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RAAF: Super Hornets to Fill Gap Until F-35 is Fielded?

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posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 12:30 PM
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Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson is discussing a $3 billion (Aussie Bucks) purchase of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft around 2009-2010 as a stop gap measure insuring capable airpower until the F-35 makes it's way downunder.

This procurement would definitely impact the 2006-2016 Defence Capability Plan, and could cut the number of F/A-18A Hornets undergoing a mid-life upgrade program to 42.

Brendan Nelson apparently decided to go with the Super Hornet without any study of alternative aircraft types like the longer-range F-15E Strike Eagle, or more advanced air superiority options like the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Love to hear from you Aussies regarding this~

Source: "Australia to Buy 24 Super Hornets As Interim Gap-Filler to JSF?; Defense Industry Daily - December 27, 2006




posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 03:40 AM
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I am with the RAAF and we have recived 2 for testing with us unluckly i was not up for selection to test the aircraft wat a bum i love flying it on the big simulator. Its about time we got new fighters the hormets are stupid but i cant really talk only had about 4200 hours flying it haha

SGT Wilson
RAAF Williams



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 05:29 AM
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discussed here





[edit on 28-12-2006 by Jezza]linky

[edit on 28-12-2006 by Jezza]



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 11:13 AM
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Seeing as how this is a stop-gap and an interim measure it would not make sense to by a few expensive Eagles of Eurofighters. The Super Hornet offers more than adequate capability in the A2A role for the time being and would fit easily into Australia's current system seeing as how they have operated Hornets for along time. I think however that they should also buy a few F/A-18G aircraft for long term offensive air ops.



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 08:20 PM
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Be interesting to see if this leads to a lease type arrangement ala F-4E>>>F-111. Many still say that the F-4E was and remained the superior 'fighter' (boys and their toys) solution which the RAAFians preferred to the mudchuck.

If the Downunderers commited early enough to effect the HUG (which I thought was already about halfway through being executed) it would let the USN ditch a few early block E's in a hurry and further pimp the notion of a Lot III/IV Super Hornet to Congress as the sole 'economical fighter' now on multiyear contract buys. Past which, 'if and when' JSF tanks for them as Congress continually threatens to do (we will not cancel the RNs new overweight, under capable, STOVL toy but our own 'must go LO!' flying squids will not get the SOLE version of the F-35 that actually makes a /little/ sense...) they could make the jump to Gen-6 as N-UCAS more readily with an ACS enabled independent combat controller.

Myself, if it doesn't come with a fully cleared range of new PGMs and late model AAM to all pylons (AIM-132+JHMCS, AIM-120D, GBU-38/39, JCM, ITALD), along with ATFLIR and APG-79 and the ACS+L16 or better cockpit/NCW architecture it's probably not worth it as a straight buy.

OTOH, I _still_ don't get the massive reputation that the F-15E brings with it. It cannot carry HARM, it cannot carry both longrange tanks and heavyweight/standoff PGM. It cannot carry heavyweight (AGM-142 as AGM-130 clone) AAM with wingshoulder weapons. The APG-63V(3) is not even close to ready. The ECM system is dated and they are only just now coming to terms with the integration of a towed array workaround.

Nothing which cannot 'suppress as it goes' is a competent warfighter in a modern threat environment where you are 800nm across saltwater.

Of course the Bug Deux has it's own problems in that it _just does not_ like flying over 25K which is where USAF platforms go all the time to get best cruise. And half it's gas is also external which means it's going to create an assymetric effect on tanking, even if you DO eventually go with the F-35 as your FDOW intruder.

i.e. Instead of a 1.5-2 sortie day out of your jets you may end up 'flying the boom' to a .75-1.25 sortie day, even if your MFFC works out great for mutual support.

I also doubt seriously if the EA-18G is on the market in any form which means your ability to rollback particularly heavy naval threats is even more iffy.

The irony being that, with the APG-79/AIM-120D -in numbers-, the F/A-18F is probably competitive against the Su-35 force whereas the F-35 is always going to be half'n'half configured to an external carriage format, no matter what as long as the main JDAM well remains non-AAM functional.

If the Aussies insist on retaining the ability to smack Jakarta around, the F-35 will probably have to come into the game as subs+cruise or VLA+cruise would require too much developmental/force build $$$$ to be economical. If they relax this requirement, the Bug II has a chance as a sole-purchase item until something truly worth the money (UCAVs) comes out of the States or Europe to do the real long range mission, capably.


KPl.



