This decision has seen a good deal of controversy lately, to say the least. DID’s “Retired RAAF Vice-Marshal: Abandon F-35, Buy F-22s (updated),” which includes a link to a guest article by recently-retired RAAF AVM Peter Criss as well as statements and proposed policies from Australia’s opposition party, an in-depth strategic report arguing against the F-35A, Australian DoD submissions in favor, et. al. It will give readers a solid background re: the arguments and political currents in play.
The criticism is apparently having some effect, as the minister’s statement added that: “To cover against potential delays that can occur with projects of this scope, the Government is looking at cost effective options to ensure Australia maintains air superiority during the transition period.”
If you work in the industry, you know that navigating the designated layers of classified material can be challenging, and that decisions regarding classification may not always make sense to you. This is also true on a public policy level: the Federation of American Scientists, for instance, is deeply skeptical of recent NY Times claims re: materials in the public Iraqi documents archive, and whether there was anything in them that justified secrecy or their subsequent removal from public access.
The AIM-120D AMRAAM Production Program Manager was a bit skeptical when he was asked to be team leader on a rapid improvement event under the “Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century” process improvement framework. By the time they were done, however, they had cut the acquisition-delivery time down from 11 months (48 weeks) to 4.5 months (20 weeks) using AFSO 21 process improvement tools. Maj. Charles Seidel was impressed – and so were other weapons programs from HARM missile targeting to MALD decoys to the Small Diameter Bomb II, all of whom also also work with Raytheon and would begin related AFSO 21 efforts of their own.
Back on June 13, 2005, while covering the “US101” EH-101 variant’s approval as the next US Presidential helicopter, DID noted that the rivals for this bid (Lockheed’s “US101” and Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk) would likely be squaring off again for an $11-12 billion contract to provide the USA’s next generation Combat Search And Rescue helicopter. Lockheed remained firm on its European EH101 platform, while Sikorsky would eventually announce the HH-92 Superhawk as its contender in Febrary 2005.
In September 2005, DID wrote a background/analysis called “US CSAR Competition: And Boeing Makes 3…” as that firm entered the fray on two fronts. Boeing’s choices left its rivals in a difficult competitive position, and even though one of those options was withdrawn before the end of the contest, Boeing’s HH-47 would eventually win it all and fly off with a contract estimated at $10 billion for 145 aircraft. This DID FOCUS Article chronicles the CSAR-X program impetus and winning entry, as well as ongoing contracts and key events in the program as they come up.
The CSAR-X competition had at least as many complications and happenings as the missions they will execute. The latest twist is big: cancellation of the program in the FY 2010 budget. Those decisions and their aftermath are covered in DID’s supplementary article “GAO re: CSAR-X… Re-Compete the Contract!“. For more information concerning Boeing’s Sikorsky & Lockheed competitors, and Sikorsky’s competitive dilemma in September 2005, read these sections from “And Boeing Makes 3…”: