Correcting the Sydney Morning Herald in reference to a Defence article #auspol #military

Correcting this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Under the Multi-Role Helicopter program, Australia is buying 46 European-designed MRH-90 helicopters for the army and navy to rationalise the defence helicopter fleet, replacing ageing Iroquois, Black Hawks and Sea Kings with a modern utility aircraft.

Not quite. What helicopter the Navy will use has gone to competition between a Navy variant of the above mentioned helicopter and the U.S. made MH-60R Seahawk. It is possible that Defence may make a decision this year.

A look at the risks involved with Australia’s fighter decision #auspol #military

You will see “maintaining regional air superiority” or some similar words, littered all over various discussions of Australian Defence in government documents.

What does it mean? Given the poor decisions made thus far, not a heck of a lot.

A simple picture of the risk involved to the fighter aircraft roadmap for Australia can be seen below.

Click here for a larger image.

It shows the risk involved in the most simple of ways. It may be simple, but it is pretty close to the describing the gravity of the situation. All other conversations of what you want a fighter aircraft to do become useless if it is not able to give our pilots the ability to dominate the skies.

I really tried to give the F-35 more points, but given all of the woes like lack of relevant flight testing, the helmet failure, software problems and no solution to moldline issues in production until at least 2015 it gets difficult to hand out credit. Add to that, with no high-altitude combined with super-cruise performance to make up for it’s lack of self-defense jamming when export-friendly-stealth goes naked, survivability becomes a dead issue.

As for the scoring; “medium” is about as low as you can go in defense procurement risk these days until there is a solid track record of performance to display on the CV.

Maybe by the 2020‘s Australia will be able to look at a full go to war configured F-35 and make a sound procurement decision.

Australia and Afghanistan-Why? #military #auspol

Corporal John Edmondson VC

Today is ANZAC day. It is the day when Australia and New Zealand remember their war dead.

If one can go, the early morning memorial service is pretty impressive.

WWII was the last justified conflict Australian troops have been in; and depending on your views, maybe Korea. There have been peace keeping missions like East Timor–which should be expected as that is in our immediate region–however it is doubtful that North Vietnam had the capacity to attack Australia.

Borrowing a statement from the USMC and changing it to suit us; “The Defence Force is at war; Australia is at the mall.”

Of the 23 troops lost in Afghanistan since 2002, Australia has lost 12 troops since the last ANZAC Day but darned if the clueless politicians–most who have never warn a uniform–can state anything more than platitudes as a reason to be there. How many more losses can be covered with platitudes by this time next year? 12 more? 50?

911 was caused in part by poor U.S. visa control and poor airport/airline security. The Afghanistan mission provides no national security value to Australia. Maybe the politicians and mall-goers will wake up to this fact someday.

Still cart-before-the-horse thinking about Defence #auspol #military

And the “humbled and hobbled” Australian Defence senior leadership; which is unable to stop the bleeding of poor big dollar weapons system project management.

Cart-before-the-horse thinking from those that state we must increase defence spending, won’t make a world of difference in an environment that can’t even field simple landing craft to fit ships and numerous other disasters.

Seasprite=Failure. Tiger helicopter=Failure. NH-90 helicopter=failure. Retiring F-111’s too soon=Failure. Surface ship management=Failure. Super Hornet purchase=Failure. F-35=Failure. Submarines=Failure.

I am all for a strong Defence, however the DMO disease and other senior leadership ills have to be fixed first. Maybe a first step is for senior Defence leadership to stop misleading our elected officials.

Time to start cutting Australian Defence #auspol #military

After being here a while, I am still trying to figure out what the Australian Defence department actually contributes to the taxpayer’s investment. Darned if I can find more than a few examples.

The Navy can’t manage subs and ships and except for a few elements, the RAAF is an expensive flying club and the Army? We are paying for troops to be wasted resources in a no-win war.

If that is all this organisation can contribute to the “defence” of Australia, maybe it is time to turn down the tap. Not to the tune of the hyped $2B over ten years, but at least to the tune of a $2B cut off of the budget every year with no growth.

