Archief van de april, 2014

Apr 30 2014

Canadian Newspaper: Flying in the dark on the F-35 ‘stealth’ fighter

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

The Canadian Newspaper The Toronto Star criticizes in an editorial the lack of transparency of the government in the fighter selection process: “Flying in the dark”:

Six years after Stephen Harper began lobbying for the F-35, we’re still flying in the dark on its cost and on the merits of its competitors.

After bungling Canada’s proposed F-35 “stealth” fighter purchase so badly that his government was held in contempt of Parliament partly because of it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a responsibility to come clean with Canadians on the costly project.

The Conservatives have been temporizing for two years, since the auditor general reported in 2012 that Parliament had been misled to the tune of $10 billion on the plane’s true costs. Now the file is headed back to cabinet and suspicion is growing that the Tories intend to punt the decision forward again, until after the 2015 election. Meanwhile, we’re no further ahead.

It is past time Canadians were supplied with credible information on the F-35’s cost, the capabilities the air force genuinely needs to replace our aging CF-18 Hornets and the merits of other aircraft on offer, including full life-cycle costs and industrial benefits. It may be that the F-35 is the best choice. The Americans, British and Australians are buying it. But that has yet to be shown. And Parliament yet again is abuzz with questions.

Read more:
Toronto Star; 30-Apr-2014; Flying in the dark on the F-35

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Apr 29 2014

Opinion: is big beautifull? The weakness of the JSF program!

Gepubliceerd door Christiaan Meinen onder Global F35 News

Opinion article by Christiaan Meinen

GOUDA - If we remember the poor OSINT document in which the Dutch Government proclaimed the JSF as being still the only preferable candidate we remember also the “false” arguments being used over and over again for choosing the JSF.

the entire pro-JSF argumentation uses a lot of fallacies

 If you dig deeper into the used arguments. Often not based on facts but on assumptions of people who claim to be specialists. Fighter pilots for example. I don’t doubt they know a lot about their current fighter, and they also know many things about what they hear from Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon presentation they receive. But what they can’t know is trustworthy information from the fighter aircraft about whome they make their claims of inferiority. Why? Because in recent statements… in the Netherlands. It became clear that the Dutch Ministry of Defense didn’t had one single contact with the F16 Replacement program team (also the JSF program team) from 2008 untill mid-2013. During a public hearing all the companies acknowledged this. After the promise of the Dutch MOD there have been some talks with representatives of those companies: Dassault, Boeing and Saab. Now read a reaction from Saab in a letter to the Dutch Parliament about these “talks”:

Already during the meeting, the representatives from the Dutch side made clear that the Ministry had decided not to have a repetition of the 2008 candidate’s comparison and that their actual assessments would be made on the basis of this single meeting, and furthermore on the basis of what they called ‘open sources’. During this process we were not given te opportunity to provide confidential information to you Algemene Rekenkamer to fact check and compare alternatives.

More about this and other claims (used GT) officially made by the Dutch MoD about both the JSF and alternative aircraft. Some other used arguments:

·         Besides the random and ridicule arguments of 4th 4.5th versus 5th generation fighters claiming that “older” 4th – 4.5th  fighters will be obsolete (even if they are designed in the same timeframe and new build airframes with 0 flight hours on the counter).

·         We also hear claims that there are no other possibilities to perform the (future) tasks of fighters like first strike and SEAD/DEAD operations and that the JSF will do that by flying near those S-xxx sites and destroy them with simple munitions. Just because it won’t be detected by enemy systems (be it ground based Radar other than Xband, passive radar, IRST and other future systems that may be…)

Just look at the first article: Sweden To Arm Fighter Jets With Cruise Missile ‘Deterrent’ Apr. 24, 2014

STOCKHOLM — The Swedish government defended plans Thursday to equip fighter jets with cruise missiles capable of striking targets in Russia, days after announcing a military spending hike linked to the Ukraine conflict.

“In the future the ability to combat longer range targets can be important,” Defence Minister Karin Enstroem told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio, adding that the missiles would have “a high precision which acts as a deterrent.”

The Swedish defense forces have argued for longer range missiles to deter Russia from destroying Swedish weapons from a distance. The new missiles — to be fitted on Gripen jets — would double the current range at 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

“It shows a potential opponent that we can fight at long distances and therefore we believe it is a deterrent,” Colonel Johan Hansson told Sveriges Radio.

“If we are detected early we must be able to have a firing range that is much longer than what we’ve previously been used to.”

Alternatives without capabilities? We know missiles, unmanned aircraft are getting better and better al the time. The industries are capable of building RAMjet equipped missiles with a rather high speed and great accuracy. Like Meteor. In a previous article these qualities are worked out. And propose an alternative to the JSF way of doing business. The big problem is that the JSF fan pilots claim that nothing else except the JSF works in this area. But how would they know?

Big is best?

·         The JSF is the only big fighter which will be in production for 20-30 years to come with over 4.000 (or is it 5.000) copies. All other’s will be obsolete and the industrial benefit of those aircraft for the partner countries will give benefit to industry and new created jobs. All this isn’t possible with alternative aircraft. Well look at what was offered to Switzerland and Brazil? DO you have a clue?:

o    Swiss deal: based on 22 GripenE, guaranteed 500k labour hours.

o    Dutch JSF dream deal: based on 85 JSF, NO guarantee 100k -120k expected… but we buy only 35 of those initial 85. Just an example….

o    The JSF needs a “test program” with now flying almost 100 JSF copies in many different variants, blocks and software versions…all need conversions. At the moment even not a single JSF is the same at the moment. That’s very big compared to e.g. the GripenE program with at the moment 1 demonstrator, and 3 test aircraft to be built for Sweden and Switzerland.

