Delay JSF purchase – Williams Foundation

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 31, 2011
The Williams Foundation is calling for Australia's F-35 JSF acquisition to be delayed.

The independent Australian airpower thinktank the Williams Foundation has called for Australia’s acquisition of the F-35 JSF to be delayed to allow the aircraft to mature, in light of recent news that IOC (initial operating capability) for the US Air Force may now be as late as 2018.

“In the Williams Foundation’s judgment, it would be sensible to wait and see what happens with the F-35, while simultaneously investigating the cost of capability issues involved in maintaining the classic Hornet beyond 2020,” the organisation says in a statement. “An interim force structure based on Vigilair, JORN, Wedgetail, MRTT, AP-3C, C-17, 24 Super Hornets, and up to 71 classic Hornets would still be world-class for the next decade.”

The foundation cites Australia’s experience with the F-111, delivery of which was delayed five years due to technical problems, as showing why the JSF acquisition should be delayed.

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“This experience suggests that there could be very good reasons for Australia to delay delivery of the F-35 until the production line is mature,” the Foundation notes in its media statement, which is titled “Holding our Nerve, Hedging our Bets”.

“The issue is: what action is required to ensure that any further delays in an F-35 IOC do not result in a capability gap? The question is too important to be left unanswered.”

Still, the Williams Foundation continues to strongly endorse the F-35 as Australia’s future air combat capability.

“A fleet of F-35s would give Australia an unsurpassed ability to shape and control events in our region.”

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The Williams Foundation is chaired by former Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Errol McCormack, while its members include several high profile retired senior Air Force officers.

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27 Comments

  • GI Zhou

    says:

    At the 2002 Mitchell Lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the then USAF Secretary Roche said that by 2007 the engine and airframe of the JSF would be integrated. Forward to 2011, the integration problems have seen the F35B engine development put on hold for two years. No one can agree on the costing, the aircraft is as heavy as a F-4E with the same manoueuvrability, very poor transonic thrust and has signature issues with the exhaust. Have we bought a lemon?. Air Power Australia has been right all identifying the engineering issues and the cost blow outs. Given that many of the Williams Foundation would have been involved in its acquisition process are they now having second thoughts?

  • George Ribarich

    says:

    With the ever growing capability of long range stand off missiles and unmanned (armed) aircraft, as well as the very potent 4.5 type generation Super Hornet, Australian air capability requisition thinktanks should seriously consider a larger acquisition of these over the next decade or two leading up to 2030. Particularly with the high purchasing power of our AUD.
    “A good time to shop and stock up.”
    The JSF needs to prove itself and a later purchase in the mid 2020’s for a later block version would ensure Australia’s pride and place as the best “small airforce” in the world as it does so currently, with a far more capable aircraft than any sub 5 type generation aircraft in the multirole variant class will be at that time.
    Even with our regional neighbours obtaining generation 5 type aircraft over the next decade or so, by the mid 2020’s the JSF would have a much greater capability over these up and coming 5th generation types, having resolved many techincal obstacles and vastly improved upon it’s own capabilities by this time.
    Let’s no throw in the towel on the JSF, but use a sensible and non economically bias approach for what is the best “Bang for the Buck” we can get while we wait patiently for a good aircraft to become a great aircraft.

  • GI Zhou

    says:

    George do you realise the F35 will not be able to carry stand off munitions with sufficient warhead size to deal with many hardened targets? The Super Hornet is no better either unless we pay for the weapons clearance. We are tied into buying US munitions and must hope we are allowed to get the better warheads and that that they will be cleared for the F35. The F35 has a small angled off-centre internal weapons bay which may preclude the use of some ordnance let alone outside ordnance that the F-111 could carry. It is its range/payload which is the issue coupled with its lack of speed to allow high speed visual interception and its poor loiter time.

  • Frank

    says:

    When the RAAF JSF is retired, I think there will be “Controversy to Cutting edge” on the JSF but we don’t even know if it will be cutting edge!

  • George Ribarich

    says:

    Mr GI
    Just a few errors in your comments. Firstly, Australia has not committed to the F35B variant so should not be concerned with the delays encountered with that program. Secondly, standoff missiles can be launched by other means other than through the use of aircraft eg: submarines which the RAN is currently looking to acquire very soon, if not already. Thirdly, future high tech combat in the skies will not be won with which aircraft has the highest speed, endurance or most ordanance but will clearly be won with the best integrated battle networked systems. The scenarios that you have porported to are obsolete and that sort of aerial combat of “visual interception” is long gone. Put it this way, if you have to visually intercept an opponent in this modern world, it will be too late for you. The issue is that people are being fed misinformation for whatever reason from different sources regarding the capabilities of the JSF, not to mention the sheer superhuman efforts of overseas nations to develop so called “superior” aircraft to the JSF or even the Super Hornet in far less time it has taken the USA. I think most people get taken in by the propaganda. As an ex RAAF, I can happily sleep at night with the knowledge of the capabilities of my fellow military colleagues and their aircraft.

