Australia may buy more Super Hornets amid F-35 delays

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broncazonk

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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 01:29

{I don't know if this is good new, bad news or even news...}

Australia may buy more Super Hornets amid F-35 delays:


( http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/ ... EN20110410 )

CANBERRA, April 11 (Reuters) - Australia is considering buying 18 Boeing-built Super Hornet warplanes for around $1.6 billion to plug a hole in defense capabilities left by expected delays in Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a report said on Monday.

Australian defense officials plan to raise concerns about project delays and the possibility of a serious gap in Australia's air defenses from 2020 onwards when they visit the United States this week, the Australian newspaper said.

Military chiefs were preparing options to plug the gap, including the A$1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) purchase of 18 extra F/A-18F Super Hornets, adding to 24 of the aircraft bought in 2007 to fill a strategic hole, the paper said, without naming sources.

Australia plans to buy up to 100 stealthy F-35 Lightning's for an estimated A$16 billion and has so far ordered 14, with the air force's first squadron hoping to be operational by 2018.

But a recent report by a U.S. government budget watchdog found the F-35 program, already behind schedule, was likely to experience additional production problems and cost increases, while also criticizing the project's risk management.

Australia's Department of Defense could not immediately comment.

Australian defense chiefs have previously said they are committed to the F-35 purchase, while Lockheed Martin insists that problems in the United States will not derail the 2014 delivery timetable for the first F-35 squadron.

Australia has already begun a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its military that includes new air defense destroyers, two large amphibious assault ships, helicopters, tanks, long-range cruise missiles and 12 new submarines costing $25 billion.($1 = 0.955 Australian Dollars)
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 01:35

An Ex-RAAF AVM [Criss?] some years ago described the Super Hornet as a 'Super Dog' when the purchase was announced. Anyhoo the sub-editor writing the headline has some fun...

Air force eyes 18 more Super Hornets as delays dog [get it?] our new fighter

EXCLUSIVE Brendan Nicholson, Defence editor From: The Australian April 11, 2011

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa ... 6036923907

"DEVELOPMENT of the revolutionary Joint Strike Fighter, intended to provide Australia's air defence through this century, is running well behind schedule and the RAAF may need to buy 18 more Rhinos for $1.5 billion to fill the gap.

Australian defence officials head for the US this week for an update from Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is developing the stealthy, multi-role JSF, now named the F-35 Lightning II.

The Australian understands they will raise serious concerns about delays in the project and the possibility of an alarming gap in Australia's air defences from 2020 onwards.

A recent report by the US Government Accountability Office indicates the program, already behind schedule and over budget, is likely to experience additional production and cost pressures.

Australia plans to buy up to 100 F-35s for an estimated $16bn and has so far ordered 14, with the RAAF's first squadron supposed to be operating by 2018.

However, the US air force is buying the same variant of the JSF as the RAAF and has pushed back the dates by which it expects to have its first squadrons operational from mid-2016 to 2017 -- and possibly now to mid-2018.

Officials from Lockheed Martin have insisted the problems in the US will not mean any delays in delivering Australia's first 14 aircraft.

But there is growing concern in Canberra that the US delays will mean the RAAF's first squadron may not be ready until about 2020 and possibly later.

Alarm bells are ringing because it's likely that by 2020 the last 30 or so of the RAAF's older "classic" Hornets will have reached the end of their useful lives, even with extensive refurbishment.

The Howard government bought 24 Rhinos for $6bn in 2007 to fill an earlier strategic gap left when the RAAF's F-111 bombers were withdrawn ahead of time because of concerns about fatigue.

Defence officials are preparing for the government a range of options to fill this looming gap in air defences with the most likely being the purchase of a further 18 Rhinos for about $800 million each.

That would make economic sense, because the $6bn purchase price for the first 24 Rhinos included the infrastructure to support them and that can be used for the additional aircraft.

Another option might be further refurbishments of the classic Hornets.

Officials from the Defence Materiel Organisation will join delegations from all of the nations involved in the JSF project for a comprehensive briefing on progress this week.

There have been three key issues with the JSF as its development progressed -- whether the F-35 will do all that's promised of it, whether it will be delivered on time and whether it will cost more than anticipated.

The Australian has been told development of the aircraft, which is packed with sophisticated radars and other electronic equipment, is progressing well and is likely to meet or exceed the expectations of the nine nations involved in its development.

But there is a growing acceptance in the RAAF that the aircraft will be late and a steady increase in costs is eating up the considerable margin built into the contract by Australia's Defence Department.

