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Australia confirms F/A-18F Purchase and eyes Growler EW variant

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posted on Mar, 17 2008 @ 07:08 PM
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The new government has endorsed the previous governments buy of 24 F/A-18F's. The buy had come under scrutiny by the new government and had been rumored to be canceled.

The government also indicated that Australia may also be interested in the Electronic warfare variant of the Super Hornet, the E/A-18G also known as the Growler.

The F-111 will be retired as per schedule as well.
www.aviationweek.com.../EA18031708.xml&headline=Australia%20Eyes%20E/A-18Gs,%20Confirms%20F/A-18Fs&channel=defense




posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 05:02 AM
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Whoooahh, "Phwwwttt"!

Everybody stop and think about this for a minute. What the hell are we doing talking about buying "Growlers"?... What exactly is the rationale behind this, I though we were all told that the Super Hornet purchase was to provide an interim capability for essentially a possible strategic gap of 2-5 years? Why on earth would would be looking at an EW version for such a small period? and if we are going to run with the F-35 and it is as good as the LM spin doctors keep telling us, shouldnt an electronic attack platform be redundant?

Or are we looking at more SH's being bought because the F-35 might not cut the mustard and never be purchased for the RAAF? Worse still we might end up with a two tiered force that the F-35 was supposed to make unnecessary with all the suppposed cost savings that would bring. Or maybe the F-35's LO profile (mainly good forward sector, not so good in the rear) is causing concern within the RAAF brass and they want an EW capability to cover any deficiencies in the Lighhtening II's stealth characteristics. Which begs the question, why buy a stealth aircraft if you plan on advertising it's presence to the world with big F**K OFF jammer pods on a supporting aircraft? The only other possibility is that somone in the planning team at Russell offices is a few cents short of a dollar but has the right ears to whisper in.

I think the Super Hornets might be hear to stay and in much greater numbers than a 24 aircraft buy.

LEE.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 05:41 AM
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Where does the "Wedgetail" aircraft stand in all this or is that another financial oversight on one of the Governments behalf?



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 06:17 AM
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reply to post by Mukiwa
 

Project AIR 5077.
acquisition of four AEW&C aircraft with options of three, and support systems. Government approval was given in December 1997. An RFT for systems acquisition was released to IDA participants on 30 Sep 98, leading to formal source selection in mid-99, followed by contract award in final Qtr 2000.
As part of the Australian Government’s decision in 2004 to purchase an additional two AEW&C aircraft from Boeing, the contractor agreed to undertake all modification work for Aircraft 3 to 6 in Australia. This resulted in a very significant additional Australian Industry Involvement commitment from Boeing. This additional work is also expected to assist in the development of local industry to ensure optimum performance in support of the AEW&C capability, create additional skilled jobs, increase skill levels and lead to possible further investment in SMEs.

The first airframe for modification was rolled out in December 2002, ready for modification and installation of the radar and systems. First flight of the aircraft with the radar and mission systems took place at the Boeing Field in Seattle in May 2004. Performance and flight handling tests were completed in July 2005. The first aircraft for modification in Australia arrived in January 2006.

Delivery of the first two aircraft to the Australian Air Force is planned for March 2009, with delivery of the remaining four aircraft by the end of 2009. It is expected that the first aircraft will enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force's new Number 2 Squadron, with headquarters at Williamstown Air Base, by 2010.

However the dates are slipping by delays



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 06:25 AM
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That isn't a bad question Mukiwa, I assume you are refering to the fact that the Wedgetail might alert an enemy to the presence of stealth fighters in the area? However given the area that the Wedgetail covers (quite a large scan area) it wouldnt be overly useful to an opponent. It might tell him to expect activity within a 200NM radius of the AEW&C but it wont say exactly where to expect it. On the other hand, it would tell him that something was going on and spur him to try and hit the orbiting WT therefore partially blinding our fighter force.

