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Air defence in a spin

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Air defence in a spin

Old 22nd Feb 2010, 00:50
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Air defence in a spin

from a passworded site - so reproduced below for your viewing horror
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Air defence in a spin
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One by one, the jigsaw pieces are falling into place. It is becoming apparent that Australians have been subject the largest and most dangerous cover-up in the nation’s history. And what makes the cover-up so hard to uncover is that both our political parties are involved, so there is no incentive for the opposition to put pressure on the government.
I am, of course, talking about the biggest single purchase ever contemplated by an Australian government – the $16 billion to $20 billion plan to buy the so called Joint Strike Fighter or JSF (sometimes called the F-35).
On February 9, Business Spectator revealed that the updated version of Russia’s Sukhoi – the so called the PAK-FA T-50 – was far superior to the JSF, which would – in time – give India, China and Indonesia air superiority over Australia.
Ten days later, one of Australia’s top defence writers, The Australian’s associate editor Cameron Stewart, revealed significant pieces of the JSF cover-up. While Stewart is yet to be convinced that the JSF is a lemon, his revelations about cover-up mechanisms makes it almost impossible for Defence Minister John Faulkner and parliament to discover the real truth and whether the conclusions of Carlo Kopp and Peter Goon's independent Australian defence analytical group – Air Power Australia – about the superiority of the Russian aircraft are right.
This is what Stewart reveals:
– The warnings given by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates about the 'troubling performance record' of the JSF stands in stark contrast to everything the Australian Defence Force and the Australian government have told Australians about the JSF.
– To question the JSF project inside the Department of Defence is a dangerous career move, so there is a vacuum of critical analysts and alternative viewpoints. No other options have been seriously considered. (As I pointed out, there are clear air defence options, but they will not last much longer).
– The Defence Department and the government maintain 'a determined firewall of silence' about the setbacks in the $300 billion US led project and frequently deploy 'aggressive spin' to portray the troubled project in the kindest possible light. (This helps explain why almost none of the established defence writers have backed my writings about the JSF over the past five years).
Lets look at what that 'aggressive spin' has hidden from the public and the parliament. First, the cost of the project has ballooned from $40 million an aircraft to $200 million – we are going to order 100 aircraft. The JSF was supposed to be delivered in 2012 but, according to Cameron Stewart, will now not be available until 2020.
In that eight year gap, Australian will rely on upgraded Super Hornets where there is widespread agreement that the aircraft is no match for the earlier versions of the Sukhoi – let alone PAK-FA T-50, which will be available later in the decade. So, Australia will have no independent air defence for eight years. If the JSF is no match for the PAK-FA T-50, then for the next 30 years we would have no way of countering a PAK-FA T-50 flying to any city in Australia.
The Robert Gates statement has shown the Australian Defence Department’s previous statements as being simply spin. The Defence Department is now switching its spin into a new and even more dangerous line – that the JSF costs and delays are not that different to what happened with the F-111 which turned out to be one of the best military purchases ever made by this country.
If the JSF delivered air superiority in the region as the F-111 did, then over time the decision to implement the JSF would be vindicated. But the simple fact is that the JSF has serious problems which are incorporated into its structure and will be almost impossible for time and money to overcome. And even if they are overcome, according to Airpower Australia it will be a very poor second to the PAK-FA T-50.
I should emphasise that America is also basing a large chunk of its air defence on the JSF and their public and Congress has also been the subject of aggressive spin, which caused the decision that production of F-22 aircraft (which represents the only hope the US has to match the PAK-FA T-50) would be closed down. But Robert Gates has started to cut through the web of misinformation and lies that have characterised the JSF project.
The problem is that the JSF is so far along the track that it is almost too big to fail. Australia has two clear options. Air Power Australia says we need to invest heavily to restore our F-111 aircraft as an interim stage and plead with the Americans to allow us to buy F-22’s.
According to Cameron Stewart, because alterative views are blocked out from Defence Department analysis, these options can’t be examined. All we can hope is that the Robert Gates statement convinces John Faulkner to get some independent advice.