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 11:35 PM
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AWST has this in this weeks mag. The buy of 24 may have an impact on thier JSF buy. It also seems acording to the article that an element of the Aus. military is pushing to try to get the Raptor which would be well suited for long range maritime strike etc.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 01:16 PM
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I got a question that may sound a lil weird. Why do the Aussies think they need this stop gap measure? if they are currently upgrading their 18's much like CF are doing and not looking into interm solution what makes Aus situation so diff?
The only answer that enters my mind is geographically being in a more volitile enviorment. Oh and also is the 18's endurance that hampered that it can't fill the maritime portal gap?



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 01:49 PM
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One would have thought that it would make common sense to procure super hornets if there is a requirement to fill a gap as we are already kitted up for the F/A-18's with what will be at the very least 99% compatible test equipment/tooling/GSE/GFE/Technicians/SRM's/Pilots etc. I am currently working on the Next phase of the structural upgrade for the F/A-18 A & B model aircraft and it just makes sense, all our expertise is centred around the Hornet, and the learning curve will be minimal if we get super hornets as a stop gap measure. the politician who made the call was looking at the big picture and saw what would be most cost effective.



posted on Jan, 5 2007 @ 06:03 AM
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Originally posted by Canada_EH
I got a question that may sound a lil weird. Why do the Aussies think they need this stop gap measure? if they are currently upgrading their 18's much like CF are doing and not looking into interm solution what makes Aus situation so diff?
The only answer that enters my mind is geographically being in a more volitile enviorment. Oh and also is the 18's endurance that hampered that it can't fill the maritime portal gap?


Beacause the politians want to retire the F-111 early
to
save money, thats the ONLY reason



posted on Jan, 5 2007 @ 02:44 PM
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Early?,I may be wrong but I believe Australia is the only country that still use this old platform don't get me wrong the PIG is a great aircraft, just out dated and expensive to maintain i would reckon and I know for a fact that they /we are geting spare parts for the things from aircraft junkyards around the world. So it is not so much early as 10...or is it 15 years past their ultimate used by date???

Mod Edit: Big Quote – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 5/1/2007 by Mirthful Me]



posted on Jan, 5 2007 @ 02:51 PM
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Originally posted by Canada_EH
I got a question that may sound a lil weird. Why do the Aussies think they need this stop gap measure? if they are currently upgrading their 18's much like CF


its hedge against JSF delays and the F-18 A-D model even upgraded would leave them with a capability gap in terms of range and payload. The Super Hornet also would not give the same range and payload as the Vark, but better than the a/d model



posted on Jan, 5 2007 @ 05:37 PM
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Fred-T,

An F/A-18 'legacy bug' driver flew his Lot 17 C-Hornet up against the E during the utter farce that was OPEVAL and found:

'We outturned them, outaccelerated them, outshot them and outlasted them. I was, frankly, embarrassed...'

Another test pilot commented how the F/A-18E was slow to load up in the turn, slow to bring it's nose back down from an Alpha point, slow to regain energy once unloaded and had terribly low loaded energy modification (bank to bank) performance. Below Mach one, total airframe energy is 'similar' between Bug Generations except at high altitude (which is, uniformly, where most missile fights happen these days) where the Hornet _still_ doesn't like to fight. Above Mach 1, the Super Bug goes to a zero specific excess rating, almost instantaneously. While the Legacy Hornet (with GE-402 engines) stays viable out to about Mach 1.15 or 1.2.

If the Aussie F/A-18A is worthless because it can't go anywhere without a tanker drag. If the F-111 is worthless because it's too old and tired to be maintained as a bomb truck.

The real question becomes: What role are you buying uber bugs for?

The presence of a mere 24 super hornets as bomb trucks won't make the 'pressing need' for air superiority any less because not only will the Su-27/30 will still likely outfly and out fight it in all 'key physical fighter performance parameters' (not including radar and missiles, assuming the U.S. will export APG-79/AIM-120D technologies, which is NOT a given).

But maintaining the Bug-1s (whose radar and missile performance are fixed) for their fighter role STILL won't resolve the problem of going further afield than a tanker can hold their hands coming back home from
(which makes the as-yet unresolved tanker buy the real driver).

OTOH, if you retire BOTH your Bug-1s -and- your Mudchucks (making HUG a several hundred million dollar 'reconditioning exercise') then your argument for a pressing need solution in either an air superiority platform or a dirt thumper is rendered instantly 'continental coverage by a squadron sized buy' laughable.