Of course with the way these projects have been run in the past it wouldnt surprise me if we went and bought Growlers only to discover that they blind our Wedgetails when they are jamming!


LEE.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 06:50 AM
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reply to post by thebozeian
 


I disagree with some of your possible conclusions. It's clear whatever the rational for the Super Hornets that they will stay on and serve along side the future RAAF F-35's for decades to come, so will the Growlers if they are purchased. Also, EA/W/SEAD/DEAD capability is a must for any modern, multi tiered capable air force. The USAF operates the most advanced LO aircraft in the world does that mean EA/SEAD/DEAD is no longer needed for it? Of course not, it's still better to have a dedicated platform for such missions then depending on one system to do everything. Yes the F-35 will have limited EA capability but it cannot compare to a dedicated platform like the Growler in that arena.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 07:07 AM
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The Australian Financial Review reported (27/3/08) that negotiations are underway (and have been for some months) with the US regarding the order for additional Australian Super Hornets, probably including a Growler batch.

Budget announcement perhaps? 24 more super hornets and 6 growlers

The article also re-emphasises that the RAAF's original aim of 100 JSFs is fading fast.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 08:03 AM
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you start throwing money at boeing for a large(ish) number of hornets then any other type really goes down the pan - with 48 super hornets - all 2 seat strike package , i can also see 6 Growlers for support , and 0 F35`s.

i`ve said it before and i will again - the rising costs and the delays will mean other countries WILL start looking elsewhere - with the Gryphon NG due out within the month - in flying form , thats the aircraft norway and denmark are very interested in - and swiss air force as well , it also come with AESA.

so potentially thats 3 countries out of the 8 `tier` partners who could drop out - im pretty certain denmark will over costs, same with norway , and we all know about the AUS position



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 08:12 AM
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Originally posted by Harlequin
i`ve said it before and i will again - the rising costs and the delays


Take your bias and misinformation elsewhere. The F-35 is still in initial SDD and progressing just fine, as there are no concrete public unit estimates ie. fly away domestic, fly away foreign, cost with weapons, training, spares included etc… It's way too early to harp on about costs.


April 1, 2008 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The news service Reuters has obtained a Pentagon document which states that F-35 costs have been "virtually unchanged" over the past year.

F-35 officials are now reviewing costs and seeking an independent estimate.
Link



April 6, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - Northrop Grumman Corporation has begun assembling the center fuselage for the first production F-35 jet.

To illustrate his point, Pamiljans noted that the company had started assembling the AF-6 center fuselage approximately one week sooner than the date indicated by the F-35 program's master schedule.

Link


[edit on 8-4-2008 by WestPoint23]



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 08:20 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23

Originally posted by Harlequin
i`ve said it before and i will again - the rising costs and the delays


Take your bias and misinformation elsewhere. The F-35 is still in initial SDD and progressing just fine, as there are no concrete public unit estimates ie. fly away domestic, fly away foreign, cost with weapons, training, spares included etc… It's way too early to harp on about costs.



The GAO say its costs are rising , australia say the costs are rising


you are saying they are not rising; i believe the GAO report rather than you.


take you misinformation and deny ignorance.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 09:08 AM
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At the end of the day most countries would at least explore other options
if the JSF does come into problems.
Boeing desperate to SELL SELL SELL. ( just business )


I always thought it would be cheaper to have 48 shornets with 6 growlers than re-barrelling the legacy hornets.
At least u could use the growlers for recon or normal tasking
duties.
99% common to the e/f model.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 09:32 AM
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Ok point taken Westy on the EW/SEAD/DEAD argument quite true. However if true it illustrates the situation the F-35 is now in. If they (the RAAF) are preparing to invest in a dedicated EW variant of the SH then they are pretty clearly in for the long haul, and that doesnt bode well for the F-35. I would not be surprised to find 15 years from now that Australia does indeed still have a two tiered mixed force but that it will involve (on the assumption US Congress loosens the reigns on the F-22) a high low mix of the the PROVEN Raptor and the FA-18F/G Hornet/Growler. AND I wouldn't be surprised if they share the fighter, strike and attack roles to put the most suitable aircraft up for any given job, which afterall is how it should be.

