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Friday, January 27, 2023

RAAF’s F-35 is flawed and doesn’t meet Australia’s defense needs

Australia is going to form the fourth squadron of American Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. Thus, the Royal Australian Air Force is expected to [RAAF] There are 96 fighters in total.

Australia is not only a buyer of Lockheed Martin in the F-35 program, but also an industrial partner. Australia’s story with the F-35 began over twenty years ago, in 2002. As a Tier 3 participant in the F-35 programme, Canberra has committed to spend more than $16 billion to procure at least 76 fighters. To date, Lockheed Martin has already delivered 54 fighter aircraft to the RAAF. 2023 is the deadline set by the Australian Government for all 54 fighter jets to be ready for service.

However, in Australia, after the excitement of acquiring the first fighter aircraft and its history with the RAAF, operational problems were already emerging.

Government program to build fourth squadron [96 F-35 en total] The country’s government was the first to come on the radar of experts. Australia’s most respected military expert and the country’s defense analyst since the 1970s, Mr Brian Wehey, disagrees with the government’s intentions. Weihi argues that Australia should seek a refund of the money given for the purchase of the F-35.

Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II. Image credits: Royal Navy.

There are many reasons. First, the cost of maintenance. It turns out that each Australian F-35 spent 23% less time in the air than predicted. This process will continue in the next three years. This means more downtime than anticipated and increased maintenance and storage costs on the ground. Australia will have to spend $11 billion to maintain its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs until 2053.

This immediately begs the question: if maintenance problems are the reason for the low number of flight hours, how many more billions will Australian taxpayers have to pay to ensure the planes are operational by 2053?

They describe the F-35 in Australia as an absolute disaster. One example is that the first two fighters, purchased in 2013 for $280 million, are too old to be upgraded based on Lockheed Martin’s current configuration.

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Mr Anthony Galloway, an Australian defense journalist, painted an even bleaker picture. According to him, the Australian F-35 does not load Australia’s needs at all. An example is China. An Australian F-35 cannot reach the South China Sea unless it refuels in flight. That is, with an operational combat radius of 1,000 km, you need to refuel to reach a maximum of 1,500 km. This means keeping tankers in the air, which are easy targets if there is a conflict with China.

Galloway goes even further in his analysis, stating that the actual range of the aircraft during combat is 500 km, as it would need to be powered up, accelerated or slowed down. Forced acceleration during combat consumes a lot of fuel, which automatically reduces the operational range in km.

Other local military experts claim that the declared “supersonic” option does not correspond to reality at that speed. [Mach 1,6] The plane can only travel for 90 seconds. After those 90 seconds, the F-35 pilot must slow down. And all this if there is no military conflict.

There are other problems too. For example, writes the Australian analyst, the Australian F-35 uses the Block 3F software. It is a digital electronic system designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. This operating system is much more widespread and expensive to maintain and update than its competing systems around the world. This view is not just a comment from an Australian analyst, but also from a senior US official.

Last year, Lieutenant General S. Clinton Hinot, USAF Deputy Chief of Staff, expressed serious concerns about the Block 3F software, saying, “The blocks that are coming off the line right now are not blocks that I like. Confronting China and Russia”. It becomes even scarier when it became clear that even the US fighter jets during the 2018 and 2019 war games did not use the Block 3F software.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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