Author Topic: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft  (Read 1563 times)

Offline Volkodav

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Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« on: January 30, 2021, 10:04:34 PM »
Just reread the topic and got thinking as I have recently been looking at the Australian shipbuilding plan, i.e. a planned and scheduled continuous build program to create a sustainable industry.  Basically Australia initiates a continuous building program for combat aircraft in the early 70s by selecting the Mirage F1 to supplement then replace the Mirage III with surplus IIIs being cascaded to regional allies.  The F1 would follow the last of the IIIDs on the production line.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2021, 01:31:08 AM »
Just reread the topic and got thinking as I have recently been looking at the Australian shipbuilding plan, i.e. a planned and scheduled continuous build program to create a sustainable industry.  Basically Australia initiates a continuous building program for combat aircraft in the early 70s by selecting the Mirage F1 to supplement then replace the Mirage III with surplus IIIs being cascaded to regional allies.  The F1 would follow the last of the IIIDs on the production line.

It would depend upon what number of aircraft and what production rate you are talking about in order to make something like that possible.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2021, 03:09:59 PM »
I have recently been looking at the Australian shipbuilding plan, i.e. a planned and scheduled continuous build program to create a sustainable industry.
Would be very interested to know more about your thought process and what you've derived Volkodav, if you wouldn't mind PMing me😯👍

MAD

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2021, 03:14:19 PM »
Just reread the topic and got thinking as I have recently been looking at the Australian shipbuilding plan, i.e. a planned and scheduled continuous build program to create a sustainable industry.  Basically Australia initiates a continuous building program for combat aircraft in the early 70s by selecting the Mirage F1 to supplement then replace the Mirage III with surplus IIIs being cascaded to regional allies.  The F1 would follow the last of the IIIDs on the production line.

It would depend upon what number of aircraft and what production rate you are talking about in order to make something like that possible.

I would think along the lines of a 50/50 ratio at minimum GTX - 50 x Spey-powered F1 replacing the earliest Mirage IIIO's....then later 50 x Northrop F-18L's replacing the the latter remaining Mirage IIIO's in the early 1980's......🤔😉

MAD

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2021, 02:30:15 AM »
I would think along the lines of a 50/50 ratio at minimum GTX - 50 x Spey-powered F1 replacing the earliest Mirage IIIO's....then later 50 x Northrop F-18L's replacing the the latter remaining Mirage IIIO's in the early 1980's......🤔😉


Why Spey powered?  It would make much more sense to go with the standard SNECMA Atar 9K-50 so as to keep a degree of commonality with the earlier SNECMA Atar 09C in the Mirage IIIs rather than introduce a completely new engine type in the form of the RR Spey that wouldn't be getting used in any other RAAF platform.  I would say that one might also up-engine the Mirage IIIs with the Atar 9K-50 but that would undermine the basic premise here.

Re the numbers, one could use the F/A-18A/B production as a basis for comparison:



This would thus result in a production of 50 acft (as you suggest) taking nominally around 3.8yrs to complete and if we therefore allow for around 6yrs to allow for a degree of tooling up/training for each new batch (this may well be optimistic in the real world but one might compensate by assuming a semi trained workforce was already there) and assume say a production commencement around 1975 (for round numbers + one could argue the idea is initiated by the Whitlam Government - let's say the 1975 dismissal did not occur):



The problem with this is that you end up having very expensive production costs plus having to constantly find a new program or else producer at lower rates which increases costs even more and results in a fleet of very wide spread ages etc.  Relying on domestic needs just does not make sense for Australia.  One has to either export (hard if its's someone else's design in the first place) or accept to being part of a bigger program (e.g. the F-35).  This is something Sir Lawrence Wackett clearly identified back in 1972 in his autobiography.

I somewhat addressed this issue in my The French Connection story by increasing production to over 125 jets plus including another 92 export jets plus introducing the Mirage UpGrade (MUG) program to generate work in addition to any 'normal' sustainment activities for industry.

If one were to try for this sort of continuous building program it would be far better to work on a evolutionary style approach so as to reduce change over costs etc and also to maximise investments already made.  Thus one might go with the Mirage F.1 in the mid 1970s but then stick with it or derivatives over a longer period rather than introduce completely new, unrelated types.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2021, 08:23:38 PM »
It comes down to whether you are looking at the most efficient production runs or the most efficient way to sustain an industrial capability.

First thing would be to discontinue midlife upgrades and modernisations, choosing instead to replace capabilities much earlier.  Looking at the Mirage III, the first 50 (2 French built, 48 local) were Mirage IIIO(F), the second 50 were IIIO(A) with the first 50 converted to (A) models after, maybe instead of the upgrade the Fs were replaced with new build A's perhaps even an improved variant of the O(A) with the Fs sold on to other operators, i.e. as has been seen lately with Eurofighters, Gripens etc. France shouldn't be opposed as the buyers of the second hand aircraft likely wouldn't have bought new ones, while Australia was replacing them with new build aircraft.

This would stretch production to the mid 70s and the Mirage F1.  The F1 production could be extended through ordering F1CR to replace the Canberra's in 2 SQN to fill the tactical rec role.  This would carry production well into the 80s and the Mirage 2000, especially if a CTOL carrier version were adopted for the larger carrier (or carriers) adopted in the 60s to replace Sydney and Melbourne.

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2021, 02:20:38 AM »
It comes down to whether you are looking at the most efficient production runs or the most efficient way to sustain an industrial capability.

You can't have one without the other otherwise you end up creating a false expectation and then have to be constantly protecting it because it isn't strong enough to stand up on its own.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2021, 05:43:01 PM »
Wow, some nice in-depth work thanks GTX, especially your 'Production Schedule charts 👍

Quote
"Why Spey powered?  It would make much more sense to go with the standard SNECMA Atar 9K-50 so as to keep a degree of commonality with the earlier SNECMA Atar 09C in the Mirage IIIs rather than introduce a completely new engine type in the form of the RR Spey that wouldn't be getting used in any other RAAF platform."

A good and valid point you make GTX in terms of commonality. But the principle reasoning behind my desire for the Spey, is directly related to what you go on to highlight further down your comments, which is 'the evolutionary aporoach' for and by the RAAF. The Spey being a far more fuel efficient and technological advanced turbofan, which also has relatively low maintenance costs, as opposed to the older technology SNECMA Atar 09C, which one would appreciate was for all intent and purposes busting it's guts with the Atar 9K-50 derivative.
(On top of this, I should also mention that the Dassault/GAF Mirage IIIO in my Alternative ADF ORBAT are Avon-powered from the get go, with the RAAF arranging with Dassault to actually physically evaluating both the SNECMA Atar 09C powered prototype and the one off Avon-powered Mirage IIIA prototype in Australia and importantly, in Australian conditions up north....)

As for the invisaged upgrade of the later production Mirage IIIO's that remain in the RAAF ORBAT, this will be more in line with canards, sensors and weapons systems....with the Avon engine being deemed sufficient enough to see its service life out...

The other type of aircraft I have in my Alternative ADF ORBAT is a derivative of the Spey-powered Douglas CA-4E and CA-4F Skyhawk's, for both the RAAF and RAN, which is license manufactured by GAF/CAC. As such there will be some commonality of powerplant within the ADF.

Quote
"The problem with this is that you end up having very expensive production costs plus having to constantly find a new program or else producer at lower rates which increases costs even more and results in a fleet of very wide spread ages etc.  Relying on domestic needs just does not make sense for Australia.  One has to either export (hard if its's someone else's design in the first place) or accept to being part of a bigger program (e.g. the F-35).  This is something Sir Lawrence Wackett clearly identified back in 1972 in his autobiography."

I concur with what you are saying here GTX, but I would think that if an Australian government/society was legitimately focused and adherent to a purposeful ADF and Defence Industry, based on Strategic importance, rather than wedge politics, beckoning to private industry and penny pinching, it would and should negotiate defence related purchases on the grounds of  strategic importance, so as to ensure that vitally important platforms like our principle fighter/bomber/strike/AEW, etc... can and will be maintained in operation readiness. I believe this was why when Australia opted to build the Sabre, Canberra and Mirage IIIO's, it was deemed critical on all three projects that we'd manufacture the heart of these aircraft - their engines - period. Unfortunately, this mindset was derived from wartime experience, which was still fresh in the memories of both politicians and military alike.
It's unfortunate since the manufacturing of the Mirage IIIO's that Australian politics/government's seemly so easily beckoned to business/corporate terms and conditions instead of the other way around.
This more stringent business-model of Australian Defence Industry that I envision and would encourage would also include Australia negotiating Australian participation in manufacturing a portion(s) of given selected aircraft for the world market - for example given components that would be used, in this case, Dassault manufacturing of the Mirage IIIO/D/R.....This will importantly not just keep the likes of GAF/CAC busy, it will also retain a skilled workforce in touch for the next major military aircraft to be manufactured for the ADF....
I guess one thing that really gets up my goat was the ease in which consecutive Commonwealth government's allowed Commonwealth facilities to be run down, until they become near delepatated and hence inefficient, outdated and as a consequence allowing one side of Australian politics to successfully push the narrative that 'Government owned and run defence manufacturing was unviable and inefficient to remain a government entity', opening the flood gates to the private sector. Instead the facilities of CAC and GAF could have/should have become aerospace technological industry hubs, which not just strove to keep in line with technological advancements, but also manufacturing techniques and world best practices and techniques.
As for producing weapons for foreign customers, so as to make manufacturing and ADF purchases more cost effective, in my personal conscience, this has hairs on it. If it was to occur, I'd want it to have some very stringent Legislation behind it, perhaps something reminiscent of the stringent export rules of West Germany up to the end of the Cold War, in which West Germany/West German Military manufacturers could only legally export given countries/militaries - predomantly those of NATO. To witness today's willingness of both German and Australian enthusiasm to export to almost anyone that has the cash, as opposed to fundimental qualities like democracy, human rights, has and will wither away much moral fibre that we perceive we have to both the region and the wider world.

Quote
I somewhat addressed this issue in my The French Connection story by increasing production to over 125 jets plus including another 92 export jets plus introducing the Mirage UpGrade (MUG) program to generate work in addition to any 'normal' sustainment activities for industry.

I like and support your notion of 'Mirage UpGrade (MUG)-like programs to not just generate work within the Australian aerospace industry', but also retaining capability parody.