CONCLUSION:
I don't think the F/A-18E/F is as bad as many accuse it of being, simply because I don't overrate the areas where it is known to be deficient. I think that 90% of most air combat is won by missiles, radars and NCW, not by airframes. Here the RAAF is already vastly superior with the option to get even better, far cheaper, using 'better bullet theory' than by going out for manned stealth.
I think that using air combat performance as a 'go it alone' variable in determining suitability for purchase is ludicrous given that Australia sits at the bum end of the world with 1,000 miles of free-DCA water between it and any major air supremacy threat and can rely on the U.S. for any major joint force operational commitment.
I think that the relevant statistical occurence of air combat is itself so negigible as to make it's dominant weighting as a systems design driver in 'fighter' performance ridiculous.
That said, if the Super Hornet is purchased, it probably will/should be as an 'instead of' JSF rather than 'precursor to it'. This gives you the ability to buy in (48 million each?) on a Lot III/IV Navy or even Marine followon purchase while the Super Bug line is still hot.
And a 60-100 plane Uber Bug force will provide an 'all even' range and core avionics performance threshold while giving multirole (AAM and IAM) 'suitability' as a given rather than either-or condition in operations like ET.
Furthermore, it at least /implies/ the ability to use the savings from an abandoned JSF production commitment to move into UAV for the majority of an EEZ/fisheries/smuggling monitoring mission (FAR more useful in peacetime) via participation in the P-8/MQ-9 BAMS effort. While waiting for a true European UCAV to eventuate as a followon Gen-6, LO-strike, F-35 competitor. Now that the U.S. has foolhardily abandoned their own programs.


KPl.



posted on Jan, 7 2007 @ 03:55 AM
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How long would the Australians have to wait for the F-35? Buying expesive fighters such as the Super Hornet can't just be an emergency deal for a couple of months waiting (of the F-35).



posted on Jan, 7 2007 @ 05:03 PM
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No one has anserwed the 2nd part of my question. why does Aus feel they need the bomb truck role? I guess its the question of why did they have the f-111 in the first place? And if there is that need how do YOU think it is different then Canada's?



posted on Jan, 8 2007 @ 07:30 AM
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Originally posted by Canada_EH
No one has anserwed the 2nd part of my question. why does Aus feel they need the bomb truck role? I guess its the question of why did they have the f-111 in the first place? And if there is that need how do YOU think it is different then Canada's?


>>>
I got a question that may sound a lil weird. Why do the Aussies think they need this stop gap measure? if they are currently upgrading their 18's much like CF are doing and not looking into interm solution what makes Aus situation so diff?
The only answer that enters my mind is geographically being in a more volitile enviorment. Oh and also is the 18's endurance that hampered that it can't fill the maritime portal gap?
>>>

That is what you said. ASST/ASUW 'in the approaches' is _not_ bomb trucking. The value and number of shots vs. targets is vastly different as are the standoff ranges and Gate timings and even sanitization for civillian marine traffic.

Furthermore, even though the 111 is nominally the aircraft being retired, the F/A-18E/F would likely be purchased (as the boys' new toys if nothing else) with the Air Supremacy role primarily in mind.

And with a combination of superior range (to the Bug-1, assuming dual wing tanks) and vastly superior sensors (in the ATFLIR/Terminator and APG-79) as well as the ability to buddy drag it's predecessor forward without the cost of a dedicated tanker, 24 F/A-18E/F do more for the CFO/MFFC mission as fighter directors and strike tankers than they do as 'bomb trucks' anyway.

Given you release anywhere from 15 to 35 Bug-1s from the fleet (the tiredest, without HUG) and buy 24 new jets on the condition of free integration with the GBU-38/BRU-55 or GBU-39/BRU-61 for the remaining legacy Hornets; you still come out ahead using the big jets to push forward the little ones with 4 or 8 bombs. Because there will still be 50 or so Bug 1s and 50X2X2 (airframes/pylons/VER loaded bombs) = 200 aimpoints per mission vs. probably only about 15X4+2 or 90 for the Bug Deux (the rest being configured to SEAD, Whale or AAW as well as backups) as strikers.

As for a difference between conops and theater types, what it comes down to is the Australians think it is worthwhile to maintain an offensive strike option relative to Jakarta as the 'regional super power and it's designated kicking dog proof of prowess'.

Canada rarely leaves her own back yard for real wars and especially since quitting BadSol and the NATO mission, has dedicated 90% of her fighter mission training as 'pure' Air Defense within the NORAD/anti-smuggling role environment. For which odd pairs of jets here and there are more than sufficient compared to a full up strike package.

