Just the budget JSF- I won't give the abbreviation but it pales compared
to the F-22 in capability. Our Hornets while very good are being outclassed
now by Indonsia's new Fleet of SU-30's- making the fight now more than even.
While we may share a advantage in EW technology their aerial fighting force
is no longer in balance and with the precarious nature of SE Asian affairs
much can change...very quickly. Few realise we were unoficially at war
with Indonesia in Borneo in the 60's... Menzies bought the F-111's to bomb
Hornet vs Flanker- I think though the journo wrote our Hornets off a bit too much.
"If Australia wished to buy the F-22, this matter can only be negotiated at the highest level, directly between the Prime Minister and the US President."
We've looked after the Americans since WWII, Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq
& Afganistan and they are still willing to sell us the dumbed out equipment
rather than the cutting edge. I find this offensive to say the least when they
are happy to sell to Isreal (remember the Pollard affair) and Japan (world capital
for industrial espionage after China of course). Australia does not factor highly. I fear with
a change of events globally a second Darwin could happen and by lack of
air superiority and strike capability we could be in some serious stuff...
If we look back to the AIR79/82 (woops!) procurement of the F-18 back in the Hawke era- we looked at the following jets-
1. Mirage 2000
2. LMTAS F-16C Falcon
3. Boeing F-18 Hornet
4. Boeing F-15C Eagle
5. Tornado F.3/IDS
6. F-14 Tomcat
7. 'Uprated' Mirage Fleet
We sent our RAAF boys and engineers to pick out. The F-15 was the clear winner by miles. However the US somehow never gave us the F-15 and now we are faced again with a second tier aircraft for the backbone of our fleet. ATleast the Hornet could have a 'serious refit' as the JSF would require more OS fits than local hindering major refits to compensate.
It looks like Air87 all over again. Atleast back then we had a big choice on aircraft it seems now we have been pushed in the JSF without even evaluating other 'equiverlent' or better options. I think defence procurement is rather corrupt these days and political wrangling is leaving us with the second best when the RAAF does deserve better. Especially the fact that the JSF is years away from delivery and major USAF flight testing.
If we only bought Eagles instead of Hornet we could have updated them to the F-15X standard...and actually now saved money!
Or shoehorned some of the thurst vectoring goodies of the F-15STOL....and made it a near equal to the F-22
and eat the Latest Russian fighters for breakfast...