Joint Strike Fighter: Senate Committee Recommends Defence Department Establish Plan B
(Source: Australian Broadcasting Corp.; posted Oct 13, 2016)
By Alexandra Beech
A Senate committee looking into the controversial multi-billion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter program has recommended Defence develop a plan B in case the high-tech F-35A aircraft are not ready on time.

The first are expected to arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020, replacing the F/A-18 Hornet fleet.

The committee investigating the acquisition said it had listened to concerns about the aircraft's manoeuvrability, stealth capabilities, escape system and other features.

Serious problems led to a re-baselining of the program in 2012.

In a report, the committee said it was the only aircraft able to meet Australia's strategic needs, but retained a "healthy scepticism" towards the assurances about the aircraft, its costs and delivery time.

The committee recommended the Department of Defence develop a hedging strategy in case of additional delays.

It noted the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's advice that the "most sensible hedge" would be to order more F/A-18F Super Hornets.

The committee has recommended the hedging strategy be completed by 2018 and capable of implementation by 2019 at the latest.

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Planned Acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter)
(Source: Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee; issued Oct 13, 2016)
Recommendation 1
6.11 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence develop a hedging strategy to address the risk of a capability gap resulting from further delays to the acquisition of the F-35A. The strategy should be completed by 2018 and capable of implementation by 2019 at the latest.

Recommendation 2
6.19 The committee recommends that the Department of Defence develop a sovereign industrial capability strategy for the F-35A to ensure that Australian aircraft can be maintained and supported without undue reliance on other nations.

Recommendation 3
6.20 The committee recommends that the government endeavour to establish Australia as the Asia-Pacific maintenance and sustainment hub for the F-35.


Click here for the full report (104 PDF pages) on the Australian Senate website.

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