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Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
07/02/2012
Department of Defence annual report 2010-11

GOON, Mr Peter Anthony, Head, Test and Evaluation and Principal Consultant/Adviser, Air Power Australia

KOPP, Dr Carlo, Head, Capability and Strategy Research, Air Power Australia

LONG, Mr Adrian Lindsay, Director, RepSim Pty Ltd

MILLS, Mr Christopher Laurie, Director, RepSim Pty Ltd

PRICE, Mr Michael, Managing Director, RepSim Pty Ltd

Subcommittee met at 17:59

CHAIR ( Senator Furner ): We will make a start. I welcome everyone to this public hearing on JSF and welcome representatives of Air Power Australia and RepSim Pty Ltd to today's hearing. Although the subcommittee does not require you to give evidence on oath, I should advise you that these hearings are legal proceedings of the parliament and therefore have the same standing as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded in Hansard. Do you wish to make any opening statements for the subcommittee?

Mr Goon : Air Power Australia will start off with an opening statement, and I am the one who has been nominated to do that, followed by Mike Price, Managing Director of RepSim. We appear before this committee to provide evidence on the failure of Australia's single most expensive Defence capability project—the Air 6000 new air combat capability project—due, in the main, to what is seen as a myopic predilection for the F35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The American Joint Strike Fighter program was launched some 15 years ago with unusually ambitious objectives. The intent of this program was to develop and deploy a small battlefield interdiction aircraft in three variants, with quite disparate and very different operational characteristics. The first variant was to replace F16 fighter bombers and A10 tank busters operating from small fighter airfields. The second variant was to replace the vertical-landing Harrier and the third variant was to operate from aircraft carriers, launched by catapult and recovered by snagging a deck pendant cable with a tailhook. This early choice of one type with three quite distinct variants would have profound future implications for the program.

Another intention in the early definition of the Joint Strike Fighter was to provide just sufficient stealth to defeat battlefield air defences—those short-range mobile missiles and gun systems used to defend land armies when deployed. No better stealth performance was sought as it was expected and, in fact, intended that the superior F22A Raptor would deal with high-end enemy aircraft and surface-to-air missile batteries prior to the JSF entering the fray. This early choice would also have profound future implications for the program.

A third early intention in the definition of the Joint Strike Fighter was that affordability was to be the cornerstone of the JSF program. The aircraft was to be both cheaper to procure and cheaper to operate than any of its contemporaries, including the aircraft it was intended to replace. To accommodate this intention, the whole specification and design process was defined and constrained by an unrealistic and quite flawed idea known as CAIV—which stands for 'cost as an independent variable'. This early choice of CAIV would also have profound future implications for the program.

Another remarkable deviation from established practice was a fundamental change in the governance model adopted for the Joint Strike Fighter program. Best practice in project governance has the customer's project management team responsible for enforcing performance, the operational requirements and ensuring schedules are met. In turn, the contractor is allowed to market the program and the product to prospective clientele outside the core customer. In the Joint Strike Fighter program, however, the customer's project management teams were expected from the very early days to participate in the marketing of the program to end users, producing a built-in and profound conflict of interest from the outset. Similar expectations were placed on project management teams of prospective international clientele like Australia. The architects of the Joint Strike Fighter program were without doubt ambitious.Unfortunately, their ambitions were at odds with a great many material realities, and today we can see the fruits of those ambitions—an aircraft which is non-viable in every way in which a combat aircraft's worth can be objectively measured.

While the objective hard data on Joint Strike Fighter performance, operational suitability, schedule and cost s presents a picture of catastrophic technical and managerial failure on multiple fronts, the marketing - driven public relations facade constructed around this program has inflated the capabilities of the aircraft and program to the point of absurdity, when viewed particularly by an experienced and objective expert observer.

This committee has heard a great many statements from senior Defence portfolio officials over the last decade, lauding the success of the Joint Strike Fighter, extolling its virtues, and exalting its suitability for Australia's operational and strategic needs. Many , if not most , of these statements have been refuted by Air Power Australia in previous evidence put to this committee and its contemporary in the other place, either in relation to reviews of past Defence annual reports, Senate estimates, or the inquiry into Australian Defence Force regional air superiority some six years ago. Similarly, in the air combat capability review undertaken in 2008 of which its principal author, Mr Neil Orme, intimated was more political than substantial—an inference now substantiated in fact by history; the WikiLeaks cables only being a part thereof.

Senior Defence portfolio officials in Australia became wedded to the public relations image of the Joint Strike Fighter early last decade, and have since refused to assess the program on its merits, or rather complete lack of merit. This is not un common by-product of quite inappropriate handling of risks in the category known as ' reputation risk ' , where fear of being blamed for a failure elicits intensive denial of that failure.

