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    • Abstract: The Parliament of the Commonwealth of AustraliaInquiry into AustralianDefence Force Regional AirSuperiorityDefence Sub-CommitteeJoint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and TradeAugust 2007

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
Inquiry into Australian
Defence Force Regional Air
Superiority
Defence Sub-Committee
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
August 2007
Canberra
© Commonwealth of Australia 2007
ISBN 978 0 642 78890 0 (printed version)
ISBN 978 0 642 78891 7 (HTML version)
Cover photo captions:
‘A No. 1 Squadron F-111 aircraft participating in Exercise Red Flag during
February 2006.’ (U.S. Air Force)
‘A No. 1 Squadron F-111 aircraft against a Tindal Sunset during Exercise Arnhem
Thunder 2007.’ (Official No: 20070812raaf8164229_013)
‘Hornet fighters from RAAF Base Tindal link up in mid-air to receive fuel from a
Boeing 707 tanker/transport aircraft, flying in close formation at more than
700 km per hour.’ (Official No: 20070814ran8100087_083)
‘An F/A-18 aircraft taxis for take-off from RAAF Base Tindal during Exercise
Arnhem Thunder 2007.’ (Official No: 20070809raaf8164229_2_012)
Contents
Foreword .............................................................................................................................................vi
Membership of the Committee .......................................................................................................... viii
Membership of the Defence Sub-Committee.......................................................................................ix
Terms of reference .............................................................................................................................. x
List of abbreviations ............................................................................................................................xi
1 Introduction ...........................................................................................................1
Previous debate ........................................................................................................................ 1
Background ............................................................................................................................... 3
Concerns ................................................................................................................................... 4
Conduct of the inquiry.............................................................................................................. 4
Structure of the report .............................................................................................................. 5
2 Strategic Considerations......................................................................................7
Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 7
Contemporary strategic concepts ........................................................................................... 7
Network-centric warfare .............................................................................................................. 8
Beyond visual range.................................................................................................................. 10
Balanced force structure ........................................................................................................... 11
Asymmetric threats ................................................................................................................... 12
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 12
Regional strategic assessment.............................................................................................. 12
The Defence perspective .......................................................................................................... 13
Different perspectives ............................................................................................................... 14
iv
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 15
3 Current Capability Planning...............................................................................17
Introduction ............................................................................................................................. 17
White Paper overview ............................................................................................................. 18
Defence Updates 2003 and 2005............................................................................................ 20
Current planning ..................................................................................................................... 21
Hornet Upgrade program........................................................................................................ 23
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 27
4 F-111 Withdrawal from Service..........................................................................29
Technical and maintenance considerations ......................................................................... 29
Strategic/air superiority considerations................................................................................ 38
Evolved F-111 proposition ..................................................................................................... 39
F-111 – general observations................................................................................................. 41
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 42
5 Future Capability Planning.................................................................................43
The capability gap issue......................................................................................................... 48
Bridging the gap...................................................................................................................... 53
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 53
6 Australia’s Future Air Combat Aircraft .............................................................55
Introduction ............................................................................................................................. 55
Capabilities.............................................................................................................................. 56
Stealth....................................................................................................................................... 56
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 58
Range ....................................................................................................................................... 58
Networking ................................................................................................................................ 60
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 61
Cost .......................................................................................................................................... 61
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 64
Availability ............................................................................................................................... 65
Technology transfer .................................................................................................................. 65
v
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 65
Is the Raptor for sale?............................................................................................................... 66
Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 66
Appendix A—List of Submissions............................................................................69
Appendix B—List of Exhibits ....................................................................................71
Appendix C—List of Hearings and Witnesses ........................................................73
Foreword
The issue of Australia’s regional air superiority has been the subject of
considerable discussion and commentary from 2000. The strategic guidance
outlined in the Defence 2000—Our Future Defence Force and the acquisition and
phasing out of equipment proposed in the Defence Capability Plan 2004–2014 has
provided the basis for much of the debate amongst key stakeholders.
The Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
Defence and Trade first examined the issue of Australia’s air combat capability in
its Review of the Defence Annual Report 2002-03. Further to this inquiry, in June 2005,
the Senate resolved that the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence
and Trade ‘inquire and report into the ability of the Australian Defence Force to
maintain air superiority in our region to 2020, given current planning; as well as
any measures required to ensure air superiority in our region to 2020.’ To support
the Committee in its deliberations, two public hearings were held and over 40
submissions were entered into evidence.
In terms of report structure, Chapter 2 outlines the strategic considerations, both
global and regional, which underpin Australia’s future regional air superiority.
Concepts such as a balanced force structure, asymmetric threats, and an
assessment of regional military capabilities are discussed. The chapter concludes
that Australia must continue to monitor developments in the region when
considering new and improved air combat capabilities.