  • Peter

    says:

    George Ribarich – Future high tech combat in the skies will still be won with which an aircraft has the highest speed, endurance, long range AESA radars, BVR AAMs, higher ordnance load and with integrated battle networked systems. An aircraft that has no range, lack of endurance, poor acceleration, poor manoueuvrability, single engine, etc will not survive, by just relying BVR AAMs, stand-off JASSM’s, EWSP jammer and short to medium range AESA radars definately won’t help at all. Large airframes with higher capability is the answer to Australia’s needs not the small airframes.

    Whether the JSF is actually cheaper than the F-22 or other aircraft is irrelevant; the JSF’s design is so flawed, its obselete and won’t perform as aspected to be promised as a 5th Generation. Can the JSF or other small airframes assert dominance over Su-27, Su-30 Flanker variants, upcoming T-50 PAK-FA and the J-20 Black Eagle? The very clear answer is no.

  • George

    says:

    Peter, like your predecessor Mr GI, you are only talking about the technical requirements of a capable air force, what about the personnel? Yes, would be great to have an air superiority fighter like the F22 but it does not have ground support/attack capability. It’s not a multirole aircraft. Strategically, Australia does not need a long endurance aircraft anyway. Unless we are looking to invade another nation which will never happen. We only need the capability to protect our natural assets and borders with any potential threat having to bring the fight to our shores from very long distances, thanks to our geographical advantage of long distances. With the numerous airfields around our northern approaches, this is more than adequate to meet this threat. Please understand Australia’s needs are very different to those of other nations and focus is apon taking advantage of these geographical distances. A foreign power can attempt long range attacks upon Australia with new 5th or 6th generation aircraft for that matter, but it will be at the very extreme edge of their capabilities and vulnerable to regional air, sea and ground defended. Look at history and what happened during the battle of Britain when a foreign power attempted to establish air superiority with far more capable aircraft at the extreme edge of their capabilities. The real question is, do you go with the scaremongering or go with the overall framework of Australia’s unique requirements and facts? The answer you’ll find is the latter.

  • Peter

    says:

    George – Please understand that Australia really needs to focus on Air Superiority, instead of just a Ground Attack. The RAAF still needs a large airframe, twin-engine aircraft, long range endurance etc. Look at the total differences between the F-22 and the F-35 specifications. So Why does the Government, Defence Department, RAAF, US Congress and the Pentagon claim the JSF is a true 5th Generation Fighter. Really?

    F-22 Raptor

    1. Large Thrust to Weight Multi Engine Thrust Growth; 2 Engines Large Growth (0)

    2. High Combat Ceiling (> 7 deg/sec turn rate, sustained) > 55 ft (0)

    3. Super Cruise; > Mach 1.8 (0)

    4. High Agility Supersonic / Subsonic; Yes (0)

    5. High Specific Excess Power; Yes (0)

    6. Sidelooking ESA Apertures; Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW) (0)

    7. Very Low Observable Stealth / Low Observables; All Aspect, Wideband (+1)

    8. Internal Fuel and External Fuel: 36,515 lb / 15,866 lb Ext (4 x 592 USG) / 20,650 lb Total

    9. Internal Bombload (Stealth Configuration) 8 x GBU-39/B SDB

    10. External Payload Limit (4 Pylons); Internal Weapon Carriage Hard Point Stations; Yes 6 + 2 (0)

    11. APG-77 AESA detection range: 200 nm High Power Aperture (+1)

    F-35A Lightning JSF

    1. Large Thrust to Weight Multi Engine Thrust Growth; Middling T/W One Engine Little Growth (-1)

    2. High Specific Excess Power – Ps: No (-1)

    3. Thrust Vectoring Control – TVC: No (-1)

    4. Sidelooking ESA Apertures: No (-1)

    5. Supersonic Weapons Delivery: No (Bomber Doors) (-1)

    6. APG-81 AESA detection range: Approx 145 nm Medium Power Aperture (0)

    7. Internal Fuel and External Fuel: 18,000 lb Int / 5,672 lb Ext (2 x 430 USG) / 23,672 lb Total

    8. External Payload Limit is 2 x 5 lb, 2 x 2.5 lb

    9. Internal Weapon Carriage Hard Point Stations: Yes 4 (0)

    10. High Combat Ceiling: (> 7 deg/sec turn rate, sustained) No < 45 ft (-1)

    11. Super Cruise: No (-1)

    Why is the F-22 the best strategic choice for Australia to replace its F/A-18A/B Hornets?

