The Defence project to equip 12 of the 24 RAAF Block II Super Hornets with jamming gear that the U.S. Navy has stated is obsolete against emerging threats has blown out by almost 6-times or $1.4B dollars The Australian has learned.
Back in the Joel Fitzgibbon regime as Defence Minister, the project was supposed to cost $300M. Recently, a U.S. Government Defence proposal has stated this work would cost up to $1.7B.
This conversion which turns a two-seat F-18F Super Hornet into an electronic jamming F-18G would cost Defence and you the tax-payer $142M per jet. This is almost twice the cost of a new F-18F Super Hornet. A new F-18G costs the U.S. Government around $90-100M each.
Defence, uses the argument that the jamming capability of the F-18G was used successfully in last years fight against Libya. This is a crock. Libya's air defence capability was a joke and will be nothing close to the emerging threat picture in the Pacific Rim. Also, the F-18G is draggy, short-ranged and highly dependent on air-refueling resources.
While the F-18G may be fine to electronically jam older (or "legacy") air defence systems from the Soviet-era, the single-seat F-18E Super Hornet and the two-seat F-18F Super Hornet, in their Block II configuration, can already detect, pin-point and destroy this kind of threat. This includes the fact that the on-board jamming system and towed-decoy of the E and F Super Hornet provide outstanding self-defence capability against older threats.
Defence does not seem to be acting in a responsible manner with our tax dollars in the current budget environment.
A few days after the federal budget announcement, Defence spent $1.4B for 10 C-27J light airlift aircraft stating they were a Caribou replacement when they were not. The other reason Defence used justify this purchase was that the C-27J gets into more airfields than a C-130. True, but the C-130J's purchased by Defence were justified as "strategic air-lifters". And, while a variety of aircraft can get into more airfields than a C-130J, there was no formal tender for the C-27J against its world-wide competitor, the Airbus C-295.
Using the justification that they have to make ends meet under the new federal budget, Defence has cut funds used to get single enlisted soldiers fighting in Afghanistan home on leave. These troops in a combat theatre will have to pay for their own flights. The general that helped make this decision, can easily afford such flights.