Print 18 comment(s) - last by Felofasofa.. on May 8 at 8:23 AM

  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Aussies will delay decision by two years

The Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program has been hit with another significant blow. The Australian government has announced that it will delay the order of its first batch of F-35 Lightning II fighters in an effort to balance its own budget. The F-35 program has been under increasing pressure due to running long over the original delivery scheduled and over budget.
Australian defense minister Stephen Smith announced that a decision on when his country will take delivery of the 12 F-35 fighters for its first squadron would be pushed back by two years. Each time orders are reduced or cut; the cost for the remaining partners goes up.
However, Australia's two-year delay on making the decisions mirrors a decision made by the U.S. military on some of its purchases of the F-35. The U.S. maintains that it intends to purchase all the aircraft it originally asked for, but purchases could be delayed as issues with the fighter jets are worked out.
Smith said, "We are now essentially on the same time timetable for delivery of our first batch of joint strike fighters as the United States."
Australia isn't the only country considering reductions or eliminations in purchases of F-35 jets. The Canadian government recently imposed restrictions on the purchase of the F-35 after alleging that Parliament were misled on the true costs of the fighter aircraft.
The Canadian government has hinted on more than one occasion that orders could be canceled or reduced.
The U.S. delayed an order for 179 F-35 fighters by 5 years to allow for additional flight testing. The Netherlands has also announced that it will purchase less than its originally intended 85 F-35 fighters. Italy likewise announced that it would cut orders by 30% due to budget constraints. The remaining partners in the F-35 program in addition to the U.S. include Britain, Norway, Turkey, and Canada. 
In the long-term, Australia intends to buy 100 F-35 fighters at up to $16.4 billion, but no firm commitments have been made beyond the first 14 aircraft.
Recently, new estimates have pegged the lifetime cost of the F-35 at $1.45 trillion for the United States.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Rising Government Cost
By sarfralogy on 5/4/12, Rating: 0
RE: Rising Government Cost
By AEvangel on 5/4/2012 10:24:20 AM , Rating: 5
I think they are waiting for the US Govt's going out of business Bankrupt & liquidation sale....

RE: Rising Government Cost
By Hyperion1400 on 5/4/2012 11:02:35 AM , Rating: 4
More than likely they've realized that there is no way in high holy h*ll that the F35 will be able to compete with the SU-30MK series in 10 years time and even as of right now, stealth is the only tenuous advantage they have. I wouldn't be surprised if they are taking this 2 years to try and shop around a bit.

(And, late the rate down commence in 3..2..1)

RE: Rising Government Cost
By StevoLincolnite on 5/4/2012 11:23:04 AM , Rating: 1
Nah. Money and budget is the issue. We entered the financial crisis with a budget surplus and money in the bank to being in a deficit and borrowing more.

Our current Government is trying to turn that around so we are in a surplus again before the next election; so as to gain more votes and not look completely incompetent at managing the countries budget.

With that said, I haven't heard of any talks about alternatives to the F35.
The Australian government has preferred to keep close ties to the Americans though, so I doubt they would do a back flip.

RE: Rising Government Cost
By Justin Time on 5/6/2012 11:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
More like it was just a stupid decision to buy that many of them in the first place. Who is Australia going to declare war on, or even worry, with 100+ of these toys ? There are far better uses for the money.

RE: Rising Government Cost
By Paj on 5/8/2012 7:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
The Aus air force is used a lot throughout the Pacific, as is the navy. Often in peacekeeping missions and the like.

RE: Rising Government Cost
By michael67 on 5/5/2012 12:16:49 AM , Rating: 3
If i was buying, i would say frack the F35, i get me the Sukhoi PAK FA, for a quarter of the price per unit.

And cover 2~3x as mouth airspace for the same prize, including operational cost.

RE: Rising Government Cost
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2012 2:03:44 AM , Rating: 2
Meah I wouldn't be too sure. Reminds me the Cold War when we marveled at how Russia could build such "amazing" fighters much cheaper than we could. When we got our hands on some of them, we realized why they were so much cheaper. Indeed, you get what you pay for.

Besides, the F-22 is the PAK's competition. Not the F-35. It's got the looks, but it's just another Sukhoi "me too". We've seen this before too many times. Russian Rolex anyone?

Why stick with these same companies?
By danjw1 on 5/4/2012 11:19:34 AM , Rating: 3
I know their aren't that many companies out there that can make something like this. But, why not look at other possibilities. Lockhead Martin, Northrup Grumin, and Boeing don't have a clue how to get a plane out the door at on budget or on schedule. We need to cultivate other players in this space so we aren't stuck with these few companies that have lost any hope of producing a product on time or on budget. The pentagon needs to look to NASA's paradigm on their COTS program. Get new players into the market that know how to innovate and deliver products on time and on budget.

RE: Why stick with these same companies?
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2012 1:35:24 PM , Rating: 1
You have absolutely no clue on how these kinds of things are developed. Do you have any idea of the bureaucracy involved with any decision. Just being involved in developing a maintenance trainer for the F35 and my current program shows me why these things take so much time and money. Because the government and military involved with these decisions constantly change their mind. Sometimes drastically so.

The engineers at these companies are not those at fault. It is the proposal system of Walmart like shopping that is. Who will make me the biggest promise for the lowest cost. Nevermind how grounded it is in reality or not. Risk is involved in the selection process but all the bids are risky.

Getting rid of the contractors won't fix anything. The next ones will suffer the same problems. And trying to slap something together from COTS parts will likely result in even more setbacks as parts don't work together. And once you get it all working, when our enemies find out what parts we used, they can find exploits and hacks in it. Especially on the software side.

