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RAAF’s ‘Plan Jericho’ to break down barriers to realising F-35’s full potential

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 30, 2014

Lockheed Martin's F-35 mockup wearing RAAF roundels and with a RAAF Hornet in the background. (Paul Sadler)
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 mockup wearing RAAF roundels and with a RAAF Hornet in the background. (Paul Sadler)

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown has launched an ambitious plan to achieve new levels of efficiency and operational flexibility in the RAAF and broader ADF to maximise the potential offered by the fifth generation F-35 and other new capabilities into the future.

In a speech at a Williams Foundation dinner attended by high-level ADF personnel and industry executives in Canberra on May 29, CAF launched the RAAF’s ‘Plan Jericho’, an effort to knock down entrenched cultural and procedural walls in order to achieve greater capability outcomes from the capabilities offered by the F-35 and platforms like the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and the Navy’s forthcoming air warfare destroyers.

“We named it Jericho for a couple of reasons,” AIRMSHL Brown explained. “There is the biblical reason, but more so the appeal of the name for me was the Allied operation by 464 Squadron into France where they knocked down the walls of a Gestapo prison to free the French resistance ­– breaking down the walls was central to the success of Operation Jericho. Breaking down the walls, breaking down the stovepipes of Defence is central if we are actually going to realise the full capability of fifth gen capabilities.”

CAF asked attendees to adopt a fifth generation culture of interoperability where Defence and industry can work together to remove unnecessary processes and shorten capability development times, and encouraged the audience to look for new and innovative ways of operating new and upgraded capabilities.

“My appeal here is we need industry help with the development of this plan. There’s a lot of great technology being developed out there and I think it is essential that we actually partner with the industrial players here so we can maximise the potential of that fifth generation Air Force,” AIRMSHL Brown said.


“For industry you need to consider how to work with us, not just on a platform basis and not just in terms of an RFT, we need help with the intellectual horsepower in terms of thinking through how we actually maximise those fifth generation capabilities.

“If we don’t break down those stovepipes and walls that exist I think we will be fundamentally missing a great opportunity.”

CAF cited LtCol David ‘Chip’ Berke, an experienced US Marine Corps F-35B and F/A-18 pilot, who spoke at a recent Williams Foundation seminar on introducing the F-35 into RAAF service, in warning not to consider the F-35 as just a “replacement” aircraft for the F/A-18.

“The F-35 doesn’t replace anything…,” LtCol Berke said. “If you look at the F-35 as a replacement to the Hornet or Super Hornet you will undermine from day one, the real capability of the airplane. It does not replace anything, it is unique, it is revolutionary… Legacy aircraft are tactical platforms and make tactical decisions and fly tactical missions that impact the overall strategic objective. I believe there is a requirement to view the F-35 as a platform that can operate across the spectrum from tactical to strategic or anywhere in between as required.”

Said CAF: “Chip has highlighted a key opportunity: can RAAF, and more so the ADF, transform the way we fight?”

As an example of what not to do, CAF recalled his own experience of converting from the digital classic Hornet to the post-AUP F-111C where, despite being upgraded with GPS/INS digital navigation instruments, F-111 crews continued to fly missions using analogue way-point techniques.

“We can be often constrained by previous mindsets,” CAF said.

“Right now,” he warned, “I feel I am flying that digital F-111, and nobody is showing me exactly what we can achieve.”

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Comments (14)

  • William Reid


    I think the RAAF should try a bring a F-35 to Avalon to show the public if it’s worth it or not.

  • William Reid


    I forgot to add, I think the advance super hornet will do a better job than the F-35. The classics can get replaced by the E model with the option of upgrading to the advance.

  • Raymond


    Sorry to inform you William Reid, but you’re too late… 72 F-35’s have already been ordered for the RAAF (so far).

    To say the Advanced Super Hornet is better than the F-35 is nonsense. Excuse the cliche, but the Lightning is a game-changer for the warfighter. Get past the drivel of the F-35 naysayers and read up on the reality.

    Finally, have just a little bit of faith that the USAF, USN and USMC, the RAF / RN, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore (likely), South Korea and Turkey as well as Australia aren’t all a bunch of morons spending billions upon billions on something inferior and risking their respective air power and national security for decades. If that formidable and respectable list of customers hasn’t made an impression, please read it again.

    I do agree however, that there should be an F-35 at Avalon 2015 considering we are a partner nation, have committed to a good number now, and the UK will have had the privilege this July.

  • Serge


    Hats off to Dogbiscuit on this initiative. The change required is seismic and very difficult to achieve without cutting off the heads of the hydra. Our nation needs this more than anything else right now. Good luck DB.

  • Richard


    Oh-oh, the blunts wont like this one.

  • paul davis


    By 2025 we will be sick of the 35 at airshows.No 35 for Avalon next year,but u would bet your house it will be there in 2017.

