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Thread: Secret plan to lease planes

  1. #1
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Secret plan to lease planes

    Secret plan to lease planes

    Ian McPhedran

    November 29, 2006 11:00pm
    Article from: The Courier-Mail

    A SECRET plan is being developed to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, effectively leasing a temporary fighter plane fleet to fill a looming air combat shortfall.
    The hired fleet would be at least partly based at Amberley, in southeast Queensland, along with Tindall in the Northern Territory and Williamtown in New South Wales.

    The Royal Australian Air Force will retire its ageing fleet of F-111 strike jets from 2010 and won't take delivery of the first of $16 billion of new stealth Joint Strike Fighters until at least 2014.

    Any delays to the RAAF's JSF order would result in an air combat capability gap that could last four years or more.

    Despite denying any such risk, the RAAF has secretly established a seven-person Air Combat Transition Office to develop "contingency options" to ensure Australia's air combat edge is maintained in the coming decade.

    "ACTO is designed to manage the transition from the current force through to the introduction of the new air combat capability and to ensure that Australia continues to maintain its combat capability edge in the coming decades," a spokesman from the Department of Defence said yesterday.

    The most likely "gap" option would be to buy two variants of the two-seat Super Hornet including a "G" model electronic jamming version. These could stay in service beyond 2015.

    But the most cost-effective measure under consideration would be to buy or lease jet fighters from the US, which has an oversupply.

    Aircraft types on the drawing board include additional F/A-18 Hornets or the highly capable longer range F-15 and F-16 or the Eurofighter Typhoon.

    A spokesman for Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said the Government was "looking at cost-effective options to ensure Australia maintains air superiority during the transition period".

    Earlier this month, air force chief Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd told a Senate inquiry that the RAAF would not allow a capability gap to develop.

    "We believe the schedule that the JSF is on at the moment still meets our requirements in the correct timeframe," he said.

    Air Marshal Shepherd told the Senate the purchase of a bridging fighter would be the "last resort".

    The secret contingency planning followed a directive from Defence Minister Brendan Nelson that the nation's air combat capability must not be compromised under any circumstances.

    "Australia will not accept an air combat shortfall," Dr Nelson told the brass after he was briefed on the growing risk of a capability gap.

    The fighter replacement project is the most expensive in Australia's history and the RAAF expects to get about 100 aircraft for between $12 billion and $16 billion. The planes would not be formally ordered until late next year if the Howard Government proceeds to contract.

    The JSF, which cost more than $100 million each and will replace both the F-111 and F/A-18 Hornet, is not due to make its maiden flight at Lockheed Martin's Texas plant until late next year.

    The F-111s, known affectionately as pigs, are massively expensive to keep in the air, but must stay flying until a major upgrade of the RAAF's 71 FA-18 Hornet fighters is completed after 2010.

    The upgrade will allow the Hornets to carry short-range cruise missiles and to better defend themselves against electronic threats.

    New aircraft projects and major technical upgrades historically run at least one or two years late.

    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/s...62-953,00.html

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    Global Moderator Defense Professional
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Secret plan to lease planes

    Ian McPhedran

    November 29, 2006 11:00pm
    Article from: The Courier-Mail

    A SECRET plan is being developed to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, effectively leasing a temporary fighter plane fleet to fill a looming air combat shortfall.
    The hired fleet would be at least partly based at Amberley, in southeast Queensland, along with Tindall in the Northern Territory and Williamtown in New South Wales.

    etc etc....................................
    Its hardly a secret (well, it is to McPhedran )

    Boeing made a cold call approach at the beginning of the year - and made subsequent approaches after that. It was certainly doing the email rounds in April just after Boeing made the first call.

    The fleet would only be based at Amberley - ie the same base as the Pigs. All the others are fighter bases currently home to the HUG-Bugs.

    There always has been a Plan B interim option in case JSF was running late and to retire the Pigs sooner rather than later.

    Nobody has spoken out loud about Plan B though because it would be an embarassment to have to accept that another najor procurement process has been blown out of its timeline by perhaps 18-24 months. On top of the stuff ups by Boeing on Wedgetail, there was some internal mumblings that maybe we should go to another vendor - I'm assuming that this is the last thing that Boeing would want.

    I would assume that the lease rates would be attractive - as we certainly don't want to buy them outright due to a number of reasons.

    the whole thing becomes even more of a witches brew if other potential customers like Japan and India are factored in.
    Last edited by gf0012-aust; 28 Dec 06, at 14:22.

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    Senior Contributor kams's Avatar
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    I would assume that the lease rates would be attractive - as we certainly don't want to buy them outright due to a number of reasons.
    Hmmm surprising that US tax payer is not footing the bill (like they do for Pakistan ). You guys did waive the penalty on Boeing for delay in Wedgetail. Least they can do is to return the favor.

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    Ex-Wabber Defense Professional
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    Quote Originally Posted by kams View Post
    ...You guys did waive the penalty on Boeing for delay in Wedgetail. Least they can do is to return the favor.
    Well, part of it...maybe....It's really not settled yet.

    Boeing took a $500 Million hit for the Wedgetail delays. The cost will be shared by Northrop Grumman, since it was the MESA that wasn't ready on time.
    "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

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    Ex-Wabber Defense Professional
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    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    Its hardly a secret (well, it is to McPhedran )
    Lol. That's what I was thinking Gary. We've been kicking around the options for a couple years now. McPhedran is just catching on?
    "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

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