Quote
If one were to try for this sort of continuous building program it would be far better to work on a evolutionary style approach so as to reduce change over costs etc and also to maximise investments already made.  Thus one might go with the Mirage F.1 in the mid 1970s but then stick with it or derivatives over a longer period rather than introduce completely new, unrelated types.

Interesting perspective, which I'll give some serious thought. My existing notion is for the ADF to retain a qualitative edge over any potential adversaries, but not at stupendous cost at the cost of numbers.

Oh, and for your question GTX within your chart dated 1975-1994 - "What comes next?", in my Alternative ADF ORBAT, it's the Northrop F-20A/B/RF-20 Tigershark, which replaces the Spey-powered Mirage F1.
Also by this stage Australian aerospace industry is solidified in terms of skill, capability and reputation, the Australian government/GAF/CAC opt into either:
- a joint Singaporean/Australian re-manufacturing of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk - aka
SAI Aerospace A-4SU Super Skyhawk or
- The AMX International program, where the RAAF doesn't just gain a replacement for its ubiquitous Douglas Spey-powered A-4 Skyhawk's, GAF/CAC gain key and productive manufacturing of one-quater of all AMX aircraft....
[The key difference of the the RAAF's AMX being the incorporation of the non afterburning General Electric F404 in place of the Spey, cockpit armour and the two DEFA cannon's]
Either way, consequently, by the late 1980's/early 1990's the RAAF have three principle combat aircraft powered by GE F404 turbofans - now that's commonality.😉👍

Finally, I'd like to imagine Australian aerospace being like that of Israel's IAI, in that it sees and appreciates the lucrative market of aircraft upgrades and refurbishment, as opposed to stright forward new manufacturing  - again under the premises that the nation's aircraft that are being upgraded/refurbished meet moral and ethical criteria of Australia....imagine GAF/CAC doing upgrades for Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, .....

MAD
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 09:51:33 AM by M.A.D »

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2021, 07:21:17 PM »
In such a scenario of Australia/Australian government becoming more serious in the importance of a national aerospace industry - manufacturing, upgrades and maintence, do you think both GAF and CAC could remain viable? Or do you think a combining of both into one be sensible. Please note, this notion doesn't attempt to exclude or pit government vs private companies......

MAD

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2021, 07:32:22 PM »
It comes down to whether you are looking at the most efficient production runs or the most efficient way to sustain an industrial capability.

You can't have one without the other otherwise you end up creating a false expectation and then have to be constantly protecting it because it isn't strong enough to stand up on its own.

One thing we are seeing with the end of the automotive industry in Australia is a reduction in the number of highly trained competent engineers, technicians and trades.  This was not factored into the economic value of the industry nor was the contribution made by high quality government trained apprentices technicians and engineering cadets.

Ex defence personnel are filling some of the shortage but unfortunately many of them are leaving defence before they are truly competent in their fields, having spent a lot of their careers perfecting skills other than their technical ones.  Specifically, while its worth hiring ex E8 or O4 or above, those below often have a lot to learn before they can be as effective as civilian trained people in the same fields.

I'm not an old fart saying "back in my day" rather I am an old fart who recognises that the old an bold individuals who trained and mentored me are sorely missed, as are the industries that trained them.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2021, 02:46:40 AM »
I will respond more fully on the weekend.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2021, 05:33:00 AM »
I will respond more fully on the weekend.

What's a "weekend" ? 😯😂

MAD

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2021, 01:15:34 AM »
When the phone and work email is quieter... :-\
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2021, 03:01:40 PM »
When the phone and work email is quieter... :-\

I have found the ideal way to get paid an not have to (actually to not be allowed to) work.  Its quite a complex process but very effective, it will work every time.  Step one, work for a company that employs unvetted, unproven people into senior engineering management roles, then fail to supervise them in any way.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2021, 03:29:24 AM »
When the phone and work email is quieter... :-\

I have found the ideal way to get paid an not have to (actually to not be allowed to) work.  Its quite a complex process but very effective, it will work every time.  Step one, work for a company that employs unvetted, unproven people into senior engineering management roles, then fail to supervise them in any way.

😯😂
Sounds like a company that has management that are experts in their field, because they read the book, but never actual did the physically did the job 🤔

MAD

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2021, 06:55:26 AM »
Sounds like they know everything there is to know about managing but nothing about what the company does; I've seen it before.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2021, 08:59:22 AM »
I'd be interested to know the successful forumular for the Singaporean, Israel, South Korea and now Turkey business model of arms manufacturing under the title of Government support and operated institutions.
I think it goes without saying that their respective government's have an intrinsic say and involvement in these institutions...in fact they probably wouldn't have stated or been viable without the emphasis placed on them by their respective government's. Just as it's clear that in Australia's case, an ideological fear and culture of allow, let alone be seen to be having a hands on approach in such industry, which is now viewed strictly as 'private sector domain' - to the point that arms manufacturing in Australia is all but sacred to private industry....

MAD
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 04:44:09 PM by M.A.D »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2021, 07:07:11 AM »
A good and valid point you make GTX in terms of commonality. But the principle reasoning behind my desire for the Spey, is directly related to what you go on to highlight further down your comments, which is 'the evolutionary aporoach' for and by the RAAF. The Spey being a far more fuel efficient and technological advanced turbofan, which also has relatively low maintenance costs, as opposed to the older technology SNECMA Atar 09C, which one would appreciate was for all intent and purposes busting it's guts with the Atar 9K-50 derivative.