·         The trustworthy history of companies like Boeing, Saab, Dassault and others which delivered in the past… Some even have more trustworthy reputation than Lockheed Martin lets think of the widowmaker alias Starfighter.. sold with bribery money through the honourable Prince Bernhard. One of the most often used argument is the… F-16 we all love. So lets buy the JSF. Well, F16 was designed and build by General Dynamics.. It won the Lightweight Fighter program from Lockheed’s Martin own design/proposal the CL1200 Lancer. A often used Dutch saying: showing off other people’s feathers.

·         Another used argument, and basis for many “penalties” for alternative fighter aircraft during several replacement comparisons. Like Norway and the Netherlands. The trustworthiness of companies and governments to support their fighter fleets during their operational lifetime. Like France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and others will let their capabilities disappear without any fight. These companies and their respective governments even offer to incorporate a penalty clause within their contracts, something the USG nor LM won’t offer. But now we come to the first article of    

The danger of these kind of arguments is that people who don’t understand or are interested in Fighter aircraft.. the common man… only hear what the MoD and the JSF lobby groups… operating from representations of industry to workers’ unions stricked in the net of promises of hundred … thousands of labour hours…. What they say is widely heart. And why not, they are the fighterpilots? Why should they claim things which aren’t true?

Just read some fragments of the second article …. Saab Drives Down Gripen Cost Amid Export Push Mar. 17, 2014

LINKOPING, SWEDEN — Saab expects to halve the cost of developing and building an upgraded E version of the single-engine Gripen fighter, seen as vital for extending the life of the combat jet, senior executives of the Swedish company said.

Lessons learned through Saab’s work on the Boeing 787, Dassault Aviation’s Neuron demonstrator for a combat drone and Catia software for 3D design lie behind that forecast, said Lennart Sindahl, deputy chief executive and head of aeronautics division.

Saab believes it has broken the so-called Augustine’s law (nr 16 editorial addition: In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.”), in which former Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Norman Augustine predicted only one fighter would be affordable in 2054, with the Air Force and Navy sharing it and the Marines getting use on a leap year.

Over the past 10 years, the Swedish company has cut costs in development, production, operation and maintenance on the C single-seat and D twin-seat Gripen models, Sindahl told journalists here during a press trip paid for by Saab.

“Yes we did it. We managed in C/D. With E, we continue this,” he said. “This is really a necessity.”

Sweden has set an “absolute ceiling on money” on buying 60 (Editorial addition: the government now proposes to buy 10 more)  of the more capable and stealthier E version, so Saab must continue breaking a rising cost curve for building fighter aircraft, he said.

“The US is not building a bigger footprint in Europe, so the incentives are there for further reform we have to deal with,” he said. “We’re in a part of the world of interest to others.”

The Air Force’s requirements “drove up the cost curve,” he said. “We succeeded breaking the cost curve a few years ago, and we have been able to prove it. This is also a key factor for the future.”

Saab, therefore, increased productivity by 30 percent on converting the A/B version to C/D standard, while the target is a 50 percent increase for the E by 2016-17.

Work on a demonstrator aircraft for the Gripen E showed cost could be cut by 60 percent. That demonstrator and the Neuron helped “de-risk” the E, Sindahl said.

The process is expected to allow Saab to drop the number of test flights from 3,700 for the C/D to 1,200 for the E, saving money.“Flights cost,” Ydresko said.

On the equipment, Saab is buying and partially funding development of a more powerful General Electric F414G engine.

Airbus Defense & Space will supply a missile approach warning system.

Selex will deliver the Raven ES-05 active electronically scanned array radar and the Skyward G infrared search and track, said Bob Mason executive vice president of the Finmeccanica unit. Another Selex sensor will be an identification friend or foe system. Selex also hopes to win orders for an expendable active decoy, dubbed Brite Cloud, an alternative to the chaff defense against enemy radar-guided missiles.

Changes on the E will include raising its stealthiness.

“We looked at how much is it possible to lower the signature on the new aircraft,” Sindahl said. “It’s not stealth, that’s obvious. You can reduce to a certain level.”

In December, Brazil chose the Swedish fighter in a $4.5 billion deal over Boeing’s F/A-18 and Dassault’s Rafale.


In Switzerland, voters will decide on May 18 whether to proceed with the government’s selection of the Gripen. If the vote is in favor of the Gripen, Swiss companies will receive business under an offset agreement, campaign director Richard Smith said. RUAG, last month, signed a 68 million Swiss franc (US $77 million) deal to develop and build fuel pylons for the E. Some 485 contracts worth a total 330 million francs have been signed with Swiss firms.

Now I ask you… why wouldn’t Saab and its partners… backed up by Sweden deliver? Why wouldn’t Dassault, Boeing and Eurofighter consortium do the same? Why is it possible that the JSF lobby states that only Lockheed Martin can deliver… on time, within budget and according to Key performance Indicators?…. right the thruth is that they proved during the last 10 – 20 years with their JSF program that they are the once which can’t deliver. But they are backed by Marketing guru’s and representations in the US Congres with fabrics, Airbases and building facilities in all the US States. The real power is politics and keeping voters happy. With large consequences…. Worldwide!


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Apr 24 2014

Kongsberg Norway: new US$ 26 million parts contract F-35 JSF

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Norwegian company Kongsberg signed a contract for delivery of parts to the Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, worth NOK 160 million (US$ 26,7 million, € 19,2 million).