Mr Chairman and members of this august committee , the hard data is irrefutable and its conclusions are simple : the Joint Strike Fighter is a failed program with no prospect of recovery, and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is the wrong product. Its CAIV-ed operational specification based on threat assessments from an era past and its public relations based governance system have assured it will not be competitive in a post 2015, let alone a post 2020 , world.

The first data submission we have made to this particular hearing details the ongoing failings in the Joint Strike Fighter program based on official United States Defense Department reports to the US Congress. The first graphic data summary pertains to cost growth and also to program failures including breaches of the Nunn-McCurdy and the approved program baseline requirements. There is no historical precedent for such growth on this scale or such a n umber of breaches so early in any Defence aquisition program. The Joint Strike Fighter is now more expensive than the larger and over three times more capable F22A Raptor. The unresolved and unresolvable engineering problems in the program will see further cost growth for as long as this broken program continues.

This submission, the first data submission, also details statements on Joint Strike Fighter costs by senior Defence portfolio officials over the same period of time , both here in Australia and around the world. Despite having had access to the same congressional reporting data, senior Defence officials failed to objectively assess this problem, and persistently substituted the public relations material in place of formal and objective congressional reporting data when providing advice to the Australian parliament and to the government of the day.

Examples comparing other such public relations based material s with the data and the facts as reported to the US Congress are also provided in this first submission. The second data submission details the changing regional capabilities which any future RAAF combat aircraft must be capable of dealing with if the strategic directive on the ADF to maintain and sustain regional air superiority is to be achieved.

Russia and China are now well advanced in their production of advanced stealth fighters specifically intended to be competitive with the superior United States F22A Raptor. The inferior Joint Strike Fighter, defined in aerodynamic performance and stealth only to attack lightly defended battlefield ground targets, has no prospect of ever successfully competing against these larger, more agile, higher flying and much faster foreign stealth fighters, which also happen to be better armed. Of no less if not greater concern is the proliferation of advanced long range surface-to-air missiles and modern counter-stealth sensors and detection systems. The very limited stealth capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter are inadequate to avoid and survive against such threats. There is no prospect of this limitation ever being corrected since the basic stealth shaping design of the aircraft is less than satisfactory. Public and parliamentary statements by senior Defence officials demonstrate that the capability and performance inadequacies of the Joint Strike Fighter are simply not understood, nor are the combat environment in which a future fighter must survive and prevail. The world has changed much since 2001 but some senior Defence portfolio officials still continue to cling to a perception of a regional environment which has been at odds with reality for many years.

The third data submission deals with the question: why and how have Air Power Australia's risk assessments, risk based estimates and predictions, been so accurate? It also provides more data and facts from official sources that not only confirm, but independently verify and validate, what the APA advisories for years have been saying to be true. This submission is awaiting responses from professional colleagues overseas as well as here in Australia, and they will be provided to this committee at the earliest opportunity.

In conclusion, the Joint Strike Fighter is a program which has failed in every key area in which the merits of a combat aircraft can be assessed. There are ways forward which address the consequent risks now confronting the short-, medium- and long-term future of the defence and security of the Australian people and their sovereignty. But to seek, and more importantly, to achieve what is right and what is best in this regard, will require the application and adherence to things that, sadly, have been sorely lacking within the Canberra based elements of the Defence portfolio for over a decade. Mr Chairman, that completes Air Power Australia's opening statement. I would now like to hand over to the managing director of RepSim.

CHAIR: I will do that. Who is presenting the evidence from RepSim Pty Ltd?

Mr Price : Thank you, Mr Chairman. I will give you a bit of an introduction because we are new to your committee. RepSim is a small company that specialises in military specific taskings for government and industry. We specialise in the design and the development of simulations to produce quantitative data for analysis. The background of the directors is that we have over 100 years of specific experience in defence and significant practical experience in the design and development of war gaming and simulation against threats that Australia may face into the future. My personal background is that I have 20 years as a director. Expertise relevant to this committee is that for the last eight years I was the director of explosive ordnance in the Department of Defence. I designed, constructed and managed the process by which we had classified scenarios that were war gamed and simulations produced against to look at contemporary and future conflict that the ADF might face. I also managed JP2085 which is the joint project for the Australian war stocks for the three services.

