The RAAF's plans to acquire up to 100 F-35 joint strike fighters faces a further delay until next year as budget pressures continue to bear down on the government. In a long-awaited decision, cabinet's national security committee was due to sign off on the $16 billion purchase before Christmas and despite the outrageously price solution, conspiricy theorists insist that the money would be well spent, instead of providing more toys for the boy's to fight an imaginary war against an opposition that doesn't even have a figure head that can be found. An American spokesperson say's that they don't care what they are for, as long as they get the money.
When do we get around to having a media/citizen discussion on a cost/benefit analysis of a National Broadband Network verses having a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program or maybe a Very Fast Train?
TONY JONES: We will come to the cost/benefit question; Malcolm Turnbull, let's start with you. You've demanded a cost/benefit analysis, so let's start with the cost side of this equation. You claim the Government is proposing to spend $43 billion of taxpayers' money on the NBN. Is this literally true or are you fudging the figures?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: But can I just say, the reality is the taxpayer is the one that is on the hook, and just because he's putting $26 billion of taxpayers' equity in, putting it - ranking behind $16 or $17 billion of debt doesn't make it any less reckless.
STEPHEN CONROY: Well, notwithstanding Malcolm avoiding answering your question directly, Tony, both McKinsey's and now Mike Quigley have indicated that the figure is between $26 and 27 billion, not 43, as Malcolm just tried to claim incorrectly yet again. And we spent $25 million on a McKinsey's report into the business case which went through all of this information. It provided a business case that said the NBN is financially viable and affordable for Australia
GREGG COMBET: The aim of this conference is to help bring Australian technology and innovation together to the benefit of the JSF Program, because it is through our partnership in the JSF Program, the world‚s largest collaborative defence program, that we will meet our strategic and economic goals.
ERIC PALMER: There is no sound proof to state that the JSF F-35 program will meet “our strategic and economic goals”. If anything the aircraft will be sub-par as a weapon system and the definition of “economic goals” needs to be defined in significant detail by the Minister. I doubt that he has a grasp on this beyond some casual PowerPoint briefs that are based on Lockheed Martin talking points. In other words: “The fox telling the farmer, the definition of a chicken”. Unless the program shows proof of life with more orders of aircraft, Australia’s participation in this program will be a taxpayer-funded loss-leader. The hook was the seller of the aircraft (along with government support) stating that up to $5B in home industry work-share was possible with the program. (Note: This was promised to most JSF partner nations in briefings not just Australia.) This included the hype of up to $9B of home industry participation if the program did really well. What does Australian industry have so far? Not much but a few hundred million in contracts for a very troubled program. (1)(2)(3)
Long range estimates suddenly look bad when 3 different U.S. government agencies show that costs will increase dramatically. (4)
(1) Carlo Kopp, Is the Joint Strike Fighter Right For Australia? Part 1—JSF V F-22, Australian Aviation, P1, April 2004, Adobe Acrobat Reader file, accessed 4 May 2010, (Note: set your Adobe Reader program to view in single page mode if needed as there is one graphic in this document that can blow-out the right and left viewing margins) http://www.ausairpower.net/Analysis-JSF-Apr-04-P.pdf
(2) Carlo Kopp, Is the Joint Strike Fighter Right For Australia? Part 2—JSF V Risk Factors, Australian Aviation, P34, May 2004, Adobe Acrobat Reader file, accessed 4 May 2010,http://www.ausairpower.net/Analysis-JSF-May-04-P.pdf
The author states the strategic risks in many ways but this quote at the end sums up what a layperson should first consider. “The stark reality is that whatever aircraft is chosen, Australia will have to live with it into the 2040 timescale. Choices which might look just good enough against the region today will not be competitive two to three decades hence, as a wealthier Asia invests increasingly in modern airpower.”
Newer analysis shows that it may be sooner than two decades for the risk to appear. This new analysis shows that if Australia purchases the F-35 JSF, that it will arrive for service in an obsolete condition.
(3) Peter Goon, Affordability and the new air combat capability, ADA Defender, Q4 2005, accessed 4 May 2010. Adobe Acrobat Reader file-http://www.ausairpower.net/NACC-Defender-Winter-2005.pdf
We were warned about economic viability of the F-35 JSF program as far back as 2005- “According to the April issue of Defence, some 18 Australian companies have won contracts to a value of over $A60m in the SDD phase. Even assuming a healthy EBIT (‘profit’) from these contracts of 15 per cent, and considering the level of investment being made by Government and Industry to win this work, such a ‘loss leader’ business model is certainly a courageous move on the part of all involved.”
(4) Bill Sweetman, JSF in the Dock, Aviation Week-ARES, 11 March 2010, accessed 4 March 2010.http://tinyurl.com/2ex76c7
Anyone claiming at this time that the F-35 JSF is somehow affordable can’t be taken seriously as there has been no proof except long range estimates. Note; In the world of Lockheed Martin and F-35 cheerleaders, long range estimates are great if they show a mythical low price for the aircraft. Long range estimates suddenly look bad when 3 different U.S. government agencies show that costs will increase dramatically.