The Planned Acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter)
(Source: compiled by; posted Feb 26, 2016)
PARIS --- The Australian Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into Australia’s planned acquisition of the F-35 fighter, on which it is due to report in May.

The committee sought submissions from interested parties, and had received 36 by the closing date of Feb. 19. All are available in PDF format on the committee’s web page.

The great majority of these submissions are opposed to the F-35 acquisition, but three – submitted by retired Australian general officers and a Danish air force pilot – are of special interest as their authors, at some point, were involved with the F-35 program and so recount their direct experience rather than opinions.

The fourth submission we selected was submitted by a civilian, Scott Perdue, who is a former fighter pilot and, more famously, the co-author of the famous Rand Corp. wargame which found that the F-35 was a “double inferior” that “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.”

This is not to slight the other submissions, but they either repeat the program’s well-documented failings and shortcomings, or offer long and detailed analysis that are likely to appeal mostly to – and be best understood by - engineers.

Below are excerpts from our three selected submissions. We have emphasized in bold typeface those passages we consider most significant, and added direct links to download the full submissions.

Lt. Col. Anker Steen Sørensen, Danish Air Force (retired)

I'm a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Royal Danish Air force. I have flown the F-16 for 16 years. Been Squadron Commander, Base Commander Operations, Base Commander and Inspector General Flight Safety Armed Forces Denmark.

In my career I also worked at Air Force Tactical Command and was responsible for the operational requirements for new fighter aircraft.

In this connection I repeatedly took part in simulated flights with Joint Strike Fighter at Wright Patterson AFB in the United States and also in England. To make the simulations as realistic as possible, we participated with operational pilots.

On one of these simulations, I had a Danish test pilot with me. In addition, there were participants from a number of other countries. We also simulated Joint Strike Fighter against Russian fighter aircraft where we flew two against two.

In the forenoon I and the Danish test pilot was flying Joint Strike Fighters against two Russian fighters. In the afternoon we swapped, so we flew Russian fighter aircraft against the Joint Strike Fighter.

In the afternoon the first thing the test pilot and I noticed was that the Russian fighters was not loaded with the best air-to-air missiles as the Russians have in real life.

We therefore asked about getting some better. It was denied us. We two pilots complained but it was not changed.

My test pilot and I decided in our simulated Russian combat aircraft to fly “line abreast”, but with 25 nautical miles distance. Then at least one of us could with radar look into the side of the Joint Strike Fighter and thus view it at long distance. The one who “saw” the Joint Strike Fighter could then link the radar image to the other. Then missiles could be fired at long distance at the Joint Strike Fighter.

It was also denied us, although we protested this incomprehensible disposition.

It was now quite clear to us that with the directives and emotional limitations simulations would in no way give a true and fair view of anything. On the other hand, it would show that the Joint Strike Fighter was a good air defense fighter, which in no way can be inferred from the simulations.

We spoke loudly and clearly that this way was manipulating with the Joint Strike Fighter air defence capability.

Because of these circumstances, I would not let the Danish Air Force be included as part of the totally misleading / non-transparent results,
which alone would show Joint Strike Fighters superiority in the air defence role, which it would not have been against an opponent with missiles with a far better performance than those who we were given permission to. Also there was given major obstacles in the way flying tactically against the Joint Strike Fighter.

We therefore left simulations, returned to Denmark and complained to the Chief of Staff Tactical Air Command and technical manager Air Material Command.

Due to these conditions and having insight into what else was going on, attempts were made from the Danish side to get an operational pilot to the Joint Program Office but due to some special circumstances it at that time failed.

With my speech, I would like to draw attention to the fact that at least some of the air to air simulations that have been carried out, in no way give a true and fair view of the Joint Strike Fighter in the air defence role.

I consider it to be a disaster if simulations as mentioned above are accepted and thus forms part of a possible decision to choose the Joint Strike Fighter. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full submission, on the APH website.

Air Commodore Ray Perry, Royal Australian Air Force (retired)


On then to the late 1990’s and I am back in Washington as the Air Attaché. As a senior RAAF officer with realistic and comprehensive firsthand experience across fighter and strike operations, I was duty bound to refer my reservations as to the JSF capabilities to my superiors in the embassy and also to my Service superiors in Canberra. And this I did.

My categorical recommendation was that it was not in Australia’s interests in any way to be involved in the program other than as an observer.

The only aircraft that would meet Australia’s air defence requirements is, and remains firmly in my opinion, the F-22.

There has been considerable comment over the past twenty years regarding the US agreement to sell the F-22 to Australia. This is a complex question/argument that penetrates the security Joint Strike Fighter classification of this submission.

Suffice it to say that there was never any doubt that the F-22 could and would be made available to Australia and I would be happy to expand further on this with Parliamentary protection.


After leaving the Permanent Air Force in 2000, I became appalled at the obfuscation and untruths that were bandied about regarding the merits of the Raptor versus the Lightning and the likelihood of the US Government permitting sale of the Raptor to Australia.


There will no doubt be technical submissions to the Inquiry that will highlight the inadequacies of the F-35 over late generation 4 and emerging generation 5 Russian and Chinese fighters in the Air Dominance arena. Realising those inadequacies is a lot less daunting from behind an academic computer desk than facing the reality of the cockpit view of an adversary in your close 6 o’clock about to blow you back to from whence you came.

This aircraft is not the answer to Australia’s requirement for an Air Dominance, Air Defence or Strategic and Tactical strike aircraft. The F-22 Raptor is. An even better solution would have been retention of the F111 for use with the Raptor if necessary. I would sleep much more comfortably had this occurred but that is another story for another day. (ends of excerpt)

Click here for the full submission, on the APH website.

Air Vice Marshal B J Graf AO and Air Commodore E J Bushell AM, both Royal Australian Air Force (retired)


The track record of the F-35 program shows no cause for any optimism. Should the highly improbable outcome of the aircraft meeting the low expectations of its performance specification eventually arise, taxpayers of partner nations will be spending on an excessively expensive to procure, and to operate, low performance aircraft suitable only for a narrow range of roles, excluding air defence and air superiority.


Advocates of the F-35 program in Australia need to explain why, despite mounting evidence since 2003, they have persisted in their unquestioning optimism for the program, and continued to irrationally encourage successive Australian governments to waste taxpayers’ money on a program with little or no prospect of an operationally capable aircraft as an outcome. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full submission, on the APH website.

Scott Perdue

I am writing to your committee as an interested observer. My name is Scott Perdue and I am a retired USAF F-4 and F-15E fighter pilot. I am still a professional pilot and pursued a career in Defense Department Consulting after retirement, primarily with the RAND Corporation. Among other efforts, I was co-author, with Dr John Stillion, of the August 2008 study “Air Combat Past, Present and Future.”

The F-35 is optimized for Strike Missions. This does not actually mean that will enhance its survivability against modern SAM threats. It does however mean that the aircraft is inferior to virtually every other aircraft it will meet on the battlefield.

Having to keep threats at arms’ length is not a reliable defense tactic in the long run. Avionics and ‘Systems of Systems’ will not be able to close the gap in performance. The impact of short range and small numbers of weapons drive acquisition of more airframes and closer basing, which may or may not be possible solutions. Tanker support will not close these gaps effectively, for a multitude of reasons.

Consider closely the margin of growth capability in the airplane to face future threats.


The Russians, in the design of the Flanker, accidentally stumbled into an airframe that is robust enough to evolve to meet the threat represented by the F-22. A short comparison of its contemporary Mig-29 can highlight the growth margin argument that I am advancing.

The Flanker is indeed a worthy adversary to the F-22 and the fact that these variants have been made in such large numbers is troublesome for future world stability. I suggest your committee look closely at the actual threat fielded today and evaluate the F-35’s capability to meet and defeat that threat and evolved threats into the future. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full submission, on the APH website.


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