Chapter 3 of the report considers the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) current
capability planning, beginning with an overview of the Defence 2000—Our Future
Defence Force and subsequent Defence updates in 2003 and 2005. An outline of the
Hornet Upgrade Program follows and its role in the transition to the new air
combat aircraft is discussed. In concluding, the Committee notes the introduction
of a new capability is underpinned by strategic policy and the constraints of
providing a well balanced ADF.
The withdrawal from service of the F-111 is examined in Chapter 4 along with a
consideration of the aircraft’s technical and maintenance issues. Also discussed are
vii
the merits of enhancing the F-111 and extending its in-service life past 2010. The
chapter concludes that industry could support the F-111 until 2020 but there are
risks, including the ability to sustain critical skills amongst the current workforce.
The Committee notes the increasing severity of the risk profile in extending the
F-111 beyond 2010.
Chapter 5 summarises the ADF’s future capability planning with particular
attention being given to the acquisition of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as well as
any potential capability gap which may arise from a delay in its purchase.
The report concludes in Chapter 6 with a comparative analysis of the JSF and the
FA-22 Raptor covering issues such as capability, availability and cost. Irrespective
of whether the FA-22 Raptor is available for export sale to Australia, the
Committee notes the purchase of the JSF is considered by Defence to provide the
most effective and efficient air combat capability.
Hon B C Scott MP
Chair
Defence Sub-Committee
viii
Membership of the Committee
Chair Senator A B Ferguson (until Senator M A Payne (from
14/8/2007) 15/8/2007)
Deputy Chair Hon G J Edwards, MP
Members Senator A Bartlett (from 8/2/06) Hon B G Baird, MP
Senator P M Crossin (from 2/12/05) Mr P A Barresi, MP
Senator A Eggleston Mr M Danby, MP
Senator S Hutchins Mrs T Draper, MP
Senator D Johnston (until 7/3/07) Mrs J Gash, MP
Senator L J Kirk Mr S W Gibbons, MP
Senator the Hon J A L Macdonald Mr B W Haase, MP
(until 23/6/05 and from 8/2/07)
Senator C M Moore Mr M J Hatton, MP
Senator N Scullion (from 17/08/05 until Hon D F Jull, MP
8/2/07)
Senator N J Stott Despoja Hon J E Moylan, MP
Senator R B Trood Hon G D Prosser, MP
Senator R S Webber Hon B C Scott, MP
Mr R C G Sercombe, MP
Hon W E Snowdon, MP
Dr A J Southcott, MP (from 23/2/06)
Mr C Thompson, MP
Ms M Vamvakinou, MP
Mr B H Wakelin, MP
Mr K W Wilkie, MP
Secretary Dr Margot Kerley
ix
Membership of the Defence Sub-
Committee
Chair Hon B C Scott MP
Deputy Chair Mr M J Hatton MP
Members Senator A Bartlett (from 8/2/06) Mrs T Draper, MP
Senator P M Crossin (from 2/12/05) Hon G J Edwards, MP (ex officio)
Senator A B Ferguson (ex officio) Mrs J Gash, MP
(until 14/8/07)
Senator S Hutchins Mr S W Gibbons, MP
Senator D Johnston (until 7/3/07) Mr B W Haase, MP
Senator the Hon J A L Macdonald Hon W E Snowdon, MP
(until 23/6/05 and from 8/2/07)
Senator M A Payne Dr A J Southcott, MP (from 23/2/06)
Senator N Scullion (from 17/08/05 until Mr C P Thompson, MP
8/2/07)
Senator R B Trood Mr B Wakelin, MP
Mr K W Wilkie, MP
Committee Secretariat
Secretary Dr Margot Kerley
Research Officer Mr Michael Crawford
Defence Adviser Wing Commander Anne Borzycki
Commander David Jones, RAN (from December 2006)
Administrative Officer Ms Emma Martin
x
Terms of reference
On 14 June 2005, the Senate referred to the Committee an inquiry into:
the ability of the Australian Defence Force to maintain air superiority in our
region to 2020, given current planning; and
any measures required to ensure air superiority in our region to 2020.
xi
List of abbreviations
AAR Air-to-air refuelling
ADF Australian Defence Force
ADO Australian Defence Organisation
AEW&C Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft
ASPI Australian Strategic Policy Institute
AUPC Average Unit Procurement Cost
BVR Beyond visual range
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CMDS Counter Measure Dispensing Systems
CTOL Conventional Take-Off and Landing
DCP Defence Capability Plan
DMO Defence Materiel Organisation
EWSP Electronic Warfare Self-Protection
HUG Hornet Upgrade
ISR Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
JASSM Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile
xii
JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munition
JSF Joint Strike Fighter
MoU Memorandum of Understanding
MP Member of Parliament
MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft
NACC New Aerospace Combat Capability
NCW Network-centric warfare
OEM Original equipment manufacturer
PSFD Production Sustainment and Follow-on Development
RAAF Royal Australian Air Force
R&D Research and development
Retd Retired
SDD System Development and Demonstration
SOP Sole Operator Program
US United States


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