Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee
22/03/2016
Acquisition of the Joint Strike Fighter

GOON, Mr Peter Anthony, Head of Test and Evaluation, Principal Consultant and Co-Founder, Air Power Australia

MILLS, Mr Christopher Laurie, Member, Air Power Australia

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Gallacher ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee. This public hearing is in relation to the committee's inquiry into the planned acquisition of the Joint Strike Fighter. Copies of the committee's terms of reference are available from the secretariat. I welcome everyone here today.

This is a public hearing and a Hansard transcript of the proceedings is being made. Before the committee starts taking evidence, I remind all witnesses that, in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee. Such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

I would like to emphasise that, while the committee prefers all evidence to be given in public, under the Senate's resolution witnesses have the right to request to be heard in private session. If you would like any of your evidence to be heard in camera please do not hesitate to let the committee know.

If a witness objects to answering a question, the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer, a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. As noted previously, such a request may also be made at any other time.

I welcome representatives from Air Power Australia. Would either or both of you like to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions?

Mr Goon : Both of us would like to. I will ask my colleague Mr Mills to start off, if that is okay?

CHAIR: Fire away.

Mr Mills : Thank you for the opportunity to appear today. I am a retired RAAF wing commander fighter pilot. I am a member of the Order of Australia. My Master of Science in Systems was awarded by the United States Air Force Institute of Technology. My Bachelor of Science in physics is by the University of Melbourne. I declare that I have never been a beneficiary of the Joint Strike Fighter program, and never will. Like many Australians, I have a vested interest in the security of the Australian nation. Like most of you, I have children and grandchildren.

Since I made my confidential submission—which the committee did de-classify, and I thank you for that—the Defence white paper has been released and I can comment further on that if the committee wishes. I have read all of the submissions, and while the proponents of the 'not designed as an air superiority platform'Joint Strike Fighter will make assertions that it will be victorious in future air combat, they fail to describe how it will be achieved. Conversely, I can describe the 'how'. Without the F-22, the JSF fleet is irrelevant and will be defeated by lethal purpose designed air combat fighters now entering our region. Looking beyond air combat, the joint strike fighter cannot do close air support as well as the purpose-designed battle-proven A10 Warthog is currently doing in the Middle East. You cannot fly safety in contested airspace as the purpose-designed F-22 is doing today over Syria. Other countries will not commit their aircraft in Syria unless they have the protection of the F-22. I can provide proof it cannot survive a destruction of enemy air defence attack against modern SAMs. The JSF cannot control airspace contested with lethal, purpose-designed air combats like the Su-35, now being deployed in our region, and against the coming advanced design like the Sukhoi T-50 and the coming Chengdu J-20.

People like Mr Andrew Davies have claimed that the F-35 will be a 'capable all-rounder'. A more realistic assessment is that the JSF in its current and future combat setting can be described idiomatically as 'a jackass of all trades and masterful of none'.

Mr Goon : My colleague, Chris Mills, and I are here representing the Air Power Australia think tank and, with their agreement, many from around our great nation and the world whose submissions make up the vast majority provided to this inquiry. Along with the increasing number of people, many thousands upon thousands around the globe are now expressing their deep concerns about the JSF program.

My colleague, Dr Kopp, and I founded Air Power Australia 12 years ago in the wake of the great purge in Defence wherein senior Defence officials abandoned the longstanding practices in strategy and defence planning that had served Australia so well through the challenging decades following the Second World War. Our intent was simple: to perform the critical strategic and, moreover, the technostrategic thinking necessary for Australia to maintain its strategic position in the region, as the leadership of Defence had clearly lost interest in doing so; busy pursuing other priorities and other needs not of our nation's or its interests. Twelve years later and with hundreds of publication and many dozens of parliamentary submissions produced for inquiries like this one, and, more so, along with what is now happening around the globe with respect to the JSF program, we can now say that launching Air Power Australia was a wise decision.. Mind you it has taken quite a long time.

