Title QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
F111 Aircraft
Database Senate Hansard
Date 15-10-1992
Source Senate
Parl No. 36
Electorate NSW
Page 1929
Party ALP
Questioner Senator WEST
Responder Senator ROBERT RAY
System Id chamber/hansards/1992-10-15/0088


QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - F111 Aircraft


Senator WEST —Can the Minister for Defence inform the Senate whether he has discussed the future of the F111 fleet with United States officials?


Senator ROBERT RAY —I did foreshadow in an answer to a question by Senator MacGibbon in a Senate Estimates committee on 23 September that I would have a discussion about F111s with senior officials of the US Administration while I was in Washington for the Australia-United States ministerial talks.

  I did raise with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Mr Atwood, and the Under Secretary of Defense Acquisition, Mr Yockey, the possibility of Australia acquiring additional F111 aircraft from approximately 250 being taken out of service by the United States. The reaction from the United States was positive. Since my return there have been further discussions within Government and a team will be sent to the United States to negotiate the purchase of up to 18 F111 aircraft.

  There are clear advantages in purchasing these additional aircraft. Not only will this ensure that the integrity of the F111 fleet is maintained throughout its planned life of type; it will also provide for F111 aircraft to be deployed beyond the current target of the year 2010. This latter point is particularly important, given the likelihood that there is no replacement for the F111 currently on the drawing boards.

  The Government's action will ensure that we retain superior strike and interdiction capability in our sea-air gap. Our strategy of defence in depth demands that we have sufficient capable assets for surveillance, strike, interdiction and air defence. It is intended that the additional F111 aircraft will be purchased and stored. They will be upgraded and introduced into service as required to meet attrition or to extend the length of service of the fleet.

  Given our current and foreseeable strategic circumstances, the Government sees no requirement for any further upgrade of F111 strike capability beyond the current program. The acquisition of these aircraft represents a unique force in regional terms.