    1. Capability: The F-22A is over twice as capable as alternatives, including the F-35
    Joint Strike Fighter, in most roles. In some roles it is four or more times as capable.

    2. Strategic Position: The F-22A is the only aircraft which has the capability to
    decisively defeat superior numbers of advanced Russian / Chinese fighters in the region.

    3. Regional Independence and Credibility: The F-22A confers exceptional capability
    and thus credibility to the ADF in the region, reducing Australia’s dependency on US
    forces.

    4. Value for Money: The F-22A has so much more capability than any other alternative,
    that it is the best value for money buy in the market.

    5. Better Life Cycle Growth Capability: The F-22A is a large aircraft with greater
    system growth potential than any alternative.

    6. Longevity and Return on Investment: The F-22A will remain effective and thus
    strategically credible much longer than any alternative.

    7. Low Technical and Financial Risk: The F-22A is a known commodity that is
    in production and operational today, unlike the Joint Strike Fighter.

    8. Clearly Defined Schedule: Acquiring the F-22A in the 2008-2012 time window
    allows the replacement of the F/A-18A/B HUG earlier with no capability gap.

  • George

    says:

    Peter – Sorry, but that is like saying you buy a Ferrari to drive down to the local supermarket to get a loaf of bread but is nice to know you can get there and back really fast. Seriously, you need to look from “outside the square” at our own country’s requirements, location, budget, personnel, maintenance requirements across multi-type airframes and strategies and not just in technical capability facts and figures.
    Agree with you that the F22 is a great air superiority theatre aircraft, but as I mentioned earlier, unless we want to project that power forward, such as the USA does with their current foreign policy requirements, we would be buying limousines to do a taxi job.
    I’m sure that as we speak, there are secret aircraft development activities in pilotless drones, 6th gen fighters etc… that we don’t as yet know about that will become available from the USA or European developers in the not too distant future. Mind you it would take a bit of political lobbying for these nations to release such technologies to Australia.
    Do you really think these nations are just sitting back and letting other nations catch up before they go back to the drawing board or look to improve/modify the F35 and F22? I don’t think so.
    Peter, here’s a funny option as a friend of mine mentioned recently, “let’s just buy Russian or Chinese aircraft then”…I laughed of course, but an interesting prospect.

  • Ron

    says:

    My 2 cents worth:

    I’ve long held the view that the Williams Foundation is just a Lockheed Martin lobby group, keeping the F35 at the front & centre of the Australian Government’s & the aviation media’s attention, & making sure the Super Hornet stays out of it as much as possible. They openly admit that LM is a major supporter / sponsor of their organisation. I’ve even written to Aust Aviation Magazine & suggested they used the words ” ADVERTISING FEATURE ” on any Williams Foundation article they publish.

    The fact that they now suggest waiting is therefore interesting, as it leaves the door wide open for Govt to say “bugger it, the classic Hornets won’t last that long, lets go buy another 75 Supers & save a couple of billion bucks in the process!”

    I really dont see the harm in having 100 off-the-shelf Supers, with delivery commencing immediately, to form the backbone of the fleet for the next 15-20 yrs, with 24 mature F-35’s picked up post 2025 to be the elite “send them in first to kick the door down for the other guys to follow” package.

    As to the above arguements that all future air combat will all be beyond visual range, that was proved wrong back in the 60’s. They built the F-4 Phantom on the premise of medium range missiles (probably not quite BVR) doing all the work & didn’t bother with a gun, which seemed “so 1950’s”. Problem is, the rules of engagement meant they had to see the red star on the plane before they could shoot at it, & by then the Sparrows were useless & the sidewinders either missed or didn’t work half the time (I’m generalising of course). With the agility of a house brick & no gun, the F-4 was stuffed.

    There’s no point wishing for the F-22. It’s not for sale to ANY ally so just get over it.

