Author Topic: Aussie F-35 replacement ?  (Read 1138 times)

Offline raafif

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Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« on: September 05, 2022, 07:45:37 AM »
I've heard a few times that the RAAF (or their mechanics) think the F-35 is too complex & "light".  Would we get the Eurofighter from UK or, considering our make-up with France, a Rafale ? >:D

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2022, 08:09:08 PM »
I've heard a few times that the RAAF (or their mechanics) think the F-35 is too complex & "light".  Would we get the Eurofighter from UK or, considering our make-up with France, a Rafale ? >:D

 ;D

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2022, 10:54:00 PM »
We're highly unlikely to "replace" the F-35 but there's always an opening for something cheaper to buy/operate in the Gen 4.5 bracket to "bulk up" the fighter arm of the RAAF.

The Rafale might fit that bill (I have no idea of the unit or operating costs), if Dassault & the French government are more open to significant Australian licence manufacturing of major and vital components.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2022, 12:31:33 AM »
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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2022, 12:42:21 AM »
I've heard a few times that the RAAF (or their mechanics) think the F-35 is too complex & "light".  Would we get the Eurofighter from UK or, considering our make-up with France, a Rafale ? >:D

I find it amusing that people think that the F-35 is in anyway more complex than the likes of a Typhoon, Rafale or other from a maintenance perspective.  If anything, those with twin engines automatically require extra maintenance.

And define "light"? 

If talking physical weight (as if that really matters) the following shows there is hardly much difference:

F-35A: 13,154 kg (28,999 lb)
Typhoon:  11,000 kg (24,251 lb)
Rafale C: 9,850 kg (21,720 lb)
Super Hornet: 14,552 kg (32,081 lb)

At the end of the day, the RAAF won't be changing from the F-35.  If anything a further squadron is likely.

However to satisfy curiosity, here is a potential RAAF Typhoon:

« Last Edit: September 06, 2022, 12:45:16 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline Kelmola

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2022, 04:34:48 PM »
We're highly unlikely to "replace" the F-35 but there's always an opening for something cheaper to buy/operate in the Gen 4.5 bracket to "bulk up" the fighter arm of the RAAF.

The Rafale might fit that bill (I have no idea of the unit or operating costs), if Dassault & the French government are more open to significant Australian licence manufacturing of major and vital components.
Rafale won't be any cheaper. Most recent unit cost of the Rafale is about US $100M, unit cost of the F-35 has gone down to about $80M, and the F-35 will get cheaper the more countries order that (3400+ already delivered or ordered, with the US orders alone 2500, versus 240 Rafales will do that). Operating costs of the Rafale are about $15-$20k per flight hour, the F-35A costs were recently estimated by the RAAF to be $20k and Norwegian Air Force claims as low as $11k. Acquiring Rafale would mean building a second maintenance infrastructure, losing any potential economies of scale. Also likely that not all of F-35 ordnance has yet been cleared to use with Rafale, so there would also be the cost of weapon integration or purchasing separate weapons for the two types.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2022, 05:32:49 PM »
We're highly unlikely to "replace" the F-35 but there's always an opening for something cheaper to buy/operate in the Gen 4.5 bracket to "bulk up" the fighter arm of the RAAF.

The Rafale might fit that bill (I have no idea of the unit or operating costs), if Dassault & the French government are more open to significant Australian licence manufacturing of major and vital components.
Rafale won't be any cheaper. Most recent unit cost of the Rafale is about US $100M, unit cost of the F-35 has gone down to about $80M, and the F-35 will get cheaper the more countries order that (3400+ already delivered or ordered, with the US orders alone 2500, versus 240 Rafales will do that). Operating costs of the Rafale are about $15-$20k per flight hour, the F-35A costs were recently estimated by the RAAF to be $20k and Norwegian Air Force claims as low as $11k. Acquiring Rafale would mean building a second maintenance infrastructure, losing any potential economies of scale. Also likely that not all of F-35 ordnance has yet been cleared to use with Rafale, so there would also be the cost of weapon integration or purchasing separate weapons for the two types.