The original plan was for Lockheed to build 2443 JSFs for various arms of the American forces with about 500 others going to allies including Australia, Israel and Canada.

A long-time strong supporter of Australia's role in the JSF project, former RAAF air marshal Errol McCormack has warned that the likely delays mean the Gillard government must get a plan in place to ensure Australia's air defences are effective once the classic Hornets are retired.

Air Marshal McCormack, who now runs a normally strongly pro-JSF group of experienced military flyers known as the Williams Foundation, said in its latest bulletin the government should remember the RAAF's experience with the F-111.

The first Australian F-111s were to be delivered in 1968.

"Even though development and production slipped because of technical issues, Australia adhered to the delivery date rather than the production slot," Air Marshal McCormack said. As a result, in 1968 Australia took notional delivery of underdeveloped aircraft with technical difficulties.

"Consequently, there was a five-year delay in delivery while some of the technical problems were remediated.

"Several modification programs and almost 10 years later, the RAAF eventually operated an excellent bomber."

Air Marshal McCormack said this experience suggested there could be very good reasons for Australia to delay delivery of the F-35 until the production line was "mature" and problems were ironed out.

He suggested a solution could be to refurbish more of the classic Hornets to keep as many of them as necessary flying after 2020.

"In the Williams Foundation's judgment, it would be sensible to wait and see what happens with the F-35, while simultaneously investigating the cost of capability issues involved in maintaining the classic Hornet beyond 2020."

With other elements including the Jindalee Over Horizon Radar network, Australia's air defences could be world class for the next decade, Air Marshal McCormack said. "The issue is: what action is required to ensure that any further delays to the F-35 do not result in a capability gap?" Air Marshal McCormack said.

"The question is too important to be left unanswered."

Concern about air superiority has risen in Canberra and at the Pentagon since China this year unveiled its answer to the F-35. The prototype Chinese fighter jet has arrived years ahead of Western expectations.

It is intended that the the F-35s will replace both the F-111 long-range bombers and the RAAF's classic Hornets.

The new aircraft is also expected to replace all of the major aircraft in the US inventory.

The intention is for the RAAF to get its first two F-35s in 2014, despite the production delays in the US, according to Lockheed Martin.

The first two F-35s will remain in the US, and Australian pilots and ground crew will go to the US to train on the planes."

http://resources0.news.com.au/images/20 ... -a-18f.jpg

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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 01:49

More Super Hornets? Carlo will be pleased. :lmao:
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 03:39

sferrin wrote:More Super Hornets? Carlo will be pleased. :lmao:


How about Australia building its own composite Skyraiders instead? :lmao:
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 04:59

[quote="1st503rdsgt..How about Australia building its own composite Skyraiders instead?.:[/quote]

Wow! :shock: "Super Scooter" :D :idea:

With the "Aussies" well involved in both the Super Hornet and JSF programs they should easily be able to develop a mean, (stealthy?) Super Scooter :!:

A minature F-22 wingset and F-119 vectored thrust should give them a product that would be very competitive with composites, advanced RAM and a proven mission system, including aesa, IRST, etc. The best of both worlds :!:
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 06:08

neptune wrote:Wow! :shock: "Super Scooter" :D :idea:


I thought "Spad" was the A-1's nickname.
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 06:38

I think he ment A-1 Skyraider, not A-4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was known as the Scooter. The Skyraider was known as Spad.
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 08:22

Should be noted that this quoted $84m PUC cost is less than the LRIP F-35A's URF cost. (imho, JPO/Congress could have contemplated some sort of strategic LRIP LEASE business model from the start, to kick-start acquisition...). But one might conjecture too why 18 more F models, instead of E? The 2nd officer will cost more in the LCC dept and can Australia recruit thant many air-crew to begin with? The majority of hornets being replaced afterall are A mods? Add the new SH Mission Computer and a single pilot should be able to do fine with all the advanced capabilities, especially when teamed with the F?