The intent of this inquiry, clearly, is to divine the truth about the highly-troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that senior Defence officials so unwisely embroiled Australia in over a decade and a half ago. The evidence before this inquiry is beyond dispute. The F-35 is not an air superiority fighter design by any metric or by any measure used by any of the designers or manufacturers of air combat aircraft, as it shares none of the qualities one expects of a fighter. The F-35 is not a fifth-generation fighter design. Again, by any metric and any measure used by any of the designers or manufacturers of air combat aircraft, other than the Fort Worth division of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. The F-35 is not a classical, let alone coherent, combat aircraft design, as its project managers and marketeers, sitting atop at the designers, abandoned most of the well-proven practices and critical thinking used for decades to build the fighters that have served the Free World so admirably. The F-35 is not even the complex system that many claim it to be, as its basic design complexity is no different than that of competing aircraft designs. Excuses for poor or misguided design cannot mask these ugly truths. Belief, perceptions, hearsay and opinion are negotiable; data and facts are not.

So what, really, is the F-35 then? Calling it 'a jackass of all trades and masterful of none', as my colleague did, reflects the realities of a broken and now obsolete design, unsuitable for modern combat but one that conceals the deeper problems underpinning this program. The F-35 is a triumph of glitzy marketing and sales techniques over proven military thinking, proven design practices and robust long-term military strategy based on rigorous net assessments. The F-35 is a symptom of broken planning and procurement systems across the Western alliance. Well deserving of what Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics labelled as 'acquisition malpractice'. The F-35 is a risk to the ANZUS Alliance. Its inadequacies and immense and ongoing costs would inject discord into a relationship that has served its participants so well for so long.

The sorry history of the F-35 program bears the hallmarks of other failed commercial ventures, labelled commonly as Ponzi schemes. When the product fails, recruit as many clients as you can, promote the product as loudly as you can and keep the cash flowing for as long as the market remains blind to its failure—a blindness that is far easier to maintain the more dissenting voices you can get ignored and drowned out by your customer-funded sophistry and spin.

While the JSF enterprise continues to practice what Princeton Professor G Harry Frankfurt defined as a 'total indifference to what is real', the F-35 aircraft and JSF program overall raised a number of difficult question about the national sovereignty of its intended users. Nations purchased military equipment to safeguard their sovereignty. History shows that the ability to use the equipment when needed without hindrance and the ability, along with the capabilities to modify and to adapt the equipment quickly in time of war, are critical. Yet the proprietary software-based design of the F-35 systems, the digital dog leash of autonomous and logistics system, and the difficulty in integrating weapons and other systems into the design, provide the prime contractor with the unprecedented power over all nations which operate the F-35, including the United States of America. The F-35 will allow the prime contractor to rape, plunder and pillage taxpayers around the Western world for the next 30 to 40 years, with the American taxpayer being the biggest victim.

So what is the bottom line? The JSF enterprises a globalised monopoly of enormous proportions that serves only the interests of the prime contractor at the expense of the national interest of partner nations, and to the detriment of the global alliances of the Free World. The F-35 JSF is a perfect storm in making that has immeasurable potential to damage every single partner nation and every alliance relationship. Is it possible to avoid this storm? Of course it is. Is there a solution? Of course there is. And this inquiry is well placed to be the catalyst for the Australian parliament and for the Australian people to be an integral and very important part of that solution.

CHAIR: Thank you. On page 2 you have said that the F-35 has 'fallen short of its originally mediocre specifications, and has been a case study of "acquisition malpractice".' Can you succinctly put on the public record what you mean by 'acquisition malpractice'?

Mr Goon : Totally against all the standard established methods of acquisition and procurement of defence materiel. In fact. the can quote is from—

CHAIR: Does that mean that other aircraft have been purchased or obtained under a different standard?

Mr Goon : Under a different system, yes.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Mr Goon : The label is actually that of Frank Kendall's, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in the Pentagon.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Just to clarify, in your submission you call it MOTS, military off-the-shelf. Is that what you are referring to and is that what we normally do?

Mr Goon : No, what I am actually referring to is the standard well-proven, longstanding engineering practices associated with aircraft procurement. What has happened with this program is that they got thrown out the door.

CHAIR: Does acquisition malpractice refer to technical specifications?

Mr Goon : All of it, starting right from the get-go: from strategic needs analysis through to capability needs analysis through to operational requirements, which for the JSF is under the joint operational requirements document, right through to technical specification, contracting and then running the project itself.

Mr Mills : Concurrency.

Mr Goon : Well, concurrency is one of the big problems in relation to this design, where they actually designed, developed, built and tested things in parallel.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Is there any aircraft, in your opinion, that is more capable or has air superiority over the F-35?

