Feb 18 2013

Australian TV reveals: JSF deal after secret meeting in 2002

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl om 11:13 onder Aanschaf JSF, Andere JSF landen

In Australia is growing critisicism on the JSF project. Today, Australian ABC Television program “Four Corners” tries to find an answer at the question “how and why did Australia lock itself into a project that both experts and senior US politicians say is dangerously flawed?” The program reveals that back in 2002 John Howard as Prime Minister signed a secreat deal with Lockheed Martin.

ABC TV Four Corners (see link) asks three crucial questions:
(1) Why was the JSF chosen without an open and competitive tender?
(2) Why did the Air Force top give the JSF project his stamp of approval when it was barely off the drawing board?
(3) And will the JSF capabilities have to be downgraded before it gets into service?

Choice of F-35 after secret meeting with Lockheed Martin

ABC TV Four Corners reveals that John Howard as Prime Minister signed Australia up to the F-35 development program in a secret deal with the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin in a Washington hotel ten years ago.
In June 2002, just around the corner from the White House, at the Willard Hotel, he sat down with representatives of Lockheed Martin. At this secret meeting, John Howard signed up Australia to the JSF program.”

A deal without any public tender

In the meantime other aircraft companies were preparing to go head to head for a lucrative Australian contract. One of the was the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault, that produces the Rafale fighter jet. They were preparing dor for a five year campaign to sell the French plane. The French representative Daniel Fremont arrived June 27, 2002 in Canberra to discuss the opportunities of the Rafae. But the same day , the then Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill was giving a press conference, announcingL at a press conference: “What we’re announcing today is that we’ve decided to, as a government, to participate in the system development and demonstration phase of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, and ultimately this will be the largest military procurement in Australia’s history.” Without real competition, without a competitive tender the Lockheed Martin F-35 had been choosen by Australia. Daniel Fremont: “I was so shocked that I could not believe it. It’s just as simple as that.”

Pierrre Sprey’s opinion, (co-)designer of A-10 and F-16 about the F-35

The Australian TV also asked Pierre Sprey to comment on the F-35. Pierre Sprey is the father of the well-known Fairchild A-10 tank-killer and co-designer of the very successfull F-16 fighter jet. So, his opinion about the F-35 is very interesting:
So we have an airplane that can’t turn to escape fighters, can’t turn to escape missiles, sluggish in acceleration because it’s so big and fat and draggy and doesn’t have enough motor for the weight. ”
We haven’t even scratched the surface of the failures because we’ve done all the easy flight testing so far. The hard flight testing, you know, that’s all in front of us, that hasn’t been done yet.”
Because of the enormous complexity, every aspect of that airplane is basically a failure waiting to happen and super hard to fix. The computer system is a nightmare and they’re so behind schedule. They’re more behind schedule on software than on anything else.

No normal, independent competitive tender

ABC TV “Four Corners” reveals that 10 years ago the head of the RAAF, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, was warned the JSF might be late and the RAAF should opt for a mixed fleet rather than a single-type air force made up solely of JSF aircraft. “Four Corners” reporters tried to find an answer to te question: “The JSF project could cost Australian taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. Is this plane a super fighter or a massive waste of money.. However, in a separate statement Angus Houston defends the decision to choose the F-35 for the RAAF, saying: “I am still convinced that the JSF is the right air combat aircraft to meet Australia’s future security needs ?”

A former Defence official closely involved in the oversight of the replacement program agreed to talk to Four Corners on condition that his identity was protected: “Australia would normally have gone through a competitive tendering process to work out “what the aeroplane could do, what its costs and its schedule was. But this had not happened in the case of the JSF.”

Pentagon General Bogdan, head JSF Program office: still risks and problems

Four Corners reporter Andrew Fowler travels to the United States in search of answers. He goes to Lockheed Martin’s top secret factory in Texas. He had the first television interview with the Pentagon’s new head man on the project, US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who has recently taken over as head of the JSF project team. Lt.general Bodgan said int the interview: “Let’s make no mistake about it. This program still has risks, technical risks, it has cost issues, it has problems we’ll have to fix in the future.
And the head of JSF Program Office Bodgan confirms: “If you promise that you’re getting a Ferrari and you deliver a Chevy - um, no offence to the Chevy company - you’re not going to sell as many. It’s as simple as that.” And about the price-quantity deadly embracing: “Sure. It’s-it’s a, it’s a death spiral.”.

Concurrency in development and production caused problems

Bogdan confirms that that putting the plane into production before it has been tested properly - a process called concurrency - has caused major problems: “Concurrency has created a complexity in this program that we have to deal with today. And while I would not dare to go back and criticise the decisions that were made in the past, what I probably would’ve thought about was how much development work and how much testing was really done to solidify the design of the airplane before we started producing airplanes.
A large amount of concurrency - i.e. beginning in production long before your design is stable and long before you’ve found problems in test, creates downstream issues where now you have to go back and retrofit airplanes and make sure that the production line has those fixes in them. And that drives complexity and cost.”

Read more:
ABC News; 18-feb-2013; “Pentagon general issues warning on JSF blow-outs

Statement of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC, AFC (Ret’d) 13 February 2013 (PDF)

“Reach for the Sky”, reported by Andrew Fowler and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 18th February at 8.30pm on ABC1 (local time). It is replayed on Tuesday 19th February at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 at 8.00pm Saturday, on ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

One Response to “Australian TV reveals: JSF deal after secret meeting in 2002”

  1. willemhagemanon 18 Feb 2013 at 13:43

    More and more ingredients become available for a thriller bestseller. Who will be the first one who has to show up in front of a court, if ever?
    When will those in The Netherlands who are involved in or responsible for the JSF project get awake and open their eyes? How reliable are LM and the US?

    Wanneer vallen in Nederland bij hen betrokken bij het JSF project eens de schellen van de ogen? Beter ten halve gekeerd dan ten hele gedwaald. Zoals eerder opgemerkt moet dit vroeg of laat leiden tot een parlementaire enquête, maar dan is het kwaad al geschied en helaas heeft zo’n enquête nauwelijks of geen consequenties en/of sancties. Hooguit wat reputatieschade voor betrokkenen. De belastingbetaler is de klos en de toekomstige verdediging van onze vrijheid en verworvenheden evenals het in internationaal veband samenwerken aan een betere wereld zijn niet langer gewaarborgd.

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