RE: Why stick with these same companies?
By Solandri on 5/5/2012 5:51:10 PM , Rating: 4
While there is some contractor incompetence going on, FITCamaro is mostly right. One of the DoD contracts I worked on was for a training simulator. We were about 70% done when our Air Force liaison in charge of the project got promoted. His replacement looked at the project, and basically decided to change everything about it. Most of the requirements, milestones, even the stated purpose of the trainer went out the window. Pretty much all that remained was the date the final delivery date.

We tried to accommodate as best as we could, but of course we didn't have enough money for it. When we went back, explained the situation, and asked for more time and money, we were the bad guys for being "over budget and behind schedule."

COTS gets bandied about a lot. But remember that COTS is a two-edged sword. The contractor doesn't get to pad its price with development costs. But neither does the government get to micromanage its features. From my experience, most contractors would love to move to a COTS model. It's a heckuva lot easier to estimate costs and schedules when you know you can just grab the parts you need from a hardware store, slap them together, and charge a markup.

It's the government which resists using COTS parts. They're not happy with a 3/4" bolt from Home Depot. They want to know the 3/4" bolt has been tested to 350 degrees F, can withstand immersion in salt water for 48 hours, has a head 1/8" thinner than the standard model so it won't mess up the pretty lines. They don't like ceding control and being forced to choose from only what's available. They like being able to dictate what gets made and how.

Imagine if everyone buying Office could tell Microsoft what features they didn't like and what they wanted changed, and Microsoft had to continually change it to make them happy. That's how government contracting works.

By FITCamaro on 5/7/2012 8:07:04 AM , Rating: 2
It's the government which resists using COTS parts. They're not happy with a 3/4" bolt from Home Depot. They want to know the 3/4" bolt has been tested to 350 degrees F, can withstand immersion in salt water for 48 hours, has a head 1/8" thinner than the standard model so it won't mess up the pretty lines. They don't like ceding control and being forced to choose from only what's available. They like being able to dictate what gets made and how.


By macca007 on 5/4/2012 9:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
Learn something new everyday!
I'm an Aussie and didn't think we even had 100 fighter aircraft in our airforce, And here they are planning on purchasing 100 F35's? What's going on here?
That is about a doubling in size of our fighters.
I know we have a crap load of F-18 Hornets 71, 24 of the new F-18 Super Hornets and that is about it, The old F-111's were retired.
100 new F-35's planned WTF LOL
Are we going to take over New Zealand or something ahahaha

Should be buying long range drones instead to patrol for all these boat people trying to sneak in. Got no problem with people coming here just do it through the proper system, How the hell are we supposed to plan and build infrastructure to support growing population if we don't know how many people are here!

By Noya on 5/6/2012 4:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
Got no problem with people coming here just do it through the proper system, How the hell are we supposed to plan and build infrastructure to support growing population if we don't know how many people are here!

Try living in the USA, especially the West Coast. Mexicans have literally taken over and you've gotta move to the few "well off" parts of town to get away from them.

By eldakka on 5/7/2012 12:58:02 AM , Rating: 2
Australia in recent times had (approximately)

78 F/A-18A/Bs (think down to 71 after attrition)
24 F-111s

Total = 102 (excluding trainers etc).

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornets are a stop gap to replace the now retired F-111s while we wait for the F-35s.

So, it's 100 F-35s to replace 71 A/Bs and 24 E/Fs.

So approximately 100 aircraft to replace approximately 100 aircraft.

Note also, that as a strike aircraft when only considering payload and range, the F-35 is far inferior to an F-111. It takes approximately twice as many F-35's plus some tankers to deliver the same payload as F-111s out to half the strike range.

Therefore 100 F-35s is perhaps on the low side to replace both the F-18s and the F-111s.

As for who we need them against. You seem to be discounting the rather militaristic Indonesia with it's 430,000 strong military and 230million population. They've shown no compunction in invading neighbours. East Timor, Irian Jaya etc.

Then you have China which is bent on increasing its strategic projection capability.

Not saying we'd ever actually need them against those countries. But in this area I'd rather have them as a deterrant and not need them than not have them and need them. Well, I'd personally think other aircraft would be a better choice. not the F-35s, but I'd rather have a solid, modern airforce, whatever the final aircraft chosen.

By usafa73 on 5/7/2012 1:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
I am in favor of as many friendly nations as possible having the ability to assist in global peacekeeping. Unifomity in armament is important as well as reliability.
I am concerned about the F-35 as I beleive that it uses the same Oxygen Generation System as the F-22, which is having a number of issues. If it isn't busted in the F-35, why can't it be fixed in the F-35. Why use an O2 generation system at all? I don't recall any problems in the old LOCs System. Where can I find info about the OGS?

Dunno what America is thinking...
By lenkiatleong on 5/7/2012 10:15:33 AM , Rating: 2
I simply don't understand what America is thinking. Why not sell F35s to China who has the biggest piggy bank in the world? View China as non-ally? Then why ask China to buy up the treasuries in trillion USD? Make no sense to me. Non ally is biggest banker but could not be trusted??
Maybe America thinks that Australia and other allies do not have the talent to copy F35 and China has? I don't know.

By Felofasofa on 5/8/2012 8:23:10 AM , Rating: 2
The Project management skills of our military chiefs (Aust) is just appalling. We couldn't even build a conventional submarine properly - and we had all the plans. Not in a million years could we build an F-35. Every time we've tried to make some sort of sophisticated military system, it's been a monumental cock-up. Buying off the shelf is the only option for us.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki