Mrt 31 2011
Soms zijn er verrassende wendingen in iemands vastgeroeste standpunt. En verrassend was het om vanochtend een artikel op de website van het Australian Aviation magazine aan te treffen van de (voorheen door Lockheed gesponsored) Williams Foundation met een oproep “tot uitstel van JSF aanschaf”.
De Williams Foundation claimt van zichzelf een “independent research organization” te zijn, die zich bezighoudt met Australische defensiethema’s. Leden van de Williams Foundation zijn met name gepensioneerde Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) officieren. De Williams Foundation werd zo genoemd als eerbetoon aan de eerste commandant van de RAAF, Sir Richard Williams.
Opgericht in 2009, mede als pro-JSF lobby organisatie
Maar zo onafhankelijk als de Williams Foundation claimt (claimde?) te zijn, bij de oprichting in februari 2009 (temidden van heftige JSF debatten in Australië), stond in een kort persbericht: “We had hoped to obtain some start-up funding from Defence. However, that has as yet not happened. Luckily for us two defence-related companies have made generous offers of support. Chemring Australia, a manufacturer of defence pyrotechnics and air, land and sea based decoys is one of our two major sponsors. The second is Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the F22 and the F35.”
Inmiddels is de pagina met links naar sponsors gestript. Maar via deze Link: Williams Foundation/Index kunt u nog de labels van de adverteerders aantreffen (beweeg met de muis over de brede witte balk met de kleine rode kruisjes). Geheel links adverteerder nummer één: Lockheed Martin.
Een extra reden dus om verbaasd te zijn over dit pleidooi om de aanschaf van de JSF uit te stellen. Te meer omdat vele leden van de Williams Foundation actief betrokken waren in het bevorderen van de keuze van de JSF circa tien jaar geleden. Voorzitter van de Foundation - Air Marshall Errol McCormack - is als een soort Australische equivalent van “onze” Mat Herben jarenlang intensief bezig geweest met een pro-JSF lobby binnen de Australische defensie en politiek.
Pleidooi voor langer doorvliegen tot na 2020 met oude Hornets
We citeren enkele beweringen van de Williams Foundation van deze week: “In the Williams Foundation’s judgment it would be sensible to wait and see what happens with the F-35, while simultaneously investigating in the cost of capability issues involved in maintaining the classic Hornet beyond 2020. An interim force structure based on Vigilair, JORN, Wedgetail (….), Super Hornets and up to 71 classic Hornets would still be world-class for the next decade”
Verder verwijst de Williams Foundation naar de problemen jaren terug met de F-111, die met 5 jaar vertraging werd geleverd, en ziet dit als wijze les om nu - in verband met de risico’s van de F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -de aankoop uit te stellen:
“This experience suggests that there could be very reasons for Australia to delay delivery of the F-35 until the production line is mature. The issue is: what action is required to ensure that any further delays in an F-35 Initial Operational Capability do not result in a capability gap? This question is too important to be left unanswered.”.
Niettemin behoudt de Williams Foundation een lange termijn vertrouwen in de F-35:
A fleet of F-35s would give Australia unsurpassed ability to shape and control events in our region. Maar ook die opinie kan over twee jaar veranderd zijn.
Van lofzang twee jaar geleden, naar kritiek……
Dit is in sterke tegenspraak met het vurige pro-JSF pleidooi, vastgelegd in een heuse JSF White Paper uit februari 2009. Maar deze is kennelijk van de Williams website verwijderd. Althans, de link “http://www.williamsfoundation.org.au/research/download/air-combat-capability.pdf” levert nu een toegangsfout op…….
Gelukkig hebben we een goed archief, hieronder kunt u lezen wat de mening was in februari 2009 (nog maar 2 jaar geleden). Waarom dit document weghalen? Of is zijn de ogen nu open gegaan voor de werkelijke kosten, werkelijke risico’s, werkelijke levertijd voor de RAAF?
“There has been much media debate and speculation about a new air combat capability for the Australian Defence Force and whether the Joint Strike Fighter is the right aircraft for Australia. Such debate is valuable, given the importance of our air combat capability to Australia’s future security and because of the amount of money involved. However, some of the public debate is poorly informed, and in some cases, naïve.