Hey, if anyone can suggest a sound reason why we should be paying for all of this waste, I am all ears. Until then, what we have is this.

Decision making on Australia’s air power road map is a muddle #auspol #military

Good decision making on the air power roadmap for Australia is a mess.

How did it get that way? Many reasons, but part of it is poor advice. Here is an interesting paper from February 2007 by the ASPI.

Interesting in that it shows the muddle of poor information thrown about at the time. Critical though because policy makers read and listen to ASPI as if they have some kind of handle on air power issues which historically, just isn’t the case. They hint that there is no real replacement for F-111 capability and they do correctly state that the Super Hornet will not be able to stand up to regional threats. Which begs the question; why should the Australian taxpayer be handing over money for something that will only be good for air shows? Or, at best, the F-18F might make a good fast-FAC for the ground troops; an OA-18F by any other name.

Any practical thinking would be that no one knows what the F-35 will cost because it is so early in development. The fact is that the F-22 was lowering in price and the F-111 could last out to the 2020’s.

Decision makers were given good advice (PDF). They just couldn’t see anything but the rent-seeking and PowerPoint slides of the confidence men.

Australia-Solve the DMO problem before any more big dollar procurement #military #auspol

As always, some that are fawned over by the not-up-to speed media miss the bigger picture.

No money should be handed over for a poorly thought out submarine program until we eliminate the defective Defence Material Organisation (DMO) and produce a real plan of how our very small defence force should have big-dollar weapons projects procured and sustained.

The endless noise about “we need to buy subs now” (or fill in the blank of other systems) is the ultimate cart-before-the-horse poor thinking. The problem is the 20-some thousand DMO employees that collect a pay-check and don’t deliver much value to the defence of the nation.

What Australia was told about the F-35 back in 2004 #military #auspol #cndpoli

New air combat capability (NACC) is the name of the Australian Defence office that is in charge of managing the message of alleged F-35 value to the government and industry.

So far with several travel junkets and other consumption of resources, it hasn’t done much except to act as Lockheed Martin’s foreign sales office-Australian chapter.

Take a look at this slide from a NACC briefing at an event called the Defence Teaming Centre in Adelaide, 17 March 2004. Look how the definition of the software blocks was much stronger then. Very little of that matchs the definition of Block1,2&3 software today. Look at the rest of the items that are not true today.

click to make bigger

One point of interest early in the brief is this bullet statement in a slide:

“Revert to open competition if JSF not suitable”

Today, there is overwhelming evidence that the aircraft is not suitable. When will Australia end this nightmare and start over with a clean sheet of paper?

Defence to order 18 Super Hornets to make up for delays with the F-35? #military #auspol #cndpoli

Will Defence get 18 Super Hornets to make up for the delays with the F-35 program? Someone that bought this guy lunch (or whatever) thinks so. And, it is marked as “Exclusive”.

I guess it is possible. Sounds interesting. It was done before when in late 2006, Defence made a snap decision to purchase 24 2-seat Block 2 F-18F Super Hornets. I would guess this latest sounding board/leak to the media would be single-seat E models? The source claims it can be done for $1.5B.

Let us look at the rest of it that isn’t so exclusive or even very accurate.

Australian defence officials head for the US this week for an update from Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is developing the stealthy, multi-role JSF, now named the F-35 Lightning II.

The Australian understands they will raise serious concerns about delays in the project and the possibility of an alarming gap in Australia’s air defences from 2020 onwards.

One would think with all the previous trips (think of all that travel cost to the taxpayer) that the clueless New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office would have better “analysis” to predict a lot of this rather than cheerleading; or that the DMO would have a better idea of what is going on instead of giving F-35 cardboard cutout toys to kids at air shows.

Australia plans to buy up to 100 F-35s for an estimated $16bn and has so far ordered 14, with the RAAF’s first squadron supposed to be operating by 2018.

Not really. No money has been handed over for this folly. In 2009, Defence announced it wanted to get 14 for around 3.2B or so. Given the horrific troubles of the aircraft, Australian decision makers would have to be pretty dumb to hand over that money now.

Officials from Lockheed Martin have insisted the problems in the US will not mean any delays in delivering Australia’s first 14 aircraft.

