Nelson reviews Joint Strike Fighters stealth power
AUSTRALIA is taking seriously claims the stealth capability of the proposed new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been downgraded, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson says. But Dr Nelson said there was no cause to abandon the project.
It was reported today the stealth ability of the proposed Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) had been downgraded. Australia is planning to acquire up to 100 JSF from around the middle of next decade to replace both the F-111 strike bombers and F/A-18 Hornet fighter bombers.
Dr Nelson said he had met with representatives of both Lockheed and the US Defence Department. "What has happened is that they have changed the grading from extremely low to very low.
"We are examining in quite a lot of detail precisely what that might mean, not only for us but indeed for the US and the other partners that are involved in the process of developing and then acquiring the Joint Strike Fighter.
"We have got a lot hinging on this in terms of retirement of our F-111s, the upgrade of our F/A-18s and also in what we do with a variety of our other airframes including the P-3Cs.
"We are taking it very seriously but I think at this stage it is certainly not cause for us to abandon the project."
Dr Nelson said this was potentially a $15 billion acquisition program and the JSF was in the relatively early stages of development. "We are in a partnership to this process. We will, if we are on track by the end of this year, sign a memorandum of understanding with Lockheed Martin and the US.
"You are going to see not just this but a whole lot of things that will come out, people who for a variety of reasons are concerned about the potential acquisition."
Posted by: Oztralian 2006-03-13