(On top of this, I should also mention that the Dassault/GAF Mirage IIIO in my Alternative ADF ORBAT are Avon-powered from the get go, with the RAAF arranging with Dassault to actually physically evaluating both the SNECMA Atar 09C powered prototype and the one off Avon-powered Mirage IIIA prototype in Australia and importantly, in Australian conditions up north....)

As for the invisaged upgrade of the later production Mirage IIIO's that remain in the RAAF ORBAT, this will be more in line with canards, sensors and weapons systems....with the Avon engine being deemed sufficient enough to see its service life out...

The other type of aircraft I have in my Alternative ADF ORBAT is a derivative of the Spey-powered Douglas CA-4E and CA-4F Skyhawk's, for both the RAAF and RAN, which is license manufactured by GAF/CAC. As such there will be some commonality of powerplant within the ADF.

Ah but, see in that case you are introducing new variables. ;)

but I would think that if an Australian government/society was legitimately focused and adherent to a purposeful ADF and Defence Industry, based on Strategic importance, rather than wedge politics, beckoning to private industry and penny pinching, it would and should negotiate defence related purchases on the grounds of  strategic importance, so as to ensure that vitally important platforms like our principle fighter/bomber/strike/AEW, etc... can and will be maintained in operation readiness. I believe this was why when Australia opted to build the Sabre, Canberra and Mirage IIIO's, it was deemed critical on all three projects that we'd manufacture the heart of these aircraft - their engines - period. Unfortunately, this mindset was derived from wartime experience, which was still fresh in the memories of both politicians and military alike.
It's unfortunate since the manufacturing of the Mirage IIIO's that Australian politics/government's seemly so easily beckoned to business/corporate terms and conditions instead of the other way around.
This more stringent business-model of Australian Defence Industry that I envision and would encourage would also include Australia negotiating Australian participation in manufacturing a portion(s) of given selected aircraft for the world market - for example given components that would be used, in this case, Dassault manufacturing of the Mirage IIIO/D/R.....This will importantly not just keep the likes of GAF/CAC busy, it will also retain a skilled workforce in touch for the next major military aircraft to be manufactured for the ADF....

Lots to unbundle there. 

First up, when you say "based on Strategic importance, rather than wedge politics" I'd like to see an example.  IMHO, the Defence Force has actually been one of the areas where both sides of the Australian political establishment pretty much stay aligned over the years.  Sure, you will get the odd 'sound bite' attempt but when have there been major policy changes in this field?  Moreover, whilst one might look at things different historically, I think the more modern focus on the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities (SICPs) is very useful and puts some practicality into the discussion.

When you say "stringent business-model of Australian Defence Industry that I envision and would encourage would also include Australia negotiating Australian participation in manufacturing a portion(s) of given selected aircraft for the world market" are you talking about pure offsets?  That is, something along the lines of "if we select your design, we want to produce X% in Australia for both our own needs and for export"?  If so, that is ridiculous.  Sure someone might promise it but at what cost?  Remember that you are essentially stealing work from the Manufacturer's own workforce/factory.  What's in it for them?  Sure, one can insist that that’s the cost they have to pay if they want Australia’s business but I can assure you that the only ones who will end up paying are the Australian taxpayers.  You will essentially end up with something akin to the Japanese Mitsubishi F-2 which is essentially the most expensive F-16 in the world.

Re "This will importantly not just keep the likes of GAF/CAC busy, it will also retain a skilled workforce in touch " - you do realise that CAC was a private company don't you?  Isn't that one of the things you are rallying against here?  Also, what skills are we talking about and what is the end goal?  Being able to produce a component does not prepare one for doing a whole aircraft.  Nor does producing an electronic component (say a radar) prepare one for producing a mechanical one (say an engine).  This is why, what has happened in reality over the decades, with Australia's aerospace industry makes more sense – companies have tended to specialise in particular areas/specialisations rather than trying to pursue the entire aircraft.

I guess one thing that really gets up my goat was the ease in which consecutive Commonwealth government's allowed Commonwealth facilities to be run down, until they become near delepatated and hence inefficient, outdated and as a consequence allowing one side of Australian politics to successfully push the narrative that 'Government owned and run defence manufacturing was unviable and inefficient to remain a government entity', opening the flood gates to the private sector. Instead the facilities of CAC and GAF could have/should have become aerospace technological industry hubs, which not just strove to keep in line with technological advancements, but also manufacturing techniques and world best practices and techniques.

I think there is an element of truth to the argument that Government owned/operated facilities do tend towards inefficiency if their sole source of funding is the Govt.  The argument is driven by the fact that they don’t have to compete to stay alive or to win the next contract.  They know it will just turn up.  Private industry on the other hand has to keep ‘sharp’ to win its next contract and if they don’t stay up to speed they will be unviable in the future and thus eventually go out of business, as has been the case many times over the years.  The same also extends outside of the Defence/Aerospace industry and beyond even Govt owned operations.  For instance, one of the reasons behind the downfall of the Australian automotive sector in recent years was that the companies had gotten too reliant on successive govts (of both political persuasions) propping them up with funding packages and the like.  As soon as these were removed, the companies quickly shut up shop because they were not commercially viable.

