Joel Fitzgibbon has adopted the stance I predicted would be taken. That being, Australia will only ever buy US military materiel.
There are two schools of thought on this issue. Those looking only at the military application and equipment to be applied; and those looking at the political game afoot. Either way, Australia loses. As portrayed graphically on the 7:30 Report this evening, Joel Fitzgibbon has been effectively fenced in on the F-111 replacement issue by his predecessor and now opposition leader, Brendan Nelson. What is a cost cutting government supposed to do when faced with $400 million plus in contract breach penalties if it didn’t carry through with a pre-destined purchase of what effectively will be a very short-lived, white elephant? Buy it. There’s no other option.
This is the political game and one which the power brokers in the Liberal Party, of which Nick Minchen is the principal, will revel in. A fait accompli since the day Nelson smiled at the cameras and said we’d buy these hulking has-beens, despite all those in the know stating loudly that Boeing’s F/A-18E just didn’t cut the mustard when lined up against what neighbouring nations are packing. Australia will play host to 24 F/A-18E’s for a relatively brief period of time – six or so years, and then they’ll be on-sold or off-leased to someone else. Here’s hoping we don’t lose any.
Either way, whether we patch the F-111’s for another 6 – 8 years or cop these Hornets, we’re out-classed by Indonesia which flies the Sukhoi 30MK. Want to see what the MK can do? Have a gander at the clip.