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Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Save the RAAF – it may save you

Sukhoi 35S - the reference threat that the Joint Strike Fighter has never been compared to.
Ever wanted to borrow thousands of dollars to buy a dud aeroplane?  Don’t worry, the government plans to do that on your behalf. 

This debate finally got some traction in the mainstream media with the recent ABC Four Corners program confronting the myths of affordability, performance, and supportability (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/). This plane will cost upwards of US$35billion and it is already irrelevant and over matched in our region.

This isn't really news. Experts in the air power community have been saying it for years. This issue has taken up a lot of time at the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in their review of the Annual Defence Report, and their earlier review of RAAF air superiority.  As usual, on the one hand the debate featured detailed technical analysis from acknowledged industry experts showing that the Joint Strike Fighter is a gold plated lemon.  On the other hand, the debate featured a series of motherhood statements, shifting goal posts, and appeals to secrecy, from the project proponents and their cheer squad in the Defence Department. Now proponents claim is has a "secret weapon". How convenient. No it doesn't, but it can destroy defence budgets and capabilities across the Western World. Really it is a very expensive form of disarmament.

Special thanks to Dr Dennis Jensen MP, committee member, for his balanced and insightful contribution to the report– and thus devastating critique of the project.  See here for the Committee’s report. 

It is common knowledge in the air power community that the JSF capability was analysed only against baseline late 1980’s/early 1990’s vintage Russian designs, not the modern air power environment of 2020-2030. Tellingly Defence and the project proponents refused point blank to reveal what the reference threats were that the JSF was analysed against. In other words, they refused to reveal the baseline data but demanded we accept their predictions on faith.

I feel that the Committee’s report misrepresents my submission somewhat, though doubtless only for the sake of brevity. It said that I advocating purchase of the F-22 but noted that the F-22 is not available for export.  In fact I spent some time explaining in my submission that the F-22 is available for export but only on request, and only by agreement of Congress.  Yes that is a tall bar.  No, Defence has never explored that option.  Yes, the F-22 was offered to Australia.  I have consistently argued that all alternatives should be explored.  The report also said that I argued for retention of the F-111 but noted that it has been retired from service.  Actually I noted that Defence dug holes and physically buried the F-111.  I included this to provide some history for the Committee on the ongoing attempts by Defence to destroy the RAAF as a war fighting machine and turn it into an expensive flying club – suitable only for counter insurgency operations and benign airpower environments like Afghanistan, oh – and rent seeking defence projects that fail to deliver.

Please read my submission and decide for yourself.  You will find it on the Committee website and their is another submission on this blog spot. You will find a great deal of material on the Air Power Australia website: www.ausairpower.net if you really want to get into the nuts and rivets. Check out Eric Palmer’s blog too.

Tag line: ABC Four Corners, Joint strike fighter, JSF, Lockheed Martin, sukhoi, raptor, F-22, Superhornet, Defence reform, RAAF, new air combat capability, air power, fighter aircraft, stealth fighter.

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