Now there is an alternative option here and one that perhaps plays into your desires.  This is for govts to provide the funding to start up and perhaps for Non-Recurring Expenses such as initial tooling up and/or design but that they don’t become the sole customer of the companies (be those Govt owned or private).  Rather they expect the company to survive by selling on the open market.  Essentially, the Govt would be saying “We think it is important to have this national capability but we will only help so far.  You have got to make it successful through your own efforts and not rely on us.”  One such aspect would be that they have to sell internationally and not just rely on the Australian domestic market.  In some respects this is akin to a parent helping to educate and prepare their child for adulthood but that when they finish school/university whatever, expecting them to go out and get a job and start looking after themselves rather than being still living at home and relying on their parents for decades.

As for producing weapons for foreign customers, so as to make manufacturing and ADF purchases more cost effective, in my personal conscience, this has hairs on it. If it was to occur, I'd want it to have some very stringent Legislation behind it, perhaps something reminiscent of the stringent export rules of West Germany up to the end of the Cold War, in which West Germany/West German Military manufacturers could only legally export given countries/militaries - predomantly those of NATO. To witness today's willingness of both German and Australian enthusiasm to export to almost anyone that has the cash, as opposed to fundimental qualities like democracy, human rights, has and will wither away much moral fibre that we perceive we have to both the region and the wider world.

I think you would be surprised here.  Generally Australian companies tend to be quite conservative as to where they will sell their Defence wares.  If nothing else, one has to have Defence export Permits before being able to sell.  These are quite stringent these days and even cover the sharing on intangibles (e.g. technical data).  We also have Australia’s own sanctions policies to deal with – I know since I have experienced it first hand not being able to sell even a service to a particular foreign Govt even though the capabilities in question were not for direct military products.

That aside, as mentioned earlier, I think it is imperative that Australia looks for export markets if it wants to have this capability available.  The Australian domestic market is simply too small to be viable.  Interestingly, this is not new – Sir Lawrence Wackett clearly stated his own similar experience at CAC in his 1972 biography “Aircraft Pioneer: an Autobiography”.

If one were to try for this sort of continuous building program it would be far better to work on a evolutionary style approach so as to reduce change over costs etc and also to maximise investments already made.  Thus one might go with the Mirage F.1 in the mid 1970s but then stick with it or derivatives over a longer period rather than introduce completely new, unrelated types.

Interesting perspective, which I'll give some serious thought. My existing notion is for the ADF to retain a qualitative edge over any potential adversaries, but not at stupendous cost at the cost of numbers.
[/quote]

Qualitative edges can come from more than just the equipment.  It can also include the training in how to best utilise as well as through the ability to sustain a fleet.  A Fokker Eindecker can theoretically beat a F-22 if it is able to get in the air and the F-22 cant.  I am sure a row of 7.92 mm bullet holes will render a F-22 out of the game if caught on the ground through maintenance needs or lack of pilots…

Oh, and for your question GTX within your chart dated 1975-1994 - "What comes next?", in my Alternative ADF ORBAT, it's the Northrop F-20A/B/RF-20 Tigershark, which replaces the Spey-powered Mirage F1.
Also by this stage Australian aerospace industry is solidified in terms of skill, capability and reputation, the Australian government/GAF/CAC opt into either:
- a joint Singaporean/Australian re-manufacturing of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk - aka
SAI Aerospace A-4SU Super Skyhawk or
- The AMX International program, where the RAAF doesn't just gain a replacement for its ubiquitous Douglas Spey-powered A-4 Skyhawk's, GAF/CAC gain key and productive manufacturing of one-quater of all AMX aircraft....
[The key difference of the the RAAF's AMX being the incorporation of the non afterburning General Electric F404 in place of the Spey, cockpit armour and the two DEFA cannon's]
Either way, consequently, by the late 1980's/early 1990's the RAAF have three principle combat aircraft powered by GE F404 turbofans - now that's commonality.😉👍

Arrgghhh!!!  More different types.  Since the 1960s, they average time to get a new type into service has been 3 years:

  • CAC Sabre:  Initial Selection: 1951  First Service Entry: 1954 – thus about 3yrs
  • (GAF Produced) Mirage III:  Initial Selection:  30 Mar 1961  First Service Entry (Australian Built acft):  20 Dec 1963 – thus just shy of 3yrs
  • (GAF Produced) F/A-18:  Initial Selection:  20 Oct 1981  First Service Entry (Australian truely Built acft):  30 Sep 1985 – thus just shy of 4yrs
Thus if one were to add the 3yr ramp up to my earlier analysis and taking into account the programs/acft you have listed, we see something like this:



Note in this I have tried to stick with about a 5yr production run equating to the earlier mentioned F/A-18 model.  I have also placed some potential options for families of aircraft/OEMs to consider.  Note also that I’ve kept to the fighter type families – trying to chop and change between small and large aircraft is not something easily/realistically done so I would tend to stay in one general class of aircraft.