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Last chance for Australia's Defence
Back around 2003-04, while writing for The Australian, I moved outside my business and investment comfort zone and began sounding the alarm that the 2002 decision by Senator Robert Hill and the then Air Force Chief Angus Houston to join the American
Joint Strike Fighter development program and wind down our F-111 based air power was fraught with danger. At the time, Hill and Houston were taking three clear risks.
Firstly, the development of the JSF might be delayed forcing Australia to rely on the Super Hornet aircraft for a dangerously long period. Even at that time, Super Hornets were no match for Russian Sukhoi aircraft, which were being or about to be used by China, India and Indonesia. The counter argument was that our Super Hornets were being upgraded and would be competitive.
The second risk was that cost of the JSF aircraft would blow out from the estimated $US40/$50 million per aircraft.
Thirdly, the joint strike fighter, when developed, would not give Australia the regional air superiority that we have enjoyed for decades thanks to the F-111. The JSF might let us down because the final aircraft would not match the original hopes or because the Russian aircraft would be able to outperform the American aircraft. Either way it would mean that China, India and Indonesia would be ahead of Australia.
The articles I wrote for The Australian were based on the research of Carlo Kopp and Peter Goon. I followed their conclusions because I could not fault their logic, even though they were ridiculed by most defence commentators and defence officials. Business commentators writing about defence have little impact, even though if we go ahead with the JSF purchase it would be the biggest military purchase ever undertaken by Australia.
When Brendan Nelson replaced Robert Hill as Defence Minister in 2006 I urged him to review the Hill decision but, instead, Nelson reaffirmed Australia’s involvement with the JSF program. By this time I began to wonder whether I was missing something and perhaps Kopp and Goon were wrong.
Then came the Rudd government and a new Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon. By 2007 I was with Business Spectatorand when Fitzgibbon conducted a complete defence review, I felt sure he would come to the same conclusion as me. I do not want to comment on the issues that destroyed Fitzgibbon. I will always remember Fitzgibbon as the minister who backed Hill and Nelson in the JSF when there was still a clear window of time to go in a different direction.
Australia now has an excellent minister in John Faulkner, who has taken the defence portfolio. Even though it is now very late to develop an alternative strategy, Faulkner must know that it is increasingly likely that the three risks described above will become JSF nightmares.
The JSF cost has blown out to around $US200 million per aircraft and delivery has been delayed. But the realisation of the third risk is the real problem.
In one of the most carefully timed aircraft releases in global history – after the US President’s State of the Union address but before the US defence budgets – the Russians unveiled their updated version of the Sukhoi – the so called the PAK-FA T-50.
Obviously the claims for the aircraft must be verified but, according to Kopp and Goon, the PAK-FA aircraft locks in what many believe the Sukhoi Su-35S 4Gen++ fighter (unveiled in late 2008) had already achieved.
According to Kopp and Goon, the Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet have now been made totally irrelevant by these two Russian designs, strategically as well as tactically, and neither will be competitive in our region, either in the air or in the market place.
Let me exaggerate to make a point. It's like putting our air defence in the hands of spitfire against a modern jet fighter. We are wasting our money and risking our air crews' lives as well as the defence of the country.
We have not committed to buy JSF aircraft but we are almost there and have not developed an alternative strategy. We must look at our options. Faulkner must go outside the defence bureaucracy to verify superiority of the PAK-FA/ Sukhoi over the JSF. Assuming he confirms this, then the most obvious strategy is to plead with the Americans for access to the F22 before the production line closes. Perhaps the F-111 can still be saved.
Meanwhile, China, India and Indonesia will soon realise that we have no viable air power and they can upgrade their existing Sukhoi aircraft (and in the case of Indonesia back-up facilities) to go close to the PAK-FA or buy the new Russian aircraft as India will do.
For more than six years I have hoped I was wrong. It can be argued that I might still be wrong ,so I am bracing for a terrible private bagging from the defence bureaucracy who staked their reputations on the JSF and will not back down easily. But their case and Australia’s air defence is disintegrating.
Belgique is offline  
Old 22nd Feb 2010, 01:15
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....as soon as you mentioned Karlo, I lost interest...
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 02:44
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There were only 2 problems.

