AT WHAT COST? The classic Hornet fleet’s life can be extended, but at significant cost due to increases in sustainment costs that could outweigh the savings in deferring the F-35’s acquisition. (Paul Sadler)

Managing fighter gaps

Two new reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) were quietly released in September, both dealing with the potentially significant issue of an air combat capability gap between the ‘classic’ F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet and the introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-35.

Audit Reports Nos. 5 and 6 of 2012-13, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet Fleet Upgrades and Sustainment and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Acquisition, respectively, tell the story of a “challenging” transition between the fleets to ensure a capability gap does not open.

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