IMHO if one really wants to make a successful play at this you really need to either:

  • Be part of a consortium – hence why I included the European ones (the F-35 program also falls into this class); or
  • Have a real, indigeneos capability to design your own products so that you aren’t reliant on overseas OEMs who have their own production drivers (refer earlier comments).

Finally, I'd like to imagine Australian aerospace being like that of Israel's IAI, in that it sees and appreciates the lucrative market of aircraft upgrades and refurbishment, as opposed to stright forward new manufacturing  - again under the premises that the nation's aircraft that are being upgraded/refurbished meet moral and ethical criteria of Australia....imagine GAF/CAC doing upgrades for Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, .....

I'd be interested to know the successful Singaporean, Israel, South Korea and now Turkey business model of arms manufacturing under the title of Nationally supported institutions.
I think it goes without saying that their respective government's have an intrinsic say and involvement in these institutions...in fact they probably wouldn't have stated or been viable without the emphasis placed on them by their respective government's. Just as it's clear that in Australia's case, an ideological fear and culture of allow, let alone be seen to be having a hands on approach in such industry, which is now viewed as 'private sector domain' - to the point that arms manufacturing in Australia is all but sacred to private industry....

So are we talking about whole aircraft or simply upgrades now?  Either way, when it comes to the following, I would be cautious to separate myth from reality:

  • Singapore – Apart from the A-4S upgrades there is nothing else going on there.  They are mostly a piece part manufacturer and maintenance hub;
  • Israel – Apart from Rehashed Mirage III derivatives (Nesher and Kfir) plus a failed attempt at an indigenous design in the Lavi there is no manned aircraft production there.  They support elements of Gulfstream jets and do a lot with UAVs but that’s about it; and
  • Turkey – Whilst the Turks did licensed F-16 production and now are trying to do their TFX aircraft there is not really much else there.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2021, 05:02:07 PM »
Wow, a great and informative reply thanks GTX.

Quote
I think there is an element of truth to the argument that Government owned/operated facilities do tend towards inefficiency if their sole source of funding is the Govt.  The argument is driven by the fact that they don’t have to compete to stay alive or to win the next contract.  They know it will just turn up.  Private industry on the other hand has to keep ‘sharp’ to win its next contract and if they don’t stay up to speed they will be unviable in the future and thus eventually go out of business, as has been the case many times over the years.  The same also extends outside of the Defence/Aerospace industry and beyond even Govt owned operations.  For instance, one of the reasons behind the downfall of the Australian automotive sector in recent years was that the companies had gotten too reliant on successive govts (of both political persuasions) propping them up with funding packages and the like.  As soon as these were removed, the companies quickly shut up shop because they were not commercially viable

If I may Greg, this notion of Government owned and run sectors not being able to be efficient and productive, when compared to the private sector has a lot of hairs on it IMO.
There's been such a long and successful narrative of private being far more efficient in terms of time and cost.
Granted we aren't in the 1960's or 1970's for that matter. I don't believe that a government owned and ran complex/industry, say like GAF/CAC couldn't be held more to account by modern business practice being indusive to such programs. Just as I see nothing wrong with a government ensuring that the head of such projects are managed by the most competent management.
I have to admit, the seeming holly grail of private business being totally spick and span is and has been proven to be a falicy at times - the Thales Australia/Hawkei being one of the latest cases in point; for a corporation to use and exercise it's political influence to lobby government to support the blocking of information against the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) - Auditor-General is not just questionable in my view, it's collusive in intent. Where as a government ran and administered would irrefutably be and be expected to be totally open and transparent to both government and the taxpayer.
As for the debacle/fiasco of the engineered piecemeal destruction of the Australian Automotive Industry by a government that created a biased oversight committee, I could tell you what the committee deliberation was going to be when they mentioned one Amanda Vanstone was on the committee. The fact that every successful car manufacturing country receives financial support from their respective government's is probably underlined by the following known and appriciates benefits:

"The [Australian] Automotive industry is estimated to contribute $37 billion to the Australian economy, and as at May 2018 the industry employed over 356,000 Australians."
All these years on and Australia is still riving from this political ideological decision
."
I've read over the years that most industrial countries retain their automotive industries because of their strategic value and skill base for in time of crisis.....whether this is still relevent, I'll let forum members decide.

Quote
Now there is an alternative option here and one that perhaps plays into your desires.  This is for govts to provide the funding to start up and perhaps for Non-Recurring Expenses such as initial tooling up and/or design but that they don’t become the sole customer of the companies (be those Govt owned or private).  Rather they expect the company to survive by selling on the open market.  Essentially, the Govt would be saying “We think it is important to have this national capability but we will only help so far.  You have got to make it successful through your own efforts and not rely on us
.