The contract is a continuation of deliveries from the five previous production lots (LRIP 3-7) and supports the continued business relationship between Kongsberg and Lockheed Martin. The contract includes deliveries to about 40 aircraft.

We are pleased that we reached an agreement for additional vertical tail leading edges and rudder components for the F-35 Lightning II and it is a testament to the continuing long-term international cooperation between Lockheed Martin and Kongsberg,” said Susan Ouzts, Lockheed Martin vice president, F-35 International Programs. “Kongsberg continues to demonstrate the high levels of technical and manufacturing sophistication that are required to compete for work on the F-35, and we expect more F-35 industrial participation for Norway as we continue to move through the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phases.

This contract demonstrates Kongsberg’s continued competitiveness of high end manufacturing and represents a new significant milestone for our aerostructures business. We are pleased to be a supplier of quality products to the F-35 program, supporting the continuation of our long term cooperation with Lockheed Martin”, said Terje Bråthen, Executive Vice President Aerostructures, Kongsberg Defence Systems.

Press Release Kongsberg Gruppen

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Apr 24 2014

New F-35 Claim: Lower O&S Offsets Higher Acquisition Cost

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Washington - Last week the U.S. Defense Department released its new Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) on its major weapon programs. These annual reports are the Pentagon’s effort at definitive cost analysis; they come in two forms: the summary data on all 77 of DOD’s Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and separate reports on individual programs, such as the F-35—the latter put on-line without a pay wall by Breaking Defense.

As in recent years, the release of new data on the F-35 provoked press coverage, some of it quite thorough in summarizing much the new data and what the top F-35 defender, F-35 program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, had to say about it all. However, there are some important points that did not get the attention they perhaps deserve, and one key point seems to have been generally missed.

F-35 Acquisition costs increased US$ 7.4 billion

As the SARs and Department of Defense’s summary of them made clear:
The cost to acquire the F-35 has gone up compared to last year’s estimate. Page 6 of DOD’s summary of its SAR states that F-35 airframe “costs increased +$3.1 billion (+1.0%) from $326.9 billion to $330.0 billion” and costs for the separately accounted engine “increased +$4.3 billion (+6.7%) from $64.3 billion to $68.6 billion.”

The $7.4 billion cost increase comes in the face of promises, made by F-35 program manager Lt. Gen Christopher Bogdan and DOD acquisition czar Frank Kendall to Congress, that costs are coming down and will do so in the future. Bogdan describes the new increases as due to higher than predicted actual labor costs and the decision of some buyers, including the US Navy, to delay their purchases—thereby delaying the onset of cost reductions from the so-called learning curve and economies of scale. Those developments should hardly have been a surprise, especially for someone as involved in the F-35 program as Lt. Gen. Bogdan.

Continued promise since 2007: “cost reduction as soon as new buyers commit to the F-35″

But all that now should be seen as stale history as Bogdan re-assures the press that new cost reductions will occur as soon as new buyers commit to the program—assuming they all do and that existing F-35 buyers do not balk even more than some have already.

In truth, the future of the F-35 program remains clouded, and most cloudy of all is the ultimate unit cost of the aircraft and the impact of that cost, as its reality unfolds, on existing and future buyers. As previously argued, there is good reason to think the real-world unit cost of F-35s, on average, will stay much closer to the $200 million level than it does to the dubious predictions of Lockheed and Lt. Gen. Bogdan, such as $75 million each. (Editor: 23-Apr2014, Australia announced to buy 58 “more” F-35As with a budgetted total acquisition amount of US$ 11.6 billion, or a unit price of US$ 198 million each).

Second, the F-35 acquisition cost increases revealed by the new SARs come as a major embarrassment to the Government Accountability Office that pronounced in a report released just last month that DOD SAR data showed F-35 acquisition costs coming down, not going up. As previously explained, GAO’s report used two year old data, thanks to the agency’s ponderous report writing process and the fact that the analysts and manager assigned to the report used a stunningly superficial analytical methodology. Not a single news article I read on the new SAR data recalled GAO’s miss-call of the acquisition cost vector.

Operating & Support Costs to be going down: yes or no?

Instead, the headline on many of the news articles on the new F-35 SAR data pushed the fact that DOD is now estimating the cost to operate and support the F-35 (O&S costs, which are quite separate from acquisition costs) to be going down. Beyond the increasing acquisition (research and production) expense, DOD announced that F-35 “operating and support costs decreased $96,8 billion (-8.7%) from $1.113,3 billion to $1.016,5 billion.”

Thus, there was a net “life cycle” (acquisition plus O&S) reduction in F-35 costs of $89.4 billion. The net figure gave Bogdan and Lockheed the pretext to say that, overall, F-35 costs were indeed coming down. However, that is not the acquisition price promise they have been making, and closer inspection of the reasons for the lower O&S cost estimate show that it too is a concocted estimate.

Closer analysis shows: lower O&S costs a false claim

DOD’s summary explanation says the lower O&S estimate is “due primarily to cost data updates including the application of historical cost escalation and an update to the Spare Parts Unit Database, revised labor rates, and updated technical inputs to include increased fuel efficiency.” But if you read the material buried at the end of DOD’s 97 page system-specific SAR on the F-35, some better insight creeps in.

Page 95 explains that “for the first time” the DOD cost estimators have “actual information on component reliabilities obtained from ongoing F-35 flight operations” including “actual reliability information on many F-35 components based on data collected during approximately 8,500 hours of flight operations.”
Based on that empirical data, the DOD cost estimators at the Cost Assessment and Performance Evaluation (CAPE) office are saying the costs to maintain and repair the F-35 are going up, not down, by $15 billion. This is “because component reliability information obtained from actual flight operations data is not consistent with expectations.” (Bogdan tried to discount this information by saying his office’s even lower O&S estimate uses more recent, more extensive flying hour data, but he also let slip that his office also adjusted the data with more of those unrealized future “expectations” that his office insists on projecting.)