I tend to agree Jezza, I would much rather have seen the 24-48 worst case legacy Hornets replaced with a similar number of SH's rather than waste centre re-barrel money on them.

LEE.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 05:57 PM
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Lee,

I think you handed over the point to westy far too easily.

Yes, he can make a case for any scenario that he chooses and it may be quite valid, but the fact remains that Australia has no official or stated requirement for anything other than an interim replacement for the F-111 (whether the 'replacement' fulfills the role or not) pending delivery of the F-35.

NOBODY, ANYWHERE, has stated OFFICIALLY a case for retaining the SHs at all!

This matter is totally independent of the suitability or ability of the SH.

This is about how a government (either government) gets away with giving Boeing mega billions for something that (initially) there was no stated requirement for, and then projects further expenditure on support assets (Growler) for the SHs (as you point out - shouldn't the Growler role be carried out by something as stealthy as the strike force - F-35?), and possibly retaining it all after the officially required F-35s are in service!

There is only one question here - Who in *Heck*name is deciding where the defense dollar is going without telling the Australian public - or is it now far too out of fashion to tell the people anything in a democracy!!!!!!!

Something stinks in where the money is going and exactly for what purpose, and all you guys can talk about is the relative benefits of particular airframes to fulfill FANTASY requirements!!!

There are no OFFICIAL requirements for the long term employment of either SH or Growler - but hey, don't let that stand in the way of your local member spending megabucks on them!!!! It's your money they are spending you know!

But, no worries - keep chatting about fantasy stuff.

Over and out

The Winged Wombat

Mod Edit: Removed profanity

[edit on 4/8/08 by FredT]



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 07:48 PM
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reply to post by The Winged Wombat
 


Okay Ill bite. While the SH is not a direct replacement for the Vark is there another aircraft avalible for AUS to purchase that meets the payload, range, etc? Assuming as most have indicated that rehabbing the F-111 is cost prohibitive?



This is about how a government (either government) gets away with giving Boeing mega billions for something that (initially) there was no stated requirement for, and then projects further expenditure on support assets (Growler) for the SHs (as you point out - shouldn't the Growler role be carried out by something as stealthy as the strike force - F-35?), and possibly retaining it all after the officially required F-35s are in service!


Why would you not want to protect the SH strike package? Given the evolution of threats that potentialy face the Aus. AF this seems more like prudence to my limited understanding of the issue. One of the knocks agains tthe Varks was its inability to deal with modern defences thus forcing it to aviod said defences and reducing range anyway. The Super Hornets may in that light at least not be as bad as intialy expected and providing electronic attack and defence woul dbe prudent IMHO.

Also you point about using a stealth based platform (ALA a notationa EF-35) has merit, but my admittedly limited understading is that the Growler posses the ability to provide Standoff jamming support to even stealthy packages. Coupled with the promise of AESA based single band jamming from the inbound F-35 strike package means you may not need to consider the EF-35 at this point.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 11:04 PM
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TextI would not be surprised to find 15 years from now that Australia does indeed still have a two tiered mixed force but that it will involve (on the assumption US Congress loosens the reigns on the F-22) a high low mix of the the PROVEN Raptor and the FA-18F/G Hornet/Growler.

In fifteen years time the F-22 production line won't exist even if the USAF was to win it's full preferred order of 381 aircraft. I don't see the Congress approving the F-22 for foreign sale anytime soon and if ever not before the USAF order is fulfilled. In short, it doesn't look at all very good for Aus Raptors to ever materialize. The logistics aside, the shear extra cost per unit of the F-22 is almost by itself enough to prevent an RAAF order.

TextOkay Ill bite. While the SH is not a direct replacement for the Vark is there another aircraft avalible for AUS to purchase that meets the payload, range, etc? Assuming as most have indicated that rehabbing the F-111 is cost prohibitive?