Discussion on the new air combat capability has concentrated on the performance debates, comparing platform speed, range, stealth, turning performance, radar performance and missile performance. These parameters are vitally important, but by themselves, they are insufficient. The debate must address the full range of capability elements and the affordability of the capability as a part of the total force.
Any discussion on affordability must include an assessment of the number of airframes necessary to meet a minimum level of capability and a minimum level of sustainability. The Kokoda Foundation (www.kokodafoundation.org) released an authoritative paper “Australia’s Future Joint Strike Fighter Fleet: How much is too little?” in October 2005 that addressed this issue in detail. The paper concluded that a three squadron force equating to 75 aircraft severely limits Government options in any strategic policy setting; a four squadron force equating to 97 aircraft allows the Government a greater freedom of strategic choice and reduces risk by allowing the option of either offensive or defensive postures; and a five squadron force equating to 120 aircraft provides the Government the greatest degree of flexibility by allowing a mix of offensive and defensive action and is sustainable over an adequate period. Sustainability in terms of personnel training and development is also a critical element when considering the size of the force: a force that is not self sustaining in personnel is not viable. When considering aircraft numbers marginal not project costs of additional aircraft must be considered.
Turning to the less visible, but nevertheless critical capability factors, the “ultimate” performing aircraft in the world will not meet our needs unless it has:
“supportability”; the logistics chain has a very high probability of obtaining the correct parts on time.
“maintainability”; training and maintenance systems are geared to minimum turn around times.
“reliability”; there is a high probability that the aircraft will return from a mission combat ready.
“affordability”; acquisition of a large number of aircraft and more importantly maintenance of those aircraft does not distort defence budgets.
“interoperability”; an air combat capability is but one important cog in a very large network of air, land and sea based systems and the aircraft must be able to interact with systems such as the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD), Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft as well as systems of our friends and allies.
“operability”; it must have highly integrated sensor and weapons systems that can be operated effectively and efficiently by our people.
“upgradeability”; no platform can be operated for its structural life of type and remain operationally relevant without significant through life capability upgrades. Platform systems architectures must be designed for easy upgrade and integration of future systems and there must be a large enough user community to share the non-recurring costs of such development programs.
A number of commentators have suggested that Australia should purchase the F-22 Raptor. Whilst the Raptor is an outstanding air-combat capability, it will not meet all of Australia’s multi-role needs (that is both air combat and surface strike) in isolation and is/will be operated in limited numbers by only one country, albeit our major ally. Thus if Australia acquired the F-22 Raptor the RAAF would need to operate at least two air combat aircraft types to fulfil all the roles the ADF needs.
The purchase and sustainment of multiple types of fast jet platforms for the next three to four decades would, in our view, be unaffordable for a country with our limited resources. Whilst we are airpower advocates, we strongly advocate a balanced total force. Consequently, our view is that disproportionate investment in any one service would be a disservice to our nation – that means Australia needs an affordable air combat force.
Capability decisions are based on an analysis of cost and risk – rigorous analysis of the new air combat capability requirements is being undertaken by the Department of Defence as part of a broader affordable force structure, contrary to the often-derogatory remarks made by some commentators. No platform can maintain a clear capability advantage across all aspects of performance throughout its operational service - all platforms are operated in a manner which exploits performance advantages and limits the effect of any relative performance deficiencies. Australia will mitigate any performance risks of our force capabilities by the manner in which we operate the capability. Such operations will take into account a realistic assessment of the scenarios in which the aircraft are likely to operate and adversary systems encountered; not idealistic perfomance data unrepresentative of how a particular force is likely to be operated.
Whilst the Williams Foundation does not categorically advocate that Australia must purchase the F-35, we do assert that the air combat capability debate must address the full range of capability considerations. An assessment of the F-35 under these criteria should place it very high on the list because it has been designed from the start to address all the key issues. For example the interoperability and upgradeability of the JSF will likely be without peer: with a minimum of nine partner nations representing 13 services indicating their intent to acquire, the economies of scale would be extremely competitive.
Based on the analysis we have seen to date, no other platform comes close to matching the F-35 as a total, integrated, single multi-role air weapons system for Australia’s security in the 21st century. We therefore think it offers the best cost/capability/risk trade-off for Australia’s new air combat capability.
We welcome the continued discussion and debate regarding the new air combat capability. However, such debate must address all capability aspects and not just platform performance.”