A strong F-35 endorsement

I keep waiting for someone in the US Air Force leadership to gush over the F-35. You know, just something to make the taxpayers feel better about their $300 billion investment in this aircraft. And I mean someone other than Maj Gen CR Davis, the program manager.

Australian Air Marshal Mark Binskin is apparently a huge F-35 fan. In a 1 December dinner speech at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Binskin gave the F-35 the strongest endorsement I’ve heard yet from a national air force leader. I haven’t found these remarks posted anywhere on the Internet, so I can’t give you a link. But Lexis-Nexis has a long quote from an AAP wire story.

   “We are looking at what will be the best multi-role aircraft in the world,” he told an Australian Strategic Policy Institute  function.

   “It will  have the best radar, the best defensive system of any of those aircraft in the world.

   “It will be supported by the best airborne early warning and control aircraft and the best tanker in the world and flown, maintained and supported by the best people in the world.”

   “I’ve got to tell you – the system ain’t going to get any better than that.


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7 Responses to A strong F-35 endorsement

  1. Anonymous 3 December, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Well, they have not much else to choose from so they must “like ” what they can get. The PAK-Fa will eat the JSF for breakfast, but see no evil hear no evil…

    The reduction of the number of fighter manufacturers make the process of aquiring fighters quite pointless nowadays; The choises are few, especially if you want something stealthy.
    Unless you really are prepared to buy from anyone, including the Russians, you may end up with whatever a nation like the US bother to offer you.

  2. ELP 3 December, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    Here is what ran in Crikey.com yesterday….

    Beating What Should Be a Dead Horse

    by Eric L. Palmer

    Defence is
    on the marketing horse
    for Lockheed Martin again.

    Australian Air Force chief Mark Binskin has
    stated that 100 F-35 Joint
    Strike Fighters are needed to ensure a credible future air combat
    capability for Australia. What is alarming however is that the the
    aircraft is projected
    to be
    late an additional two years and to cost $15 billion more in
    testing and development. 

    Binskin and others state the need for the aircraft but
    have little proof to back up alleged combat prowess of the jet.
    Binskin’s quote in today’s Australian is cause for more worry where he
    states: “We are looking at what will be the best multi-role aircraft in
    the world,” he said. “It will have the best radar, the best defensive
    system of any of those aircraft in the world.”It will be supported by
    the best airborne early warning and control aircraft and the best
    tanker in the world and flown, maintained and supported by the best
    people in the world. I’ve got to tell you: the system ain’t going to
    get any better than that.”

    This is interesting when you consider the “airborne early
    warning and control aircraft” he mentions is years late and few of the
    electronic sensing devices have been figured out. The project known as Wedgetail,
    could even face the axe if it doesn’t show proof of life soon. 

    The F-35 has few test hours on it, and yet it’s first
    user,  the U.S. Marine
    Corps. is somehow expected to have theirs working in 2012.   Worse is that no one has
    a clue what it will cost Australia assuming it works. As Dr. Gumley of
    the DMO stated: “Some
    time ago I said in jest that there are actually 108 different prices
    for the JSF out in the marketplace and every one of them is correct.”  Jest or not, this doesn’t
    inspire confidence when you look at the dance performed in a
    recent government hearing
    on Defence matters. 

    Most of what the public has been hearing from Defence in
    relation to the F-35 is nothing more than marketing spin.  Rumors presented in the
    news on what will and what will not be in the White Paper make the
    products purpose look more like a justification for hardware and less
    about strategic vision. When Defence officials start to display
    objectivity instead of marking spin hype, maybe we will get some value
    for our taxpayer dollars. 

  3. Dave 3 December, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    I don’t doubt the F-35 will be a stellar performer. I’ve spoken to both Gen. Davis and Jon Beesley- and both were very confident in the capabilities of the jet. Beesley more so than Davis…

    The only thing that bothers me slightly is the relatively lacklustre supersonic performance, granted its achieveable with a full internal combat load… Beesley flat out told me that subsonic performance of the F-35 matches the F-22′s. It’s only at the extremely low speeds and very high AOA that the F-22 performs better according to him- so I’m not really all that worried about the JSF in that regard.

  4. Fred 3 December, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    I wonder if Air Marshall Binskin has read the article I found recently. Have a read:-
    http://www.ausairpower.net/0830-ASPI-rebuttal-HR.pdf.(It’s only 13 pages) Erm,I don’t think you’ll find this information in any F35 marketing literature!The authors compare the F35 to the Sukhoi 35 and they don’t exactly pull their punches.