Empircial - real world - cost increase confirmed by CAPE

The empirical—real world—cost increase that CAPE found to mean a small increase in F-35 O&S was declared to be offset by four factors cited in the SAR by CAPE:

- The military services will achieve savings by flying the F-35 less, which on page 96, and elsewhere, is declared to be “fuel efficiency.”

- An update to the “Spare Parts Unit Database” predicts fewer, not more, future spare parts and/or lower, not higher, costs for them but without any explanation.

- Inflation during the projected 30 year service life of F-35s—out to the year 2065—is declared to be lower, and

- The cost for labor by military, civilian and contractor personnel—also out to the year 2065—is “updated” to lesser numbers.

Uncertain prognosted- virtual world - cost down by creative calculations

Thus, the cost increases from empirically demonstrated maintenance and support data from recent history are more than offset by future prognostications out to 2065. It is precisely matters like fuel costs, inflation and labor rates that can be unpredictable just for months ahead, let alone years—to say nothing of decades. Estimating them with such precision out to 2065 is an easy plaything for manipulation.

We already know DOD manipulates its own inflation prognostications for both its own budget history and for short term future predictions in the five-year Future Year Defense Program (FYDP). It stretches credulity past the breaking point to assert that the cost of a weapon program will be some precise lesser amount 30 years from now because someone has readjusted inflation and labor cost predictions.

In fact, in past inflation predictions for specific on-coming fiscal years (those just months ahead) DOD has proven inaccurate not just in the amount inflation has grown or declined but whether it has grown or declined. If they cannot even get the vector right a few months ahead, what business do they have asserting they can know it precisely 30 years from now? It is quite preposterous.

And yet, here we are, asked to believe that the cost of F-35 O&S will be, as DOD tells us, “decreased $96.8 billion (-8.7%) from $1.113,3 billion to $1.016,5 billion” by the time the program is done in 2065.

What they are saying is that data from the immediate past—based on known production costs, actual orders from buyers, and real world maintenance expenses—are more than offset by future—unsecured—purchase decisions and unknowable inflation and labor costs out to the year 2065.

How do you write “bridge for sale” in a Brooklyn accent??

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO
Mr. Wheeler’s areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems

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Apr 24 2014

Italian F-35 Order to be cut by half: only 45 remaining

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News publicized an article Wednesday, April 23, 2014 about the Italian proposal to decrease the number of JSF further from 90 to 45.


Some interesting details:

  • Italy’s number of aircraft are down from 131 initialy to 90 (decided in 2012) to 45 now.

  • Why the Italian report state’s that: the 45 remaining aircraft would be slightly less than the 131 that Italy initially planned” is rather strange. Since when is a decrease of 65,65% in numbers a slightly less ammount?

  • No change in 6 aircraft buy planned for this year (2014)

  • Reduction in the number of aircraft for the period 2015-2019 from 40 to 29, this will safe over 2 billion Euros.

  • Next order (presumably the 2015 order) will be reduced from 8 to 5 aircraft.

  • Although the Air Force back’s the acquisition of the JSF, Italian defense plans have no requirement for a stealthy strike fighter

  • The new defense white paper whose publication, originally expected by year-end, will now be brought forward to the summer.

  • The government wants to avoid (at least minimize) any cuts in production orders for the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, in Northern Italy.

What will this downsizing mean for the FACO where also the Dutch proposed JSF would be assembled? Is such an enormous infrastructure build only for 31 (some of the 37 Dutch JSF will remain in the US)+ 45 Italian JSF (including F35A and B type)? Norway already said they want to have their aircraft assembled in the US.




Italy’s new government has decided to halve its procurement F-35 fighters, from 90 to 45, but will stretch out its implementation to limit any losses of related work for its aerospace industry, the Rome daily La Repubblica reported April 22.

According to the report, the 45 remaining aircraft would be slightly less than the 131 that Italy initially planned; a previous government had already cut 41 aircraft from its planned order in 2012.

In an April 18 decree, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that savings from the F-35 program would contribute to a 10-billion euro tax cut, and that the program would be “remodulate.” This year, the only change to the program is a reduction of 153 million euros, the decree stated.

According to La Repubblica, Renzi will not change the six-aircraft order planned for 2014, but will reduce the number of aircraft ordered by 2019 from 40 to 29. This will allow savings of over 2 billion euros, which the government finds irresistible.



Read the whole article on

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Apr 23 2014

Australian MOD: “If costs blow out, we may leave the JSF program”

Gepubliceerd door Christiaan Meinen onder Global F35 News

In essence this is the same trick the JSF-lobby pulled out in the Netherlands in early 2010. The question was wether the Netherlands would buy into the IOT&E phase of the JSF Program. An act which we had to do, there was no other option possible according Dutch MoD. The situation was that the coalition of Christian Democrats (CDA) Labour party (PvdA) and Christian Union (CU) “had” to decide on buying the test aircraft to participate in the IOT&A phase. This was a subject of discussion because the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin didn’t deliver what they promised. And they couldn’t give answers to specific requirements of the Dutch Parliament. Like the fixed price for example. The dilemma was that CDA wanted to proceed with the buy of two test aircraft and IOT&E phase for an amount of almost € 450 million. PvdA was reluctant and didn’t want it without answers to these unknown criteria. After hours of discussion they agreed the following:

“ We pay them, but we do not. buy them” De Vries (under minister of Defense at that time)  wants to capture in a ’side letter’. 

The suggestion was that it would be as easy to go back to LM/Pentagon and turn in the receipt to get our money back. Yes it looks funny… but this is real Dutch politics.  Pvda agreed on this term!

The whole article below by Eric Palmer is equally the situation which describes best what actually happens in the Netherlands… and almost all partner countries, except maybe for Denmark.

Reposted opinion with permission from Eric Palmer blog! “Defenc(s)e analysis from my corner of the Internet.” (with thanks)

Australian Defence Minister Johnston was on a radio show to explain F-35 progress. (transcript below).

Not much of what he said is true. Either he is being poorly advised, or he is engaging in misleading the nation. As an aside, his history on Defence topics could be summed up by, “if it is expensive, it must be good.”. Fact free analysis. For example, he wants the P-8A and Triton surveillance aircraft but both are immature and expensive. The entrenched Defence bureaucracy has a large history of getting it wrong, leaving a very small population of tax payers, to fund multi-billion dollar mistakes.

Again and again. The Australian public is stuck on the wrong end of an abusive relationship.

Johnston claims that the F-35 is “fifth generation” and by this alone it will defeat anything. Not true.

He claims that 4000 F-35’s will be built. No proof.
He states that costs are coming down on the program. Fairy dust. Since the F-35 development is so immature and troubled, there are a forest of billion-dollar fixes waiting.
He claims that there are 19 million lines of software code for the F-35 and this is …. wait for it… an advantage.
He states all of the industry/workshare talking points…

From about the year 2002 when Australia foolishly signed up for the program.

“It will affordable because already there are 3,000 aircraft on the order books.”
—27 June 2002, Air Marshal Houston, Defence press announcement, Australia joins the F-35 program—

The billions in Australian work-share Johnston has claimed have turned into a loss leader.
This from 2010:

O’Donnell cited one family-owned business, Production Parts Pty in Australia, which made “a substantial investment because they expected production volumes to be twice what they are today.” Production Parts itself, he added, has enough other business to keep going, but others are not so well off.

Within 2 years, Production Parts went out of business. Why? Lack of F-35 orders. Why? Because no one wanted to buy lots of mistake jets.

Here is what we were told in 2003 about the F-35s’ future success. 

That is a lot of lost money because of hundreds of jet orders that didn’t happen.

Johnston states that if there are cost blow outs, that Australia can leave the program. I suggest that we are already there:

“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office brief to Australian journalists, 2002-

“. . . US$40 million dollars . . ”
-Senate Estimates/Media Air Commodore John Harvey, AM Angus Houston, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003-

” . . US$45 million in 2002 dollars . .”
-JSCFADT/Senate Estimates, Air Commodore John Harvey, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003/2004-

“. . average unit recurring flyaway cost of the JSF will be around US$48 million, in 2002 dollars . . ”
-Senate Estimates/Press Club Briefing, Air Commodore John Harvey, 2006

“. . the JSF Price (for Australia) - US$55 million average for our aircraft . . in 2006 dollars . .”
-Senate Estimates/Media AVM John Harvey ACM Angus Houston, Nov. 2006-

Johnston’s radio show transcript below.


CHRIS UHLMANN: The plan to buy these jets has been in the pipeline for more than a decade and supported by Coalition and Labor Governments.

The man who will usher in the next phase is David Johnston, the Federal Defence Minister.

David Johnston, why does Australia need these jets?

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well, fifth-generation technology means that the aircraft have a specific sense of capability that puts them clearly above anything else in terms of air combat capability or other jet fighters, to use the common parlance.

Now, the aircraft has a whole host of technological advances that any potential adversary that we might face in the next 30 to 40 years I don’t think has any opportunity to match, particularly in the medium term.

So 19 million lines of computing power on each aircraft. A Collins Class submarine has six million lines of code. So we’re talking about a highly advanced technological stealth weapon that can sense an adversary at a long, long range off and provide Australia with cutting-edge capability in terms of national defence.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And what you talk about at this stage in some cases is experimental. So when will these planes be combat ready?

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well, they’re very, very close. Now 14 have been deployed to the Marines in Yuma in Arizona. There’s 93 aircraft currently flying and they’ve done more than 14,000 hours. They’ve successfully fired a number of ranges of weapons.

They’re landing on helicopter dock ships at the moment. So that’s the STOVL (short take-off/vertical landing) version and the United Kingdom is getting the STOVL version. So the aircraft - we’re getting the A version, which is the standard take-off/landing hard strip version - the aircraft is well advanced.

But it’s a totally different and new concept that is concurrently being developed with its deployment into service. Now, this has not happened before. And I think given the technical risks surrounding such a complex program, I think it is actually going very, very well.

CHRIS UHLMANN: There are technical risks. There are also cost risks. You’re billing this cost at $12.4 billion. Is it possible that cost might rise, particularly if other countries don’t take up their orders for planes?

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well, low rate of initial production six, which contains our aircraft and low-rate LRIP (low-rate initial production) seven has seen a 4 per cent reduction in costs so that the cost schedule equation in terms of a graph is headed in the right direction from Australia’s point of view.

And I’m very optimistic that we are seeing as these aircraft develop - and bear in mind we’re looking to see probably around 4,000 of them manufactured for the 11 countries that are participating in the program - I’m looking to see the price come down over time.

Now we will place an order hopefully this year for a further eight but we will have three combat-ready squadrons by 2023 and one training squadron stood up. We’ll have our first squadron standing up by 2020 and I expect the costs to be continuing to head in the right direction from an Australian perspective.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, you talked about 19 million lines of software code. That’s extraordinarily sophisticated and, as I said, experimental. What happens if the cost does blow out? Who pays for delays or mistakes: the contractor or Australia?

