TRUMP PUTS A SIDEWINDER UP THE F-35's EXHAUST
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
I guess PP readers are heartily sick of my rabbiting on over Australia’s purchase of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but now that Donald Trump has joined the criticism of cost overruns and practicability, maybe some sanity might finally leak into our defence force? Ha, you’re kidding aren’t you!
Although I'd give my left testicle for ten minutes' flying time in one, my point has not been about the outrageous cost of an aircraft that hit the drawing board a quarter of a century ago but about the suitability of an aircraft that has already been superseded by the drone technology revolution.
Any of today’s fighter jets can (and have been) converted to drone strikers whereby no pilot or technology is put at risk.
The days of dog fights over London or Dresden are long gone. Precision GPS guided Phantoms, or any aircraft, can deliver a hand grenade or a nuclear weapon into an enemy’s war room from the comfort of a lounge chair in the Pentagon.
If it gets shot down, no worries, no pilot will be under waterboard pressure to disclose military secrets and anyway, weapons can be disarmed at any time, again from the Pentagon. And who wants to put a billion dollar aircraft in harm's way?
"Gee it's lovely to see you guys."
Lockheed Martin has been given its own limitless cheque book by successive Administrations but the cost to Australia is prohibitive now that supporting orders from different nations are being cancelled, with Canada’s Trudeau cancelling the entire order.
Each cancelled order raises the unit cost of each aircraft, including to Australia, which has stood firm in the face of a collapsing farce that only Trump has had the balls to identify.
Australia’s Defence Force Chiefs, safely ensconced in their shiny arm chairs at Russell Hill, have also had their own cheque book when it comes to military procurement. These F-35s are nothing more than state-of-the art big boys’ toys to be used as calling cards and to show the Yanks that we are now, “all the way with DJT”.
PP's criticism of Marise Payne’s elevation to the Defence Ministry is now apparently justified as Turnbull looks to correct a facile appointment based solely on numbers of women in his Cabinet. But in true Turnbull fashion he has made matters worse by adding to the Defence Ministry the talkative little Christopher Pyne to help her out.
The trouble is that neither of these two equal "Defence Ministers" has power over the other. It was made clear by Turnbull that the two appointments were of distinct equality. This again shows Turnbull’s total lack of political nous.
Now the wily Defence Chiefs will be playing "equal" Ministers off against each other in pursuit of their own personal ambitions.
The truth is that the Defence establishment will soon be having both Ministers for breakfast as they have always had every Defence Minister, including the two Abbott appointments of Senator David Johnston and Abbott’s Sunday school mate, Kevin Andrews.
"By the way, WTF is an F-35?"
Marise Payne, as predicted here, was like a lamb being led to the slaughter and the co-appointment of Christopher Pyne is even more stupid as his re-election to the SA seat of Sturt was contingent on the order of $60 billion worth of submarines to be delivered in 50 years time.
It takes a special kind of intelligence to determine what is needed militarily in 50 years, or is it a special kind of vain overreach? Pyne has just proved he believes $60 billion is a wise investment when it comes to retaining his grinning mush on the front bench.
So justifying these F-35’s should be a piece of cake for Pyne.
Estimated cost to Australia for 75 of the F-35s is around $1 billion each when (as is normal) the purchase price is more than doubled for maintenance, parts and on-going development costs.
But the US Defence forces have ordered 2,400 of the aircraft for themselves and their costs are predicated on how many Lockheed Martin can flog to naive purchasers like Australia.
Trump has been the one to finally bell the cat on this farcical F-35 JS Fighter, so now let’s see which way Turnbull jumps, if any way at all.
More likely he will pull the covers back over his head and hibernate until the next sitting before facing the music.