F35-A Fighter Aircraft: US Commander Assuages Australia’s Concerns


Australia’s anxieties over the reported flaws in the F-35A fighter aircraft have been assuaged by the American head of the Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) program. According to US Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the fighter aircraft is perfect though, he admitted some snags in the software.

Australia is set to buy 72 F-35A fighters. It will be spending close to $18 billion for the acquisition. The Senate panel is studying the Federal Government’s acquisition of the aircraft. There had been criticism that F-35A is not good for hot climates, especially in Northern Australia.

Bogdan rejected that theory. “There are limits on any engine including the F-35 as to how hot the fuel can be before you put it in the plane,” he said.

The US Lieutenant General is scheduled to appear before an Australian Senate inquiry on Thursday, reports The ABC.

Prior to the Senate inquiry, Bogdan acknowledged that some problems have been noticed in the software. Although he called it “a big risk,” he assured that these are being fixed.

“I can tell you software on the program is a big risk, our maintenance information system called ALIS — that’s an acronym for Autonomic Logistics Information System — is troublesome,” he said.

The F35-A aircraft has been hailed for its “low observation stealth, advanced sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities, helmet-mounted sight.” Its arsenal carries laser-guided bombs. The first F 35-A will be arriving in Australia by 2018. It will replace the F/A-18 Hornet fleet, added The ABC.

Bogdan reiterated that F-35s have no match. “Here’s what an F-35 can do for you: long before two aeroplanes get close enough to see each other the F-35 is going to see that other aeroplane and kill it.”

Australian defence analyst David Archibald had told a Senate inquiry that F-35s will have trouble in operating out of northern Australia. “The F-35 uses its fuel for cooling its electronics,” he wrote. According to him, the aircraft will not work if the fuel is warm. That makes deployment in Northern Australia a big issue.

Meanwhile, The Diplomat also reported that criticism against F-35A had been on for many years. Its fighting capabilities were first questioned in 2008. A presentation made by RAND Corp was leaked. One of the slides was picked by Australian media, which said, “Can’t Turn, Can’t Climb, Can’t Run.”

The dog fighting capabilities of the aircraft are also under scanner. However, defence analyst Andrew Davies wrote in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) blog that dog-fighting is an antiquated idea. Rather, the aircraft should carry more long range missiles.

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