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F-35: wise spending of our dollars?

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F-35: wise spending of our dollars?

Old 22nd Jul 2018, 17:08
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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With a combat radius of about 1400 kms you can't even reach Bali from Darwin.......................... Ambon - yes

It's a lot of money to spend on something with short legs IMHO
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Old 22nd Jul 2018, 21:39
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Bit odd for us to be calling for alternate options when we’re already committed to the aircraft, particularly when we’ve already accepted deliveries. Either way, the horse has well and truly bolted - unless the voting public completely loses the plot and votes in the Greens I daresay we will eventually exercise all our options and wind up receiving 100 F35s.
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Old 22nd Jul 2018, 22:30
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Many years ago I read in one the Jane's books on military strategy that the obvious thing for China to do in the future would be to invade Australia. We need a strong military.
One might want to read, Professor Clive Hamilton's book "Silent Invasion". This book details the Chinese 'influence' already apparent in the antipodes. It was dropped by two publishers (wonder why) before being published.
Grubs like Sam Dastyari, given refuge from a supposedly tyrannical regime, promptly sold out his protector and he wasn't the only one....

The Chinese didn't need to fire a bullet.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 01:59
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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"Si vis pacem, para bellum" If you want peace, prepare for war. This quote has been around for a long time. The Latin version comes from a text written in 4th century. 1000 years earlier, Plato had similar advice.

Similarly if you want war, assume peace.

The F35 is not designed to dogfight. Form follows function. Three important forms of the F35 are
Reasonably stealthy
An impressive sensor suite
An advanced date link to share information (bidirectional) to create unprecedented battle space awareness. Note Lockheed is prime contractor for F35 and also SBIRS (space based IR system). SBIRS scans the Earths surface every 10 seconds. It was almost certainly SIBRS that tracked the missile that shot down MH17. It has been rumoured that SBIRs can track jet exhaust - certainly the US has been working on this capability for decades (Project SLOW WALKER if interested - http://xbradtc2.com/2015/01/02/the-b...t-slow-walker/. )

Anyway, the F35 is not designed to dogfight, and it is not designed to operate alone. It is designed to operate with other assets such as missile frigates and other aircraft. So one capability (demonstrated in recent exercises) is for the F35 is to provide information to a (possibly coalition) missile frigate - both initial target selection plus en route guidance. All while remaining invisible.

Back at the time the Aust government went with the F35 (2002, 9/11, War on Terror), it seemed a safe bet that our military would always be operating with the USA. So inter-operability with US assets was seen as an advantage. This is still likely to be true, although we are living in less certain times.

There were several compromises with F35
1. Multiple versions to share development costs over a larger base of future customers
2. Single engine to keep size and cost down

There were no valid contenders.
The F22 is not for export sale.
Other US aircraft were obsolete (yes, Canada can probably get by with legacy F18 and rely on USA, but Australia is in a different situation).
Europe doesn't have anything 5th generation. 10 5th generation aircraft in development, not one of them Eurpean
China and Russia didn't seem particularly reliable sources of our future fighters

So what other choice was there?
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 04:28
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Heathrow Harry View Post
With a combat radius of about 1400 kms you can't even reach Bali from Darwin.......................... Ambon - yes

It's a lot of money to spend on something with short legs IMHO
Which is why we have air to air refuelling assets - ones with booms.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 04:46
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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[QUOTE=aviation_enthus;10203015]First off a comment on Carlo Kopp. I would agree that he had an incredible bias for the F-111, it was pretty clear he thought that was the one and only solution to Australia's problems. [/QUOTE]

Copp and Goon were pushing the F111 barrow because they thought that their proposal to government to modernise the F111's should have been taken more seriously. It involved turfing out the TF33's to fit modern F110's etc, new digital avionics etc. Better availability, faster, less fuel use, longer range (take your pick) less maintenance etc. When you start having a cold hard look at what they were proposing for the 'Superpig' (because it theoretically would supercruise on dry thrust) - essentially it was almost a complete redesign of not only the structure but everything in or on the airframe. And if you thought the amount of money spent on the F-35's was a lot - can you imagine tthe cost of having to go it alone converting and certifying 24 airframes to this standard. General Dynamics (is it even still around) would turn pale at the idea let alone the risk of spending lots and then realising it was not possible. There were all sorts of other questions around fatigue, lack of 5th gen stealthy characteristics etc. Way too much risk, super slim margin of reward and costs through the roof. It didn't stop Copp and Goon from spreading the largest amount of disinformation and negative publicity about the F35 in order to advance their cause though.