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well, the situation is this: if Australia decides that the costs have blown out to such an extent, we are not bound to continue. We are committed to the program. Every indicator at the moment indicates that the costs are headed in the right direction for us so I’m not anticipating any drama, but should there be a major turnaround in cost then, you know, the option is available for us to leave the program.

Now, I don’t want to do that because this aircraft is simply the best thing happening in air combat at the moment. I think, given the 11 countries that are committed to it, all of whom are our friends, I think the costs will continue to come down.

CHRIS UHLMANN: What about skills and technology transfer? Of course, this plane is being built in the United States at the moment, but what are the benefits for Australian defence industry?

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well, currently there are more than 30 companies in Australia that are benefiting from the Joint Strike Fighter program. Now, most of those companies are in Victoria. There is more than $330 million worth of work currently on the table.

I anticipate within the next little while, maybe the next three to four years, there’ll be more than $1.5 billion worth of work for Australian skills and technical manufacturers. We already manufacture the tailplane and a whole host of other accessories for the aircraft.

Now, there is a total up for grabs of more than $7.5 billion. I expect Australian companies to be getting a very significant slice of that action and I will certainly be working with Lockheed Martin and the United States government to see that this commitment rewards Australian industry who have had a bit of a rough time of it lately, defence industry. And we want to see a significant slice of the action coming to those companies.

Now, I want to say that I think this announcement gives them greater confidence, gives them a bit of a fillip as to the good work that they’ve done so far. And we want to see them continue to win more and more of this work.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Defence Minister David Johnston.

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Apr 23 2014

UPDATE - Australia will get less capability by replacing the F-18s with F-35s

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Reposted opinion with permission from Eric Palmer blog! “Defenc(s)e analysis from my corner of the Internet.” (with thanks)

Defence wants to buy 58 more F-35s (approved). This is on top of a previous want for 14 (approved). Currently 2 are in the production line.

The goal is to replace 71 highly upgraded RAAF F-18A/Bs.

Many problems
The legacy Hornet has more combat capability. It can fire high-off-bore-sight dogfight missiles like the AIM-132 ASRAAM. The F-35 can’t carry this class of missile internally. The enemy can fire this kind of highly capable missile, from a higher performance aircraft, which can find the F-35. The F-35 will have two 2 AIM-120 AMRAAMs. Which against high end threats that can jam, might have a probability of kill as bad as the Vietnam-era Sparrow (very low). It is likely that the F-35 will lose an air to air battle.

The only way to confirm this is the following:

Can the F-35 beat an F-22 in practice combat? Can the F-35 beat a Typhoon in practice combat? Important because those two aircraft approximate some of the capability of emerging air to air threats in the Pacific Rim over the alleged lifetime of the F-35.

The Hornet has a gun. The F-35A has a gun but can’t use it. The helmet cueing system does not work (source: DOD DOTE).

The F-35 is unlikely to perform strikes against heavily defended targets. The same goes for the Hornet.

Sort off.

The Hornet is cleared for the JASSM cruise missile. The F-35 is not.

The F-18 costs Defence $11,770 per flight hour.

The F-35? USAF figured $35,500 per flight hour. And that assumed a working jet with reliability metrics that met the Joint Operational Requirement Document.

The F-35 is yet to prove any useful mission reliability or mission systems capability.

For Australia–given an inept DMO–F-35 cost per flying hour could be $40,000 to $50,000. The F-35 maintenance system called the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which all of its alleged operational affordability was based on, does not work (source: DOD DOTE, F-35 JPO, GAO).

The Defence budget is a zero-sum game. The federal budget is deep in debt by hundreds of billions.

So, given today’s operational budget. RAAF could only afford to fly 30-40 F-35s a year.

Conclusion: The RAAF will fly a less capable aircraft than what was replaced. It will fly fewer of them. The replacement will be less reliable. There will be a decrease in useful combat capability.

The Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have been poorly advised. They are trying to buy an aircraft with no fly-before-you-by justification. Fly-before-you-buy does not work with under-developed, under-tested, non-finished, aircraft that are closer to prototype than final product.

The Defence Minister made several misleading statements today. Only one of many examples, he stated that “operational” aircraft were at places like Yuma. This is not true. Those aircraft are in no way close to operational trim. To date, no F-35 has passed a test to declare initial operating capability. That is still years off.

It is best to start a federal investigation now to find out how this happened. Waiting, will not improve the situation.

UPDATE: Adding a comment from one of our readers that was part of another post:


Roughly 10% of the 12.4 bil is for facilities upgrades at Williamtown (NSW) and Tindal (NT). Both bases were last upgraded for the Hornet in the late 1980’s and currently wouldn’t meet security requirement to support the F-35. In fact Amberley (QLD) is the only base in Australia currently certified to handle stealth technologies (F-18F base).

Australian politicians are having their moment of glory right now but they haven’t actually ordered 58 F-35’s, they haven’t actually ordered the 12 that were ‘approved’ 3 years back. At the moment Australia has 2 F-3 5 on contract. The Aust government has previously stated that the aircraft will be purchased via the US FMS system so the aircraft will be purchased in annual increments in the same way as US production is approved.

The next step presumably will be to turn the 12 aircraft that have hung fire for the past 3 years into a firm order. What happens to those 12 will hopefully inform the government in regard to later purchases. In-short a few steps to go yet.