Mr Mills : The only aircraft in the Western world is the F-22. They were supposed to make 750 of them and then they gradually pushed it back, and then, through another kind of acquisition malpractice, they terminated the program. The USAF wanted 243; they terminated at 187. It is not enough, and you will see that the Chief of the Air Combat Capability Command made a very telling statement. He said: 'I need the F-22. The F-35 is not designed as an air-superiority platform. Without the F-22, the F-35 fleet is, frankly, irrelevant.' None of us have to be Einstein to say that Australia is flying an F-35 fleet and won't have F-22s. Here is the person who owns the most fighters in the world saying that our Australian fleet, and every other allied fleet, is irrelevant.

With the F-22 they saved all of the production tooling, they have got space on the production line; they could bring it back in. When Reagan got back into power and decided he had a gap in air power, they brought the B-1B back into production. So all the people that say it can't be brought back into production are wrong. It can be. It would take a couple of years, not a lot of money. The other thing you will hear is, 'Oh, the Obey amendment says they will not export.' People who say that have not actually read the Obey amendment. What the Obey amendment says is that you can't spend money marketing it. It does not mean to say it can't be brought into production. Now having said all of that—like the famous F-15 Eagles, of which they have not lost a single aircraft in combat—it is time for the F-22 to brought back as an F-22C. In other words, to take as much as we can of what we have learnt out of the F-35—and there are a lot of good things in the F-35—and incorporate them as a modern F-22.

I have got something here that I want to give each of you. It is a picture of what is coming after the Su-35 for the Indonesians—I made enough copies for all of the committee members. The Su-35 has been bought by China and Indonesia and, by my calculations using accredited software, we will lose 2.4 JSFs for every Su-35. But this is what is coming next, and this is seriously more lethal than the Su-35: the Chinese are producing a J-20 and a J-31. I don't think it is as good as this aeroplane, but it is going to be pretty bad news for us.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Mr Mills, could I ask you about that point. When Lieutenant General Bogdan was here he said they have all the data, and they are comfortable with the F-35 and are sticking by their statements.

Mr Mills : Rhetoric. Complete rhetoric.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Could I ask you where they get that data from on this kind of plane? Or where you get your data from?

Mr Mills : I sat in this committee in 2012 or something, and we were libelled under parliamentary privilege by Lockheed Martin because we were using a Department of Defence accredited simulation, which was tested against all the major air-combat simulations. My colleague Mr Price said it comes within three per cent—so we were using that particular simulation and we were getting these sorts of numbers, and Lockheed Martin and USAF also said that the F-35 coming up against an advanced fighter like Su-27 would get a three-to-one-loss exchange rate. We repeated those results as a confidence test, it is called A-B verification. They then came in and said, 'No VSim—we are going to get six-to-one-loss exchange rates in our favour.' Now we have found—and Dr Dennis Jensen took this up inside the committee—in this last Defence operational test and evaluation report, the independent umpire appointed to the congress by the President of the United States has said: 'VSim is not accredited. It is not verified. It is not validated.' and that any results coming out of VSim cannot be used.

Mr Goon : In fact, the contract for VSim with Lockheed Martin has been cancelled, and the US government is pulling the VSim program back under its tent, back into the military.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I understand that Lieutenant General Bogdan was asked a question on this when he was in Australia a few weeks ago and said:

They are right, we're late with it, that's on me, okay, I gotta get it moving, I gotta get it fixed, I gotta get it done, …

I presume he was referring to the simulations and the data.

I am interested in this kind of aircraft that you call a 'reference threat'.

Mr Goon : Yes.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I think your terms are quoted as, 'In a post-2015 stealth-on-stealth counterstealth world where the technology is being developed.' When the F-35 was being developed back in the late nineties and early 2000s, how would they have developed a plane to counter something like this? Would this have already been in production at that stage as well?

Mr Goon : The T-50 PAK FA contract was signed by Sukhoi in 2002, which was the same year that Lockheed Martin signed the SDD-phase contract for the JSF program. So the T-50, in terms of contract design and development, has been underway for the same length of time as the JSF.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: It is possible, then, that they do have the data on this kind of aircraft now for their simulations?

Mr Goon : The Americans do? No. It was only but recently—2010, 2011—when the T-50 PAK FA was first publicly revealed, that the Americans cottoned on that it was there. The general view was that, yes, the Russians are developing a fifth generation—certainly, in the open source or in the public domain, we are talking about that. But the T-50 caught a lot of people out of step. It was, effectively, a capability surprise. That was admitted by people in the Pentagon, by the Defense Science Board people and also by Mr Robert Gates, who was the Secretary of Defense at the time.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Just to be clear for me: you mentioned the F-22 when I asked you what a more superior plane could be. Lieutenant General Bogdan said:

… in an air-to-air environment we will see them first, shoot them first, and kill them first. Period dot.

