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Jump jets on shopping list for OZ

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Jump jets on shopping list for OZ

Old 17th May 2005, 11:02
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: OZ
Posts: 42
Jump jets on shopping list for OZ

For discussion..............

Jump jets on our shopping list


DEFENCE Minister Robert Hill has left the door open for Australia to equip navy ships with new generation "jump jet" stealth fighters.

The Federal Government yesterday announced it would proceed to the next phase of the plan to buy up to 100 US-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for about $15 billion.

The big question is whether some of the 100 Australian planes will be so-called Short Take Off and Vertical Landing versions.

A final decision is not due until 2008, but Australia will almost certainly be a launch customer for the new stealth war planes to replace the RAAF's ageing F-111 and F/A-18 fighters.

The first plane would be in service by 2012, but critics warn delays could leave the nation's air power dangerously exposed.

The Royal Navy, US Marines and US Air Force are all buying JSF "jump jets" which can be deployed on ships or at small air fields where conventional planes cannot operate.

Senator Hill confirmed discussions were on-going within defence about buying some STOVL aircraft.

"There is no doubt that a number of parties have seen particular benefit in the STOVL version," Senator Hill said.

Up to 20 of the jump jets would be deployed on the two new amphibious ships to be built for the navy, boosting the nation's ability to project air power.

That would give Australia an aircraft carrier capability for the first time since HMAS Melbourne retired in 1982.

The navy is considering French and Spanish designs for the new ships, with both capable of operating STOVL fighters.

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