posted on Apr, 16 2006 @ 11:07 PM
Looks like the Australians are trying to further speed up the retirement of this venerable old bird .
All product manufacturers encourage a view of 'preplanned obsolescence' in their wares. It's the only way they can interest the public in
replacing them (and their spares pipes) with new. The MIC is no different and Oz is playing the game because that's how business for it's own sake
is done to make the rich richer.
The fact of the matter is that I don't think the Aussies have deployed the F-111 to /any/ of the active conflicts they've recently participated in
(ET? OEF/OIF? DS?). Nor am I sure that when they do go, they have not been dependent on U.S. tanking and ordnance.
At which point you have to face a logic bomb.
1. Why are you defending a need for independent power projection capability that is not in fact independent?
2. What has 'joint force' allied operations specifically brought Australia?
3. DO YOU HAVE A NEED to project force, independently, that must be built as much as recreated and if so, to what radii and sortie count per day?
That said, there are probably some pressing matters which must be covered up if you continue to espouse a desire to play in the JSF game.
Namely, that the F-35 is not going to cost 48-55 million. It's going to cost 70-130 million.
Indeed, the cost put before Congress _today_ for our versions is 104 million dollars each.
Now 'FMS discount' and 'Tier-X' guarantees (basically contractual price guaranteee obligations which the U.S. taxpayer will have to pay the
difference for so that we can buy /fewer/ of our own models) may lower your price a bit. But I doubt that it will be anywhere's /near/ 16 billion
dollars when you're through.
Given the history of the F-111, I would in fact expect that number to increase by 50% or more.
Whether an F-111 early retirement will give sufficient ops account/spares pipe shutdown to make up the difference I also doubt.
But the fact of the matter remains, you have not really justified the scenario pretext by which you need 700-1,000nm strike capability to hostage say
Jakarta's behavior. Or to 'assist' in ASEAN type operations with Singapore and the like.
And until you analytically rather than cognitively/cybernetically proof the _environmental theorem_ by which you are making ANY military aircraft
purchase; you should probably not count on being able to logically sustain any given decision.
Again, you have the perfect example of what a 'joint' fighter concept does to costs (R&D for three planes with one name) and mission performance in
the Pig itself.
As such, I would recommend _Illusions Of Choice_ by Robert Coulam. Along with _The Pentagon Paradox_ (quality is achievable inverse of expectation)
and _The Five Billion Dollar Misunderstanding_, both by James P. Stevenson, to any and all in the Australian electorate.
As a standing indictment of 'professional' defense procurement by a government whose democratic process begins and ends (in terms of accountability)
at the ballot box. And all of whose subsequent decision making is typically based on reinforcing a justification of 'need' as a defense dole rather
than well defined mission concept.
Spending 'while ya got it' (Oz defense surplus) just to gain the ability to empower your career in a weapon's systems development and operational
life is seldom a good idea. It tends to make prejudicial any and all value judgments to the point of utter corruption of the process.
Can't really blame them , so what do we think Tomahawks and a few years down the line JSF or what?
The original purchase quantity for the U.S. services alone was stated to be on the order of 2,978 airframes, split between 2,000 for the AF. 680 for
the Marines and 300 odd for the Navy. This was in turn supposed to be the baseline 'economies of scale' price guarantee (remember the JSF was the
'first fighter' for which cost was an indepedent variable that could not be traded down) for upwards of another 1,000 to 2,000 export sales.
We are now looking at numbers closer to 1,100 + 170 + 140 airframes for a total of about 1,410 airframes overall.
Meanwhile Vice Admiral Craig Steidle (current JSF program CMIC) has said that /any/ total below 1,600 airframes causes a dramatic diversion between
numbers and overall program costs. Which is brushed over by saying that the 'overall price' (PAUC, or Program Acquisition Unit Costs) will be the
same we just won't see tail end savings on a flyaway basis'.
The official justification for this changed posture is threefold:
We will have spent the better part of a trillion dollars by the time Bush is done and someone sane decides to stop giving handouts to Haliburton so
that the wolf cubs in the ME can bite the hand that feeds them.
2. Opening up early blocks for 'massive export interest'.
Which, IMO, is on a hurry-up-and-wait-see HOLD MODE given that nobody has any incentive (the Tiered partnership discount and offset entry window
having long since closed) to buy anything until the fighter has actually GOT a 'sticker shock' MSRP. Particularly in a relative time of peace.
3. The multi-off-few capabilities of small IAM and the abilities of 'stealth' in general to effect outcomes of 'Small Wars'.
Having rendered it less necessary to have massive numbers of airframes to net the same shock and awe effect. Of course this ignores the reality that
the TOTAL FORCE effect is actually less because you are looking at single plane squadrons on our 'first responders' (Carrier air), none of which can
be assisted by their landbased or STOVL cousins. Even as the expectation of 'supporting allied forces' is not born out by the penny ante numbers
that the majority of even the Tier customers are expected to procure. Nor by their participation in operations of dubious political justification if
The JSF is a pyramid scheme waiting to collapse. Those in the bottom will be crushed and those at the top will lose all business model faith in their
forecasts when promised export sales fail to emerge as a 'profit past baseline' justification for what has always been MIB pork. As the EU'ians
continue to produce 60-80 million dollar Generation 4 platforms for airshow purposes. And bypass Generation 5's sole exponent to move onto
Generation 6, as a 20-30 million dollar UCAV.
I don't know if Congress will send us further into debt demanding that the USAF ruin it's own budget planning (a wonder to behold, being /forced/ to
stay bloated) by sticking with the last 'official' cost:quantity figure of 1,763 airframes. If they do not, I would bail on JSF as fast as possible
and move to a small compliment of a lightweight ADF (JAS or A-50) to guarantee local air sovereignity while awaiting the gen-after-next as well as
geopolitical sea changes inherent to DEWS as much as economic power arising to strategic dominance via China and the East. Probably sometime after