The only thing anywhere close to the F-111 available today is the Strike Eagle and even it lacks in payload and range. We've hashed this out before, but the RAAF is not looking to directly replace (i.e., same overall capability) the F-111 because it simply can't with the manned options available to them.

As for the Growlers, I don't think Aus has ever had a dedicated SEAD ability before so the ability to get one should be seen as a positive. And, as noted above, the USAF even while having a real stealth strike ability nonetheless finds this to be a indispensible force multiplier.

Anything and everything that you can use to confuse your enemy is a positive. Using SEAD in conjunction with a strike using stealth aircraft does not necessarily give the enemy a key to your attack. If your enemy understands their defenses are being suppressed electronically they will have a number of things to contemplate:

-is this the focus of the attack?
-is this attempt to "jam" us part of the strike package or in advance of it? Is this the attack or is it to come?
-is the the real thing or a feint? Could our attacker be trying to distract our attention from the real objective with this suppression attempt or are they paving the way to their target?

Etc, etc.....they all serve to confuse the enemy and make him commit his forces rightly or wrongly.


As for future fleet mix, I still contend that the F-35 is still very much a part of the future RAAF.

#1-It will be the most advanced aircraft that they can get their hands on. The F-22 will be out of production/too pricey/lawfully precluded from entering Aus service by most all estimates.

#2-The Rhino does seem to be stealing some of the F-35's thunder and funding right now but I still can reasonably conceive 60 F-35s more or less being bought to serve alongside 36-48 SHs. Force mix changes but overall numbers do not to any great degree.


Throw these things in with better AEW, naval capability, better missiles and munitions..........and that's a notable increase in capability overall.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 12:02 AM
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With all due respect FredT, I'm not really interested in what you (or anyone else in a non-official capacity) thinks is prudent or otherwise.

I want to see a requirement originate from the RAAF, get studied by the government and get issued as an OFFICIAL bleeding requirement (which is the way these things are supposed to be done in this country), before we even consider rushing out and buying Growlers, or anything else for that matter.

One has to ask if, in the event that we purchase Growler (and SH), whether we actually need F-35, whether a customer F-35 would actually be any better, or indeed if we don't buy F-35 then would SH be the appropriate choice as an alternative.

It appears that all here are more than willing to discuss the FANTASY of what they might like to see, but not tackle the far more important point that the Australian taxpayer (or indeed the RAAF) no longer has any say in what equipment it actually wants to do specific foreseeable tasks, and that military equipment purchases are now something that the government does without reference to any perceived need or REQUIREMENT!!!!

WHERE IS THE REQUIREMENT (OFFICIAL) for SHs (stated to be a stop-gap for the F-111) beyond F-35 delivery and Growlers at any time?????

Do we now purchase military equipment worth billions on the basis of 'it seemed like a good idea at the time' !

Sounds more like something that might happen in Uganda or Zimbabwe to me.

The Winged Wombat



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 12:09 AM
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Originally posted by JoeinTX


The only thing anywhere close to the F-111 available today is the Strike Eagle and even it lacks in payload and range. We've hashed this out before, but the RAAF is not looking to directly replace (i.e., same overall capability) the F-111 because it simply can't with the manned options available to them.




So should I be pleased that you think that it's fine to buy something that is second best as an F-111 replacement (SH instead of Strike Eagle), or that just because there is nothing that will fully do the F-111 job, that it is fine to just abandon that capability.

As long as I'm clear on who's running the show here!

The Winged Wombat



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 12:22 AM
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It appears that all here are more than willing to discuss the FANTASY of what they might like to see,

Winged Wombat, not to trample upon your line of thought, but hasn't "fantasy" versus "reality" been an indeterminable aspect of military purchases? Government and military planners are thinking through the same issues right now as we type. Who knows? It's only the best guess arrived at via the most legible analysis that determine such things.

