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Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 05:24 | SYDNEY
Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 05:24 | SYDNEY

Fitzgibbon's JSF shuffle

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15 September 2008 10:46

In the same interview in which he somewhat grudgingly backed the Prime Minister's strong language on regional defence spending (excessively strong, as I argued in Saturday's Canberra Times), Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon also left himself some wiggle room in cutting back the huge contract for Joint Strike Fighters (JSF):

But some innovative things I'm looking at with the Super Hornet which will get taxpayers better value for money and will deliver greater capability could, for example, provide us with the opportunity to push the purchase of the JSF out to the right, therefore giving more time to secure the capability we're looking for.

What are these 'innovative things', I wonder?

This may all be smoke and mirrors, mind you. Along with news that the existing Hornet fleet does not need as much upgrading as previously thought, hints like these give Fitzgibbon a better negotiating position when it comes to buying the JSF. But personally, I hope he's sincere. There's really no need for Australia to make an all-in-one massive investment in new fighters now — we can afford to hedge, and if there is real improvement in regional air power capability (as opposed to the trophy purchases of high-end fighter being made by Malaysia and Indonesia), we'll have plenty of warning time.

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