Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Australia's future fighter planes

Two-and-a-half years ago, on 1 March 2010, my blog post entitled Australia's choice of fighter planes [display] suggested that my native country would do well to compare the French Rafale with the aircraft on order, the US Joint Strike Fighter.

Towards the end of last year, doubts concerning the evolution of the US project provoked a statement by the Australian Minister of Defence.

His words were reproduced in The Sydney Morning Herald dated 7 December 2011 [display].
Australia has set aside up to $16 billion to buy 100 of the planes, but the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, has already warned that any cuts to the program could force Australia to reconsider its orders for the fighter beyond the first 14, which are to be delivered by 2014 at a cost of $3.2 billion.
Today, in the French press, there's an interesting article [display] entitled Et si Dassault convainquait les Américains d'acheter le Rafale? That tongue-in-cheekish title asks a rhetorical question: And what if Dassault convinced the US to purchase the Rafale?

In the Breton city of Brest this morning, at a colloquium on European defense, the director of Dassault, Charles Edelstenne, took to the floor for a totally unexpected little speech, which included the following statement concerning the US project, whose total costs have skyrocketed by 50 percent in the space of a few years:
The present difficulties are just a beginning. As soon as the systems attain their age of maturity, things will become far more complex. The unit cost has already overtaken that of the Rafale, in spite of the fact that the volume of orders for the F-35 is ten times superior [to that of the Rafale].
He added jokingly:
The Americans call the program TINA, meaning "There is no alternative". On the contrary, an alternative exists: the Rafale, an aircraft that has been proven both technically and financially.

These remarks should be interpreted within the context of the so-called "Smart Defense" approach that might be adopted in Europe, involving the large-scale mutualization of defense resources, and a "Buy European" attitude. But Edelstenne's remarks might be little more than wishful thinking.

1 comment:

  1. A fighteraircraft is a forces aircraft designed primarily designed for air-to-air combat opposed to other aircraft,[1] having the status of conflicting to bombers and attack aircraft, whose key mission is to attack ground targets. The hallmarks of a fighter are its hurry, maneuverability, and insignificant size next of kin to other combat aircraft.