F-22A Raptor, FB-22, F-22E, F-22N and Variants Index Page [Click for more ...] People's Liberation Army Air Power Index Page  [Click for more ...]
Military Ethics, Culture, Education and Training Index Page [Click for more ...]
Russian / Soviet Weapon Systems Index Page [Click for more ...]

Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

Facts or Fantasies?
Air Power Australia - Australia's Independent Defence Think Tank

Air Power Australia Media Release

   3rd April, 2007

Contacts: Peter Goon
Dr Carlo Kopp

Mob: 0419-806-476 Mob: 0437-478-224

"Recent public statements by the Minister for Defence, Dr Brendan Nelson, raise serious questions about the quality of advice and briefing provided to the Minister, and in turn, the quality of advice the Minister may have provided to Cabinet”, said a spokesman for Air Power Australia today.

"For instance, in a recent television appearance, Dr Nelson told Mark Bannerman of the ABC 7:30 Report (and anyone who was watching):

BRENDAN NELSON, DEFENCE MINISTER:  The Super Hornet, the Block 2, the most advanced version of it, is a very capable, very stealthy aircraft.  The F-22, whilst it is a brilliant air to air combat capability is not the correct aircraft for , would lose stealth capability once we put bombs on it.

If the Minister wanted ‘a very capable, very stealthy aircraft’ then, clearly, he has picked the wrong one. Sadly for the Minister, the Super Hornet (F/A-18E/F) is not a stealthy aircraft.  Rather, its design has undergone very expensive and extensive work to reduce the aircraft’s radar cross section but this falls somewhat short of what could, in aeronautical and radar systems engineering terms, be called stealthy.  Moreover, the F/A-18 can only carry its bombs, missiles and the external fuel tanks it normally requires under its wings."

"As the Minister points out, this does result in the aircraft losing any ‘stealth capability’, unless, of course, it was able to put the weapons into one of the four internal weapons bays like those the F-22 has or in a stealthy bomb carrying pod like the designs in development for the F-22. The F-22 is a far more capable aircraft and, in combination with the F-111s already owned by Australia, would ensure Australia retains air superiority in the region for many years to come."

"As for the Minister’s comments about aeronautical structures, such as -

BRENDAN NELSON: What would happen if did not acquire this squadron of Super Hornets and we had a wing failure or an engineering failure at 1.5 times the speed of sound at 100 feet above the ground in an F 111 in the year 2011?

"If the Minister truly believes there is this risk of ‘a surprise, catastrophic failure’, then, since the Chief of Air Force and Senior Defence Scientist have both stated before a Parliamentary oversight committee that they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ when it comes to structural risks on the F-111 aircraft, then he should ground the F-111 fleet now."

"If he wishes peace of mind in this matter, he can achieve this at much lower cost by  ensuring the DSTO F-111 wing fatigue testing along with the commensurate inspection and repair design process continue, with full inspections every 500 to 1,000 test hours to ensure another ‘surprise, catastrophic failure’ like what befell the last test wing does not occur.  This, along with the ‘safety by inspection’ and wing refurbishment processes being done up at Amberley, are vastly cheaper insurance for assuring safety in operations of the F-111 fleet."

"While the Minister is showing such interest in matters aeronautical, he might also take a look at the wings of the F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet to see that cracks are not forming in the structure and fuel pipes of these wings, cracks which would need to be addressed well before 2010.  This would require lifting off the wing skins to have a look – something that has yet to be done on the Hornets, unlike the F-111 wings which have been refurbished by Boeing, as reported in the recent ANAO Report. Unlike the F-111 where wings can be changed in about a day, fixing the F/A-18A/B wings will take many, many months with the aircraft grounded.”

"Ministerial Statements continue to raise genuine concerns about the advice the Minister is being given on the these matters. It is abundantly clear from the wide range of public statements made by senior Defence officials in recent weeks that the organisation is struggling in its understanding in several critical areas, including:

  1. Advanced Russian radars, missiles, jet engines and other air combat technology appearing in the Asia-Pacific region.

  2. Stealth technology, its impact and limitations.

  3. Aircraft life cycle and support considerations, especially engineering options available.

  4. Capabilities and limitations of the F/A-18 series fighters, the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-111, the Sukhoi Flanker and the F-22A Raptor.

  5. Operational economics of various force structure choices.

  6. Modern strategy and the dynamics of arms races.

Given that there is an enormous volume of open source material now available which details these issues it is now an irrefutable fact that Defence have lost the capability to objectively analyse and understand capabilities in contemporary and future air power in the region. The Minister's statements are proof of this.”"

Air Power Australia Website - http://www.ausairpower.net/
Air Power Australia Research and Analysis - http://www.ausairpower.net/research.html

People's Liberation Army Air Power Index Page [Click for more ...]
Military Ethics, Culture, Education and Training Index Page [Click for more ...]
Russian / Soviet Weapon Systems Index Page [Click for more ...]

Artwork, graphic design, layout and text © 2004 - 2014 Carlo Kopp; Text © 2004 - 2014 Peter Goon; All rights reserved. Recommended browsers. Contact webmaster. Site navigation hints. Current hot topics.

Site Update Status: $Revision: 1.753 $ Site History: Notices and Updates / NLA Pandora Archive