There isn't a plan 'B'.
and
The decision was taken in indecent haste based on the information provided and not on an actual production item.

cheers
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 06:10
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Since these decisions there is far less need for manned aircraft in the ground attack role. UAV's are a far cheaper option. There needs to be complete rethink.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 07:26
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The T-50 is hardly a proven aircraft having only just had it's first flight. I remains to be seen what happens, it may head in the same direction as the MIG 1.44 which has sat in a hanger since the 90s. Have to agree the artical lost all credibility with the mention of Carlo Kopp and his tin foil hat brigade.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 08:33
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F-111 AD role...

is it possible that yer man is trying (and failing misserably) to indicate F-111's ability to fly a long way and bash-up airfields, thereby rendering the enemy 'air force-less' rather than actually meaning that the F-111 has any real ability to shoot down other aircraft?

same effect, in the short term - just a matter of timing and method.

can anyone provide any light on the situation regarding Australia's position should the F-35 not reach operational service till 2020 - is F/A-18E/F capable of both defending Australia's AD environment as well as providing the long-range strike capability of the F-111 it replaces?
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 09:20
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Bones for Pigs

If the F111 is going to be missed so much, ask Robert Gates if you can have his spare B1-Bs. He is said to be keen to reduce inventory right now.......

Don't know if they can do dump 'n burn though.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 10:33
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Unhappy Here we go again, gents!

As has been mentioned, I don't think the F111 was ever an air superiority jet....

Second, does anyone else out there remember the furore when the MiG 29 Foxbat first came out? That was going to be the one to beat. Reality was different, as we know.

Finally, isn't it rather judicious timing that the red menace appears again, just as the F22 production line is grinding to a halt?
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 10:36
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Somebody already tried to turn the F-111 into an interceptor, his name was Robert McNamara and one phase jumps to mind: "All the thrust in chrisandom will not turn the F-111 into a fighter".
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 12:46
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can anyone provide any light on the situation regarding Australia's position should the F-35 not reach operational service till 2020 - is F/A-18E/F capable of both defending Australia's AD environment as well as providing the long-range strike capability of the F-111 it replaces?

The simple answer is NO.But then neither could the F111 (it's not even an AD aircraft)
Nor could the F22. The problem is not quality, but rather quantity.
How on earth a couple of old F111's ever gave Australia air supremacy over it's neighbours (he mentions China), I would never know, but then I feel he has no understanding of what air supremacy is.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 17:06
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Clearly a masterpiece in journalism, though there might be a point to his central thrust, ie all eggs in one very expensive and yet unproven basket; I suspect the F-35 just will not be allowed to fail, the U.S. will throw money at it until it works.

The ' F-111 air superiority ' bit will haunt that writer for the rest of his lifetime, if there's any justice at all in this world ( he'll probably win the Nobel Prize for services rendered or something similar ).

The B1b idea sounds tempting for it's role, but suspect the running costs would be prohibitive.

Seems the F-22 would be an idea if available, but again Australia would end up with about 3 for its' budget.

Meanwhile can someone please explain why the hell a place like Australia bought short legged Naval aircraft - F-18 in all forms - when it, erm, doesn't have a carrier and range is surely a very big issue ?!

Nice to be able to co-operate with any U.S. or maybe French, double-maybe British, flat top around at the time, otherwise I'd like to meet the salesman involved.

As budgets are an unfortunate consideration, and indeed as someone said, quantity as well as quality is important, how about F-15's ? From the outset, and now in some form, old( not too old ) or new, possibly the semi-stealthy new model if not too pricey, involving development costs...

BTW, Mig-29 Foxbat ?! Fulcrum methinks, and I doubt many pilots of any a/c would be very casual if up against an enemy one, ' even now '.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 18:00
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Folks,

Looks like mostly mis-informed 'Guff' to me.

They have all been to the air shows, got their freebies and brochours,..... and sadly, believed them.

We've ALL done it......

"Now, 'XXXXXX' , being the 'lemon' it is, why don't we develop a well trusted and tested platform to Air Defence....... errrrr why not that great winner... MRCA? OK, We can do that........"

The wheel Turns Slowly it appears.

Advo
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 18:30
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Who in their right minds would want to invade Australia?