In terms of relevance to the JSF, in future scenarios and war games and simulations the JSF was part of the proposed force structure, so I am across the issues associated with what the department's knowledge is, and was, of the JSF in terms of combat performance. In terms of expertise on the JSF I am the author of a highly classified report, of which only two copies were ever produced, which looked at the ability of the JSF to meet the requirements of the priority scenarios for planning for the ADF as advised by the Chiefs of Staff Committee. So in terms of knowledge of the platform weapons systems, my knowledge is probably as good as any and better than most. I am open to questions.

CHAIR: Thank you. We will start with some questions.

Mr BRUCE SCOTT: Mr Price, you said you have, as a result of your previous work, classified documents relating to air security and capability. I just want to clarify exactly what you said.

Mr Price : I said, when I worked for the Department of Defence—I worked for 35 years in the department—for the last eight years I was the director of explosive ordnance. I designed, developed and managed the process by which we created the means by which we evaluated the requirements for ADF explosive stockholdings—war reserves—which is JP2085, funded by this parliament to the tune of many hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr BRUCE SCOTT: Was that related to air power?

Mr Price : Most assuredly.

Mr BRUCE SCOTT: Could you explain exactly how?

Mr Price : The concept of operations that the ADF employs, both for contemporary and for future activity, is a joint concept of operations. It requires the ability to do things in series with the appropriate assets at the appropriate time against the appropriate threat sets. We look at what the issues are associated with that in terms of whether we can achieve the objective in particular phases, and what the likely issues are associated with achieving those particular objectives, and what happens if we have to go to plan B because there was a phase we could not achieve and things like that. In most, but not all, of those scenarios air power is key to enabling us to be able to conduct other phases of operations.

Mrs GASH: Mr Price, can you just inform me again what you actually said. You are an expert author of the report on JSF and there are only two copies available?

Mr Price : Only two copies of that—

Mrs GASH: Who has got those copies?

Mr Price : The Department of Defence has those copies.

Mrs GASH: The Department of Defence has both those copies? Have those recommendations been acted upon?

Mr Price : I have no idea.

Mrs GASH: You were never informed?

Mr Price : There are only three people, as far as I am aware, who were cleared to see it. What happened with that is beyond my pay grade.

Mrs GASH: Was that a voluntary exercise or were you paid to do that?

Mr Price : I was working inside the Department of Defence, I was tasked—

Mrs GASH: You were working inside the department?

Mr Price : Yes. I was tasked because I had the appropriate security clearance—

Mrs GASH: And you were asked for those reports?

Mr Price : Yes. I was tasked to do them.

Mrs GASH: You were tasked to do them. Thank you.

Mr ADAMS: So you say in the platform whether it is up to what it says it was up to. I did not get, in simple terms, why you do not think that is so.

Mr Goon : Why we do not think the JSF is up to the task? In simple terms, this is a program that is being done backwards.

Mr ADAMS: I understand that.

Mr Goon : Everything is reversed. The manufacturing, the production, is being done before the engineering is complete, even before the science was complete. Regarding this problem that is currently being spoken about, the level of concurrency driving the costs, there has never been a program with this level of concurrency, as they call it. In fact, the actual concurrency in terms of the number of aircraft being built under low rate initial production is actually in breach of United States law. But the programmers decided they would do that. There is a limit under United States law of 10 per cent of the planned full rate production for a low rate production run. The JSF program, from day one, has exceeded that by some degree. Back in the early part of the last decade, when the AIR 6000 project was started, the standard Defence approach to capability development and to due diligence was in train. Some 25 to 30 years of experience and manuals were associated with that experience. Then come June 2002 it was decided to drop all of that and to go with the JSF, but with the caveat that if it did not work out we would restart the program. But anybody who has been around Defence acquisitions, both here in Australia and overseas, knows full well that that was a pretty remote possibility, principally because the program had been marketed to the decision makers, both in the government and the parliament, so to the directing level of governance and the oversight level of governance. And that was a very smart way for the program to go because it pretty much proofed the program from cancellation both in the United States and over here. A number of the people involved with the actual selection stated at the time that with the level of international involvement and concurrency in production it would be very difficult for the Congress to shut this program down. That is paraphrasing the words at the time.

But unfortunately the program was set up, as I said, with a governance structure totally opposite to the norm, certainly opposite to world best practice, where you actually had the customers. As an example I will take the Australian Department of Defence, but they were not the only ones who were actually actively marketing the JSF product to their government and political masters.

Mr ADAMS: You are saying that it cannot be built?

Mr Goon : It can be built, but firstly—

Mr ADAMS: But it will not deliver what the platform has been sold to do?

