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

Open Sourced, Closed Minds

Air Power Australia - Australia's Independent Defence Think Tank

Air Power Australia NOTAM

   16th July, 2007

Peter Goon, Head of Test and Evaluation, Air Power Australia

Contacts: Peter Goon
Carlo Kopp

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

The treatise by
Colonel of Aviation Grigoriy "Grisha" Medved (retd) on ‘
How to Destroy the Australian Defence Force’ is alarming in its simplicity but more so in the fact that the various ways in which ADF forces can be defeated which he outlines are all based upon ‘open source’ information.

Statements like, “I have absolute confidence that our country will be well and truly protected by our upgraded F/A-18s, a squadron of Super Hornets, and that they will also be able to ensure the safety and security of the men and women who will fly it” and views that rely upon “five per cent which is classified” are not a basis for confidence and are clearly non sequitur as arguments.

If scenarios based upon open source information show defeat as a high probability, then no “five per cent which is classified” or superlative confidence expressed by a politician is going to change that strategic fact. To think otherwise is both foolish and arrogant in its extreme for, inter alia, it assumes the opposing force does not have their own “five per cent (or more) which is classified” and/or assumes one knows all there is to know about the capabilities of the opposing forces. Anyone with any experience in Operational Analysis put in the context of the Australia DoD’s AIPS, DAPES and other scenario modelling knows this as a strategic fact.

Other examples of such non sequitur thinking may be found in statements that are self contradicting right through to those that totally misinterpret the premise upon which they are based.

One need look no further than the contradiction in the following:

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.
The Super Hornet (Block 2 or otherwise) can only carry bombs and any other stores externally. Therefore, by this very statement, it cannot be ‘very stealthy’ and is, in fact, not stealthy at all – even without the bombs! The Defence Minister has been clearly misled.

The basic premise of the 'system of systems' concept is where 'the capabilities of the whole are greater than the sum of the individual parts'. This concept is laudable in theory and can be quite effective in practice, PROVIDED that it is not used to justify building a system using parts of a lesser capability.

In his keynote speech to the 2004 Air Power Conference, the then Chief of Air Force, ACM Angus Houston, stated :

“……operational circumstances may demand making a ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’ ”

However, as Norm Augustine, the former aerospace industry chairman/CEO whose escalating costing prediction for future fighter aircraft started this whole JSF genre, was also heard to say, "when trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, 'tis best to start with a Silk Sow".  

Other noteworthy statements in this keynote speech, such as the following, give pause to reflect upon the historical importance of this speech in the context of what has been said and done since it was delivered:

developing robust feedback mechanisms and pertinent measures of effectiveness.”

“The job of the Chief, in partnership with other senior leaders in Defence, is to make sure those people are well supported and well led.”

going forward will require some clear thinking, robust risk management, and collegiate force prioritisation sustained by open, constructive relationships.”

“I might add that dumb bombs are also operationally-and cost-effective in particular scenarios, and should not be written out of the analysis yet, if ever.”  

Readers are encouraged to review this speech in its entirety.

The strength of any chain is measured by its weakest link and the currently weakest link in the new air combat capability debate is the inability of the Minister and his Department to see that 'systems' will come and go, but the platforms that make these systems effective must serve us well for over 30 years. Systems do not an aircraft make, they only enhance or reduce its ability to do the job efficiently and effectively.

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