  • Gerald Casimatis


    Well written Raymond, I don’t understand why people can’t see the obvious advantage of having the F 35 and conceivably even more versatile F 35 B in our future armory.
    We are gradually leaving the conspicuous, brute, fast jet age and are slowly entering the era of versatile stealth, smart weapons and learning the many applications in which they and UAVs can be interlaced and applied. Its a new beginning and just like some kept their muskets too long and others thought biplanes and horses couldn’t be replaced we have to eventually accept that all our current weapons will cease to be relevant.

    Cheers Gerald.

  • JollyRogers


    The faith on the Super hornet and Adv Super hornet by its fanboys is incredible. RAAF asides every air fore that has considered it has found it inferior to other offerings. RAAF will also use it as a stop gap before the full force of F-35 arrives (late). The F-35 has been chosen by partner nations, all three US services and by foreign customers in Japan, South Korea, Israel and Singapore. The Super hornet and especially the advanced super hornet by NO ONE.

  • Alex


    I think the point we are missing here is that the super hornet and associated variants are complimentary to the F-35. The F-18’s can refuel other aircraft, be upgraded to be the worlds premier electronic attack aircraft and are able to fly further that the F-35 safely over oceans with two engines and could operate off US aircraft carriers. The USN’s concept of operations involves a mix of F-35, F-18 and EA/18G if war broke out as unlikely it could be Australia could operate 100 JSF Either all A models or with the 4th squadron as B models, up to 24 EA/18G if we upgrade the pre-wired aircraft and operate 12-24 FA18F which would still be very useful in many roles. The ability to choose to upgrade retain mothball or retire/sell the F18F’s and the decision on the 4th squadron of F35 means we can tailor the level of air power we project between 72 planes to 136 aircraft.

  • The Road Runner


    One advantage of JSF is,its a ….
    *(ISR) intelligence ,surveillance and reconnaissance asset.
    *Its also a multi role fighter/bomber.

    Most Air Forces would have a number of different platforms for ISR and fighter/bomber’s.
    These would all have different doctrine,training ,logistics and parts holdings.
    If they were to go to War a strike package would be needed of different plane/parts and pilots.

    You can see how JSF would end up being superior if all this is taken into account.
    Less planes(JSF) needed to do more with all being able to share this info with one another.

  • Darren


    Perhaps the one thing that annoys me most in this debate is the firmly entrenched belief on both sides of the the debate. Advocates of the Hornet/Superhornet fail to see the advanced features of the F-35, while the F-35 camp ignore the inherent flaws in the aircraft that are well documented. It can not be denied that the F-35 had the specifications written down to meet the aircraft performance. Also the use of stealth is overrated by many in the F-35 club. However the real advantage of the F-35 is its incredible software fusing of information and ability to share that information. Perhaps THE force multiplier of force multipliers. And this is the issue too. Currently it is a potential yet to be realised. Software and the development of this is by admission by the head of the program the single biggest risk. So the biggest advantage, is currently their biggest problem. There is no shame in leasing more Superhornets (as was done with F-4/F-111) while remaining committed to a fully functional F-35, not an interim training jet. It also gives us purchase in the multi year buy for all aircraft, and thus best value for money. Finally the ‘B’ version is not a good idea in my opinion. Less range, less ‘G’, less weapons, more complex and more spares. RAF/RN and USMC have no choice – there simply isn’t anything else. My heart say yes, but my head says no. If only others could acknowledge the faults of their respective arguments so obvious when examining the facts they would arrive at a reality that the F-35 is far from perfect, but about the best on the market (that is politically acceptable), yet is still in need of development to fulfill its promise.

  • BH


    @ Darren. You make a very good point.
    It’s the proposed situational awareness where the F35 will come into it’s own. Stealth, however, is beatable and people need to be aware of this. A lot of people see the F35 as a failure because of it’s various performance limitations, but I think it was designed with a for a kind of warfare that has been evolving where agility etc is no longer as important as awareness.
    On you’re point about the F35B, I think there is a place for it if the Governments policies are changed to advocate a force projection model.
    Yes it does have a shorter range and lower G rating, however given that it is able to be deployed on a mobile platform that can position it’s self at or near a front line then range does not matter as much.
    If it is a force projection model that the Government is aiming for then a capability such as the F35B is the most capable and flexible of it’s kind. In the end it all depends on what defence model Government decides on in the upcoming White Paper.

  • Seesure


    Please don’t give the politicians the idea we need ‘force projection’. While the F-35A is probably the best fit of the available replacements for the legacy hornets, they are turning out to be much more expensive than anticipated. Hopefully the life cycle costs will not blowout as has the purchase price. Refitting our brand new (and very expensive and unnecessary) LHDs to accommodate F-35Bs would be a ridiculous waste of money and resources. Hopefully as the story indicates the F-35As will be used with new tactics to gain the most benefit out of this very capable platform, although I’m not sure we have enough smarts in the top brass to do it right.

  • Raymond


    Seesure – don’t underestimate our people in ADF uniform, even more so that we have the US to lean on.

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