Mr Goon : There are several levels here. One is that the engineering has got so many risks inherent in it—risks that have now materialised—that to fix the issues and problems associated with those risks is going to cost an enormous amount of money and take an enormous amount of time. Also, key aspects of the design have actually been painted into what we call 'coffin corner'. Take the weight, for instance. This aircraft, the F35A, has very little, if any, weight margin for the life of its type. In other words, we take delivery of those aircraft, and every weight increase that occurs—and aircraft increase in weight over their life cycle—will have a detrimental effect on the performance of the aircraft and, with this particular design, on its structure and thus it's structural life.

That is all in the detailed area of our submission as well as reports recently released in the US. There is a much bigger consideration that needs to be looked at. That is whether the aircraft will do the job. The fact is that we and colleagues around the world in the independent analysis area and RepSim all agree that it will not do the job. The world has changed. The aircraft that are out there today are far superior. For instance, the T50 PAK FA has been specifically designed to go up against, and be competitive with, and defeat, the F22A, the Raptor.

Dr JENSEN: First I would like to commend you on the submissions that you have put in. In particular I would like to commend the work that you have done on cost and schedule. It staggers me that going right through the record you have been on the money, whereas Defence, theoretically having more resources than you have, have been significantly optimistic on both cost and schedule. In terms of capability, I would appreciate it if you could explain more about the specific shortcomings of the aircraft. You have explained that the thing is already on its weight limit, as specified under contract. Are there aspects of air combat fighter performance that are critical that this aircraft does not have versus its competition? RepSim, I am aware that you have done war gaming and various analyses of the JSF compared with competitors that are already in existence and also competitors like the PAK FA that will shortly be on the market.

Mr Goon : Let me kick off from an engineering point of view. Part of the challenge is that we talk a different language. We are engineers, scientists, flight-test people and fighter pilots. Our language is different. It is built around data and facts. It is built around numbers, figures, calculations and the like. So please excuse me if I sound as though I am talking down to you. I am not; I am just trying to get what we see as the core issues down to the fundamentals—following the old KISS principle.

One of the big problems with the baseline design of the JSF, from an engineering point of view, is the STOVL—the F35 Bravo short take-off and vertical land variant. Those requirements and that design have defined the designs of the other two variants. In so doing, it has led to things being done which are, quite frankly, anathemas to good aeronautical engineering design. For instance, the engine for the STOVL weighs 6,400 pounds. I know that that does not mean much to you but let me put it into context: engines of a similar family—for non-STOVL-ing, non-vertical landing and short take-off aircraft—are around 4,000 pounds. Effectively, that engine has more than 2,000 pounds of dead weight in it for aircraft that are not STOVL aircraft. The reason is quite simple: the engine has to produce 30,000 shaft horsepower to drive the lift van in the front of the STOVL variant so it can do its vertical landing and short take-off. Thirty thousand shaft horsepower produces a lot of load; it produces a lot of torque. The engine must be able to react to that torque, resist those loads, when it is STOVL-ing. When it is not STOVL-ing, those loads are not there, but that is the same engine that goes into the F35A. In effect, the aircraft that we, as Australians, are planning to buy is carrying over 2,000 pounds of dead weight. That is one of the reasons that its weight margins are so low. It is also one of the reasons—in conjunction with a whole bunch of things that the STOVL design has done to the designs in the other two variants—some of us refer to the STOVL as the aerospace version of herpes: it has put so many cankers, warts and lesions on the designs of the other aircraft that it is a gift that will just keep on giving. That is at the baseline engineering level. I would like to hand over to Dr Kopp to more directly answer your question about the air combat capabilities.

Dr Kopp : The conceptual idea embraced early in the Joint Strike Fighter program was that the aircraft would be given enough stealth to be able to evade and avoid being attacked by typical battlefield surface-to-air missile systems. Traditionally, these systems would be—the Soviets did a lot of this—put out on a battlefield with armoured formations of tanks. These are not the longest-ranging missiles that the Soviets or any other adversaries have; they are mid-range and sometimes bottom-end. If we look at missile defences used to shoot down aeroplanes in combat, we see that we can rank them into several categories. The objective with the Joint Strike Fighter was really to be able to evade the least dangerous missile systems. At the time the reasoning was that the F22 Raptor would be used to deal with the difficult, high-performance missile systems. Much the same rationale was applied, in the original definition of the aircraft, to its aerodynamic performance in the sense of its speed, how agile it is, how quickly it can climb—all of the characteristics that allow a fighter plane to get an advantage in aerial combat against another fighter plane and shoot it down, or to prevent the opposing fighter aircraft from shooting it down. Now, where this took them with the Joint Strike Fighter was to define a set of performance specifications. That is in a document that was called initially the JIRD and later—or currently—it was called the JORD, or the Joint Operational Requirements Document. That document set very, very low expectations for the aircraft's speed and very low expectations for the aircraft's turning performance and agility—all of the measures required for an aircraft to be successful in combat against other fighter aircraft—but it also set very low expectations for the stealth performance of the Joint Strike Fighter.

