Even if many of those quotes are grossly wrong.
Some credit to the journo first: True that Australia will have 2 F-35s by 2020. In what kind of quality as measured against a functional combat jet, no one knows.
Let us go with some of the problems of the article:
...caused by delays in the purchase of the cutting-edge Joint Strike Fighter.
"Cutting-edge" only in the level of fraud upon the taxpayer for something of no value.
Australia will take delivery of just two Lockheed Martin JSFs by 2020, indicating the government will need to buy a batch of rival Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, which are cheaper but older and less stealthy than the fifth-generation JSF
The JSF is "fifth-generation" only in the minds of marketeers and fraudsters.
While switching to the Super Hornets would not be a slug to the government budget - each is about $40 million cheaper than a JSF - it may mean money is wasted on training and maintaining two different types of fighters.
Only $40M cheaper? And, what price do you put on a lost battle?
Or, lost war?
And some experts say the Super Hornet would be challenged by some of Australia's neighbours' growing air combat capabilities.
If the Super Hornet is "challenged", the F-35 is even more so when one takes the time to read up on all of the serious development problems.
The journo continues with the confusion of not knowing their topic, or being tired:
This appears to confirm what Defence Minister Stephen Smith has hinted at and many experts have suspected: that Defence will replace some of the retiring classic Hornet aircraft with Super Hornets and end up with a mixed fighter fleet rather than the 100 Super Hornets originally proposed. Mr Smith has already asked the US about the price and availability of more Super Hornets.
I think the journo meant, "rather than the 100 F-35s originally proposed."
Coalition defence spokesman David Johnston said the government had broken its pledge in the 2009 white paper to buy 100 JSFs that would have "provided regional domination out to 2030"
For those knowledgeable on this topic, any reading of David Johnston's previous words on such matters, show that his total fund of knowledge on air power can be written on the inside of a matchbook with a large sized crayon.
"The revelation … that this promise has been reduced to just two aircraft [by 2020] is a further testament to Minister Smith's incompetent handling of the Defence portfolio," he said.
Smith isn't the sharpest tool in the bag, however, delaying on the Just So Failed is better than committing to it. A better solution for Smith? The New Air Combat Capability (NACC) Office, their motto, "Semper fidelis ad Lockheed Martin", indicated in a 2004 brief that if the F-35 steam-roller that killed the original Air 6000 plan didn't workout, we would start over with picking a legacy Hornet replacement. I am curious how much more failure in the program is needed. A small snapshot of the stupidity, corruption and dishonesty to the Australian public thus far:
“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office brief to Australian journalists, 2002-
". . . US$40 million dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Media Air Commodore John Harvey, AM Angus Houston, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003-
" . . US$45 million in 2002 dollars . ."
-JSCFADT/Senate Estimates, Air Commodore John Harvey, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003/2004-
". . average unit recurring flyaway cost of the JSF will be around US$48 million, in 2002 dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Press Club Briefing, Air Commodore John Harvey, 2006
". . the JSF Price (for Australia) - US$55 million average for our aircraft . . in 2006 dollars . ."
-Senate Estimates/Media AVM John Harvey ACM Angus Houston, Nov. 2006-
“…DMO is budgeting around A$131 million in 2005 dollars as the unit procurement cost for the JSF. .”
-AVM John Harvey Briefing, Office of the Minister for Defence, May 2007-
“There are 108 different cost figures for the JSF that I am working with and each of them is correct”
-Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep./Oct. 2007-
“…I would be surprised if the JSF cost us anymore than A$75 million … in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92”
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO DMO, July 2008-
". . Dr Gumley's evidence on the cost of the JSF was for the average unit recurring flyaway cost for the Australian buy of 100 aircraft . ."
-JSCFADT/Media AVM John Harvey, Aug. 2008-
Confirmed previous advice i.e. A$75 million in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92,
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep. 2009-
" ...about $77 million per copy."
-Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Feb. 2008.
But back to the article in question:
Analysts broadly argue the JSF is the best fighter on the market, although many say the Super Hornet will probably suffice. Andrew Davies, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the JSF was "far stealthier and has a much more powerful and integrated set of senses than the Super Hornet has".
Again I would think the journo meant "sensors" and not "senses".
The only difference between Senator Johnson and Mr. Davies on air power issues is that Davies has a slightly bigger matchbook, but not by much.
Sam Roggeveen, a strategic analyst and editor of the Lowy Institute's Interpreter blog, said the Super Hornet would represent a compromise but "I would argue we don't need the JSF yet"
Sam is a wonderful guy, and I like him. However, I would disagree with him strongly. I would say, given what we know now, we do not need the JSF...ever.
Former defence minister Brendan Nelson, who bought Australia's existing 24 Super Hornets, said a mixed fleet to 2030 should give Australia what it needed, given other governments were hit by similar budget constraints as Australia.
"If the government did choose to (buy Super Hornets), Australia would still have extraordinary air combat capability and would be well placed in relation to our strategic competitors,'' he said.
Who could disagree with Nelson? He believed the PowerPoint lies back in 2006. Kudos to the Boeing sales force for seeing an easy mark. Well played Boeing. Well played. Even the part of demonizing the F-111 to help the sales pitch.
The fox, telling the farmer, the definition of a chicken.
But Peter Goon, a former RAAF engineer now with the independent experts Air Power Australia, was more pessimistic, saying Australia was ''already outmatched in the region'' on air combat. ''If you send out Super Hornets against the Sukhoi Su-35s, few if any of them will come back,'' he said.
Hard to argue with that. It is curious to note that APA are the only team that have offered viable and hard-data F-35 warnings to our elected officials.
And, now the chickens are coming home to roost. Funny how those with all the alleged special access to the program (their initials are "NACC") have been unable to properly guide our elected officials on the dangers. Unable to the point of grossly misleading.
Blatant F-35 cheerleading and proxy salesmanship.
And you paid millions for that waste. Multiple trips to Cow Town, other similar junkets, the whole lot.
The Super is probably the wrong aircraft for Australia. We should start with a clean sheet of paper for the legacy Hornet replacement. If the next white paper said that, it would show big thinking.
Neither the Super nor the F-35 are capable of facing emerging high-end threats. That is the job of the F-22. Against non-high-end threats, the Super beats the F-35 all over the practical ops map.
-The Super has a cost per flight hour less than half that of the F-35.
-The Super has a two aircrew option, great for use as a fast forward-air-controller, hand off via networking to other platforms and other work-intensive tasks.
-The Super has blue force tracker, and ROVER capability. Without this, no joint coalition commander will let an aircraft do close air support work. The F-35 will not see this capability in finished form. All one has is a PowerPoint slide showing notional post F-35 BlockIII feature hopes and dreams.
-The Super can perform buddy tanking.
-The Super has proper, multi-aspect self-defense. That is a towed-decoy, defensive jamming and sensor coordination of threats. The F-35? When it goes naked to the threat, (stealth not being a total solution), it only has forward-aspect in-band (X-band) jamming on the promise you can do such a thing with a thermally, and power-limited radar kit. Oh yeah, and some expendable decoys. This puts at at risk against even legacy threats.
-The survivable limits of the F-35 get worse when gun or explosive fragment damage is involved. The Super? Well, I did see the results of a collision between legacy Hornets once some years ago. They were out of Dobbins, Georgia. One with horrific damage. They both landed safely. The Super improves upon the legacy Hornet ability to survive with even better redundant systems. Don't count on that too much with the latest known F-35 woes.
-The Super works today. This includes known sortie rates.
For the F-35, the old saying goes: “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
No "analyst" has shown any convincing evidence why we should hand over billions on a troubled F-35 aircraft that is unlikely to meet future combat needs, and, is unlikely to be affordable to own and operate.