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Tom Burbage and the colleagues are the biggest liers and cons to believe that the JSF is protending to be affordable, stealthy and true 5th Generation aircraft.

    You & JSF advocates think the F-35 is suppose to be a follow up on the retired F-111 in the long range strike? It’s the most laughable thing I ever heard. The JSF is totally incapable, even more incapable than the F-111 in long range strike. The F-111 as much as I’m very proud of this wonderful aircraft. And the JSF is 50 times worse in long range strike. Is because the JSF is so much easier to shoot down, so much more flammable etc. It doesn’t have an ability to stay and wait over the battlefield, until the situation develops when is needed, with no loiter time with huge fuel flow very inefficient. Its hopeless and doesn’t have any weapons to do that. Wrong replacement for the F-111. The JSF is a dog.

  • Peter


    To all JSF advocates – If anything is heard down the track, about the JSF getting shot down by the Russians/Chinese or any foe out their and if something goes wrong with the engine or any of its systems etc. I mean seriously you have to ground the entire fleet. This will affect the entire aircrews wherever they’re deployed for any mission they are up against. Who to blame? The Federal Government and the RAAF. Which they are very responsible for the entire stuff up they’ve created for joining up the pathetic JSF program. With billions of dollars going down the drain. I have trouble prenouncing the word the F-35 “Lightning”, is because the lightning bolts in the aircraft is certainly not there, perhaps the new nickname called “Baby Seal” but certainly not the Lightning.

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