We are all familiar with these effusive comments that we see in the media about how wonderful it is—it is a stealth fighter; it is invisible to enemy radar—but the reality is that stealth is not as much about invisibility but much more about being harder to detect than an ordinary aeroplane. The typical measures that are applied are: what radars are you stealthy against and from what direction are you stealthy against that radar? There are various models, analogies or explanations that are used, but I think the simplest one is that different radars, because of how they are built, need different stealth characteristics to beat them. If we look at the current range of stealth aircraft out there, the ones that are difficult to see from nearly all directions and by a wide range of radars, are the big B2 batwing and the F22 Raptor. The Joint Strike Fighter really only has performance that would qualify as stealthy in the direction of over the aircraft's nose. In other words, it is hard to see from the front but if you look at the aircraft from the sides or behind and below—looking up at it—the aircraft is in many instances only marginally better than a conventional aircraft.

That has big implications in combat, because if you are going up against a 1980s Soviet air defence system of the type that we saw destroyed very effectively in Libya 12 months ago, a Joint Strike Fighter would be reasonably effective in that environment, because these older Soviet radars would not see it. But if you are putting it up against the newer generation of much, much more powerful Russian radars and some of the newer Chinese radars, the aircraft is quite detectable, especially from behind and from the lower sides. A number of years ago, I actually simulated this with the same software that was developed for radar signature performance simulation that was developed by the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. That is the same tool that gets used by other analysts in the United States

Where this takes you is that the expectations for the aircraft were set very low in terms of performance and in terms of stealth performance. That specification is no longer adequate to deal with the types of new threat systems that we are see being exported by Russia. In the slide there, that radar is called a 55Zh6M Nebo M. It is a multi-band counter-stealth radar. The VHF band element in that radar will detect the Joint Strike Fighter at a distance of tens of miles. That is without a doubt. What that means is that the aircraft is going to be in great difficulty if it tries to deal with what we call a modern or contemporary threat. The same is also true when you deal with these newer stealth fighters, because they are designed to compete with the F22. They fly higher; they are faster and more agile—much, much more agile. They have more powerful radars and much, much better antenna packages for other sensors. The aircraft is not meeting its specifications and its specifications are inadequate to deal with the changed environment.

CHAIR: Can I just ask, simplistically: at what stage do you make a decision around where you draw the line in respect to a capability of the department—a decision on whether it will be a particular aircraft, a new sub or ground technology to compete with ever-changing capabilities? Will it be from another country or emerging technologies? Particularly at the extent of those technologies increasing and emerging into our market, at what stage do you draw a line in the sand and say, 'Okay, this is the best we can get at this point in time'?

Mr Goon : You draw the line out five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years—as far as you can go. And you do that before you make any decision, because that is called your threat assessment. You look forward; you do not look aft. You do not look rearwards; you do not look in the rear-vision mirror. Unfortunately, since the end of the Cold War, the post-Cold War peace dividend, as it was called, the downsize to right size, the consequential deskilling that we are all talking about in defence now, and have been talking about for some years has generated a situation where people have been driving along looking in the rear-vision mirror.

The JSFORD, the Joint Strike Fighter operational requirements document, is based on threat assessments from an era past. Interestingly, when the Sukhoi T50 PAK-FA aircraft appeared back in January 2010—supposedly flying for the first public flight, although everyone sort of knew it had been flying a bit before then—Tom Burbage, the director of the JSF program, the business development manager for the JSF program said, 'Oh, yeah, we've seen some photographs of these aircraft lately.' People were not keeping their eye on the ball.

The same goes for the IADS, the Integrated Air Defence System—what is now being called the anti-access/area denial weaponry and systems. President Obama's latest defence strategic guidance document goes into great discussion about the threat of anti-access/area denial weaponry. The US have been talking about that only for the last three or four years. Dr Kopp here was writing about this back in the nineties and warning us all about the developing threats in relation to anti-access/area denial weaponry.