Are you suggesting that this aircraft is potentially as lethal as the F-35?

Mr Goon : Not 'potentially'; it is far more lethal.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Right.

Mr Mills : Can I just add to that? The 'see-first, shoot-first, kill-first' is dogma. It is outdated. The Su-35 is capable of flying four miles higher than the F-35. The F-35 may see it first. We worked with RAND Corporation and Dr John Stillion in particular. They chose the Su-35 as the reference threat back in 2008—you will see a lot of internet traffic on it. We did the simulations for them, which they presented at Pacific Vision—not as their main task but as a side task. That is where we got the 2.4 to one result against the JSF. The results were accepted by RAND as being to their full satisfaction. They took it to a number of bases in the States and all the USAF generals said, 'Yeah, it's a bit depressing, but we're not arguing with the results.' So we have this type of reference.

What they did in 2008 was prescient, because the Chinese have now bought 24 Su-35s and the Indonesians do not quite know how many they are going to buy—maybe eight to 10—but they said they might buy up to 180. What is really bad news is that it is a bit like a tennis match: if you cannot beat a No. 3 seed, you are certainly not going to beat the No. 1 one seed. Now we have the Su-35, which is lethal, but the F-22 can defeat it—and I will tell you why in a second—but then you have the T-50 coming from behind.

With the countermeasures against the AIM120, have you ever wondered why they call them 'missiles'? The operational effectiveness of the AIM120 in combat is 46 per cent against aeroplanes that did not know the missile was coming. They did not have radar warning receivers and they even counted a Blackhawk helicopter. Now you have a Su-35 that has an extensive suite of countermeasures where the probability of being killed would be around about 10 to 15 per cent. They only get two shots, and the Sukhois have 10 shots.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: They could, potentially, get four shots if they were set up for it?

Mr Mills : They could, potentially, but they have yet to make the lanchers. As General Hostage said, 'I am going to need eight F-35s to get out there, because that is the only way that I can get that many mi ssiles in the air.'

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Unfortunately we are running out of time so this is my last question. How long has Air Power been a critic of the F-35 program and why have you been able to highlight some of these flaws and deficiencies of the F-35 before they became public?

Mr Goon : As I said in my opening statement, we formed Air Power Australia in 2004. The reason was principally because of the decisions being made to take Australia down the path of the JSF, which we saw even back then was a trajectory towards Australia losing regional air superiority and that has now happened. How were we able to do it? We were able to do it by using standard independent verification and validation techniques, and analytical intellectually rigorous analysis that is standard for what is called the process of net assessment.

Mr Mills : And your predictions have come true.

Mr Goon : Yes. Pretty much every risk that has materialised in the JSF program, we predicted before 2004 and advised to Defence and advised to the various people with their hands on the levers in relation to Australia's defence.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Why do you not think that the JSF program was able to predict these things if you were?

Mr Goon : Because their focus was on blue sky marketing, on marketing over reality. The whole process basically has all the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme and that is what happens with Ponzi schemes.

Senator FAWCETT: In your submission, you basically posit the F-22 as the only viable fighter that Australia should be looking at in terms of air superiority capability. Other nations like the UK have purchased an additional two squadrons of Typhoon. Countries like Sweden are right next door to Russia—at one point in time the world's third-largest air force. They have done their modelling and threat assessment and have decided on the next evolution of Gripen. Are those decisions by those sovereign governments flawed or are there viable fourth-generation aircraft that, through a combination of cost of operation, costs of acquisition and pure numbers, provide a viable alternative?

Mr Goon : The simple answer to your question is no; they are not flawed at all. But their strategic planning and analysis is based upon the European scenario, which is quite different to ours. We have an air-sea-land gap, we are an island nation and we have a very large region of interest. The other consideration that rolls into our recommendation in relation to the F-22 is the fact it is the only robust air dominance fighter design available. If we were to encourage somebody like the Americans to start a new process, you would have to wait another 20 years to see something, particularly the way their acquisition processes have gone—the acquisition malpractice we referred to earlier.

The other reason for pushing the F-22 is, as we said in our submission, what is America going to do in the post 2015 stealth-on-stealth counter stealth world?

