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Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 13:54 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 13:54 | SYDNEY

Shock! Major defence project late and over budget!

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14 March 2008 14:07

I initially chose not to comment when this ABC story emerged on Wednesday, about a new report criticising the Joint Strike Fighter. I thought it was a non-story because, for reasons I couldn't fully recall, I felt that the US agency which produced the report, the Government Accountability Office, could not to trusted. But now the doyen of defence technology journalists, Bill Sweetman, has pretty much endorsed the GAO report. Sweetman acknowledges that the GAO has made mistakes in the past in its assessments of major weapons systems, but his assessment and the GAO report itself will make uncomfortable reading for our Defence Department, which plans to buy up to 100 of the fighters.

It's also worth reading one of the comments below Sweetman's piece, from his colleague, Joris. He asks if there is any alternative to JSF, and in reply, Sweetman paints a very grim scenario of rising costs and shrinking orders, which would hit smaller buyers like our air force hard. It's another example of one of the perennial problems of large-scale procurement: once the buyer is committed, it gets gradually harder to back out of a deal, no matter how badly the project goes; because the longer a nervous buyer waits to back out of a troubled project, the greater the loss of time and money.

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