    And let’s not forget why we bought the Hornet back in the 80’s in the first place. Rejecting the F-15 wasn’t about cost. It was about rejecting the notion that we “had to have the biggest & the best” so as not to antagonise our neighbours. Leave “Force Projection” to the Americans. And the F-16 was a great plane but (at the time) was purely a fighter (no multi-role) & also seen as having one engine too few (after a spate of Mirage crashes due to engine failures). The Classic Hornet was the middle ground. It seems both these lines of wisdom have been lost if all we’re looking at is the F-22 or F-35 respectively.

  • George

    says:

    Ron
    The F22 is being touted around aviation circles as having an export version being made available (a low spec version by the sounds of it) if asked for.
    Which apparently the Japanese government had but I have not heard what has happened to that request. Probably still pending congressional senate approval.
    Agree, in the interim the Super Hornet is a fantastic aircraft and 100 of these would be ideal I believe. Later, as I mentioned right back in my earlier comment, around 2025 when the F35 has matured and more potent versions have been developed to counter other 5th generation regional threats (if any), Australia should purchase a couple of squadrons and training versions (24 to 30 aircraft) to act as spearhead front line aircraft.
    Who knows what will happen or how decisions are made. It’s interesting to see how politics and business mix to the benefit of not the Australian public with their hard earned tax dollars, but of the financial benefits of a small few.

  • Peter

    says:

    George – When the F/A-18A/B Hornet was acquired it was the most capable fighter in the region. The Classic Hornet has been a fantastic jet. Until the acquisition of Russian designed Sukhoi Su-27SK and Su-30MK series fighters by most regional nations now presents an environment where the F/A-18A/B/F is outclassed in all key performance parameters by widely available fighters. With the remaining fatigue life in Australia’s F/A-18A/B fleet to expire over this decade, a costly $3.9 billion program to replace fuselage centre barrels has been initiated to stretch the life of these aircraft. APG-73 radar, avionics, electronic warfare, guided weapon and missile upgrades.

    To me the Super Hornet isn’t a best aircraft for the F-111 replacement, its wrongly chosen for the bridging capability gap at the first place.

    Ever since the original F/A-18 buy where the RAAF chose the aircraft back on 21st October 1981, when they could have had half of fleet of F-15C/D’s, they seem set on the buy latest gen but 2nd Tier procurement line for the Mirage replacement at the time.

    a) The Defence Department could’ve change their mind on the F-35 given how controversial it’s been & how much weight each subsequent government has thrown behind it. Or another option.

    b) When you mentioned to me earlier that the RAAF needs a multi-role type, of the aircraft the RAAF are considering, the F-15E has all these characteristics, and has proven them in combat. In Kosovo, Persian Gulf, Iraq and recently in Afghanistan, the F-15E showed its ability to actually do what others can only promise. The Government should purchase the aircraft that provides all it needs, even though that isn’t in the 5th Gen class.

    Not only is the F-15E is better able to evade detection than any other fighter, but its combat record proves that the F-15E is more survivable than any other fighter. Advanced APG-82 radar, electronic warfare and self-protection systems, along with extreme manoueuvrability, ability to exceed twice the speed of sound and excellent weapons provide the F-15E with first-look, first shoot and first-hit capability.

    It is important to note that none of the FX aircraft have the very low radar, infrared, acoustic and visual signatures to qualify technically as “stealth” aircraft. For example, carrying weapons or fuel tanks under the wings, as each FX aircraft does, reduces the ability to avoid radar detection. With such external carriage, an aircraft must be able to detect and attack before being detected. Despite the airframe being a 1968 design, the F-15E is extremely capable in this area. The F-15 is still in production and available. Its a crown jewel.

    Australia should be the Eagle country.

  • George Ribarich

    says:

    Seriously guys, by the time Australia gets to a point where the powers that be make a decision, the technology available will have far surpased that of any F18 Superhornet, F15 Eagle, PAK FA, J20 or even the F35 and F22, so at least we may out of shear good fortune in timing, be able to purchase technology be it aircraft, lazers, robots whatever…that is leading edge. We can jump up down as much as we want and write letters until the cows come home to have the decision makers listen to reason. Forget it! It’s not going to happen! The RAAF, RAN and Army will have to get by with whatever equipment they are given to fight with. That’s how it was when I served and I’m sure that’s how it will always be. As I said before, a fighting force is more than just it’s equipment, I’ve seen it with my own eyes how technology can let you down but I have seen how a well trained group of servicemen and women can work through adversity and defeat technology far superior. It’s the Aussie way, and we’re damn good at it 🙂

  • Ron

    says:

    George, last thing I heard Japan was denied the F-22, & the US is in no hurry to fund the much-talked-off “dumbed down” version. Anybody who wants it might have to fund it themselves. The money that would cost could buy 200 Supers! Completely agree with the rest of your comments.

