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)
- Read the program transcript from Andrew Fowler’s report “Flying Blind”, broadcast 29 October 2007.
- Air Power Australia – Sukhoi T-10/Su-27/30/33/35/37 Flanker
- Read more about Australia’s future defence plans, including background on the Joint Strike Fighter program