Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Aussie senator asks all the right questions about the F-35.




For those of you who think the RAAF F-35 purchase is going off rather smoothly, this video proves the contrary.

Australian Senator Scott Ludlam asks all the right questions about the F-35:  How much will it cost?  Where is the money to pay for it?  What about the buggy software?

Australia's Chief Air Marshall and his cronies dismiss most of his questions, using the usual platitudes like "military development is always late" and "everybody else is buying it".  They use a lot of words like "should be" and "It depends".  Ludlam questions the use of all these vague statements regarding the multibillion dollar fighter acquisition.

"We are not here to take stuff for granted"

At about 21:00, the Senator gets dismissed by the RAAF staffer with the usual "you are not an expert, what do you know?"  To his credit, Ludlam keeps his cool and simply continues to ask the hard questions.
"We will be flying this aircraft...  Six years...  Before its ready?
"How can you keep it stealthy as detection technologies mature over a 30-40 year period?"
Ludlam even refers to USAF General Mike Hostage's statement that the F-35 is "not viable" without the F-22 backing it up.
"It's all very well for the U.S. Air Force because they have both of those aircraft, but we don't and we probably never will."
Apparently, the RAAF air marshal was unaware such a statement was ever made.  You'd think he'd be  in the loop on that one...

The video is worth a watch, its typical dry parliamentary stuff, but the content is excellent.


 

5 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the Senater's line of questioning regarding costs and capabilities. The responses from the military forum is not much different than any other nation including Canada. The F-35's biggest downfall is that it is based on US military and foreign policy to have the ability to maintain military oneupmanship at anytime they should choose. This aircraft reflects that narrow focus of policies that the world can not and will not resolve their issues by any other means but war.

    The Defense of a country is by far more successful by balancing and fostering international relationships while maintaining a reasonable capability to act militarily. The point that has to be made is that Canada or Australia do not have threats to their sovereignty by their actions alone and feel obligated to reinforce the US inability to resolve issues by diplomacy or with force.

    The hand that is being played is that there will be a military crisis now or in the future where we must believe that if we are not equipped with the "best" equipment money can buy, then we must have no regard to the lives and duty of our armed forces.

    In the 80's, the US outspent the Soviet Union to collapse and conclude one of the longest standing conflicts in modern times. The threat that exists today is that the F-35 is an extension of that critical mind set. The real threat now is the collapse of modern western countries that can not maintain irresponsible military spending with the looming possibility of an all out war with China or Russia that will never exist. The threat was as harmful to the Soviet Union/China then as it would be now.

    Does NATO need a fighter like the F-35 to defend itself? Is this the ultimate deterrent to the looming global apocalypse? No, I feel that our biggest threat is to buy into the irrational mindsets and that we contribute the financial collapse of fellow nations by supporting such nonsense.

    If a superpower boogyman would like to invade us, take our oil and steal our fresh water, wouldn't be advantagious to do this while we are operating 30 year old obsolete military equipment? But I will sleep better with sensor fusion flying overhead?

    Would you buy or need a car if the only option was a $60,000 Cadillac Escalade? No, because there are reasonable options in order to meet our personal financial needs. The Canadian government should do the same.

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  2. Kirk, I also enjoyed the Senator's line of questioning however, he may have let them provide softball answers. For instance, when trying to assess what will be operational in the planes for block 3i compared to 3f. The panel didn't know or was unwilling to discuss but I wasn't confident that plane could really fly in a lighting storm. The second item that stuck out for me was that to be stealthy you first have to buy a stealthy plane. By that reasoning for me to be like Superman I first have to buy a cape. Missing in either scenario is the justification to be stealthy or like Superman. The talking point is about the best stealthy plane instead of why they need stealth, of course F35 being the only option leaves no debate.

    In regards to your comments on the narrow focus of policies beyond diplomacy. This has always been a conflict in my mind. On the one hand we talk about protecting Canadian sovereignty so we buy planes, submarines, ships and build northern bases all in the name of sovereignty. On the other hand, we belong to global organizations like NAFTA, UN and NATO which reduce our sovereignty by putting national decisions into global groups leverage. Here's a story today where NATO says we should increase military spending http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=122404. I believe it's this type of influence as to why we are all confused over buying the F35. It's not Canadian values driving this decision but NATO/US interventionist strategies. It's only obvious now since Lockheed did such a poor job developing it.

    Two more reasons we need to have a serious reflection on our statement of requirements. First, everyone surely knows we sent CF18's to Romania to support NATO. Did you know they have no weapons? The deployed 2 Air Expeditionary Wing was formed for quick deployments based on lessons learned from the past. Here's a lesson, TAKE WEAPONS with you. What's the point of sending CF18's @ $20K/hr unless you want them blown out of the sky so we can start WW3. Can the Russians tell the difference between an armed or unarmed jet??? Just an example of the hype over buying fighters. Second, everyone telling us we need the F35 is in the business of war or close enough to be influenced. We need unbiased representation at the table. Smedley Butler wrote a book "War is a Racket" basically describing how the system works to influence us. What is amazing is the book was written prior to WW2 but is just as relevant today. Here's short video of the book https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3_EXqJ8f-0.

    Finally, on your Cadillac analogy. I had been thinking of a similar scenario when reflecting of 4.5GEN vs 5thGEN fighters. F35 supporters always say things like the design was created in the 60s. However, do you remember the Honda Civic in the 70's compared to now? I don't think anyone would say today's car is based on a 70's car frame and you shouldn't buy it. In, fact many Canadians would wait a few years before buying a new car design. Same with Jet fighters, why wouldn't we buy cost effective, proven, reliable designs over high risk projects like the F35.

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  3. At about the 19th minute, the Senator seem to struggle with solid, credible facts to substantiate his (or lack thereof) line of questioning. I thought he had it all together until that point.

    Performance wise, there is enough "numbers" to place the F35 in the reasonable category. Situational Awareness, it jumps four fold to 360 degrees. That's cool. Low observability is questionable. The price reflects the R&D into three airframes, two of which we will not buy.

    I don't understand why Canada needs LO to intercept a Bear bomber over the arctic? A rogue airliner? A fishing boat with a few extra antennas? Who is targeting our fighters in peacetime that they are so worried? That sounds like a job of a 747 with "get lost" written on the side of it? Presence does not need stealth.

    The PR photos of CF-18's out of Romania definitely don't have weapons on them. I wouldn't be surprised that they are handy though. So fast forward to 2025 with CF-35's. No one can see the 4 Meteor missiles in the aircraft or that they are doing a photoshoot with Mig-21's over European castles?

    We can meet NATO and NORAD commitments, not by spending more but by spending smart. We have tired equipment throughout the forces and it's a prime opportunity to address those issues responsibly. We need the ability to cover and patrol our land mass independently.

    Politically we should buy from the US. They get very grumpy if we didn't. So do you think 65 jets could keeps their hands off our oil, gas, lumber, ore, water and livestock? I don't fear the Russians.

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  4. The senator did a nice job. And again we here that this plane is about the sensors and gen 4 vs gen 5. Did the USAF not learn its lesson in Vietnam? They soon learned that it was not a high tech war and that you need a gun and you need to dogfight.

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  5. Hey Doug! Got news for you.

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0EG2P820140605?irpc=932

    It says Canada will skip the competition and for f35.

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