It's full of poisonous animals, aussies and piss weak lager, bit like London really.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 18:39
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Business Spectator revealed that the updated version of Russia’s Sukhoi – the so called the PAK-FA T-50 – was far superior to the JSF
Business Spectator, that well known font of Defence related knowledge...
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 18:52
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So, he thinks the Russian stealth fighter (what the heck does PAK-FA stand for, anyway?) will be available "later in the decade", eh?

As in "available to test pilots" maybe... it is extremely unlikely for an actual combat-ready version to be in production and being delivered by then.

And just who is it to "be available" to?

Indonesia? Not for 5 years or more after the RuAF gets theirs.

China? Same response.

India? As they have been "consulting" and donating some funding, they might get some about the time the RuAF does... but is there a realistic threat for Indian fighters to be attacking Australia in the next 10 years... Or for Russia to do so?



And I like how the F-35 is now supposed to be as expensive as a F-22... almost twice the next-highest estimate I've seen given by other than forum-blatherers.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 21:19
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I seem to recall...

After the Mirage, the ADF swore that they would never again invest in a single-engine fighter!

OOps...

Cheers...FD...
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 21:45
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Report and video of first flight of PAK FA T50

Sukhoi Pak-FA T50 (aka Russian Stealth Fighter) makes its first test flight | Siberian Light
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 22:22
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Article is guff

where is there any evidence or rational argument to show that the F-35 compares unfavourably with any of the alternatives?

The best one can say is that F-35 has a design lineage to the F-22, is made by the same manufacturer, and is clearly going to gain substantial capabilities in terms of performance, systems, weapons and survivability. It is being bought by many of the world's most developed air forces, in some cases in preference to other modern Western fighters. In service, it is planned to be operated at the front line of operations. It was designed to be 'affordable', and the costs shared among many partners, and is still costing the world's biggest economies shedloads

What makes anyone think the Russians can knock up something better in a fraction of the time, and have it ready for service earlier
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 15:57
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Double 00
Meanwhile can someone please explain why the hell a place like Australia bought short legged Naval aircraft - F-18 in all forms - when it, erm, doesn't have a carrier and range is surely a very big issue ?!

Nice to be able to co-operate with any U.S. or maybe French, double-maybe British, flat top around at the time, otherwise I'd like to meet the salesman involved.

As budgets are an unfortunate consideration, and indeed as someone said, quantity as well as quality is important, how about F-15's ? From the outset, and now in some form, old( not too old ) or new, possibly the semi-stealthy new model if not too pricey, involving development costs...
Actually the Australians have been flying Hornets since 1982 as their replacement for the Mirage. They rejected the F-15 since (at that time) it had no air-to-ground capabilities. The planned buy of the F/A-18E (Super Hornet) is the interim replacement for the F-111. From Wiki: The Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft. It is about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier empty, and 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) heavier at maximum weight than the original Hornet. The Super Hornet carries 33% more internal fuel, increasing mission range by 41% and endurance by 50% over the "Legacy" Hornet.

Australia is pretty tied in with the US Pacific Command, which tends to be Navy led. Also, a Navy aircraft offers an anti-ship missile capability which the Australian’s desire to protect their coastline. Apparently the Super Hornet version that Australia wants to buy offers the possibility of conversion to the EF-18 Growler configuration to provide SEAD support to the (late) arrival of the F-35. A significant number of countries, which do not have carriers, have bought the Hornet. They include in addition to Australia: Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. It’s not a bad aircraft, not state of the art, but a fair amount of capability both air-to-air and air-to-ground in one package, which makes it attractive to countries that only want to maintain one type of fighter aircraft.
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Old 5th Mar 2010, 10:57
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ECM101,

Thanks, I am familiar with the FA-FA/E 18's, but was of course 'thinking too modern' re. lack of A-G until recently on the F-15, and was not aware of the US Navy factor being so strong.

Though of course the FA-18E series has a lot better range, I cannot help thinking that for a place like Australia one can never have enough.

Just wondering, and I know all the good reasons why not like commonality and operating costs, but probably just because I dislike waste, in real rather than politically/ corporately led terms, would those recently retired F-14D's have fitted the bill...

Thanks for your info,

DZ
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