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Joint Strike Fighter folly was always going to come crashing down

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Media Release // Senator Peter Whish-Wilson

Joint Strike Fighter folly was always going to come crashing down


reens acting Defence spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments on President-Elect Trump distancing his incoming government from ongoing procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 aircraft. Senator Whish- Wilson instigated a Senate Inquiry into Australia’s procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter in the last parliament.


enator Whish-Wilson said, “Whether it was due to Donald Trump or some other future US leader, the edifice of the JSF folly was always going to fall down eventually.

The Joint Strike Fighter project is the single biggest failure of public procurement in modern times. Successive US and western governments blindly signed onto an unproven project, stopped development and manufacturing of any alternatives, and kept ignoring failure after failure as the true nature of the JSF emerged.

The failure of the JSF project shows the power of the military-industrial complex where the entire western world puts their faith into one company to lead the development of their only new bomber and fighter aircraft for the next thirty years.

The JSF was designed to provide one type of plane that could be adapted for use by the US marines, navy and airforce. It then evolved into the plane that was to provide the next thirty years of bomber and fighter capability for most nations other than China and Russia for the foreseeable future.

The procurement process went from a competitive one between manufacturers, to a process were Lockheed Martin was the sole leading manufacturer for the plane but sub-contracted parts manufacturing to its major competitors. This ensured that no global company was willing or able to compete in offering aircraft that could rival a future JSF.

The US and its allies put all their eggs in one basket, then they got rid of the chickens and now they have themselves with a basket full of rotten eggs.

It shows the lobbying power of the military-industrial process that this has been allowed by politicians and Defence departments to go on so long. Only recently Lockheed Martin made former Australia ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley a director of their local operations. Likewise, Lockheed Martin has appointed a former head of the Defence Department, Allan Hawke; a former chief of the Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie AO, RAN (Rtd); and the recent Chief of the Australian Air Force Air Marshal (Retired) Geoff Brown AO as directors.

The wider Australian defence establishment has failed Australia by delaying any planning of contingencies for the inevitable failure of the JSF program. There always should have been a plan B and the entire military elite in Australia have refused point blank to countenance this.

Received Parl Library - 13 December 2016

“Now that Trump is walking away from the JSF we are left back at the beginning without a plan for aircraft procurement,” he concluded.


Media contact: Tim Beshara 0409 164 693