Interesting thing reported in the PM’s statement was that Australia seems to be making a play for the regional maintenance depot for the F-35, Wonder if anyone has told Japan, Korea or Singapore yet?

7:02 a.m., Wednesday April 23

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Apr 23 2014

België : de vraag van zes miljard: nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen ja of nee?

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

De Belgische Vredesactie VZW heeft een analyse geplaatst op de website De Wereld deelt de zienswijze van VZW niet volledig – en haar redacteuren zijn van mening dat:

1.    er een effectief en inzetbaar luchtwapen behouden dient te blijven ten behoeve van toekomstige onvoorziene inzet;

2.    Er na een, onafhankelijke kandidaten evaluatie, capabele alternatieve gevechtsvliegtuigen beschikbaar zullen zijn;

3.    De redactie van is verontrust over:

a.    het democratisch gehalte en gebrek aan openheid;

b.    veelvuldig gebruik van misleidende informatie in het Nederlandse JSF; dossier.

4.    transparantie het hart is van democratie en debat;

5.    Bezorgdheid om een  juiste besteding van beschikbare belastinggeld zeer terecht is:

6.    Bezorgdheid om onze nationale veiligheid en defensie terrecht is, dit blijkt uit alle strategische toekomstanalyses;

7.    De keuze VOOR de JSF, de volledige toekomst van de gehele krijgsmacht op het spel kan zetten. Vele broodnodige capaciteiten van de krijgsmacht zijn al geofferd tbv de JSF.

Toch is het artikel nuttig omdat het duidelijk weergeeft hoe het politieke landschap er in België uitziet.

In aanloop naar de Global Day of Action on Military Spending (14 april) vroegen de vredesbewegingen de politieke partijen naar hun standpunt inzake de aankoop van nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen. Willen zij nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen? En hoe gaan we dat betalen? Bekijk de korte samenvatting op youtube, of lees hier de analyse.

Vredesactie vzw

CD&V en Open VLD zijn de meest uitgesproken voorstanders van nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen. Voor CD&V is die aankoop geen politieke keuze maar een noodzaak. Zonder gevechtsvliegtuigen is ons leger binnen de NAVO en de EU irrelevant, meent CD&V. “We hebben geen keuze,” zegt CD&V. En dus moeten we ons ook niet moe maken aan een politiek en publiek debat. Nochtans zijn er ook andere specialisaties mogelijk. Bovendien kan je je afvragen of ons veiligheidsbeleid door de NAVO gedicteerd moet worden.

Volgens Open VLD praten we zonder luchtgevechtscapaciteiten niet meer mee op Europees en NAVO-niveau. Nochtans gaat een buitenlands en veiligheidsbeleid over veel meer dan gevechtscapaciteiten. België zou ook kunnen investeren in niet-militaire middelen om internationaal een rol van betekenis te spelen.

N-VA blijft relatief vaag. Of we al dan niet gevechtsvliegtuigen moeten kopen, hangt af van de allianties waar we deel van uitmaken en de taakverdeling die daar wordt afgesproken. N-VA is voorstander van verregaande samenwerking met Nederland. Als Nederland en België samen hun huidige luchtgevechtscapaciteit willen behouden, zal België mee in gevechtsvliegtuigen moeten investeren. Uit N-VA-hoek komen gemengde geluiden: terwijl Kamerlid Karolien Grosemans onderstreept dat er vandaag veel sociale noden zijn waar we eerst naar moeten kijken, pleiten andere N-VA’ers voluit voor de aankoop van de JSF.

Groen is geen voorstander van nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen. Groen sluit de aankoop niet uit, maar vraagt eerst een politiek debat over de toekomst van het veiligheidsbeleid, ook op Europees niveau, zodat vervolgens de noden kunnen worden bepaald. De EU-landen moeten dan afspreken wie in welke taken specialiseert en welke capaciteiten daarvoor nodig zijn. Voor België zijn dat niet noodzakelijk gevechtsvliegtuigen, er is immers al overcapaciteit aan gevechtsvliegtuigen in Europa. 4 à 6 miljard is voor Groen hoe dan ook te veel, maar als de investering op Europees niveau wordt gedeeld, zou België daartoe kunnen bijdragen.

Ook SP-A wil eerst een strategisch plan op lange termijn. Ze ziet de toekomst van ons leger in verregaande Europese integratie. Nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen zijn “geen prioriteit”, een klein land als België heeft daarvoor het geld niet. Als in een Europees kader de kosten verdeeld worden, kan het eventueel wel, maar België heeft geen gevechtsvliegtuigen nodig om een solidaire bijdrage te leveren aan internationale operaties. Specialisatie in strategisch luchttransport of mijnenvegers zijn mogelijke alternatieven.

Als ze na 25 mei deelnemen aan regeringsonderhandelingen, beloven Groen en SP.A dwars te gaan liggen om deze miljardenuitgave tegen te houden. Het is de vraag hoeveel politiek gewicht ze hier aan kunnen en willen verbinden.

PVDA is ronduit tegen de aankoop van gevechtsvliegtuigen en pleit voor een eigen buitenlands beleid buiten de NAVO en de EU om. Die NAVO mag overigens afgeschaft worden.

Bekijk de korte samenvatting op youtube, lees hier de uitgebreide analyse.

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Apr 23 2014

Australia Likely To Order More F-35s

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Bradley Perrett wrote an article for Aviation Week & Space Technology and reported that:

·         Australia is likely to buy 58 more JSF;

·         Increasing their commitment to a total of 72 aircraft;

·         Increasing the current number of 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets with 12 additional Growlers;

·         Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the JSF is set in 2020;

·         Analysts think this target IOC can be met if there will be no more delays in development;

·         IOC of the Growlers is set in 2018;

·         The Australian think tank analysis assumes a lower per unit price ($ 90 milj)  than the JPO price tag ($ 97) in 2019. They assume the programs estimates have been trending down.

