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Australia getting F-22s? Not so fast

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COMMENTS

8 January 2008 10:46

Herald Sun defence reporter Ian McPhedran has overcooked his lead paragraph a little. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon clearly wants to consider the purchase of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, but that's not the same as saying the Government 'wants to include' the fighter in its line-up. Indeed, by considering the F-22, Fitzgibbon might just be trying to get a better deal for what remains the likely choice, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Although McPhedran says Labor has 'stepped back' from the JSF, Fitzgibbon has been quoted saying 'I can’t envisage a circumstance where we wouldn’t remain ... committed to the JSF.'

McPhedran also makes a little too much of the possibility we'll buy Russian fighters. Fitzgibbon said all options are on the table, and that is an appropriate mindset when launching a review of air combat capability. But politics, RAAF tradition and the need for US interoperability make a Russian fighter purchase pretty unlikely. Russian aircraft also tend to be less reliable and the Russian aviation industry is notorious for its poor after-sales support, which is something to keep in mind when you hear F-22 advocates talk about how deadly the Russian jets of our regional neighbours are.

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