Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1362


Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (18:25): 'The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end there it is.' So said Winston Churchill. The Department of Defence has a problem with accepting the truth. Questioned in 2004 regarding the joint strike fighter, Air Marshal Houston stated, 'The expectation is they will begin arriving in Australia by 2012.' He went on to say, 'It is a conservative estimate. That is when we would expect.' In 2005 he said, 'We are still planning on 2012.' In 2007, he again stated delivery would be in 2012 and the initial operational capability, or IOC, would be in 2014-15. In 2009 Dr Gumley, head of the Defence Materiel Organisation, said, 'The JSF is on schedule. I think the test program is running four or five months late.' To reiterate—'running on schedule'. We have been talking about 2012 and initial aircraft in 2014 with IOC—well, initially 2013 IOC—and he said, 'It is not something I lose much sleep about.' I do. And if I were Dr Gumley, he should have. Because ultimately these aircraft are not experiments in marketeering; rather they are tools young men and women in uniform will use to defend this great nation from enemies with superior technologies. It is a question about lives, not maintaining the extravagant livelihoods of Lockheed Martin executives.

In 2011, Air Vice Marshal Osley told parliament that the US JSF program manager, Vice Admiral Venlet, said, 'The program is now founded on a great deal of realism.' Air Vice Marshal Osley said, 'I think our estimate is now becoming a realistic estimate instead of a conservative estimate.' Then the IOC was taken to be 2018, and he reiterated his confidence on this numerous times in testimony. But a few months ago we were told that this has now slipped to 2020, and Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week and Space Technology, the trade bible, states that IOC in the US is only likely to be in 2020. Even if this does not slip, how would you like to order a 1991 VN Commodore and finally take delivery when the competition is producing the FG, or current model, Falcons? How competitive would that VN Commodore be? Should you stick with your VN Commodore? The Department of Defence seems to think so. On Defence's risk management matrix, a slip of merely 12 months is considered an extreme level of risk, yet the program is now over half a decade late and there are no flags being thrown up.

In 2005, Air Marshal Houston said, 'Currently the indicators are that the flyaway costs for the F-35 will be about $45 million.' In 2006, Air Commodore Harvey is talking about 'approximately $US47 million on 2002 base year'. We are getting them early, so Harvey said 'approximately $55 million average for our fleet'. Then in 2008, Dr Gumley stated that he would be surprised if we paid more than about $75 million a copy for the aircraft measured in 2008 dollars, 'assuming we buy at least 75, or three squadrons'. I was told by Defence in then Minister Nelson's office that the average unit procurement cost that was being worked on by Defence was $131 million per unit. So why did Dr Gumley say he would be surprised if we paid more than $75 million each? Defence deliberately talk costs that make up the price instead of the price, so that they can obfuscate.

In 2010, then Air Vice Marshal Harvey, in talking about fleet, said it was $75 million in 2008 dollars at a 0.92 exchange rate. The Government Accountability Office in the United States, talking about average procurement cost of the JSF, said it has gone up from $69 million in October 2001. In April 2010 it was up to $114 million each. In June 2010, after a Nunn-McCurdy breach, it was revised to $133 million per copy. Using the risk management matrix at 10 per cent, increase in cost is severe and a combination of severe and almost certainly means that you will have a category of extreme level of risk. Once again, why no red flags?

Air Power Australia are routinely denigrated by Defence which will obviously have a negative impact on the work they get as well as organisations such as REPSIM. The reason they are denigrated is that they have the audacity to criticise the JSF program. Problematically for Defence they tend to be accurate, whereas Defence woefully fails. Take cost, for example. In 2006-07, Air Power Australia had an estimate of between $136 million and $176 million, far more accurate than Defence talking about significantly less than $100 million. Were they just deliberately misleading parliament, given they had admitted the $131 million average unit procurement cost to me in 2007? They tend to hide behind many definitions of cost, deliberately obfuscating failed projects by throwing various prices and costs out there.

Air Vice Marshal Osley also boasted of no foreign customers having pulled out and he even boasted of it 'not being beyond my level of expertise to comment on politics in Canada' before assuring us that it was just politics in Canada and Canada would stay in. In fact Canada has pulled out of the program. The Danes have ordered advanced F-16s as a stopgap which I am told will likely become the final capability—in other words, they will dump the JSF as well. The Dutch are prevaricating and the probability is that they will pull out.

As I have said, there has been unfair criticism of APA by Defence. As an example, Air Vice Marshal Osley stated of APA's criticisms of the F-35's aerodynamic performance that it was:

… inconsistent with years of detailed analysis undertaken by Defence, the JSF Program Office, Lockheed Martin and the eight other partner nations.

He further stated that their analysis was:

… basically flawed through incorrect assumptions and the lack of knowledge of the classified F-35 performance information.