That answers that question, then! :smiley:
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2022, 06:13:43 PM »
If anything go extra As, some Bs and some extra enabling capabilities to help them do their job better.

Online perttime

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2022, 09:51:49 PM »
They like big and simple? But what does it have to do?

Get some F-15s?

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2022, 12:46:02 AM »
We're highly unlikely to "replace" the F-35 but there's always an opening for something cheaper to buy/operate in the Gen 4.5 bracket to "bulk up" the fighter arm of the RAAF.

The Rafale might fit that bill (I have no idea of the unit or operating costs), if Dassault & the French government are more open to significant Australian licence manufacturing of major and vital components.
Rafale won't be any cheaper. Most recent unit cost of the Rafale is about US $100M, unit cost of the F-35 has gone down to about $80M, and the F-35 will get cheaper the more countries order that (3400+ already delivered or ordered, with the US orders alone 2500, versus 240 Rafales will do that). Operating costs of the Rafale are about $15-$20k per flight hour, the F-35A costs were recently estimated by the RAAF to be $20k and Norwegian Air Force claims as low as $11k. Acquiring Rafale would mean building a second maintenance infrastructure, losing any potential economies of scale. Also likely that not all of F-35 ordnance has yet been cleared to use with Rafale, so there would also be the cost of weapon integration or purchasing separate weapons for the two types.

Exactly.  In fact as was glaring shown last year when the Swiss selected the F-35, beating bids from Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault's Rafale, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, it won in terms of both F-35 the highest performance for the lowest price:  Lockheed’s F-35 topples competition in Swiss fighter contest.
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Offline raafif

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2022, 11:45:19 AM »
I'll have to tell the dweeb who persists in spreading these rumours these facts ..... & that the RAAF WILL replace the F-35 with the Avro DiscoFighter >:D

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2022, 02:19:24 PM »
Actually, if Australia was to revisit a flying reserve for the RAAF (not, IMO, a stupid idea), we could do worse than the Gripen as the "second tier" combat aircraft.

From what I can gather from various sites (with varying unit & operational costs) the latest Gripens come in a bit cheaper than F-35s per unit & have a considerably lower cost per flight hour, plus, although not "stealthy", having comparable/better combat performance, & have, largely, compatible armaments.

Not my field of expertise but just an idea I thought I'd throw out there.
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Offline Rickshaw

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2022, 01:19:09 PM »
Unfortunately, from a political viewpoint, reliance on the US as a supplier for most weaponry is a given as far as cheapness goes.   Economies of scale are such, they are the biggest producers of weaponry around the world, the French are one of the smallest.   Militarily, their weapons are pretty good, if not the best available.   Comparing the Rafale and the F-35 is like comparing a Spitfire to a Typhoon (the modern iteration).  The F-35 boasts unmatched avionics such as AESA Radar, EO observation systems and of course carries  most of its weaponry internally.   Overall, the F-35 boasts "stealth", which no other fighter-bomber does in her class, allowing it to approach it's target unobserved.   The F-35 leads the pack at the moment without a doubt and despite all the hype is good value for money.

« Last Edit: October 25, 2022, 02:20:15 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2022, 04:38:20 PM »
Unfortunately, from a political viewpoint, reliance on the US as a supplier for most weaponry is a given as far as cheapness goes.   Economies of scale are such, they are the biggest producers of weaponry around the world, the French are one of the smallest.   Militarily, their weapons are pretty good, if not the best available.   Comparing the Rafale and the F-35 is like comparing a Spitfire to a Typhoon (the modern iteration).  The F-35 boasts unmatched avionics such as AESA Radar, EO observation systems and of course carriers most of its weaponry internally.   Overall, the F-35 boasts "stealth", which no other fighter-bomber does in her class, allowing it to approach it's target unobserved.   The F-35 leads the pack at the moment without a doubt and despite all the hype is good value for money.

Spot on.

Going Rafale or Typhoon over F-35 would be like buying Hurricanes or Dewoitine 520s instead of Mustangs in 1945.  Perfectly good enough a couple of years earlier but overtaken by events.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2022, 04:47:53 AM »
Like the others on the forum, I don't think Australia could do much better than the F-35 in the current environment. In the past, I think the RAAF would have been wise to operate the F-15, but I think the window for that to have been a smart procurement closed for good once the F/A-18E/F was purchased, if not earlier.



