Monday 23 May 2022 | 23:57 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 May 2022 | 23:57 | SYDNEY

The F-35 is more than enough


Sam Roggeveen


9 September 2011 09:56

piece by The Diplomat's Washington correspondent Eddie Walsh appeared online today quoting me on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It says that I think the F-35 is probably more capability than we need against Southeast Asian air forces. However...

..."if the adversary is China, then question marks emerge, particularly if China can get fifth-generation fighters like the J-20 into squadron service in the next decade in numbers.”

That's an accurate quote, but it doesn't mean I'm in favour of getting something superior to the F-35 (even if it were available). For understandable space reasons, my long caveat to the above judgment did not make it into the article. Here's what I told Eddie via email:

 ...there is a larger question here: Australia would only ever go to war with China by America’s side, so even if Australia did have air power that could match China's air forces one-for-one, could Australia bring decisive strategic weight to any military engagement?

At most, we are going to buy 100 JSFs, and only a fraction of those would be committed to, say, a war over Taiwan. Would that even make a difference to the larger strategic picture? If not, wouldn’t we be better off with a cheaper, less capable aerial platform and instead investing more in a potentially decisive capability such as diesel submarines, which our ally would truly value?

Photo by Flickr user Official US Air Force.