The Joint Operational Requirements Document, or JORD, had specifications on various measures of performance. For acceleration at 30,000 feet the objective was 40 seconds or less and the threshold or bare minimum was 55 seconds. We were told by Defence that it would meet spec and Tom Burbage, head of the JSF program with Lockheed Martin, misled parliament in March last year by stating: 'The airplane will continue to be well in excess of its basic requirement. The aircraft is meeting all other requirements to date.' He stated 'other' because it failed to meet the range requirement of 590 nautical miles and they have conveniently changed the definition of the requirement for the A-model which Defence recommends we get so that it could reach spec.

In terms of that acceleration spec, the JSF program office in the US has asked the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee, or JROC, to relax the requirement to 63 seconds which is similar to the performance of a 50-year-old F-4 Phantom—so much for meetings spec. In 2006, APA calculated the A-model would take over 60 seconds for acceleration which has now proven correct. This is on record at the same time that Defence and LockMart were telling us it was meeting or exceeding spec. Whose analysis is flawed now?

Similarly, for turn performance, the aircraft had an objective to sustain six g at 15,000 feet with a bare minimum threshold of 5.3 g. In 2006, APA calculated it could only sustain 4.7 g, at the same time that Defence and LockMart were assuring us that it would meet spec. Once again, JPO has requested JROC to relax the spec to 4.6 g. This is less than said 50-year-old F-4 Phantom, which was known as a truck for its turn performance at the time. Whose analysis is flawed now? So much for the years of detailed analysis undertaken by Defence, the JSF program office, Lockheed Martin and eight other partner nations.

This aircraft has had very austere specifications placed on it in the JORD, and LockMart has designed the aircraft not to meet the objectives—which were not much of a stretch anyway—but with the bare minimum threshold specs, and have failed to even meet them. They have a weight problem with the aircraft, and military aircraft always put on weight. This aircraft is only 270 pounds under the maximum allowable empty weight according to the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. They have even gone so far as to remove fuel stop valves and extinguishers in the dry bays, which, according to the DOT&E, increases the aircraft's vulnerability to ground fire by 25 per cent compared with legacy aircraft.

But this program is based on magic! Because, in terms of the fundamentals of air combat, this aircraft is a comprehensive and hugely expensive failure. It is a $1 trillion program over its life, so no wonder we are getting so much spin and so little substance. By every measure, the aircraft is an outlier. We are told that this aircraft will let the missiles do the work—no need for high aerodynamic performance; it will all occur at beyond visual range. So why do they crow about the 50 degree angle of attack capability which is only important in close combat? The reason is that, according to Defence and LockMart, the JSF is the answer, and therefore anything it can do is important and great but what it cannot do is irrelevant. They are quite willing to mislead, lie and obfuscate—anything to ensure the continuation of this white elephant.

Remember, even if it achieves the 2020 IOC, this turkey will be in service until 2060 or so. Do you really think it will be remotely competitive then? Why are the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans and indeed LockMart with its other fighter, the F-22, spending so much money for these aircraft to have supermanoeuvrability and supercruise—or the ability to cruise supersonically without using afterburner—if it is not important? Indeed, the JSF will have to light up the sky to get into a position to fight using a lot of fuel-hungry and very hot afterburners which can be seen from a long distance away, just to get to the speed required to do that. Does the JSF program really have the ultimate and only correct view of air combat, a view that bets against the basics of air combat that have been shown to be fundamental to air combat time and again over the last century, despite people having bet against said fundamentals on numerous occasions? Are those who designed the J-20, J-31, F-22, Eurofighter, Gripen and Rafale all wrong? Are the fundamentals of air combat and the wisdom of the likes of John Boyd and von Clausewitz all wrong, and only the mighty Lockheed Martin Fort Worth division is correct?

I want Tom Burbage, the head of the JSF program with Lockheed Martin, to come to parliament and explain why he did not give false and misleading information to this parliament. If we do not insist on full transparency, our fighting men and women will be the ones to pay the price, not those in Russell offices or the boardrooms of Lockheed Martin. Finally, no doubt Defence and LockMart will state that the magic is classified and hidden, and we will have to take them on trust that it truly is revolutionary, it will change the nature of air combat, and that is why it is a world-beater. The problem is, on all unclassified measures where we have had the opportunity to compare the facts with what they have assured us is correct, they have been shown to be wrong. Furthermore, when independent experts have been demonstrated to be correct on these measures where Defence and Lockheed Martin have failed so dismally, when they warn us that the JSF is uncompetitive, I believe we should take what they have to say extremely seriously and demand evidence from Defence and LockMart. We should demand that they show us, not simply assure us. In the final analysis, facts are stubborn things and I am more stubborn still.