And any thinking person that has watched this program would see that claim as misleading.

But there is growing concern in Canberra that the US delays will mean the RAAF’s first squadron may not be ready until about 2020 and possibly later.

Alarm bells are ringing because it’s likely that by 2020 the last 30 or so of the RAAF’s older “classic” Hornets will have reached the end of their useful lives, even with extensive refurbishment.

Refurb of old Hornets. That didn’t go so well the last time. Everytime you tear one apart it has some similar problems but then each one’s wear is just a bit different. And what is the purpose anyway? As a fighter, it will get shot down vs. emerging Pac Rim threats. It is the shortest range and most tanker dependent aircraft in its class in an area of the world where range is worth something. Just for the record we could have kept the F-111 going out past 2020 if needed.

Defence officials are preparing for the government a range of options to fill this looming gap in air defences with the most likely being the purchase of a further 18 Super Hornets for about $800 million each.

That would make economic sense, because the $6bn purchase price for the first 24 Super Hornets included the infrastructure to support them and that can be used for the additional aircraft.

It is nice to see someone make really dumb typos like I do. No, this guy is better than I am at putting words on a page, even if the message is wrong and/or confused.

The Australian has been told development of the aircraft, which is packed with sophisticated radars and other electronic equipment, is progressing well and is likely to meet or exceed the expectations of the nine nations involved in its development.

The person that “told” you that is an idiot. Progressing well? A new “schedule” is created, and then a few weeks later we hear how great it is doing on the new schedule (forgetting all the previous schedules it has busted). “Meet” or “exceed” based on what proof? Go ahead and fund those 14 aircraft. The production process hasn’t figured out how to get the fixes for the stealth design problems into production until sometime in 2015. The helmet–which holds a lot of critical display information for the pilot (there is no HUD like on other fighter aircraft)–isn’t up for the job. They are shopping for a new vendor. Software is way behind. There are weight and other design issues. The aircraft still has not explored the full flight envelope after 4 years of testing begging the question, “why?”. So far the only “meet” or “exceed” metric here is in efforts to defraud the taxpayer.

But there is a growing acceptance in the RAAF that the aircraft will be late and a steady increase in costs is eating up the considerable margin built into the contract by Australia’s Defence Department.

In order to have a “margin”, first, one must have figured out what the aircraft will cost to purchase and sustain. The only thing that the NACC, DMO and other cheerleaders have proven thus far is that they have no clue.

The original plan was for Lockheed to build 2443 JSFs for various arms of the American forces with about 500 others going to allies including Australia, Israel and Canada.

The original plan was for 2800-some F-35s for U.S. orders. That was chopped down. Early on, the program was down in the -400 region. Remember the economy of scale hogwash. Where did you get the 500 from? Partner sales were for over 700 in the original plan. I don’t see that happening either. Then there is the issue of the “production learning curve” that is supposed to help lower the price. That fantasy won’t work either as we can see that hundreds of aircraft have already been cut from the production timeline. There will be no great learning curve to base a lowering cost on in this decade; if ever.

Air Marshal McCormack, who now runs a normally strongly pro-JSF group of experienced military flyers known as the Williams Foundation, said in its latest bulletin the government should remember the RAAF’s experience with the F-111.

If one of your strong arguments from the “everything will work out OK” camp is to look at the original F-111 procurement, you are not doing too well because a moronic procurement process is still a moronic procurement process. Funny how the Williams Foundation (gung-ho rent seekers uber alles) has to now back-peddle their F-35 zeal. Fly before you buy buddy; fly before you buy. Where “fly” is a real go-to-war example.

Air Marshal McCormack said this experience suggested there could be very good reasons for Australia to delay delivery of the F-35 until the production line was “mature” and problems were ironed out.

Like a heroin addict trying to kick the habit. It is possible, but some major organisational group-think processes have to be shot just like a rabid Ol’ Yeller. Williams Foundation=useless.

The new aircraft is also expected to replace all of the major aircraft in the US inventory.

No it isn’t. Even someone that spent 5 minutes on a Wikipedia or Lockheed Martin web page would understand that isn’t so.