Anyhow, God speed RAAF recapitalization...
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 10:05

IF the RAAF do acquire more F model Hornets bear in mind that the 12 wired for Growling will likely remain part of the permanent fleet to support the F-35 or a mixture of them. Recall the IF bit. At the end of last year most of the issues being grumbled about now by speculative bods/journos were well-known and the RAAF reiterated the commitment to 100 F-35As; so I see this news report as just a bit of 'kite flying'. Who knows - I would be more interested in what the RAAF/Government say officially, rather than some drunken press junket speculation - harsh I know - but I can speculate also. :devil:

If UAVs are in the future mix then already there is speculation that the two seaters will control these swarms. Have not the two engine two seat crowd been heard ad nauseam?
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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 15:25

geogen wrote:Should be noted that this quoted $84m PUC cost is less than the LRIP F-35A's URF cost. (imho, JPO/Congress could have contemplated some sort of strategic LRIP LEASE business model from the start, to kick-start acquisition...). But one might conjecture too why 18 more F models, instead of E? The 2nd officer will cost more in the LCC dept and can Australia recruit thant many air-crew to begin with? The majority of hornets being replaced afterall are A mods? Add the new SH Mission Computer and a single pilot should be able to do fine with all the advanced capabilities, especially when teamed with the F?

Anyhow, God speed RAAF recapitalization...


1. RAAF is in the rather envious position that it has more pilots (including prospective) and ACO (air combat officers - ie: back seaters) than it can manage. All slots are currently filled and they have qualified pilots and ACO's performing "other" roles. Support roles are also very well staffed so any likely increase in manning requirements could easily be met at present. Especially given there has been considerable interest from RAF staff looking to transfer before they find themselves unemployed and these have had to be turned down, simply because RAAF is literally "bursting at the seams" with staff.

2. The only real difference between an F and an E as I understand it is a relatively small amount of fuel. In exchange they get an extra set of eyes and an extra on the spot "battle manager" to help manage the particular mission. RAAF's Super Hornets fulfill the strike mission within RAAF with their air to air capability being a secondary mission.

E model Rhinos don't really bring much that RAAF is looking for in that context. I'd suggest that if this plan does eventuate, the new Super Hornets will fully equip 1 Sqn and they will take on 77 Sqn's strike role with air to air remaining a secondary tasking and 3 and 75 Sqn's will continue to provide the primary air to air capability within RAAF.

Time will tell.
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Unread post12 Apr 2011, 01:24

Thanks for that bit of insight, Conan. Very interesting and indeed something to be envious of.

I'd still speculate however that a modern day data-fused and computerized single-seat mod could perfom most of the AG and AA roles (e.g. stand-off AG strike) as effectively as a two-seat, but for less cost and slightly better range (or less weight, better performance)? With the exception being more effective 2-seats already in inventory to better perform persistent COIN, FAC(A), BAI and EA - those which could mix in a package of single seat variants?

Regardless, I'd think any such possible follow-on SH acquisition should be LEASEd, e.g. 10-yr, if Boeing would go for it... thus freeing up RAAF by mid 2020's to re-examine then what would surely be a multitude (candy shop) of 'next-gen' 5th gen/5+ gen options including more affordable and capable unmanned?

Surely Boeing/DoD could find new home abroad (or domestic) for a 10 yr old, block II+ SH complete with a new upgrades for the day... if even as a convenient supplemental '6-8 yr' gap-filler during the next transitional recap phase? :shrug:
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Unread post12 Apr 2011, 03:00

geogen wrote:Thanks for that bit of insight, Conan. Very interesting and indeed something to be envious of.

I'd still speculate however that a modern day data-fused and computerized single-seat mod could perfom most of the AG and AA roles (e.g. stand-off AG strike) as effectively as a two-seat, but for less cost and slightly better range (or less weight, better performance)? With the exception being more effective 2-seats already in inventory to better perform persistent COIN, FAC(A), BAI and EA - those which could mix in a package of single seat variants?

Regardless, I'd think any such possible follow-on SH acquisition should be LEASEd, e.g. 10-yr, if Boeing would go for it... thus freeing up RAAF by mid 2020's to re-examine then what would surely be a multitude (candy shop) of 'next-gen' 5th gen/5+ gen options including more affordable and capable unmanned?

Surely Boeing/DoD could find new home abroad (or domestic) for a 10 yr old, block II+ SH complete with a new upgrades for the day... if even as a convenient supplemental '6-8 yr' gap-filler during the next transitional recap phase? :shrug:


Makes the Navy look pretty ordinary with it's management and recruiting policies that's for sure...

In relation to these new jets, IF they eventuate, then I think it will lead to a significant re-ordering of Australia's long term air combat plans.

As written this additional plan looks likely to cost about an extra $1.5b. That has to be on top of the existing $6.6b already spent on the Super Hornets.