Additionally, I don't see much purpose for anything "lighter" than an F-35 given the usefulness of range for Australia's requirements. The geography of Europe does not often incentivize their aviation firms to design aircraft with the range that Australia can use. The Hawk is a great trainer and I don't see much use for anything in between that class of trainer and the frontline fighters it's training pilots for.

Does that mean that American aircraft are always longer ranged than their European counterparts? No.
Does that mean that Australia is always better off buying American? By no means.



Given the similarities of their geographical situation, the scale of US production, and the small size of the Australian market (relatively), there's just a lot of alignment between Australian requirements and US defense products. Add in the likelihood of being able to get spare parts delivered to Australia in time of war from the United States versus Sweden, for instance, and it's almost surprising that Australia opts for as much European equipment as they do. Given the recent experience with the Tiger and Taipan, we may even less variety in the future.



I think the likeliest next manned fighter procurement by the RAAF (outside of more F-35A or -Bs) is whatever aircraft comes out of the US Navy's F/A-XX program. That takes crystal ball gazing at least a decade ahead, though, which is just idle speculation at the moment.

Offline raafif

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2022, 05:21:02 AM »
That takes crystal ball gazing at least a decade ahead, though, which is just idle speculation at the moment.

True, given that Oz still hasn't received some of the defence products it ordered in 1925 ;D

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2022, 06:50:31 AM »
Like the others on the forum, I don't think Australia could do much better than the F-35 in the current environment. In the past, I think the RAAF would have been wise to operate the F-15, but I think the window for that to have been a smart procurement closed for good once the F/A-18E/F was purchased, if not earlier.f more F-35A or -Bs) is whatever aircraft comes out of the US Navy's F/A-XX program. That takes crystal ball gazing at least a decade ahead, though, which is just idle speculation at the moment.

The F-15E was considered instead of the Super Hornet but the Super was felt to be a better choice for numerous reasons.

Reading the likes of this, the F-35s are a good choice:  Two RAAF F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters killed Six RSAF F-15SG fighters in a single mock engagement during Exercise Pitch Black 2022
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2022, 09:22:25 AM »
The F-15E was considered instead of the Super Hornet but the Super was felt to be a better choice for numerous reasons.
And I can completely understand that, especially since they wisely opted for the EA-18G, to say nothing of the ease of transitioning from legacy Hornets. I honestly feel that the best time for Australia to have selected the F-15 would have been as a Mirage III replacement, but I understand it was a bit more plane than Australia was looking for at the time, though I don't agree with the reasoning I've read.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2022, 01:35:34 PM »
The factor that was always given against the F-15 was cost.  It was in it's earliest iterations simply too expensive for us.  The F-16 was too cheap, the F/A-18 was just right.  A single engined aircraft was consider too simple, particularly one without a BVR missile, which the F/A-18 boasted.  Single engined aircraft were also considered a bit of a risk we weren't interested in treading along after the Mirage III although the Norwegians have operated their F-16s quite successfully.  So until the price of the F-15 was quite reduced it wasn't going to have a lookin. 

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2022, 01:03:28 AM »
The systems within the Super Hornet (e.g. APG-79 AESA radar) were also felt to be a closer match to the F-35, thus allowing the type to better serve as a bridging platform between F-111 and F-35.
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2022, 03:20:18 AM »
Again, I think the Super Hornet makes more sense since the RAAF was already operating the Hornet, but the original Hornet purchase seemed to be more conservatism than anything else. In a world without the F-111C, the multi-role nature of the Hornet offers a lot of flexibility, but that wasn't where the RAAF was in 1981.

I also understand that we have the benefit of hindsight. Back when the Hornet was selected, Australia's neighbors didn't operate anything much more intimidating than a MiG-21 or F-5 and it didn't look like that was going to change anytime soon. In the subsequent decades, though, everyone and their cousin was stocking up on Flankers and legacy Hornets don't look quite as capable.



