When F-35 programme executive officer Vice Adm David Venlet briefed Australian defence journalists on the F-35 programme in late February he was bombarded with tough questions. The journalists, mostly sector veterans, had been following the programme for years and asked detailed questions about everything from costs to block software upgrades.
Their queries reflected the concerns some Australians have about
the troubled programme. The latest party to express doubts is the Lowy
Institute for International Policy, an Australian thank tank.
In a report titled "Dangerous luxuries: how the quest for high-end capabilities leaves the Australian defence force vulnerable to mission failure," Lowy questions Australia's focus on high-end, conventional warfare as outlined in Australia's 2009 defence whitepaper.
In the report appendix Lowy notes that if costs of the F-35
cannot be managed,
Lowy's proposed solution to potentially higher F-35 costs is
the purchase of additional F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets equipped with the AGM-158
JASSM (joint air-to-surface standoff missile), as well as more extensive use of
unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and combat.
The report also proposes that the