Senator FAWCETT: In your submission, you look at the J-20 or Su50 PAK-FA and make a comment under one of the pictures that it is stealthy in the front of the RCS. Going through your paper, I am assuming that comes from the modelling done by Dr Kopp. Given that most radar cross-section information is highly classified, what gives you the confidence that the information you model accurately represents the capability of the aircraft?

Mr Goon : Firstly, it did not just come from the modelling that we have done, the spectral modelling. It also comes from many years' experience in analysing aircraft observables. As you well know, there are five technology areas for low observables. But it also comes from talking with our colleagues in the aircraft analysis arena, not here in Australia because there is a paucity of that but internationally and not just in the Western coalitions. Again, as you well know, the flight test community is a small community and we talk to each other irrespective of what borders there may be, irrespective of what political differences there may be because our primary role in flight test and test evaluation, firstly, is to ensure safety of operations, suitability and effectiveness. The fourth consideration is, as we all know, you have a defence force to maintain and sustain peace. The best way to do that is to be so capable and so well prepared that the other people around you just want to stay neighbourly. That is one of the roles of the work that we do. One hopes one day we will not need defence forces.

Mr Mills : My company RepSim was contracted for five years to Saab to help develop the Gripen NG and the Gripen E/F. We did extensive modelling and the Gripen-Meteor combination will defeat the Su-35, not very convincingly. But it will not be a convincing argument when the later aeroplanes that Mr Goon is talking about like the J-20, the T-50 and the J-31 come along. If you are going to look at having a fighter for 30 years, you have got to look 30 years downstream to see what is coming and it will not be competitive.

Mr Goon : On that point, the fundamental problem with the JSF goes to the question: why would you specify your new air combat capability to be comparable with what you have already got? That is what the JSFs have been from day one. You look at the specification, you look at the language of the marketing and the representations made in the formative years of this program; they kept comparing it to a F16 and a F-18. You ask why? That is what you have already got. That is not what is going to be out there in 10, 20, 30 years' time. People were driving along by looking in the rear-vision mirror rather than looking ahead and looking into the future and seeing what the reference threats are going to be—this is the net assessment process referred to earlier—and what you need to do to balance, what you need to do to counter those reference threats so you do maintain balance in global power or, in our case, balance in regional power.

Senator FAWCETT: The future threat is an important consideration to understand whether the Joint Strike Fighter is indeed going to serve Australia's purposes for 10 years, 20 years or less. You mentioned the fact that there is a large community out there, for example, in test and evaluation, but I also know that things are classified, and I assume that the Russians are probably even stricter than we are about the official secrets act. In your submission you say that you are concerned to see submissions based on fact. I am interested to know how you are so convinced about where this current generation of developmental aircraft in the Russian and Chinese processes are, what their true capability is and what it will be in five or 10 years' time? Given that the West is going down the same path with a whole bunch of developmental issues, why are you so convinced that the other nations are not and how have you convinced yourself that you and fellow critics of the JSF are not actually victims of groupthink in terms of convincing yourselves that this is the right argument?

Mr Goon : To answer your last question first, because we follow a rigorous process of peer review, with comparisons with other people of our ilk and of our skill set, and it is a critical process. There is no conflict of interest. Ours is a purely independent red-teaming process. Going back to the question of how do we know we are right, let's look at the JSF. In 2006, in committee rooms like this before Senate estimates committees and before the public, people were waving their hands in the air saying that the JSF is the greatest aircraft ever. It is going to be a magnificent fighter. It is going to have comparable fighter performance to the—

Senator FAWCETT: I am quite comfortable with your track record of highlighting flaws in the JSF program but what I am asking is—

Mr Goon : We use the same techniques that we use on the JSF in analysing the Su50 PAK-FA, the Chengdu J-20, the Sukhoi Su-35 and now the Shenyang J-31. People are saying that the F-35 will pull 9 Gs. The specification actually says six. We said in 2006 it would struggle to get 4.7. It gets 4.6 and that is now public. I think 0.1 of a G is pretty good for government work, particularly when it is pro bono.

Senator FAWCETT: I am more interested in the key characteristics. You have argued this stealth-on-stealth environment is going to be game changer in 10 years' time or whatever time frame we are looking at.

Mr Goon : Now.

Senator FAWCETT: What gives you the certainty that you are correct about the all-aspect RCS of these Chinese and Russian platforms in terms of the advantage that would give them over Joint Strike Fighter or even F-22?

