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Monday, 18 June 2012
Page: 3563

Defence

(Question No. 1621)


Senator Johnston asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 5 March 2012:

As at 31 December 2011:

(1)   With reference to the acquisition of the first 2 F 35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft:

   (a)   what is the expected expenditure on the acquisition; and

   (b) what is to be supplied as equipment, supporting systems, weapons, services or infrastructure to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

(2)   With reference to the acquisition of a further 12 F 35 JSF aircraft:

   (a)   what is the expected expenditure on the acquisition; and

   (b)   what is to be supplied as equipment, supporting systems, weapons, services or infrastructure to the ADF.

(3)   When will these first 14 F 35 JSF aircraft:

   (a)   be delivered;

   (b)   become fully operational; and

   (c)   what is the estimated through life support and operating costs for these aircraft over an expected 30 year period of operation.

(4)   When will the remaining 86 F 35 JSF be purchased (as referenced in the Defence White Paper 2009, p. 78, paragraph 9.60, 'The Government has decided that it will acquire around 100 F 35 JSF, along with supporting systems and weapons. The first stage of this acquisition will acquire three operational squadrons comprising not fewer than 72 aircraft').

(5)   With reference to the acquisition of the remaining 86 F 35 JSF aircraft:

   (a)   what is the expected expenditure on the acquisition;

   (b)   what will be supplied as equipment, supporting systems, weapons, services or infrastructure to the ADF;

   (c)   when will the aircraft be delivered;

   (d)   when will they become fully operational;

   (e)   where will the JSF squadrons be based, and when; and

   (f)   what is the estimated through life support and operating costs over an expected 30 year period of operation.

(6)   What savings would be made by cancelling the purchase of 24 F 35 JSF aircraft and purchasing 24 Super Hornets.


Senator Bob Carr: The Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   With reference to the acquisition of the first two F-35s:

   (a)   Australia's first two aircraft are likely to cost about $130 million each in 2012 prices at a 1.03 United States exchange rate.

   (b)   The acquisition includes materiel and support to facilitate United States-based training operations, and includes, but is not limited to:

      (i)   base and range support;

      (ii)   fuel, oils and other consumables;

      (ii)   training expendables (weapons and countermeasures); and

      (iii)   student training courses.

(2)   With reference to the acquisition of a further 12 F-35s:

   (a)   The average cost for the first 12 F-35s is expected to be about $110 million each (2012 prices at a 1.03 United States exchange).

   (b)   The acquisition comprises:

      (i)   additional pilot training in the United States;

      (ii)   initial spares associated with 12 aircraft;

      (iii)   auxiliary mission equipment (such as weapons adaptors);

      (iv)   training equipment and simulators to support operational testing;

      (v)   weapons to support commencement of operational testing;

      (vi)   support equipment associated with 12 aircraft;

      (vii)   facilities design and environmental planning activities;

      (viii)   initial contributions to a mission systems reprogramming facility;

      (ix) information technology integration;

      (x) initial contributions to shared Joint Strike Fighter Program costs;

      (xi) ongoing Defence Science & Technology Organisation support activities;

      (xii) operational test activities in Australia; and

      (xiii) ongoing industry support initiatives.

(3)   With reference to the first 14 F-35 aircraft:

   (a)   On current plans, Australia's first two F-35s will be delivered in the United States in 2014 for training at the international F-35 pilot training centre. In relation to the timetable for delivery of the remaining 12 F-35As, on 3 May 2012, the Minister for Defence announced a two year deferral of the acquisitions of the 12 aircraft. The new schedule reflects decisions taken by the United States Government to restructure the Joint Strike Fighter program and defer the acquisition of some aircraft. Decisions will be taken in the course of 2012 in relations to any potential capability gap and the timing of the placing of orders for additional Joint Strike Fighters.

   (b)   See response to 3(a)

   (c)   Assuming an operational life out to 2046, the estimated through life and operating cost of the first 14 F-35s (including capability upgrades but not including acquisition cost) will be approximately $9 billion (Then Year).

(4)   With reference to the acquisition of additional F-35 aircraft, future numbers are subject to further Government consideration. No judgements or conclusions have been made.

(5)   Government is yet to decide on the acquisition of additional F-35s.

(6)   This is a hypothetical question and could not be calculated.