Many defence journalists today were screaming that the defence cuts were too severe but they omitted to tell their readers the truth: that the spending delay by two years for the Joint Strike Fighter was inevitable because of the delays in the US.
It was not really a budget cut at all.
And hopefully the money will never be spent on the JSF, because as everyone with knowledge of the subject knows – apart from the people at the top of the Australian Defence Force and perhaps the Defence Minister – the project has deep problems, which I have detailed using material publicly available in the US (Third strike in a defence debacle, December 16; Time for a JSF dogfight, March 23).
However, Australia will need to upgrade its aircraft if we are to be a power in the region.
The answer is not upgrading the Hornets because they are no match for other aircraft in the region.
The only answer is to convince the US to merge the F22 and JSF programs. We will then have an aircraft worth spending large sums on to protect Australia.
Because so much material is now publicly available about the problems of the JSF, our ministers need to be careful about what they say in parliament because it will later come back to bite them.
Unfortunately, the JSF is merely a symptom of deep problems in Australian and US defence. No one is prepared to confront the truth.
The classification of the artificial spending reduction of the JSF as a real budget cut rams home the point.