Mr Mills : To add to that, in terms of the quantitative estimates, my professional background is as follows. I am an Air Force fighter pilot. I did my masters at the United States Air Force Institute of Technology. I specialised in simulations and I won a thesis prize for simulations, which is why I do and enjoy my work in RepSim. We assisted RAND Corporation in 2008 to do presentations for an exercise called Pacific Vision. We had all left Defence at that stage. We did not adequately answer the question before—we always use open source information but there is a Chinese wall in here and we know what is right and what is there, but we never access classified information because we do not need to. Using the same tool, now much improved, as we used inside Defence to do the work that Mike was talking about before for the defence committee, we can replicate that work in an unclassified way.

So we set up the scenarios that RAND Corporation had been asked to examine, which was mass attacks of Chinese fighters and response by Super Hornet and F35. For example—and I have the video here but is too long to show the committee—we had 24 on 24 with the Western side supported by tankers and AEW&C aircraft—airborne early and warning control. We sent out 240 F35As against the SU35, which is not as powerful as the PAK FA, and 30 came back—out of 240. We sent out 240 Hornets and not a single Hornet came back. We sent out 240 F22s—139 came back, and only 33 Sukhois came back. These results have been compared with a rare public disclosure and they show that the model is scaled correctly. It is putting it in the right order. You would not expect an F35 to be able to take on an advanced fighter like the SU35. Its correct nomenclature should not be F35; it should be A35. It is an attack aircraft. To reinvent it as an air superiority weapon is a complete mistake. It is not. The F22 was designed for air superiority and air dominance. It was designed to be there to support the A35 with the sorts of things that Dr Kopp and Mr Goon have been talking about. It is pretty serious stuff when you send out 240 aeroplanes and only 30 come back—I must emphasise, using the same but superior model that we were using to do much the same work inside Defence linearly.

CHAIR: With respect to your simulation exercise in that example, where fewer came back, did you incorporate in that exercise ground support and any other factor that might complement that particular war game?

Mr Price : They were sitting over the ocean off Taiwan. This is the simulation required by RAND. The Super Hornets had come off carriers and come out of Okinawa. The confrontation was mainly to the north of Taiwan. The only requirement that RAND had that must be met in terms of developing a situation was its hypothesis that in 2020 the Chinese would have developed high frequency over-the-horizon radar which would defeat the stealth characteristics of both the F22 and the F35. The Super Hornet has got no stealth at all. At the end of the day, it is a technological lemon for a modern air-to-air combat aircraft. It has got one speed, so it will fall out of the sky as soon as you shoot it.

The issue for the other two was that they had stealth, which in the endgame may reduce the attrition based upon an ability to defeat the weapons, because it is not aircraft on aircraft but weapon on aircraft. The issue for us was to develop a simulation such that it represented what the environment would be like should the Chinese be able to provide targeting information at the course level to attacking aircraft that would enable them to use sensors other than radar to detect and engage the F22 and the F35.

In combat, the back end of the F35 on afterburner is something like 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of temperature, aluminium combusts at 1100. You are talking about something really, really hot. If you have got a dirty big sensor on the front of your SU35 or your PAK-FA or whatever, it lights up like Christmas lights and there is nothing you can do about it. And the plume, because of the symmetric exhaust, is all over the place. It is not shielded, it is not ducted in any useful way. So from an IRUV point of view, the advantage that the Russians, Chinese, Indians, you name it, can have is that they have a range of different seeker types on their weapons that can engage the aircraft. We are basically limited to medium range with one type of technology. Short range we have an IR missile, the Sidewinder or the ASRAAM, but at the end of the day you cannot get into a position to fire the thing before you are shot by the adversary's weapons. That was the outcome of the analysis of the exercise.

CHAIR: Just to clarify this, essentially it was an aircraft-on-aircraft exercise? With no support of the—

Mr Price : We had two AWACs in support. They were the first things targeted by the SU35s in the engagement. They had a life expectancy of about 17 minutes. Mind you, that is eight minutes better than what they have got in Europe. Then it came to the tankers. The tankers were all rolled up, but they generally got rolled up after the fighters had been engaged. The issue for the F35 in particular, was that because the aircraft is aerodynamically poor it is not able to engage very fast leakers that can get through a screen and take out the AEW&Cs and your tankers. Once you take out the AWACs or the tanker—the JSF at its full capacity is burning something like 3.38 kilos of fuel per second—unless you have a flying gas station behind you, going into high-end combat an F35 has a very short time span activity.

Mr Goon : Are you referring to what is referred to as the 'systems with systems' approach to air combat?

CHAIR: No, what I am referring to is that there is no normal war game. There is always additional activities and capabilities used in an attack on your enemy. I am asking, in the example that was provided by Mr Mills in that particular exercise, about what was factored in—was sea support, or whatever the case might be, from an aircraft carrier and those sorts of things, or land missiles, in respect to being involved in the particular exercise to eliminate one another?

