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