Air Chief Wants Major Military Spend
By David Ellery
The Sydney Morning Herald
A hawkish Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, has called for a major spend on Australia’s air warfare capability to counter possible regional instability.
Heading his wish list for the 2020s are at least 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and 12 Growlers – the electronic warfare equipped version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The former fighter pilot told guests at an Australian Strategic Policy Institute dinner on Tuesday night the alternative was to be like New Zealand.
“We’re a pretty wealthy country, we’re actually one of the wealthiest countries in the world – we’ve just got to make a decision whether we want to control our environment to a certain respect,” he said.
“Our other choice is to go down the New Zealand route – it’s pretty simple….’
He said Australia needed the JSF because by the mid-2020s the Super Hornet just wouldn’t cut it against the planes our neighbours are considering buying.
And, if we stick with the stealth fighter, quantity has a quality all its own.
“Capacity matters – and anything less than 100 JSFs severely limits the options available to government and only provides a boutique capability,” Air Marshal Brown said.
“You could buy more Super Hornets (instead of JSFs) but I’d argue (that) by 2025 or somewhere around that it becomes an uncompetitive fighter. You can be the best fighter pilot in the world but if the other guy has got some significant capability advantages over you you just don’t fundamentally stand a chance.”