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The Need For Air Superiority Amidst An Escalating Threat

Aug 17, 2007
In a Gallup poll of the Islamic world, only 27% of Indonesians held a favourable view of the United States. Eighty nine percent opposed the U.S. led war on terrorism, more than any other Muslim nation surveyed, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. A large percentage of Indonesia has already adopted strict Islamic law with plans to do the same in nearly all other states. Within these states other religions are actively persecuted. Within just a few years, the entire nation of Indonesia, over 200 million Muslims, will live under syariah law, strictly interpreted from the Quran. A nation capable in this late age of killing over 180,000 East Timorese (Non Muslim), governed by religious dictates and militarily still led by many people complicit in the genocide. This is a country to worry about. What are we doing Considering the acquisition of go-carts in a Formula One racing event? Make sure to read Part II of this article.

Think about it;
1. The Islamic community in Indonesia is the largest in the world
2. There exists a strong feeling of solidarity among Muslims inIndonesia
3. The birth of Islamic warrior troops is a reality
4. There is strong opposition towards secularism and the Jews

The demand for the implementation of Islamic sharia law for Muslim adherents has become not only a project but a reality that is a constitutional demand in most Islamic nations. A significant part of Indonesia is Shia. It would be reasonable to believe they will be good friends with Iran. The thought of a nuclear equipped Iran, supporting Indonesia and its ambitions is one we should be prepared for.

In a bad case scenario, but looking more probable by the day, a nuclear deterrent provided by Iran (Long shot inclusion of Pakistan if coerced) to allied Islamic nations, could choke our energy supplies, destroy our economies and through terrorists groups, attack our peoples without fear of retribution. With a nuclear umbrella and economies supported by the sale of energy resources to China, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is where our air capability will determine how much we suffer from internal attacks on our society. Our ability to strike at our enemy, over very long distances, at great speed, carrying heavy loads is a critical deterrent. Potential enemies need to be aware that we can reach them, even if they fight by proxy. The French, who normally procrastinate over the use of force, partly due to developing relationships with China and Russia, are ironically the first to threaten substantial retaliation to any nation sponsoring terrorism on their own soil. This threat is taken seriously because the French military retain a long range and accurate strike capability, able to reach almost anywhere on the globe.

On the same note, if Australia loses its ability to reach out and touch our potential enemies, we will have given them a free hand, should they be inclined, to violently interfere internally through sponsored terrorism and to directly threaten our EEZ and other financial interests without fear of retaliation. As recent as last month, it has been identified that Chinese Army firms have been selling advanced ballistic and cruise missile guidance systems to Iran. Three of the sanctioned Chinese firms are well known to many defence analysts as the same companies that participated in the Clinton era, China Gate scandal. The list includes China Aero-Technology Import Export Corporation (CATIC), China North Industries (NORINCO) and China Great Wall Industry. All three PLA owned firms were linked to illegal exports of U.S. technology during the Clinton administration. All three firms have also participated in a wide variety of arms smuggling, ballistic missile sales and sales of WMD technology to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. This is the tip of the iceberg in the proliferation of advanced military technologies. Current and future capabilities being acquired by our neighbors require us to step up to bat, instead of playing catch and hoping we have not caught a bomb.

Are We Preparing For These Potential Threats?
Are We Preparing For These Potential Threats? Clearly not, as previously mentioned, our force structure is designed to combat a very near shore mild opposition. As a result of the failure to take the fight to the enemy, Considerable damage and untold civilian casualties will result from unfettered terrorist aggression. With obvious warning signs posted for all of us to see, we would be entirely negligent if we did not prepare.

Our choice now is to either expose our nation to future internal and external aggression, or ensure we have an adequate force structure to protect our vital interests through our ability to carry the fight to the enemy's doorstep. You don't turn up at a gunfight with a knife. Likewise, we do not want to be facing the threat described, with an aircraft that is slow, can't carry much or go very far, whose only saving grace is stealth. Of course I am talking about the JSF. Yes, it is a little harder to see electronically, but due to its poor range, the enemy won't see it either, because it won't get there. With a miserable performance, especially compared to probable adversaries (Latest Sukhoi family for a start), we will be out gunned and hiding in our foxholes.

Anyone that rests our security on the fact that our next aerial warfare engagement will be over the horizon should think again. Speed is critical and super cruise the ultimate force multiplier as well as being a powerful means of threat avoidance in hostile air space. It should be remembered that an aircraft has to get to the target, and back. Once the JSF has expended its offensive and defensive munitions on a mission, it is back to basics. Due to its limited range outbound/inbound routes would be predictable and easily monitored by enemy Su33's, 35's and other variants in the operational theatre. Faster than the JSF, with substantially greater endurance, these long range enemy aircraft will place the F35 on the defensive, a place where it does not shine. The F35 will be forced into fights with a superior combat aircraft, probably in greater numbers that can follow it halfway across Australia.

It seems then, the argument to acquire F35's is financial. However the acquisition and lifetime costs of the F35 look increasingly dodgy. While we have a force option that is proven today, we seem to be talking ourselves politically into purchasing an inadequate platform, unproven, that looks more like a gogo mobile than something that can really deliver force we need. Today we have the possibility of an improved F111 fleet, a fleet we are skilled at maintaining and flying, a fleet capable of placing our hands around the throat of those that threaten us, even over great distances. An F111S fleet with super cruise capability, that boasts extreme range and is able to out run virtually any threat, is the type of punch we need. Accompanied by the F22, the two super cruise aircraft will be able to kick the doors down and deliver a lethal shock virtually anywhere we want to. Compared to driving around the EEZ with F35 minivans, I fail to see the argument that would support an F35 purchase.

My Questions to Defence and the Committee Are:
1. What do you believe the threat environment will be in twenty years?
2. Why should we be consenting to a F111 retirement when over a billion was invested in upgrades, and the decision to retire was driven by internal budgetary politics, not technical reasons?
3. Why should we be consenting to a JSF buy when it is as plain as day that it is a low end light bomber built for export to all and sundry globally and not what we need?
4. Why are Defence buying JSF when the much better F22 is almost the same price, and at least twice as good?
5. Why are we buying a small number of expensive new aerial tankers when there is a glut of used airliners in the market, which perform as well, or better at less cost?
6. What Defence have said about JSF, F111, F22 clashes with common public knowledge that a teenager can access on the Internet in addition to public reports from the US. Who are they kidding?

We have two choices; assume a mild threat and prepare for sunny days, or define the meaning of the defence of our nation. This can be achieved by creating a force structure of F111 and F22 that for the same price as the F35 will do the job of protecting us both at home as well as strategically. To me it looks pretty simple. I'm willing to bet hindsight will see it that way as well, it has a habit of proving the obvious.
About the Author
Military warfare and strategic writing on future combat scenarios.
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