Its funny, of course its probably easy for the critics to point the the basic kinematic performance of the airframe and scream that its not as fast as an F-104 Starfighter from the 1950's etc etc. What people who know, the people who develop and fly the aircraft cannot say for obvious security reasons is that it has technical advances that make these basic kinematic deficiencies moot (at least - that's the bet that it does). Its either the most expensive case of the 'Kings new clothes' or it will do what is says on the box. The fact that the security of the West is dependant on its success, and the results from Red Flag seem to indicate its a better bet than the critcs whinge about.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 04:53
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Kudos to the RAAF, they have built towards the most capable air force for its size in the world, coming ahead in leaps and bounds over the last decade and a bit. There has been a deliberate Douhet like investment in airpower by government, and if it wasn't for the failures of naval procurement in the 90's, I'd suggest there would be a lot more confidence in the ADF in meeting high end warfare threats regionally. Yes, the F35 is the biggest piece of the jigsaw puzzle at the moment, but if it delivers, with the rest of the RAAF's advanced capabilities, Australia is well placed to face current and emerging threats in the region. It is also structured to make meaningful contributions to allied expeditionary operations, where and when, we decide to spread democracy to dysfunctional regions of the world. ;-)

One area of vulnerability facing Australia, is a RAAF so capable, adversaries in whatever shape or form, look toward asymmetric warfare. It would be a mistake not to assume China would look at vulnerabilities as diverse as cyber warfare, bases, tankers, fuel etc.

The cliche references to WW2 and the F35 are actually in favour of current RAAF strategy. Though the links tenuous, if you go back to the late thirties and Australia's disastrous strategic position, consider the RAAF now. If it were 1939 instead of Wirraways in Darwin, the RAAF is at the revolutionary forefront of technology and demonstrated capability. I know more than silly but I'd like to knock the endless comparisons to WW2 and where the RAAF is positioned now!


5th Generation F35 fighter- equivalent of having RAAF Spitfires whereas in 1939 were defenceless.

Mature 4th and 4 1/2th generation fighters- Kittyhawks in numbers in 1941 would have blooded more Japanese landings and air strikes.

Current, highly trained and tactically developmental RAAF aircrew, with combat experience- Luftwaffe and Japanese pilots ( in Spain and China ) were blooded and primed for the application of advanced air combat for the day. If RAAF crews were so trained and equipped many areas of early WW2 would have been less unfavourable.

Advanced radar and ISR platforms, fixed and airborne- radar was decisive in the Pacific littoral and the UK, adversaries that had ignored the capability paid dearly. We see this now, many mid-size air forces have not anywhere near the capabilities the RAAF is operating or investing in.

Electronic Warfare Growler etc- I'd put this in the catgory of the most advanced and decisive capability equivalents at the start and throughout WW2. The RAAF is at the pinnacle of capability and had no such foresight in government in the 1930's.

Anti-shipping warfare is a decisive capability for Australia with Super Hornets and Growlers, P8's and information linking to the navy. And an eventual longer range stealthy missile, making a maritime encounter between anyone other than the USN, a likely unsuccessful battle for potential adversaries- in WW2 our doctrine still believed in the battleship that left our troops stranded in Singapore. The modern RAAF has the capability with SH, stealth ( F35 evolving ) and Growler to drive naval engagements regionally sub-surface only - as a RAND study predicts, for instance, war in the South China Sea would end up sub-surface after a week as submarine and airborne stealth sink surface combatants.

The last decade or so tend to demonstrate a RAAF leadership at the forefront of airpower development relevant to Australia's defence- WW2 was a poor reflection on the RAAF at the senior levels.

There is no useful WW2 comparisons to the RAAF, which on paper is forging itself toward capabilities and doctrine far beyond our eve of disaster in 1939. There was a period of time where the F111, with upgraded weapons systems, offered an amazing capability. But really, nowadays, it's range would just mean it would fly a long way unescorted to get shot down! It can't fly from say Butterworth to attack the Parcel Islands without a complex package of support - its sobering when chatting to co-pilots ( whilst flying over the Chinese island bases ), who are not long off operations on Tornados and Mirages in the Mid East and Africa and them reflecting on adversary SAM capabilities ( the ones perched on the Parcels ).

It's time to move on from Wirraways and F111. The F35 is here.

Last edited by Gnadenburg; 23rd Jul 2018 at 05:46.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 05:37
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Gnadenburg, MK1, stop talking so much sense you lot.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 07:12
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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You're right up to a point - there isn't a lot of choice now or even on the horizon

The weak link in any F-35 deployment is likely to be the tankers and bases TBH - how close to the front line can you operate the former and how do you stop the enemy disrupting the latter.........
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 08:31
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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The words you are looking for HH are air superiority. No different now to what was required 100 years ago.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 09:42
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Heathrow Harry View Post
The weak link in any F-35 deployment is likely to be the tankers and bases TBH - how close to the front line can you operate the former and how do you stop the enemy disrupting the latter.........
Depends who you are fighting or embedded with?

The highest risk to escorted tankers would be Chinese long-range stealth aviation developed for this scenario. This capability is close to China unless they secure airbases in the Pacific. This is what's fascinating now. Elements of War Plan Orange are as relevant today as they were in the early 1900's. It's a race ( China replacing Japan ) to secure influence in different areas of Asia and the Pacific to gain or deny military installations. The RAND studies place major tanking limitations for operations centred out of Guam in say a scenario whereby the PLA blockades the South China Sea.

The loss of the Luzon bases pivotal to any South China Sea campaign. And only on reflection does it look like this was the first major stakes play at political interference by China whereby local Filipino politics was driven toward long term strategic goals for China. So thirty years ago this was playing out and the West has been napping.