When you're operating the very capable, fast, and long-legged F-111C, though, the legacy Hornet seems like a slight mismatch with too much overlap in some areas and not enough speed or range in others. Had the RAAF purchased the F-15C in 1981 instead (even a smaller number), I think we'd be talking about how much longer they intend to keep flying them, instead of the fleet being retired in 2021. Japan's F-15J fleet offers an interesting comparison that illustrates the continued relevance of the platform, one which would still operate well alongside the F-35 for some years to come.

I understand, no war broke out that needed the Hornet to go up against Flankers in its 37 years of RAAF service, whereas its air-to-ground capabilities were employed throughout the Middle East during the last half of its lifetime, so one could argue that it was the perfect choice for the actual geopolitical environment Australia found itself in compared with the hypothetical regional matchup. Still, I think trusting that you won't need higher-end capabilities over the next 40 years might be a winning strategy if you're in New Zealand's position, but it seems a bit more of a gamble as Australia.

I'll admit, I have a close family member that has personally built and serviced both the F-15 and F/A-18 types over a 40 year career and has expressed a serious preference for the F-15 when it comes to sustainment and serviceability, so I am coming at the topic with that in mind.

Cheers,

Logan


Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2022, 12:53:48 AM »
Had the RAAF purchased the F-15C in 1981 instead (even a smaller number), I think we'd be talking about how much longer they intend to keep flying them, instead of the fleet being retired in 2021.


Not necessarily.  If the proposed F-15s had been purchased instead, there is every reason to believe that they would have suffered similar issues to the Hornets and thus be pretty much at the end of their fatigue lives.

BTW, if you want useful reads on the selection of the Hornet, try these:

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2022, 01:22:16 AM »
The following might also be of interest to people re the F-15 decision back in the '70s:  https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/mcdonnell-douglas-boeing-f-15-eagle.3738/page-3 Post #116
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2022, 02:08:25 AM »
If the proposed F-15s had been purchased instead, there is every reason to believe that they would have suffered similar issues to the Hornets and thus be pretty much at the end of their fatigue lives.

Again, being related to a maintainer who has built both types at McDonnell Douglas and re-built both types at the depot-level, that's not quite my understanding. Once the longeron issue was addressed on the F-15, airframes just keep having their service lives extended again and again, well past 10,000 hours at this point without an end in sight. Despite being newer, most legacy Hornet operators have either replaced them already or are in the process of doing so now.

The legacy Hornet is a great plane, and I think it was the next best choice for the RAAF. Considering the relative peace that Australia enjoyed during its service life, perhaps it was the better fit. As an aircraft, though, I think the F-15 is the better airframe and the better value, especially for a country that was already operating arguably the world's best strike platform at the time.

BTW, if you want useful reads on the selection of the Hornet, try these:




That's the source Wikipedia cites for the F-15 not being selected by Australia because its performance was too good. In fact, it seems to be the primary source for the article in general.

"While the F-15 was an impressive aircraft that met or exceeded almost all of the RAAF's requirements, it was believed that the air force did not need a fighter with such advanced capabilities and that introducing it into service could destabilise Australia's region."  McLaughlin (2005), p. 52

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet in Australian service - Wikipedia

The following might also be of interest to people re the F-15 decision back in the '70s:  https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/mcdonnell-douglas-boeing-f-15-eagle.3738/page-3 Post #116

That's interesting. I didn't know that Australia was being offered a way into the F-15 program as early as '73-74, though not surprising given their acquisition of the very advanced F-111 at that time.

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Re: Aussie F-35 replacement ?
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2022, 02:13:18 AM »
BTW, if you want useful reads on the selection of the Hornet, try these:




That's the source Wikipedia cites for the F-15 not being selected by Australia because its performance was too good. In fact, it seems to be the primary source for the article in general.

"While the F-15 was an impressive aircraft that met or exceeded almost all of the RAAF's requirements, it was believed that the air force did not need a fighter with such advanced capabilities and that introducing it into service could destabilise Australia's region."  McLaughlin (2005), p. 52



I know Andrew personally and trust his research behind the book.
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