US Supremo says Joint Strike Fighters for Australia on schedule
F-35 JSF's due to be delivered to Australia in 2020 Australia will pay $US90m (A$88.42m) for each JSFs can't fly in lightning Lockheed says JSFs better and cheaper.
The senior US military officer in charge of the controversial Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program says Australia will receive JSF aircraft on schedule at a cost of about $US90 million ($A88.42 million) each.
Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said Australia's plan was to declare initial operational capability with 12 JSFs in 2020.
"If that holds true, I will tell you that the Australians don't have much to worry about," he told reporters at a media briefing at the Avalon airshow.
Lt Gen Bogdan said in 2015 he had to deliver the same capability to the US Marine Corps, in mid-2016 to Italy and in 2017 to Israel.
Then there was a three-year wait until the same capability was delivered to the RAAF.
"Even if I screw this up royally, and I do not intend on screwing this up royally, I am pretty sure I am going to meet Australia's 2020 date," he said.
The Lockheed Martin JSF is a fifth-generation combat aircraft featuring stealth capability - low visibility to radar - and advanced sensors to detect enemy aircraft.
But it's been criticised as too expensive, running late and unlikely to deliver the full range of promised capabilities.
Australia is looking to buy up to 100 but has committed to buying just two, deferring purchase of the next tranche of 12 for two years.
Lt Gen Bogdan said he was no cheerleader for JSF which had experienced significant problems.
But he said since this program was reconfigured in 2010-11, adding $US13 billion additional funds and another three years, it's much improved.
"It is not getting better nearly as fast as I would like it to," he said.
Lt Gen Bogdan said by 2020 a JSF would cost about $US90 million per airplane in 2020 dollars.
"Sixty seven million (dollars) is the number you keep hearing about. Guess what - that's the cost of the airplane back in like 2004 or 2003. Who cares about that? I want to know what it costs the day I buy it not what I could have bought it for in 2001," he said.
Source: AAP News - 27 February 2013
Photo: The Royal Australian Air Force F-35 JSF's will cost Australia about $US90 million ($A88.42 million) each (Photo by AFP)