Yes, interesting GTX and I appreciate your point. Saying this, didn't most Western countries have a similar arrangement in which they owned and maintained say a ship or a tank building facility, which was leased out to a given winning manufacturer, so as to build a given class of ship/tank to meet government's tender....This surely would mitigate costs to a given project, because a new manufacturing facility doesn't have to be built. I guess a perfect example of this would be the Collins class submarine building program and the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), a Government-owned submarine facilities built for the construction and maintenance of the Collins-class subs and the construction of the Hobart class DDG's. And yet there seems to be a government/corporate keeness to fully privatise this facility, when one of Australia's most expensive Defence acquisitions/build is to occur - the already dubious Shortfin Barracuda sub's.....
I also think that our education system and infustructue system would benefit greatly from a continuous structured design, building and management system system, in which TAFE's and universities could give meaningful skills which are backed by employment. My entire life I've tirelessly heard from both major political parties 'about the importance of skilled training and employment, but in truth it's been lip service. I guess that message is just as subliminal as that of Australia is just too expensive in terms of employment, unions and productivity.... In which case, undoubtedly the same could be said about our politicians/Minister's wages and entitlements - does that mean we simply forefort our politicians and Minister? Or perhaps we should simply outsource them🤔

Quote
Arrgghhh!!!  More different types

Hey, don't knock my initiative GTX, I think it's safe to say the RAAF's history of flogging an airplane design to death or more rightly to fatigue should be part of their motto 😉

Quote
Since the 1960s, they average time to get a new type into service has been 3 years:
CAC Sabre:  Initial Selection: 1951  First Service Entry: 1954 – thus about 3yrs
(GAF Produced) Mirage III:  Initial Selection:  30 Mar 1961  First Service Entry (Australian Built acft):  20 Dec 1963 – thus just shy of 3yrs
(GAF Produced) F/A-18:  Initial Selection:  20 Oct 1981  First Service Entry (Australian truely Built acft):  30 Sep 1985 – thus just shy of 4yrs
Thus if one were to add the 3yr ramp up to my earlier analysis and taking into account the programs/acft you have listed, we see something like this:

I like and appreciate your formulation GTX, of 3-4 years, with your "5yr production run equating to the earlier mentioned F/A-18 model."
I'm thinking because of this continuous build/assemble arrangement, changing from manufacturing/assembling one aircraft type to another will be far smoother and efficient, as the critically important skilled workforce would wither and die, only to be need to be re-established, trained and become proficient, as was the case between the Mirage III and Hornet builds.
(P.S. Greg, sadly I'm struggling to read your awesome chart. Any chance of tweaking it or send it to me via other means??).

Quote
IMHO if one really wants to make a successful play at this you really need to either:

Be part of a consortium – hence why I included the European ones (the F-35 program also falls into this class); or
Have a real, indigeneos capability to design your own products so that you aren’t reliant on overseas OEMs who have their own production drivers (refer earlier comments).

I agree wholeheartedly with this analogy mate. The fact that in real-world terms consecutive government have always seemingly dragged the chain on the "indigenous" aspect of Australian aircraft, ships and vehicles since the 1960's... In many such cases, I think it's been that political ideology that we have to be seen to need/rely on our principle allies, so that they don't forget us.....
I would think these wouldn't be big ticket items like an entire indigenous fighter or strike aircraft, MBT programs, but perhaps training aircraft, extensive upgrades (say Mirage IIIO to a Kfir / Grumman S-2G to a S-2T arrangement), trucks, assault rifles, mortars, patrol boats, Landing Craft, MCM vessels....
I do particularly like the "consortium" notion, after all in all seriousness, if Indonesia can be wise enough to do this, Australia in my opinion is more the fool for not doing it.

Quote
So are we talking about whole aircraft or simply upgrades now?
Either way, when it comes to the following, I would be cautious to separate myth from reality

Both mate.
I think your notion of "myth and reality" has much to do with an affirmative national approach, which equates to government's having a spin, real and productive Defence Reviews (minus the politics of incumbered government's)
As we've already discussed in other forums Greg, the Dassault offer for Australia to manufacture components for their Mirage F1 was more to do with French initiative than that of spinless Australia. I think history has shown that some defence manufactures have seen the value of the ADF - especially the RAAF adopting 'their' aircraft, what with the RAAF's reputation for quality and value - with some defence manufactures actusl using the RAAF adoption of a given aircraft, as part of their promotion campaign.
So as emphasised by the Dassault Mirage F1 production proposal, encompassed by a realistic supportive government/system that knows and appriciates the real significants and benefits of Defence, manufacturing, technological innovation, education and employment in an all over economy and society, I personally see this as a possibility. Again, unlike the real Australia, we need government's/institutions that are prepared to seriously bargain the best outcomes for Australia, not simply be dictated to by foreign allied government's on behalf of their rich and politically influential corporations!

You make some good and valid points about my choice of Singapore, Israel and Turkey GTX, and I do admit there are better choices I could and should have used. But saying this, they are irrefutably ahead of Australia in this game and evolving.

Once again GTX, I'm greatly appreciating the ideas and the dialogue.

MAD
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 05:06:11 PM by M.A.D »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australian continuous building program for combat aircraft
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2021, 02:20:09 AM »
There's been such a long and successful narrative of private being far more efficient in terms of time and cost.

Do you dispute my description of the root cause of the issue - i.e. the lack of competition driving a sense of complacency or to put it another less eloquent way, being fat, dumb and happy?

Granted we aren't in the 1960's or 1970's for that matter. I don't believe that a government owned and ran complex/industry, say like GAF/CAC couldn't be held more to account by modern business practice being indusive to such programs.

Errr...CAC was never Govt owned.  From the day it was formed in 1936 by a consortium of industry players to the day it was acquired by Hawker de Havilland in 1985 it was always fully private.