The "bomber" and "missile" gaps were obvious American misunderstandings of the enemy's abilities in the Cold War. Neither really existed but what anecdotal evidence, combined with reasonable speculation, created them and thus they were planned against. The result was untold dollars poured into missile and bomber buys to preclude a threat that really didn't exist. However, the result in later years was better understanding of both. Was it bad to overspend against a threat that wasn't there only to later have the gained knowledge that propelled you past your opponent?

If I'm missing something, what are the RAAF's designs upon future equipment and are they seemingly different to the government's decision? Is their a vetting process to wring the differences out? It would seem that the recent Labour review of the decision and resulting approval would be sufficient. Are there RAAF decision makers screaming otherwise?...... and I don't mean Carlo Kopp.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 12:37 AM
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Originally posted by The Winged Wombat
With all due respect FredT, I'm not really interested in what you (or anyone else in a non-official capacity) thinks is prudent or otherwise.


Then this would be a really boring place eh? Nothing like abunch of political types discussing issues back and forth. I for one would not need Ambien at nights.




I want to see a requirement originate from the RAAF, get studied by the government and get issued as an OFFICIAL bleeding requirement (which is the way these things are supposed to be done in this country),


When has ANY military purchase BY any country been done soley by the military. As I stated during the tanker debate military purchases IN any country have a political element to it period.


One has to ask if, in the event that we purchase Growler (and SH), whether we actually need F-35, whether a customer F-35 would actually be any better,


I think this will answer your question (maybe) (Bold is mine)


A second part of Australia's air combat capability review will examine its requirements until 2045, with this including its planned acquisition of the F-35, and a potential follow-on deal with Boeing to purchase E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. Its recommendations will be incorporated into a new Defence White Paper to be published late this year.
www.flightglobal.com...




It appears that all here are more than willing to discuss the FANTASY of what they might like to see, but not tackle the far more important point that the Australian taxpayer (or indeed the RAAF)


Taxpayers have little say (In fact they have ZERO say untill election time) Thats not a unique thing anywhere



WHERE IS THE REQUIREMENT (OFFICIAL) for SHs (stated to be a stop-gap for the F-111) beyond F-35 delivery and Growlers at any time?????


The F-111's will be retiered in 2010. The Best case scenario for the JSF has the first a/c being delivered to the RAAF in what 2014? How long to form a full squadron? 1-2 years? So you are looking at a gap in strike a/c for what 4+ years in a best case scenario?

You also factor in the MRO type jobs etc in these types of deals as well.



"The selection of the F/A-18F allows for an upskilling of the workforce," the spokesman said.

Opportunities for local industry participation included support and supply chain work in stealth systems, advanced sensors and IT.

Local operations would also be able to support US Super Hornets operating in the region.

The plan to buy 24 Super Hornets at a cost of about $6 billion, announced by Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson earlier this month, has been lashed by critics as an expensive folly.

The acquisition is designed to plug any gap in air defences that may develop between the retirement of the ageing but potent F-111 and the arrival of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF), which Australian companies have been involved in developing.
www.theaustralian.news.com.au...




Sounds more like something that might happen in Uganda or Zimbabwe to me.


I don't think they have a requirement for strike fighters, but you never know



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 12:42 AM
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Joe,

So are you suggesting that Australia should no longer base its purchases on the recommendations of the services in the form of requirements, but rather on government reviews?

Perhaps when I am victorious at the next elections and assume the role of Defense minister, I can rely upon you agreeing that I should just buy whatever I think the chaps are going to need!!

There has been a long-standing procedure in place in this country to arrive at the most appropriate military purchases to meet the future needs of the country, taking into consideration political and geo-political considerations, while minimizing the possibility of corruption. It appears that both sides of Australian politics have now abandoned those procedures and we are left with decisions that rely upon whatever the incumbent Minister reckons is a good thing at the time!

But it seems that I'm the only person who thinks that's more important than whether individuals here think this or that platform has bigger cohunas!

The Winged Wombat



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