Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 20:35 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 20:35 | SYDNEY

ABC tackles JSF, with predictable results


Sam Roggeveen


12 November 2008 15:35

Aviation journalist Stephen Trimble's blog, The DEW Line, has been an invaluable resource for following the controversy over the performance of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). I missed ABC's Lateline on Monday night, so thanks to Stephen for directing me to their latest report on the JSF.

It's more of the same: JSF critics (Carlo Kopp) line up to say it isn't good enough to beat the Russian Sukhoi fighters being purchased by our regional neighbours, and defenders like Lockheed Martin's Tom Burbage say it aint so.

My main complaint about this is one I've made before: that in treating this purely as a comparison between JSF and Russian Sukhois, Lateline is missing the bigger picture. There are a number of factors that go to create a military capability — maintenance, training, intelligence, command and control, mass. In terms of air power, Australia holds a big regional advantage in all those areas, but one-for-one performance comparisons account for none of them.

One other grumble: reporter Conor Duffy claims that 'With Asia spending on arms like never before, the right decision on the JSF is critical.' Duffy means to imply that we had better decide NOW in case we FALL BEHIND!!! And that's where, despite their differences, JSF critics like Kopp and JSF boosters like Burbage have common cause: they both want Australia to buy more jets. There's no one to argue the case that maybe we could get away with buying fewer JSFs and/or extending the life of our current fleet.