For the RAAF, they seem well placed for even the most capable threats projected or operating in our immediate region. If the Chinese navy is more frequent a visitor to our region than the USN in upcoming years, our whole defence policy is on its ear.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 14:37
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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For the less educated and there seems plenty responding that are educated in this subject matter, for a country with the landmass and shoreline size of Australia, why do we don’t have a carrier/s capable of transporting and launching these assets? It seems to be the obvious fix to range issue.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 15:24
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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There are many reasons why carriers aren't a good idea. The cost of an off the shelf carrier strike force is perhaps $70 Billion with a running cost of 3-4 billion/year. Plus you need nuclear vessels including submarines. Mostly though carriers are more for projecting power.

The US is the only nation running credible classic carriers. The US is a unique case given their propensity to collect allies and foes in large numbers by the carrot-and-stick method.

Australia, like most other nations, can operate from unsinkable land bases to defend its sovereignty.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 15:58
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Lots of reasons

1. Australia has not had the need for carriers.
The last time Australia was seriously under threat of being invaded was WW2. That's more than 70 years ago. Since then the RAAF has been part of multinational operations in far away places - Korea, Vietnam, Middle East, ISIS etc. Australia has been in a relatively quiet and secure corner of the world. Australia decided to go with the JSF against this reassuring backdrop.
So until recently, we believed the RAAF would most likely be part of multinational coalitions contributing to multinational operations in distant places.
The need to defend Australia has only come to the forefront over the last 10-20 years with the rise of China, exacerbated by more recent concerns about possible future withdrawal of US from the Western Pacific.

2. Carriers are expensive.
Very expensive. Hence those nations with carriers belong to an exclusive club.
Most countries don't have any carriers. 4-5 countries (France, India, Russia, Brazil) have just 1 carrier. Italy and China have 2 small carriers. UK is working towards having 2 carriers. USA has 11 large carriers.
Its not just the cost of the carrier and the aircraft. It is also the supporting escort ships required to protect the carrier - missile cruisers, anti-submarine frigates or destroyers, submarines. Without these escorts, the carrier (with your planes) is vulnerable and won't last long. Plus you need supply ships.
Then you probably need 2 carriers to be certain of having one available when you need it. Carriers need periodic overhauls and upgrades, and these take 1-2 years to complete. Of the 11 US carriers, only 7-8 are able to be deployed at any one time - the rest are in overhaul. Countries with just one carrier have long periods where it is unable to be deployed.

3. Carrier operations are very complex.
The technology is complex, and the logistics are complicated. It is a very steep learning curve.
It would likely take a country like Australia 20 years to acquire the capability and knowledge to undertake carrier operations - and that is assuming money is not a limiting step (when of course it is).

4. We may be on the verge of a new era in military aviation
Will piloted aircraft still be relevant in 20 years time? Will carriers be considered too vulnerable to a new generation of high speed long range missiles and other weapons? Will carriers become a case of putting all your eggs in one very vulnerable basket?
Will we instead be using long range drones with new generation sensors and weapons? A drone is far cheaper and more expendable than a piloted plane, and range / endurance will be much greater if you don't need a pilot with all the human systems.
Investing in carriers now could be an expensive trip down a dead end.
It may be cheaper and more reliable to operate drones from a number of small bases in northern Australia - we can acquire this capability faster, and this dispersed capability will be less vulnerable to enemy action.
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Old 23rd Jul 2018, 17:13
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TBH it would be cheaper to buildup the capability of Indonesia and the Philippines - after all, they're a pretty good buffer distance wise against Chinese aggression......
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Old 24th Jul 2018, 13:07
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Oh. Before I turn in for the night. The biggest weakness of the f35 is the flight crew. Slaughter them in their beds and what good are they then? That will be move no.1 if anybody is desperate enough to attack us. And the job will be done before we even know whats going on. Sweat dreams peeps.
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Old 24th Jul 2018, 16:06
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Originally Posted by Heathrow Harry View Post
TBH it would be cheaper to buildup the capability of Indonesia and the Philippines - after all, they're a pretty good buffer distance wise against Chinese aggression......
The Phillipines is a basket case of military ineptitude, corruption and political expedience. The President is unstable which is why the massive ex US Luzon bases are pretty much still dilapidated.

Indonesia is a double-edged sword. Their forecast GDP growth is quite massive so their own self-funded build up inevitable. I'm guessing ties will be warm but cautious.
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Old 24th Jul 2018, 16:16
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Originally Posted by imperial shifter View Post
Oh. Before I turn in for the night. The biggest weakness of the f35 is the flight crew. Slaughter them in their beds and what good are they then? That will be move no.1 if anybody is desperate enough to attack us. And the job will be done before we even know whats going on. Sweat dreams peeps.
Well this was the fear of American F15 pilots in West Germany during the Cold War. Spetsnaz assassination teams targeting critical crew where hours mattered not the days to get replacements from stateside.

There was also the story of the travelling salesman in Sweden in the 80's, suspected Russian commandos again. Half the pilots of one Swedish Air Force fighter wing were visited so the old wives tale says.

Christian names in the press only and social media common sense and indication that unconventional threats against ADF personnel not ignored.
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