Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Australian Look at the Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Australia is like Canada in some ways when it comes to Lockheed's F-35.   Australia is a large country with a relatively small population, facing change and potential threats along its vast northern flank.

While Canada hasn't clearly stated what we expect from the warplanes our air force will fly in the future, Australia has.  It's number one mission is air defence of Australia and the wide open ocean areas out to Asia.  That's an undertaking of hemispheric dimensions which begs the question of why the Australian government is considering a single-engine aircraft with the range, payload and performance limitations of Lockheed's light attack bomber.

Australia's channel 4 found there are a lot more questions than answers.


Anonymous said...

Australia doesn't really have much of an option other than to buy the F-35 Lightning II JSF because the F-18 is 30 years old, countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia is buying the F-15 Silent Eagle because the US will not offer the F-35 to them and while countries like Japan and South Korea think they can design their own stealth fighter, they don't really know how to do so because if it was easy companies like Eurofighter would have an alternative to the F-35 instead of the Typhoon.

The Mound of Sound said...

I guess you missed it, Anon, but Australia has added two new, F-18 buys.

The Euros are putting their stealth development into combat UAVs where it makes sense.

Stealth is a brittle technology. It works against X-band radars but is generally ineffective against L-band radars now being fitted to the wing leading edges of the SU-35.

It becomes necessary to give up more than the technology can deliver. You have to sacrifice range, payload and, in the case of the 35, supercruise all of that just to get frontal aspect masking of declining ability. It's not even remotely stealthy in the other five planes (facets) which means it cannot operate as a fighter and maintain stealth. It's a light attack bomber and nothing else.

It's not that hard to build a stealth aircraft especially after the Americans lost a stealth drone in Iran and so much of their code and design was pilfered by hackers.

By the way, in terms of aerial combat, stealth is far more advantageous to the defenders than to the attackers. The Russians have that figured out.