Mr Mills : There were actually land missiles on Taiwan-Patriots—and there were HQ9s and SA20s on the Chinese mainland. Every now and again you would see an aircraft chasing a Sukhoi back to the base and being lost through the SAMS. There were Chinese HF radars providing functions something like our JORN there. In fact we tried to make it a clean aircraft-on-aircraft environment but we also had to make it realistic. So we had to array all the forces. So you had every element that was on Kadena. You had a carrier task group there providing communication support and every now and again you would see a fight over Taiwan and something would get lost in there because they had SAMS. So, yes, it was a full environment but we deliberately set it up because RAND's interest—their scenario—was: what happens when you get massed aircraft on massed aircraft? That was what we were focusing on.

If you want to talk about the things that Dr Kopp is talking about, that is very straightforward. We have got all of the missile systems simulated, and if you want to see how an F35 would perform against a modern SA20, 21, 22, 23 type of environment that would be very straightforward.

Senator JOHNSTON: Forgive me, I have not read the RepSim submission, if there is one. I think it is obviously important that we examine the assumptions that were made by you in the simulation with respect to the engagement in 2018. The interesting thing that I found is that you mentioned HF over-the-horizon radar. Can you tell me the range of that radar?

Mr Price : In December 2011, an IARU report on Chinese HF radar gives it a range of about 4,250 nautical miles. I have earlier 2011 reports that are further out, but that is the latest one—

Senator JOHNSTON: And you understand that that radar has the same capacity and capability as JORN?

Mr Price : No. I would say, from the imagery I have seen, that it is significantly different; it is based on circular array technology. I would think it is probably more like the American AN/FPS95 OTHR radar which was traded off during the SALT talks in the 1970s.

Senator JOHNSTON: What assumptions did you make with respect to the detection of fighter aircraft by that particular radar?

Mr Price : Once you have a resonant frequency equal to a particular length on your aircraft you ring like a bell. You dial the frequency-

Senator JOHNSTON: You made the assumption that these aircraft will ring like the proverbial bell?

Mr Price : Yes, because I know what they are looking for.

Senator JOHNSTON: What was the range of the standoff of the allied forces in terms of the deployment of their weapons?

Mr Price : They came in basically on a par from Okinawa moving forward in a line to do a sweep—off the coast of China, probably in the order of 30 nautical miles. I would have to get back to you on the detail.

Senator JOHNSTON: The stand-off capability of the Allied Forces was 100 nautical miles.

Mr Price : So the stand-off of aircraft at the start of the engagement was about 250 nautical miles, from memory, but I will get back and confirm that with you.

Senator JOHNSTON: What assumption did you make with respect to the stand-off capability of the deployment of the weapons?

Mr Price : It varied depending upon what type of weapon it was. It depends upon what the sensor was that was used to engage and—

Senator JOHNSTON: What sensor did you use?

Mr Price : On the SU35 had we a range. We used four different types of weapons which had semi-active radar, active radar, ESM passive anti-radiation and IR. So, depending upon what sensor cues them, they have different envelopes in which engagements can occur.

Senator JOHNSTON: With respect to the airborne early warning and command control systems, what structures did you use for that?

Mr Price : In terms of communication?

Senator JOHNSTON: That is right.

Mr Price : Full with the fleet and then forward to—

Senator JOHNSTON: Standard carrier AWACS?

Mr Price : Yes, and then we used KC10A extenders for the air-to-air refuelling.

Senator JOHNSTON: We can go on like this for a while, Chair. I think the committee would really appreciate, Mr Price, if you could list the assumptions that were made with respect to this engagement. I think it would be very helpful for the members to understand exactly, because they can read the RAND report—that is a public document—and they can see what you have done and that will give—

Mr Price : No, sorry; you will not read a RAND report of that activity. That activity was done separately to the Pacific Vision war game, and the analyst who did that was subsequently released from RAND because it never existed.

Senator JOHNSTON: Do you have a problem providing those assumptions to us?

Mr Price : No.

Senator JOHNSTON: We would appreciate it because, obviously, we are not technically skilled to know the fundamentals, but I think it is important that the committee has those so that people can critically analyse the comparisons.

Mr Mills : Just to add to that, Senator, all of our simulations are completely open for scrutiny, as they should, be so that you can check the assumptions. You are absolutely right—wrong assumptions, wrong results. You might also be interested to know that all of these videos have been posted on YouTube and all you have to do is look up the single word 'computerharpoon' and you will find a series of results. If you scroll down you will see a couple of pages of them. They are to demonstrate the simulation, so you have to read through that, but you can see them operating. It takes about five or six minutes—they run at about five or six minutes real time.