·         They assume 50% for other acquisition costs (making a total unit price of US$ 198 million per F-35) and twice the acquisition costs for operations & sustainment.  


If the government does buy 58 F-35s, then the RAAF will have a fast-jet force of 72 Lightnings, 24 Super Hornets and 12 Growlers, not counting BAE Systems Hawk lead-in fighter trainers. The total of 108 is about 10% higher than the 1980s levels that previous policy has consistently sought to maintain. Unlike other Western countries, Australia has not felt more secure since the end of the Cold War, and in general has not cut its forces. It has added important capabilities such as airborne early warning, in-flight refueling and over-the-horizon radar. Fast population growth and 23 years of unbroken economic expansion have helped, although defense spending has lately been a historically small fraction of GDP.

While recommending more F-35s, the think-tank says that replacing the Hornets with more Super Hornets, and perhaps backing out of the F-35 program completely, would produce an adequate force. “Super Hornets and the other enabling elements of air combat capability (air-to-air refuelers, airborne early warning and . . . over-the-horizon radar) would be likely to provide Australia with a sufficiently robust air combat capability for the next couple of decades,” it says. Further, the economy of consolidating on Super Hornets and Growlers might justify enlarging the force by a few aircraft.

“But in the strike-fighter role, the F-35 is a far more capable aircraft than the Super Hornet and would give greater capability against a more capable adversary, including the ability to penetrate sophisticated air defenses,” says the think-tank. The F-35 would also be more resistant to obsolescence. Moreover, backing out of the order would be harmful to Australia’s alliance with the U.S. and would take away business opportunities for Australian companies participating in the program.

Among the Australian suppliers to the F-35 program, engineering company Marand is building tail fins. The company delivered its first ship set on March 31. BAE Systems Australia, also involved in making the tail, said on April 1 it had commissioned a machine tool for making long spars and longerons. Composite-parts maker Quickstep has delivered more than 200 high-grade carbon-fiber components and is ramping up production with its out-of-autoclave process.

Read the entire article here.

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Apr 23 2014

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen attacks Joint Strike Fighter order as a ‘dud’ decision

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

The Sydney Morning Herald; published an article with a reaction of Member of Parliament Dennis Jensen on 23th of april concerning the proposed Australian buy of additional 58 Lockheed F-35 combat jets.

MP Jensen: No full analysis of capabilities

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen has launched an extraordinary attack on the Abbott government’s multibillion-dollar purchase of fighter jets, suggesting his colleagues lacked the competency and the courage to stop the order:
It’s a dud decision,” said Dr Jensen, a former Defence Department analyst, on Wednesday after the Australian Abbott government revealed it had ordered 58 Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of A$ 12,4 billion (US$ 11,5 billion; € 8,3 billon; unitprice US$ 198 million).
Dennis Jensen: “No one has had the balls to call a halt to it or to even call for a full capability analysis against requirements.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed on Wednesday 23-Apr-2014 that Australia would join the US and a select few other countries in adopting the so called fifth-generation stealth fighter as the backbone of its air combat power. On top of the two fighters that Australia has already paid for, and a further 12 that have been ordered, the large new purchase will deliver the Royal Australian Air Force three squadrons of the planes and cement its place as the dominant air power in the region.

“Significant problems……..”

But Dr Jensen, who has studied the Joint Strike Fighter for years, said the purchase of the planes had been a “bipartisan stuff up”, set in train by the Howard government, continued under Labor and completed under his own government.
Dr Jensen said: “The last couple of [US operational testing] reports … have shown very, very significant problems with this aircraft.” And: “Once you’ve made a decision like this, it takes more balls to actually say the emperor’s got no clothes than to continue pretending that the emperor in fact has clothes. We should be ensuring that this aircraft is defined as fit for purpose before we purchase it. We haven’t done that.

The West Australian MP said he had warned his colleagues about the Joint Strike Fighter purchase in the most recent party room meeting but lamented that Defence Minister David Johnston had said nothing. I wouldn’t be critical of the Defence Minister only,” Dr Jensen said. “It shows a lack of judgment on so many levels. Successive Australian defence ministers had lacked the “technical expertise” to cut through Lockheed Martin’s “extremely convincing” sales pitches, Dr Jensen said

“Defense officials acting as Lockheed salesmen”

He also blamed Defence Department officials, whom he said had been “acting as salesmen for the Joint Strike Fighter” rather than doing their jobs and being “critical buyers”. Responding to the criticisms, a spokesman for the Defence Minister said: “Obviously Mr Jensen’s views do not reflect those of the Coalition government.

The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – when no new delays will occurs, will be delivered in 2018 and begin service with the RAAF in 2020. The purchase continues the direction set out by the previous Labor government’s 2013 Defence White Paper, which foreshadowed three operational squadrons beginning from 2020.

Labour MP’s also critical

But not everyone from Labor welcomed the purchase. West Australian senator Sue Lines tweeted on Wednesday: “12bl+ on fighter planes, PPL for the rich, paid for cuts to welfare, charge on Dr visits. Disgraceful!”
Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt agreed with Dr Jensen, saying the planes were wasteful spending “at a time of supposed budget restraint”. “Tony Abbott’s priority should be pensions not poorly performing planes,” Mr Bandt added.

Read more: Sydney Morning Herald; 23-Apr-2014; Australian MP Jensen attacks JSF decision

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