Flying Blind: Australian Airforce Crippled by Howard Government?

UPDATE 31st DEC 07: The Age has reported that the new Rudd Labor government has asked the Department of Defence to review all aspects of the program to give Australia an edge in air-combat capability in the region. This means the $6.6 billion wasted money on a contract for 24 Super Hornets as a stop-gap fighter jet could be dumped 🙂

My bet is that this review will reveal plenty of information that shows how incompetent the Opposition leader Brendan Nelson was in his former position as Defence Minister in making multi-billion dollar purchasing decisions without taking the advice of senior defence industry/military strategists. – source: Jet contract may be torn up

Australia’s former Liberal/National federal government said they had the best policies to keep Australia safe in the future. In fact ex-Prime Minister John Howard claimed: “there is a bit in the argument that they [voters] feel that the Coalition can manage the economy well, and is more predictable and reliable when it comes to issues of national security and defence, those sorts of issues

The question is whether the ex-Government’s perceived strength in the national security issue was based on smart political strategies to best equip the Australian Defence Force or just on effective inflammatory rhetoric to fan the public’s fear of terrorism and other threats?

Top Investigative journalists from the ABC’s 4 Corners program have traced the chain of multi-billion dollar aircraft deals that are beginning to spark concerns about the nation’s future defence capability.

The key question is whether the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and Super Hornet will be able to maintain Australia’s air superiority in Asia/Oceania when fighting against the Russian designed and technically superior Sukhoi fighters which are now being purchased by Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Vietnam etc.

The Federal Government prides itself on its commitment to national defence, but its decision to break its own rules and not thoroughly investigate all the aircraft options for Australia’s future defence needs is a risky business with potentially dire consequences.

The decision to axe the F-111, to buy the Super Hornet and to gamble on the Joint Strike Fighter may have created the very air capability gap the Government was so worried about. There is now the real possibility that Australia will lose air superiority in the coming years, and we will have spent billions of dollars for the privilege.

Leading military analysts and former high ranking members of the Australian Airforce say national security is being put at risk. Four Corners evaluates the process leading to these multi-billion dollar decisions. Will they leave Australia “Flying Blind”?

Watch the program below and decide for yourself (RSS Readers may have to view this article on my website to view the embedded video properly)

Further reading


6 responses to “Flying Blind: Australian Airforce Crippled by Howard Government?”

  1. wow these are EXPENSIVE decisions to make without more research. I feel sorry for residents of the country that politicians are playing with such money. Not a great idea. Thanks Jen

  2. Well i also read that the Indonesian air force is stronger than the Australian airforce as the MIG’s can easily take down the Australian F111’s. This is dissapointing. But with Howard loosing the election i guess its not as bad as everyone thinks. Hopefully kevin rudd can solve the problem.


    EDITOR: From what I’ve heard we’re locked into the contracts signed off by Howard as PM and Brendan Nelson as Defence Minister 🙁

  3. Governments tend to screw over the armed forces in peace time. Hopefully, they’ll never learn how dangerous that is.

  4. Well the comment that labor will fix anything is a big joke ! we should be building and selling jets with all the mineral wealth we have mabey russian bodies with us engines or even design our own suited for our needs ,long range ,high speed ,and heavily armed ,but that will never happen as the greedy greens continue to make us a 3rd world country and very far left ,considering labors close ties with china there is no way they will give us the f22 s but theywould be good even against the russian fighters

    EDITOR: this comment is somewhat improbable but I’ll let it through as he’s allowed to express his opinion regardless of whether I agree with it

  5. I don’t understand why we think that the F-111 is so great, we are the only nation to still operate this archaic remnant of the Vietnam War, even the obsolete Phantom F-4 could outperform an F-111. But we’re not in the 60s anymore, our neighbors have got Su-27, Su-30 and Mig-29 and they would have no trouble taking down an F-111, and there is a good chance the Sukhoi aircraft can take out an F/A-18 because they are faster, more agile, more maneuverable and in the case of the Su-27 can out climb an F/A-18.

    I don’t understand why Australia didn’t buy F-15s or F-16s instead of the Super Hornets. Of course in this day and age there are things like the F-22 and the soon to be revealed Russian PAK/FA fighter, but in reality we won’t get these aircraft anytime soon, they are too expensive and only the world’s largest militaries will operate such 5th generations fighters. We should be happy with F-15s and F-16s, they are pretty good aircraft. As for the F-35, well that’s a waste of time. With the F-35, my opinion: Lockheed Martin screwed up and Australia and other nations will pay for the mistake by buying their mistakes.

  6. @ David because f 15 and f 16 doesn’t have marintime capabilities like the fa 18. But i agree that the f 15 is a better choice in terms of air supority fighter.

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