Just as I see nothing wrong with a government ensuring that the head of such projects are managed by the most competent management.

It's more than about the management - and remember that people come and go so just because you have a great person today doesn't mean you will tomorrow - its about the underlying drivers/conditions they operate within.  As explained, not having to compete for work will stifle efficiency.  In a perfect world this might not be the case but in the sad, imperfect world we live in, it is the case.

I have to admit, the seeming holly grail of private business being totally spick and span is and has been proven to be a falicy at times - the Thales Australia/Hawkei being one of the latest cases in point; for a corporation to use and exercise it's political influence to lobby government to support the blocking of information against the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) - Auditor-General is not just questionable in my view, it's collusive in intent. Where as a government ran and administered would irrefutably be and be expected to be totally open and transparent to both government and the taxpayer.

I don't disagree that the Thales Hawkei is a problem (and I have got intimate knowledge of this program).  I would however argue that the problem here is just as much the Govt agreeing to do what ever it could to 'protect' a national program rather than choosing what was truly in the best interests of the nation, be that commercially or militarily.  If anything, this helps prove my point that the Govt led scenario you are promoting is prone to failure.


As for the debacle/fiasco of the engineered piecemeal destruction of the Australian Automotive Industry by a government that created a biased oversight committee, I could tell you what the committee deliberation was going to be when they mentioned one Amanda Vanstone was on the committee. The fact that every successful car manufacturing country receives financial support from their respective government's is probably underlined by the following known and appriciates benefits:

"The [Australian] Automotive industry is estimated to contribute $37 billion to the Australian economy, and as at May 2018 the industry employed over 356,000 Australians."
All these years on and Australia is still riving from this political ideological decision
."
I've read over the years that most industrial countries retain their automotive industries because of their strategic value and skill base for in time of crisis.....whether this is still relevent, I'll let forum members decide.

Just because everyone does it does not make it right.  From some of the numbers I have seen, towards the end, the Australian car manufacturers were essentially selling their cars at less than it cost to manufacture them and thus relying on Govt support to make up the difference.  Hence why they shut up shop so quickly as subsidies were removed.  If anything, you should be outraged that international Corporations were siphoning Australian taxpayers money for so long.  And before saying, it helped employ people, I actually believe at the end it ended up doing a disservice to them - I know for example a company immediately across the road from one of the car plants was asked to employ some of the workers being made redundant but couldn't because the workers in question had wage expectations far too high and skills far too low/specialised to be employable.

Hey, don't knock my initiative GTX, I think it's safe to say the RAAF's history of flogging an airplane design to death or more rightly to fatigue should be part of their motto 😉

I think that is a bit harsh and also disrespectful to the many people (both in uniform and otherwise) who have supported such platforms.  I would also challenge how the RAAF is any different to most nations here:  USAF:  Average age of aircraft:  30yrs

I like and appreciate your formulation GTX, of 3-4 years, with your "5yr production run equating to the earlier mentioned F/A-18 model."
I'm thinking because of this continuous build/assemble arrangement, changing from manufacturing/assembling one aircraft type to another will be far smoother and efficient,

This may be so if one were staying with one OEM.  If you chop and change between OEMs though (e.g. Dassault to Northrop to...) you will find it is not the case.  Trust me from experience.

(P.S. Greg, sadly I'm struggling to read your awesome chart. Any chance of tweaking it or send it to me via other means??).

Try clicking on the image - a bigger version will then appear.

I think history has shown that some defence manufactures have seen the value of the ADF - especially the RAAF adopting 'their' aircraft, what with the RAAF's reputation for quality and value - with some defence manufactures actusl using the RAAF adoption of a given aircraft, as part of their promotion campaign.

Yes, this is sometimes true.  That said, at what cost would the mandating Australian production come?  Refer to what I said re essentially stealing work from the Manufacturer's own workforce/factory.

Again, unlike the real Australia, we need government's/institutions that are prepared to seriously bargain the best outcomes for Australia, not simply be dictated to by foreign allied government's on behalf of their rich and politically influential corporations!

You might be surprised here but in my experience, it is the cases where local work has been mandated for major programs is where the successive Australian Govts get the worst outcome.  Also think you are being too simplistic when you sy things such as being "dictated to".  Please give examples?  Also, remember that a negotiation needs something to go both ways to make a deal - the Australian Govt does not have enough leverage to dictate whatever it wants.

But saying this, they are irrefutably ahead of Australia in this game and evolving.

In some discrete areas perhaps but in manned combat aircraft production (the theme of this thread), I would dispute that is the case.  Or to perhaps add more context:

  • Singapore - they have established themselves as a significant maintenance hub for aircraft and the like.  In part this is driven by the commercial imperative of not having natural resources etc.  It is also driven by the fact that being a major trading port/transport hub, it kind of makes natural sense.  The Singaporean Govt has also been very pro-business over the decades - again this comes back to the point that they needed to due to lack of other sellable commodities.
  • Israel - again, where is their manned combat aircraft production?  They are a world leader in UAVs and the like but this is driven in part by a significant "national survival" instinct
  • Turkey - I have to ask you to identify anything that is more than a paper program when it comes to new platforms.  anything else, when you look at the real workshare involved, parallels Australia if anything.

Be careful of falling into the "grass is always greener" trap.
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.