Both jets are twins, both regions are desolate with relatively few fields (though Canada likely puts Oz to shame for total civillian airports that could be used in emergency).

But Australias mission set includes 'a real and proven' (ET) need for long-overwater strike operations as a principle doctrinal warfighter element.

Canada does not.

Let me further state that, given it does not face another LO opponent, I would, by far, rather have 5-7 LRAAM and two ARMs/decoys in the BVR purist sniper role than come in sneaky-peteing with only X2 internal MRM shots and/or a pylon mounted force component which immediately renders half my F-35 fleet into full signature jets. And a quarter more into their shotgun escorts.

F/A-18E/F with saturation AIM-120D will beat the Su-27/30. F/A-18C with Meteor will beat the Su-27/30. F-35 with X2 AIM-120D will beat the Su-27/30 only if it has the numbers and/or 'pure' (not tied to a conventional strike force) fight geometry is available to work the threat sensor cones and get in for the optimum pole shot. If you can't get AIM-120D, you're screwed no matter what.

Wedgetail helps here of course. As do the largely microforce inventory numbers involved with Indonesia and Malaysia as principle Air Threats. But the fact remains that an 800nm radii is going to buy you all of 1-1.5 sorties per day, depending on your flight and ramp reserves and the competency of your aircrews to do the night-intruder mission with a small second raidforce of their own.

As such and even allowing that ou are working with 1-bomb-1-aimpoint small-IAMs (where targeting is as important as total munition counts) you still need to maximize the the number of pylons going out on the first as only mass raid. So that the threat is fully defanged by the time you switch back to conventional penny-packet groups after FDOW.

And that doesn't happen with the Super Bug as a 'bomb truck'. Not at 24 airframes... It gets easier if you specialize it as a mini-Raptor strike coordinator and director node while keeping munitions light and mission-limited for pylon variety.


KPl.



posted on Jan, 8 2007 @ 08:49 AM
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Originally posted by Canada_EH
No one has anserwed the 2nd part of my question. why does Aus feel they need the bomb truck role? I guess its the question of why did they have the f-111 in the first place? And if there is that need how do YOU think it is different then Canada's?


Sorry mate,
The F-111 is a robust and very fast fighter-bomber which carries typically twice or more the internal fuel of other fighter jets, as a result of which it typically delivers twice the combat radius, usually with twice the payload of weapons. Therefore it provides a lot of punch in a single aircraft, with only a two person crew. Australia's defence environment is driven by the 'tyranny of distance' and a long legged aircraft like the F-111 offers exceptional economies in terms of the dollar cost to deliver a given payload of smart bombs or cruise missiles to a given distance. Since Australia invested during the 1990s hundreds of millions of dollars into an extensive support infrastructure at RAAF Amberley, near Brisbane, the RAAF was provisioned to maintain the F-111 indefinitely - and largely independently.

Basicly punching above your weight.
A warm blanket to make Aus feel safe.



posted on Jan, 8 2007 @ 09:17 AM
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thanks for the info ch1466 & jezza. It helps me understand a bit of what most people gloss over. So basically what I get from Aus still wanting the long range medium strike which Canada really no longer needs due to its isolation from conflict zones and is better off to rebuild its strategic and tactical airlift capablity (which we are doing).
As for what my inital feeling is for Aus looking at the F-18/E. If feilded in a proper manner (even though can't always choose) it could be effective.
Does anyone have the numbers off the top of their head for range payloads to a threat that would be realistic for an RAAF attack.



posted on Jan, 10 2007 @ 07:20 AM
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Canada_EH the top one is a better way of putting it.
F-111 has longer legs.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 04:42 AM
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what do you think should be aquired by the RAAF to replace the FA-18 and F-111?
what will be necessary and what will be in budget?

I think that an interim fighter will be needed if they buy the F-35 cos it wont be ready until about 2017-2020.

i dnot think that the f-35 (or many aircraft) will be able to take over the pigs long range strike role, which is very important due to the long distances involved.

the best off the shelf option at the moment is the f-22 but there is the cost, support, ground attack and availability issues to consider.

anything russian is basically ruled out (unfortunately)

maybe the best would be the rafael or gripen?

also does anyone know the status of the super hornet deal?



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 04:56 AM
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Replacing the F-111 sounds like a job tailor made for the Su-34. Long ranged, built for ASUW strikes, 2 man crew etc etc.


However, I don't think anyone can see the Ozzies getting those.



Ahh... politics







 
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