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

Australia Must Formally Request
an F-22 Export Assessment
Air Power Australia - Australia's Independent Defence Think Tank

Air Power Australia Media Release

22nd February, 2007

Contacts: Peter Goon Mob: 0419-806-476 / Dr Carlo Kopp Mob: 0437-478-224

Air Power Australia welcomes the interest of some observers, including Australian Defence Business Review (ADBR), in the US LO/CLOEXCOM (formerly LOEXCOM) process. The LO/CLOEXCOM process has not been a feature of the air power debate until the Defence Minister attempted to exclude the F-22 from  consideration, with a letter from US Deputy Secretary England, and subsequent misleading comments on the process involved.  Regrettably, ADBR's recent article merely plods through the Defence 'party line' developed to stifle debate. Australia must formally request a US LO/CLOEXCOM assessment of the F-22.

Had the authors of the article in question delved into the LO/CLOEXCOM subject from a positive, rather than a denigrating and defensive, perspective, they would have seen that LO/CLOEXCOM exists to address the concerns of the Obey amendment, and does not contravene it.

The article posed the important question of 'who is the real decision influencer?'  The answer is definitely Australia.  Unfortunately, Defence have failed to recognise that Australia, in any negotiation, and especially for the F-22, starts from a 'most favoured nation' status.  But we need to demonstrate our traditional, open, rigorous, and technology-based negotiation skills if we are to generate the required level of understanding, trust and support America has always given us in the past.

The fact that Defence still refuses to acknowledge the F-22's existing and growing strike capabilities, and has not sought the availability of the aircraft, demonstrates nothing more than negligence in managing Australia's security.  To speculate that a LO/CLOEXCOM request would take two years to complete simply discards as inconvenient the time that will be saved from the earlier F-22 assessment work the US has done for Australia.

Australia must request an F-22 LO/CLOEXCOM assessment or stand charged with ineptitude when the inevitable happens and our force structure is found to be inadequate to assure freedom of operation for our RAAF, RAN, and especially our Army land forces.

On the question of exports, these will prove to be critical in the building of a US Air Force F-22 Raptor fleet capable of giving the USA a global air superiority edge. The F-22 Raptor, with its existing and rapidly growing strike capability, represents the critical capability at the core of the of the future US Air Force.  All US political/military/budgetary maneuvering around the F-22 has been aimed at ensuring that this MUST happen.

Jumping to speculative conclusions is not helpful in generating informed debate on Australia's force structure and the capabilities required to deliver air power.  The importance of these matters demands a far better understanding of these fundamental issues than has been demonstrated by Defence, and their very few supporters in this debate.

Defence recently claimed in The Age that Australia had never initiated the LOEXCOM process. The initial assessment of the exportability of the F-22 to Australia predated the decision to join the JSF SDD phase, and was conducted in response to the launch of the AIR 6000 project. In July, 2002, one of the Air Power Australia co-founders advised Defence to request copies of the reports and briefings prepared for the RAAF by the US assessment team.

In the interests of aiding Defence in the recollection of these matters, Air Power Australia is making that correspondence public at this time.

It has been a feature of this debate from the outset that Defence have repeatedly muddied the waters and obfuscated issues, to media, parliamentary and public attention away from the more important issues. This behaviour must cease as it contributes nothing of value.

If this present line of obfuscation persists, and Defence continues with its current source selection and procurement / support practices, Australia will not only fail to regain its lost regional air superiority, but inevitably lose all but the dregs of our high technology Defence Industry skills and capabilities.  Australia deserves better.

[1] The Age - Letters - Wed 21st February, 2007, Air Vice-Marshal John Harvey, Program Manager, New Air Combat Capability project, Department of Defence, Canberra: "Defence never has made a formal request to acquire the F-22. Nor have we ever asked US officials to start a process to lift the Congressional ban on selling the F-22. It is hardly unusual that the US should decide that some of its military technology is not for export, and hence the F-22 remains prohibited from export by US Congressional legislation."

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

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