Skip to comments.Defence set to buy Super Hornets over cutting-edge fighter
Posted on 01/29/2013 12:59:52 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Defence set to buy Super Hornets over cutting-edge fighter
AUSTRALIA will almost certainly be forced to buy 24 new Super Hornet fighter planes at a cost of about $2 billion to plug a looming gap in its air defences amid delays in the purchase of the cutting-edge Joint Strike Fighter.
According to a leaked draft of the 2013 defence white paper, just two Lockheed Martin JSFs will be delivered to Australia by 2020.
This strongly indicates that the government will need to buy rival Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, which are cheaper but older and less stealthy than the JSF.
''By the end of this decade, the ADF will take delivery of three Air Warfare Destroyers, two Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious ships and the initial two F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft,'' the white paper states.
While switching to the Super Hornets would not be a blow to the budget - each plane costs about $40 million less than each JSF - it may mean money is wasted because the government would lose economies of scale on training and maintenance by operating two different types of fighters. And experts say the Super Hornet would be challenged by the growing air combat capabilities of some of Australia's neighbours.
The white paper draft states that the government ''remains committed'' to acquiring the JSF but makes no mention of the next batch of 12 planes, expected about 2020. This appears to confirm what the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, has hinted at and many experts have suspected: that Defence will replace some of the retiring Hornet aircraft with Super Hornets and end up with a mixed fighter fleet rather than the 100 Super Hornets originally proposed.
Mr Smith has already asked the US about the price and availability of more Super Hornets.
The opposition defence spokesman, David Johnston, said the government had broken its pledge in the 2009 white paper to buy 100 JSFs, which would have "provided regional domination out to 2030".
"The revelation in the 2013 defence white paper that this promise has been reduced to just two aircraft (by 2020) is a further testament to Minister Smith's incompetent handling of the defence portfolio," he said.
Analysts say the JSF is the best fighter on the market, although many say the Super Hornet will probably suffice. Andrew Davies, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the JSF was "far stealthier and has a much more powerful and integrated set of senses than the Super Hornet has".
He said Australia would benefit from "economies of scale on training and maintenance" by having a single type of airforce rather than a mixed fleet.
''Nonetheless, the Super Hornet is still frontline equipment with the US Navy and a powerful air combat capability,'' he said.
Sam Roggeveen, an analyst and editor of the Lowy Institute's Interpreter blog, said the Super Hornet would represent a compromise but added: "I would argue we don't need the JSF yet."
See your ad here
Former defence minister Brendan Nelson, who bought the existing 24 Super Hornets, said a mixed fleet should give Australia what it needed, given other governments were hit by budget constraints.
"If the government did choose to [buy Super Hornets], Australia would still have extraordinary air combat capability and would be well-placed in relation to our strategic competitors," he said.
But Peter Goon, a former RAAF engineer now with the independent think tank Air Power Australia, said Australia was "already outmatched in the region" on air combat. "If you send out Super Hornets against the Sukhoi Su-35s, few if any of them will come back," he said.
Mr Smith said last week the leaked draft was out of date. The final paper will be released by June.
The F-18 has a better radar, and better Roll rate, better LOW speed handling. F-16 is better at EVERYTHING else!! The F/A-18 was designed to be carrier capable, so slow speed high angles of attack and, lower altitudes is the area it should fight its battles. One advantage the F/A-18 has over its opponents is its ability to operate at high AOA. The F-16 has a higher T/W ratio than most other aircraft. High altitudes, higher speeds (towards the 450mph mark) work the vertical since it does it like no other aircraft and use its “sustained” rate of turn. Australia is a huge country, do they want to buy twice the fuel, plus x2 the cost of engines. An F-16 will do all combat missions just as good if not better than an F-18, only with less cost. The F-16 should be a block 60 or better.
When they retired their F-111Cs, they should have replaced them with F-15Es instead of SuperHornets. By replacing the Aardvark with the SuperHornet and subsequently with the F-35A, they lost a lot of range and payload capability, and a lot of dash speed.
Theirs is a large area to cover with a small population, so long range and high speed is a must for their defense.
And as a bonus, the RAAF purchased the KC-30 with a boom, so they'd have refueling capability for the F-15E that they never had for the F-111C.
The Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle would be my first choice also! This will be a patrol aircraft, with a Combat radius: 800 mi to 1,222 mi.
I agree. The F-16 is the better plane. Boyd and company did a great job on that bird.
John Boyd was indeed brilliant. The best that can be said about him was from former Commandant of the Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak is quoted as saying “The Iraqi army collapsed morally and intellectually under the onslaught of American and Coalition forces. John Boyd was an architect of that victory as surely as if he’d commanded a fighter wing or a maneuver division in the desert.”
Cheney said the same thing. He was the one that brought private citizen Boyd in for the planning of Desert Storm.
Two engines vs one. Oz is almost as big as the US. I think the F-18 is a better option because of that second engine. You can make it back to base instead of entertaining yourself in a desert waiting for rescue.
The extra range would make it ideal for overwater intercepts seeing as the Aussies don’t own carriers.
The F-22 would be the best option but we don’t want to sell that to our allies. The F-35 may be stealthly, new and all that but the payload is not that great in stealthy mode.
“Two engines vs one.”
I agree with that. Also the US Navy has modified the F-18 for duty as a radar jammer(F-18 growler)since the EA6B Prowler is in sunset 2014/2015. So you have a base platform that is capable of multiple roles.
And SAAB Gripen E/F even better and lesser cost that.
And Engine compatibilty with the F-18F/G, so given Australian is committwd to the F-18G Growler, SuperH & Gripen would be the way to go.