Sunday, 5 May 2013

Australia: Buying large!

F-18F Super Hornet

It looks like the Aussies are on a bit of a spending spree when it comes to fighter aircraft.  Although many thought that each F-18F Super Hornet would have meant one less F-35, Canberra is reasserting that these "Rhinos" are to be used as interim aircraft in addition to the planned F-35 purchase.

EA-18G Growler

The RAAF is also planning to purchase 12 EA-18G Growlers instead of converting some of its current 24 Super Hornets to that electronic warfare standard.  This will make for a total of force of up to 136 Super Hornets, Growlers, and Lightning IIs.

This puts Australia, which is only slightly ahead of Canada in terms of defense spending, more than double the planned 65 fighters planned for the RCAF.  Are 65 fighters enough for Canada?  Or is Australia breaking the bank due to perceived tensions in south-east Asia?

P.S.  Australia is also buying 12, not previously mothballed, submarines.


  1. I think Australia is wising up to the fact that the F-35 is not delivering as promised and I think for the Sake of Australia, They should back out of the F-35 and commit to the Super Hornet and Growler program. As for their Submarines, they are making a mistake and the ghost of the Collins will bite them in a big way.

  2. Interesting that the previously "US only" Growler is now open to the allied market.
    It would surprise me if Australia will buy all the F-35 after this deal. Seems like some sort of diplomatic compromise to save face for LM.

    I mean, why would they buy all the F-35 after this?

    1. I think the Growler is available for close U.S. allies. Canada, for example, would have little problem.

      While I believe diplomacy has a great deal to do with this, I don't think it is strictly for Lockheed Martin's sake. With an increased focus on the south-east Pacific, it is only natural for Australia to keep friendly relations with the world's largest military power. Part of that means buying American equipment.

  3. "As for their Submarines, they are making a mistake and the ghost of the Collins will bite them in a big way."

    I agree. Once Australia starts building submarines under license that actually work and are reliable they should consider developing their own brand of submarines. At this point, this is beyond them. I don't mean to say that they should throw away the know how they have acquired so far. But, developing their own brand of subs is still beyond their capabilities. Look at South Korea. They have a great tradition in ship building that the Aussies don't have. Nevertheless they chose to build their subs using a foreign design.

    Australia doesn't need the F-35 if they operate the super hornets. If Australia wants to bomb enemy airfields and bunkers they should use stealthy cruise missiles launched from their hornets. They don't need to get a completely knew plane to do the job.

    Both Australia and Canada have quite similar needs in terms of submarines and fighter jets. They need to defend a humongous territories with a rather small number of boats and planes. Both countries are allied and depend heavily on US arms. Why have they never bothered to cooperate in these fields?

  4. Australia is half way to having a successful outcome for its 'fighter' program with the recent decision to purchase more Super Hornets. And trust me, it won't be an interim capability as some pundits have stated.

    All we need now is for them to come to their sensors and abandon the JSF fiasco altogether and decide on an appropriate air-to-air fighter (with air to ground as a secondary occasional role). A new generation Gripen or even a new build F-16c's would both be perfect and affordable candidates for this role.

    As for building submarines in Australia, our resources would be better spent on an existing off the shelf design than to waist resources on such a small production run of boats. It would be far better and cheaper to train personnel to repair and maintain boats overseas, bring these skills back to the home country and to then establish a reliable and robust repair / logistics chain to maintain them.
    A perfect option would be for a nuclear powered submarine from either US or UK design with its inherent long endurance which would be perfect given Australia's huge coastal area to patrol. An added benefit would be the ability to 'borrow' trained personnel from either country to assist in operating/training local personnel in this technology.

    12 boats will never be an option, the current Navy manning levels lucky to deploy more than two boats at any 1 time.

    1. Canada is having a similar issue with its shipbuilding program. The ships will likely by custom designs, rather than "off-the-shelf" designs that have already been proven.

    2. Doug, this is true for Canada. But, it is also true for Australia. Australia wants a "tailor-made" design because she need subs that have an extremely long range. Off the shelf subs from Europe just don't have this capability, because the European Countries are so much smaller. Both countries should try to establish a common set of requirements for a submarine and then go shopping for the best deal on the world market.

      Building a good submarine is probably one of the most daring and difficult engineering tasks. It is comparable to building a space shuttle. You need lots of experience and know how.

      Sure, you can go for a virginia class nuclear sub, if the US is willing to sell them. But, each virgina class costs around 2.5 Billion Dollars. You'll get a long range conventional sub for less than half the price.

      The main contenders on the market for conventional subs are:

      1. Gotland-class submarine by Kockums shipyard (Sweden).
      2. Type 216 submarine by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Germany)
      3. Sōryū-class submarines (16SS) (Japan)
      4. Scorpène-class submarine by DCNS (France and Spain)

      I don't think India and Russia are on the shopping list. I know, there is not a whole lot of competition for subs, but this is no coincidence.

    3. Would you not agree that the right choice would be the future A26 from Kockums? The Gotland class is still world class, famous for wreaking havoc on American carrier groups (US Navy trained with the Gotland for two years trying to figure out how to kill it) but the the A26 will be superior. Far stealthier and with blue water capability as well as a unique port in the bow where divers or unmanned underwater vehicles can exit or enter the submarine. Take a look at the brochure on the Kockums web page. / Tor