  • John Thompson

    says:

    I am now wondering why our defence forces have not looked into the possibilities
    of UAVs as I imagine the money spent on the cost of one jet would buy many UAVs.
    Australia would need to train more pilots but probably not to as a high standard
    as jet pilots.
    Australia has been at war now since the end of the second world war and I think
    the only deployment of combat aircraft was 77 squadron in Korea. Although the
    transport area of the Air Force do a very good job.
    I’m an ordinary citizen who saw the F111s do fly pasts on Anzac Days and that
    was all that they seemed to do.
    So to me it seems a waste of money to buy jets when UAVs will soon be the way of
    future.

    of the future.

  • George

    says:

    John
    Absolutely!… Speaking as someone with first hand experience both in the RAAF and in the civillian aircraft industry, the future will open many opportunities that are not available today, even from any future potential threats to Australia (which is highly unlikely by the way) air superiority fighters like the F22 or the older F15’s are an overkill let alone the extremely high maintenance expense to keep these high tech aircraft flying and the purchase price. There is a possibility of very high tech “stealthy” UAV’s that can do a very effective mutli purpose role in the not to distant future, probably in the next decade. Yes the F111’s were great to watch but too much emphasis was placed on their so called “deterent” capability, particularly within the last decade or so. It’s like I mentioned in an earlier comment above, it’s like having a Porsche in the garage and using it to go down to the local deli to buy a carton of milk every once in a while, nice to know you have it there if you next want to outrun a police car but highly unlikely that such an event is ever going to happen.
    However, a mix of UAV’s and piloted jets would still be advisable as like I also mentioned above, technology can and will let you down and human intervention is definitely required. I think the amount of taxpayer money being spent on the NBN is a waste, considering the very little benefit it will bring to the overall GDP. Would have been better spent on giving Australian taxpayers and our servicemen and women the access to better, more modern equipment across all the three services.
    Mmmmmmmm, business and politics in aquisition thinktanks that decide our national security I feel is not a good idea at all. Particularly ex servicemen or women whom have potentially vested or underlying agendas in their decisioning. It needs to be done by individuals completely independant by such influences.
    Anyway, I miss the “Pigs” too John

  • Frank

    says:

    Electronic warfare UAV’S would be the way to go! Soon EW may be able to take control over an enemy aircraft, without the use of missiles.

  • Peter

    says:

    George – The fact is that the JSF is a dog in all multi-role capabilities. Its too heavy and sluggish to be successful as an air superiority fighter in aerodynamic terms. The JSF will be extremely useless, is because it can’t turn, its flammable and vulnerable to any gun fire. The stealth doesn’t work, the stealth is total delusion. The JSF is 50 times worse which cannot perform close air support. Wrong replacement for the F-111 fleet which cannot perform long range strike and low level TFR. How can this JSF survive without agility, acceleration, long range and missile payload to be able to defeat SAMs and enemy aircraft. By just relying EW systems, APG-81 AESA, BVR and cruise missiles as stand off. Its totally unreliable, can’t survive, the pilots will be horrified with this inferior aircraft and goes to show that ALL the Air Forces, Navy and Marine Corp will be totally ruined. Its a Baby Seal, is because the JSF doesn’t perform well and it looks like one.

    Single engine a.k.a not surviable and risks for land and overwater operations. You’ll be a dead duck with any single engine aircraft

    With very high cost – uncertainties in total numbers will persist until at least 2015. Remains in development in difficulties in performance, weight, and cooling capacity PLUS significant software and system integration challenges. Potential for significant variations in capability, cost and schedule timelines with high likelihood of current risk materialising and further risks arising e.g. software problems, partners leaving program, Congressional intercession. Again unsuited for bomber and cruise missile defence, due to limited endurance, limited missile payload and limited supersonic speed.

    By the way the F-22 and F-15 are not expensive to buy and maintain. Large airframes have far more potential than small airframes which are expensive to buy and maintain. Small airframes are designed to be used for light threats and large airframes are designed for high threat environment. I understand that the RAAF needs better equipment. To me, with my own eyes the Government and the RAAF should not participated the F-35A JSF project at the first place, certainly not even the model of the STOVL and CV variants and buying the Super Hornet which is not needed as a bridging gap and upgrading the Classic Hornets at the very costly rate. All these billions of dollars are going to be wasted down the drain with useless inferior equipment. Its the most damning way and very nasty mistake to operate the air force like that. The JSF is a failed project and the order must be cancelled straight away.

