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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5813


Dr JENSEN (9:48 AM) —Last night on Lateline Tom Burbage, the Lockheed Martin head of the Joint Strike Fighter program, showed a total indifference to what is real and either misrepresented or, worse, lied about various aspects of the project. First of all he was talking about the cost of the project, realising that cost is merely one of the aspects used to build up the price. Tom Burbage said that in Australia we would get JSFs for $60 million. Quite frankly, if he thinks we can get a JSF for $60 million I say to the Australian government: ‘Buy the things. Buy 100. It will only cost $6 billion, and then we can spend the rest of the $9 billion or $10 billion to get to the $16 billion total to buy some real capability that we need.’

To give you some idea of how fanciful this number is, 24 Super Hornets cost us $3.2 billion or $150 million per aeroplane. He talks about concurrency—doing the development at the same time as actually building production aircraft—as being cost effective. This is something that is out of the trees. Car manufacturers, who have a far better handle on things—and cars are nowhere near as advanced as this—run the prototypes before they put the items into production. Burbage also talks about 4,000 to 5,000 aircraft. This is fanciful stuff. About 2,400 are currently proposed, and nations like the Netherlands are pulling out of initial operational testing and evaluation. He admitted that the earliest the aircraft would be in Australia is 2018. How is this giving us the capability we require?

The performance of this aircraft is a dog. He is betting on a revolution that aerodynamic performance speed—what is called energy manoeuvrability—no longer counts. This has been bet on numerous times in the past, and every time the reality of warfare has come to bite it has been found that the fundamentals are important. This aircraft is not a true fifth generation aircraft. It does not have supercruise or the ability to cruise supersonically without using afterburner, and it certainly does not have superagility. It is not even as agile as current fourth generation aircraft. He did not deny that the competition flies higher and faster and can outturn and outrun the Joint Strike Fighter. He tried to say that they are only pictures of the competition. The PAK-FA—the F22 equivalent, which is far better than the JSF—is in flight test.

The US House Committee on Armed Services has put budgetary requirements on the program to meet time lines in order to get full funding. And what has happened? The Secretary of Defense has said that it makes the program undeliverable. If anyone wants to find out any more about this, I suggest that they go to the Air Power Australia website. (Time expired)