Australia is pretty well off, but spending $8.1b on an "interim" capability seems just a tad ridiculous to me. I would suggest if it works out like this, then Super Hornets will form a long term part of RAAF's force structure and it will lead inevitably to a reduction in RAAF orders for F-35. The "2 squadrons of each type" structure would probably become the compromise in such a force structure.

RAAF however is dead set against this, which is why I believe this plan won't happen. However Defence has been over ruled before any it would definitely have Super Hornet instead of nothing if legacy Hornets start getting grounded due to extreme fatigue so we'll see.

A lease I believe is the least likely option, due to the extremely large investment made by Australia already. I simply cannot see an Australian Government spending $8.1b on a fleet of Super Hornets, half of which we don't actually own, for only 13 years service...
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Unread post12 Apr 2011, 03:38

Conan said: "Makes the Navy look pretty ordinary with it's management and recruiting policies that's for sure... " I'm guessing the international audience has no idea what you refer to in that sentence. I'm guessing the old rusty vessels giving up the ghost (they were rust buckets when bought second hand from the USN yonks ago - lesson: NEVER buy second hand military equpment) but I'm baffled by the 'recruiting policies' bit - PLEASE EXPLAIN :D (Pauline was almost elected to NSW Upper House today - missed it by that much).

OR did you mean RAAF - not NAVY? Crabs eh. :twisted: :lol: :D :P
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Unread post12 Apr 2011, 06:21

spazsinbad wrote:Conan said: "Makes the Navy look pretty ordinary with it's management and recruiting policies that's for sure... " I'm guessing the international audience has no idea what you refer to in that sentence. I'm guessing the old rusty vessels giving up the ghost (they were rust buckets when bought second hand from the USN yonks ago - lesson: NEVER buy second hand military equpment) but I'm baffled by the 'recruiting policies' bit - PLEASE EXPLAIN :D (Pauline was almost elected to NSW Upper House today - missed it by that much).

OR did you mean RAAF - not NAVY? Crabs eh. :twisted: :lol: :D :P


Simply referring to Navy's inability to recruit and retain submariners and sailors in general. It is by far the worst manned out of the 3 services. Something about all those unpleasant "crossing the line" ceremonies I expect...
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Unread post12 Apr 2011, 06:29

Conan, you are a card. :D Probably crossing the line ceremonies look worse on amateur video than what they are in real life - a hoot. Yes the Navy is a hard service. You may wish to read this 'old and bold' RNers take on what it is like:

Flying from our new Carriers – The RN or the RAF Ethos Posted on October 18, 2010 by sharkeyward

http://thephoenixthinktank.wordpress.co ... -carriers-–-the-rn-or-the-raf-ethos/

ONLY a small excerpt of an overall look at RN/RAF difference:

"Carrier-Based Air.
The carrier at sea represents an entirely different world to a shore-based airfield[3]. It is a compact floating weapon system with many integral parts. For its personnel it is, therefore, no different from life in any frigate, minesweeper or even a submarine.

The ship’s company which includes all embarked personnel, including aircrew, engineers, medics and logisticians, enjoy an existence that is far removed in quality and content from that of their civilian or land based colleagues. They are confined to an existence in a steel box from which they cannot easily escape. As Samuel Johnson once wrote, “No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in jail, with the chance of being drowned.” They are separated from their friends, wives and families and cannot respond rapidly to domestic problems and difficulties. This separation places a great strain on the families left behind and can be demoralising and extremely stressful for the embarked sailor – especially when crises in the home occur.

Few social amenities are available to embarked personnel. There is no pub, no shops, no green fields for walking the dog and no escape from the confinement of the steel hull that can be their home for extended periods of time.

Unlike an airfield on shore, the active safety and operation of the ship is a 24/7 responsibility and there is no place for a 9 to 5 mentality. Weekends do not exist. The smooth functioning and operability of an aircraft carrier demands continuous and fastidious attention to detail and a full integration of all the differing specialisations embarked; whether these are ships engineers, flight deck handlers, operations room personnel, watch keeping personnel, armourers, medics, cooks and caterers, or aircrew.

For safety reasons in particular, all embarked personnel must know their ship well. Hazards facing the ship and crew are numerous and vary from violent weather, fire on board, collision risk to crashes on the flight deck. The ship’s company must be on its guard continuously and be ready and prepared to cope with any emergency; which is why, for example, all personnel are required to have detailed training in damage control, fire-fighting, survival and other safety-at-sea issues. Every man is fully involved in “fighting the ship” during action stations, if only to ensure his own and his shipmates’ survival. Each is fully aware that their ship may be the next target...."
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