  • Peter

    says:

    George- For example If I was a best fighter pilot. When the JSF becomes operational until 2018 or later, I certainly don’t have the confidence of transitioning to this aircraft at all, or not even the Super Hornet with the same useless characteristics. Because all in the region, that there are proliferating Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 Flanker family, upcoming T-50 PAK-FA and Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle and scattered SA-10 and SA-21 SAMs and AAAs on the ground. I’ll be outclassed, with no endurance, limited missile payload, lack of acceleration, short range APG-81 AESA and no agility to able to defeat the opponents and missiles. These red forces will beat the blue force JSF and other small airframes that cannot compete with the very capable red forces out their while flexing there muzzles.

  • Bob Brinkley

    says:

    From day one, all the talk about the JSF has consistently and conveniently glossed over the irrebuttable fundamental that a single engine combat aircraft doesn’t work for Australia. While engine reliability is unquestionably better than the Mirage days (order of magnitude plus plus), even a super reliable 21st century engine can’t survive a bidstrike. The operational histories of the Mirage, Sabre, F-111 and Classic Hornet (and PC-9) in the Australian operating environment surely tell us that we must have two engines.

    So while we can debate all the other capabilities that we might need in this important acquisition, we are kidding ourselves if we think that a single engine will cut it. I think we are also trying to fool the taxpayer who would understand the extra expense of two engines if the magnitude of scale worked in our favour which it inevitably would. I won’t even get into the other real world engine issues of battle damage, compressor stalls, turbines that explode etc etc.

    You might get by gliding home with no engine in Europe or the US but not in Australia or indeed where we perceive we may need to put these aircraft in time of conflict e.g. ranging out considerable distances from our bases with tanker support. While I don’t pretend to have an answer on which platform should be selected I am confident that a single engine solution is not logical for Australia nor morally justified given the expenses involved.

    Bob

  • Alex

    says:

    I think the clear solution is to buy a small number of F22 which delivers a high capability at a low cost due to low airframes purchased and then to fill the rest out with f-35s, Basically the exact same structure of the US only smaller, which allows all aircraft to perform in each role but some to excell more than others, Also take into consideration the difference that a f-22/f-35 mix would make as the f-22’s would act as a force multiplyer to the f-35’s and vice versa. For example the US will have ~170 F22 and about 2000 F35 we could have say 24 f22 and 72 F35. Additionally I am a firm supporter of buying the f-35b model which is still an option when we consider purchasing our fourth squadron as we either upgrade our f-18f’s to ea18’s or withraw them in 2020. They are much more versatile and would make planning against australian forces especially hard as we could now place air power any where past our approaches in significant numbers without air to air refeuling (which can only support low numbers of Aircraft) off our LHD’s. We have allready invested in ships which are stovl capable, we are allready going to invest in f-35s so why not make them stovl. the flexability would allow us to increase our fleet air defence range when needed, provide support for amphibious arrangements or still operate as conventional fighters from bases when not needed in an expeditionary or naval role, there is allot of benifit for minimal investment with no reduction in capability, we have allready paid 90% of the costs to operate stovl aircraft, we have commited to stovl capable ships, weve commited to f-35 maintenenece and infrastructure, the only additional costs would be the difference in price between the variants a/c, the cost of modifying the lhd’s for stovl aircraft and the cost of the 20% of parts that would be different accross the airframes as they are 80% common. At the moment the majority of conflicts do not require high end Air superiority fighters the us are acheiveing air sup with f-18s and f-15s also fifth genoration fighers will not be feilded by anyone near enough to australia in numbers enough to threaten our airsuperiority, it doesent matter if china has 1000 j20’s if they can only get 20 of them to australia with the lack of refueling aircraft they have when we have 100 f-35 with many combat multiplyers (737 awac, vigilare ertc) or even f-22/ drones…. sorry about the rant i could say allot more but there definately is a case for f-22 in aus, but we cannot afford high numbers (at 250-300m a pop (the current low estimate due to the cost of restarting the line) (25-30billion without sustainment…) but even if we bought 24 i would hate to come accross a squadron with 6 f-22’s and 18 f-25s, in any case and we could feild four Squadrons of those within budget.

  • Reggie

    says:

    Why is no one considering the Sukhoi, are we locked into buying all of our aircraft from the US ?

    Having a few SU 35 may be an interesting venture, and give 1st hand insight into their capabilities.

    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Su-35S-Flanker.html

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