Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 17:49 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 17:49 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Buy Russian?


Sam Roggeveen


10 March 2010 16:47

Patrick Sheppard responds to a post of mine about Australia's air defences; that post also appeared (in lightly edited form) on Business Spectator:

I read your article in the Business Spectator. A very interesting read to say the least. One questions jumps out at me and I’m sure it would to many readers. Why couldn’t Australia purchase some so called PAK-FA T-50 aircraft? Indonesia has Sukhoi fights as well as F-16s; surely Australia could have a similar set up.

In the Cold War days, Patrick's suggestion of buying Russian fighters would have been impossible due to our diplomatic and strategic alignment. And even a decade ago, it would have seemed slightly barmy. Now? NATO members such as Greece have Russian air defence missiles, and Russia is getting UAVs from Israel and warships from France. The arms bazaar aint what it used to be.

So it's not really politics stopping us. I dare say there is a strong cultural preference in the Air Force for Western planes. That's partly a well-founded prejudice, since the Russian aviation industry has a poor reputation for after-sales support (something to remember next time you read about invincible Russian fighters condemning our air force to the strategic dustbin).

Also, we just don't know the Russians very well. Countries like India and China have doubtless developed very close technical and tactical relationships with the Russians that help them get the best out of their Russian kit. We would have to do that from scratch. Much easier to stick with what we know.