Mr Goon : Underpinning our analysis—and it has been rewritten as hard numbers, we think within at least plus or minus five per cent—the other reason is that you look at the design doctrines. Look at the design doctrines of the Russians and now the Chinese and the Indians. They are following the evolving design and development doctrine. You can see it in the way they are developing their systems—not just their aircraft, but let's focus on aircraft. But if you look at the Western doctrine, particularly the American one, it is one of revolution rather than evolution. They have a major commercial contract like the JSF—a winner-takes-all contract—and they start again.

CHAIR: I am a bit unclear here. Are you saying you can assess Russian and Chinese aircraft despite the fact that they were trying to keep all of those things secret? Are you saying that you have the wherewithal to just go in there and tell us with definitive facts what a Chinese or Russian stealth fighter can do?

Mr Goon : Within the limits of the analysis, yes. That is what you are supposed to do when you do the net assessments and start the capability development process.

CHAIR: Senator Fawcett, you are out of time. I have to give Senator Xenophon some time.

Senator XENOPHON: I will be very quick; I will try to do it in three minutes or less. I will ask you to put some questions on notice, so you may want to refer to the Hansard.

Mr Goon : Certainly.

Senator XENOPHON: I just want to refer to this chart you have provided in your submission, which I found quite useful.

Mr Goon : The ZOCT table?

Senator XENOPHON: Yes. It is your chart?

Mr Goon : That is our chart.

Senator XENOPHON: That is your chart. On notice—and I emphasise 'on notice' because of time constraints—can you give a definition in layman's terms of what each capability is on the Y axis and why it is important to a fifth generation fighter jet, perhaps weighing each capability in terms of very important, important, of interest or some other weighting method. Can you consider that, please?

Mr Goon : We certainly can.

Senator XENOPHON: I would like a very brief answer in relation to this next question, because I will be putting this to other witnesses. This goes to Senator Fawcett's line of questioning and Senator Gallacher's. How have you established the content of this table? Is it from open-source information?

Mr Goon : It is all open source.

Senator XENOPHON: Others might suggest that this is incorrect on account of it being open source. There are dangers in restricting that because, by definition, if there are other capabilities of other fighter jets we simply will not know about them because you cannot get it from open source. Do you acknowledge that that is a known unknown?

Mr Goon : No, I do not. The reason for that is that the whole intelligence community around the world recognises that open source is the primary source of intelligence.

Senator XENOPHON: But there could be other features of the aircraft that you are trying to compare that you may not know about.

Mr Goon : Certainly, there are some things down to the nitty-gritty detail that you do not know. You do not know the hard numbers, but you do know in terms of the overall capability. Classified information comes under the national security classification system with very clear guidelines as to what is classified and why it is classified. Usually it boils down to numbers and things like that. If people cannot talk about classified information in an unclassified way—

Senator XENOPHON: Because of time constraints I am sorry to interrupt you. I am happy for you to elaborate on this on notice.

Mr Goon : Allow me to put that in an answer to you on notice.

Senator XENOPHON: You are saying that this is robust despite the fact that there are features of the aircraft we may not know about.

Mr Goon : Yes. It is an overview comparing what the other manufacturers are doing with their aircraft.

Senator XENOPHON: Fair enough. That puts it in context. My final question is: you have recommended redirecting Defence down the F-22 path, but doesn't the 'Obey' amendment prevent this from occurring without the US senate's involvement?

Mr Goon : The US congress will have to be involved. The real question is: what is America going to do? We have gone down the path and we have lost regional air superiority. America is on the same trajectory because of the JSF. If America loses air superiority there will be a massive change in the balance of global power. I think all of us around this table know the consequences of that.

Senator XENOPHON: That can be rectified with the F-22—is that what you are saying?

Mr Goon : By providing ourselves more over the Americans and our allies with the F-22 capability. One that will address the referenced threats.

Senator XENOPHON: Sorry about the time constraints, but thank you very much.

CHAIR: So that is your position—the F-22 over the Joint Strike Fighter?

Mr Goon : Most definitely. But it does need to be evolved.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Or the F-22 with the Joint Strike Fighter? Or without?

Mr Goon : The joint strike fighter has other problems, and the question has to be: are you going to pay all that money to try and fix those problems?

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Mr Mills and Mr Goon.

Mr Mills : Thank you for the opportunity.

Mr Goon : Thank you for the opportunity