    On another note, I think the Norwegian Govt is going to be in for a bit of a shock sometime in the future. According to info in Flight Int article (concerning the F35 success over the Gripen):- the 48 Gripen NG’s would have cost NKr 24B instead of NKr18B for 48 F35′s which equates to (based on Flight’s figures) approx. £52M for an F35 against £69M for the Gripen.I have read elsewhere that the Gripen Next Generation will be in the region of £55-60M.In the pdf. article above it also states that export versions of the F35 will not be as stealthy as the homegrown variants. Also I wonder if the Norwegian Govt read the recent article in Aviation Week which stated that an F35 could end up costing more than an F22.

  5. Obamanite 4 December, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    To Fred and Dave:

    Regarding the ausairpower.net article, Koop is a well-known F-35 basher, and he can hardly be regarded as objective when he overstates the Flanker’s performance and understates that of the F-35. More to the point, people like him simply have no access to actual, real, classified data on which to base their so-called “studies”. So, it is all conjecture on his part. Also, I hardly think Norway needs to be reading opinion pieces in the media when they can get far more reliable data from the manufacturers themselves.

    As for the F-35′s supersonic performance, while I am not one of its biggest supporters, I will nevertheless admit that I was impressed when it was revealed that one of the upcoming tests will be to fly to Mach 1.6 with a full internal load. Try getting an F-16 to Mach 1.6 with two external tanks, an ECM pod, a targeting pod, 2 GBU-31s and 2 AMRAAMs. I think one of the fundamental misunderstandings regarding the F-35 among its detractors is that it carries all the crap other fighters have to carry externally internally. Two large bombs, 2 AAMs, targeting equipment, ECM/ESM, and a whopping 20,000 lbs. of fuel. Doing all of this, and being able to fly a clean, stealthy warplane that can get to Mach 1.6 with a full load, that ain’t nothing you can shake a stick at…

  6. Dave 4 December, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Obamanite- Yeah, I know it’s pretty impressive- I was rather hoping for something more along the lines of Mach 1.8 or so… Granted the F-35 was never supposed to be a Raptor- though it looks like it’ll be pushed into that role.

    Gen. Davis and Jon Beesley mentioned the Mach 1.6 with the full load when I spoke to them a few weeks ago… Davis in particular mentioned that the F-15 rarely goes past Mach 1.3 operationally- and the few times it exceeds that are usually FCFs. So I know its not really much of an issue… I wrote an article about the whole thing for Live Science.

  7. Obamanite 5 December, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    Dave – Read your article and enjoyed it. Good work, and thank you.

    After today’s news that the economy shed more than 500,000 jobs in November alone (!!!!), I should think that both the F-22 and F-35 will be safely ensconced in the Pentagon budget for the foreseeable future. First, ending F-22 production now will lead to LM cutting jobs, which will not look good for an Obama administration to be seen as contributing to job losses for U.S. industry. Secondly, the F-35 program promises to be HUGE by the middle of the next decade, and that alone, and the tens of thousands of jobs it promises to create throughout the U.S., will probably assure its future, regardless of its technical merits or contribution to the military. What I think should be clear by now to everyone looking at the U.S. government’s budget through FY 2010 and 2011 and probably even 2012 is that “fiscal responsibility” will be damned all to holy hell, as well it should. Deficit spending right now is the only way out of what is looking to become the worst recession since the Great Depression. Thus, all predictions that defense would be slashed under Obama are flat out wrong, not only because Obama never was and is not your run-of-the-mill, lefty dove – which is part of why I am as gung-ho about him as I am, seeing in him far more JFK than Jimmy Carter – but also because the U.S. government can continue to “bail out” the defense industry without appearing to be doing just that, as opposed to the wildly unpopular measures taken to rescue the financial services industry and soon to be the auto industry as well. The only people who will grumble about continuing high defense spending are those in the far left of the Democratic party, and Obama has amply demonstrated his willingness to, well, not give a good goddamn about what the far left of his party thinks. I have to say, I was a staunch Obama supporter prior to the election – believing him, rightly, to be first and foremost a pragmatist rather than a left-wing ideologue. Seeing how he has conducted his transition and looking at his cabinet picks, he’s exceeded my expectations. We’ve hit the mother load with this one, and lord knows, we are in desperate need of competent leadership, for a much overdue change…

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