A report released in the Background Briefing has suggested that Australia has not been serious enough to implement the Joint Strike Fighter jet.
It is the most expensive acquisition by the nation to date as far as its defence is concerned. One of the officials who used to be head of the Australian Defence Force’s test and evaluation division said that either the nation was full of rich optimists or fools.
According to the investigation hearing, Australia has not only avoided participating in the testing of the troubled jet, but the national test agencies also did not read the US test reports detailing the concerned matter. “The Joint Strike Fighter was supposed to be here four years ago, but it is still unfinished, and the latest test reports out of the US detail a long list of problems,” ABC reporter Sarah Dingle reported.
Recently, the chief of the Defence Force said that the emergence and gradual evolution of drone technology might lead Australia to prefer it over some Joint Strike Fighter jets. When Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin was asked about what the nation was planning, he said that the rapid development of drones or “unmanned combat aerial vehicles” were letting them keep an open mind to the defence problems.
“We’re going to be open-minded because if you go … say 10 years between now and when we consider [the next planes] … you are starting to see the evolution of the UCAVs, unmanned combat aerial vehicles. So I think we need to keep a bit of an open mind … We shouldn’t just lock in and say ‘That’s the way it’s going to be for 50 or 100 years’,” he said as quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
It has been discovered, however, that Australian JSF’s program manager, Air Vice Marshal Chris Deeble, was not even sure about the number of the latest order of these jets worth multi-billion dollars that were produced presently. Australia bought the jets 14 years ago, but the development is still under progress. The US reports published recently listed an array of problems relating to the fighter jet, including the JSF’s opening of weapon bay doors every 10 minutes at the time of loading internal stores if the temperature reached 32 degrees or more. Sometimes the weapon bay doors have to open in the air so that there is no overheating.
RAAF’s former wing Commander Chris Mills said these problems were serious in nature. “In addition, every time you open the weapons bay doors you heat and cool the weapons, and electronics hates that, so you get a very high failure rate,” he added.