CHAIR: It would be great if you could put those assumptions on notice, and we will come back to that.

Ms SAFFIN: My questions are more practical than the senator's—not that they impractical, but I could not think up that question! It relates to the 2006 submission that you put to the committee in which you proposed alternatives—which are now gone or not available—and they were the F111s and the F22s, so what now?

Mr Goon : If I may—in fact, the F22A and evolved F111 submission was actually made to Defence back in 2001 in response to a request for proposal.

Ms SAFFIN: So what came here in 2006 went to Defence in 2001?

Mr Goon : That is correct. We are getting to the question that obviously we all need to get to, and that is: what will we do if the F35 is as my learned colleagues on this side of the table believe it to be and as the data and the facts as reported to the congress present it? Basically in that regard the selected acquisition reports and all the reporting to congress was doing its job. It was providing the data and the facts. The problem was that no-one was listening; they were just ignored. When you look at it in detail, you can understand why. The level of momentum in terms of the public relations and the hype associated with the JSF program resulted in people basically being misled, taking their eye off the ball. But getting back specifically to your question, the first thing you have got to is ask, 'Well, what do we need?' Before we start talking about platforms, aircraft, missiles and shooting down your watches and all that sort of stuff, your question has got to be, 'What do you need?'

Ms SAFFIN: But you obviously collectively have a view of what we need, because you are saying what is wrong and what job it cannot do. You have said that.

Mr Goon : And one needs to start, if I may say, by answering that question, 'What do we need?' We need to change the way we think about these things. We need to change what has happened over the last decade or so. We need to get back to, we say, one Australia defence view, where we are focused on seeking out what is right and what is best for the defence and security of Australia, not who is right and its corollary, who is wrong. Basically, over the last 10 years or so, that is what the game has been. It has been a blame game with people going, 'No, I am right, you are wrong. In this brown paper bag I have something to show that shows everything you say is wrong, but I cannot show you because it is classified'. We have got to get out of that mode. We have got to get into the focusing on what. If we do that, if we take one Australia defence view focused on what is right and what is best for the defence and security of Australia, we very quickly realise that there is a big elephant in the room.

That big elephant is, unfortunately, our American mates. We all know America and Australia are mates. It is nice to know that our Prime Minister and the current President of the United States say that it is so, but I think most of us have known it for years. One of the things that mates do not do is allow their friends to shoot themselves in the foot, let alone both feet, if you can help it. Particularly when your own feet are in the firing line.

CHAIR: I am mindful of the time. There is one other question to go.

Mr Goon : I will be very quick, Senator.

CHAIR: Then we are going to wrap up.

Mr Goon : Basically we need to focus on ensuring that our American colleagues do not lose the technological and strategic edge to maintain and sustain air superiority, and take us and other allies with them.

Mr O'DOWD: My question follows on from Janelle's. Do I get this right: Russia and China have already got a better aircraft than the F35?

Mr Goon : Yes.

Mr O'DOWD: We have got 14 F35s on order, have we?

Mr Goon : Two.

Mr O'DOWD: Two, 12 or 14, whatever it is. Where do we go from here? I hear what you are saying, but do we stop, progress or change our path?

Mr Goon : I see there are great opportunities for Australia—I honestly do. I see sitting down with our American colleagues and together saying, 'Hey, we have got a problem'.

Mr O'DOWD: Yes.

Mr Goon : Because a lot of our friends in the States and in other countries around the world are saying the same thing, 'We have got a problem'. You can play the blame game if you want, but that does not get you anywhere. Sure, keep the accountabilities where they need to be so we can learn the lessons. Sure, look at how this all started, but let us sit down and look at what we can do. Our view, quite simply, is that there has been a lot of work done, a lot of good work done, in pulling together the wherewithal to build the new air combat capability, not only for America but for its allies in the West and its close allies in Asia. There is a great production line there at Lockheed Martin at Fort Worth and their mile-long plant. There has been a lot of political capital expended, a lot of money expended. There has been a lot of effort in pulling together this great collaborative goodwill and industry network. The only trouble is that we are building the wrong aircraft.

CHAIR: On that note, I thank both of you for your attendance here today. If you have been asked to provide additional material, would you please forward that to the secretariat. Also, you will be sent a copy of the transcript of evidence to which you can make corrections of grammar or fact. Thank you again.

Resolved (on motion by Dr Jensen ):

That this committee authorises publication, including publication on the parliamentary database, of the transcript of the evidence given before it at public hearing this day.

Subcommittee adjourned at 18 : 59