“[Recently] Retired RAAF air vice-marshal Peter Criss has put aside usual conventions to openly question the wisdom of Canberra spending about $16 billion for the F-35 Lightning, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter. The Government committed an initial $300 million to become an early partner in the JSF program, with a final decision to be made by 2008. But Mr Criss says the RAAF should, in fact, consider buying the F-22 Raptor…”
Criss’ disquiet was the first significant breaking of ranks by top military brass over this issue, but Australia’s opposition Labor Party soon stepped into the fray with a formal statement, discussing the fighter gap that will exist between the F-111’s planned retirement early in 2010 and the proposed F-35A LRIP(Low Rate Initial Production – a more expensive phase) purchase in 2013 or later.
A subsequent purchase announcement and follow-on contracts for 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornets have only intensified the discussion. While that F/A-18F purchase is very close to a fait accompli, Australia’s F-35 purchase has moved from an assumed conclusion to a very serious debate. DID’s Spotlight article chronicles those positions, while offering links and background materials from both sides of the Australian debate. In the end, however, the F-22’s production line shutdown by the USA made the issue moot.
The US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) awarded 4 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for the Global Battlestaff and Program Support Services (GBPS) program. The 4 contracts have a maximum value of $1.5 billion.
Under the GBPS contracts, the contractors will provide personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, and other items necessary to support a broad range of US SOCOM mission areas.
Now a single, consolidated contract; estimate is $92.1 million price tag. (April 28/10)
On March 20/09, A collision between the improved Los Angeles Class sub USS Hartford [SSN 768], and the amphibious USS New Orleans [LPD-18] in the Strait of Hormuz, slightly injured 15 sailors on board. Both vessels were able to proceed under their own power after the incident, although the New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, releasing 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the strait.
US Navy investigators believe the Hartford rolled approximately 85 degrees during the collision. Despite the roll, the nuclear propulsion plant of the sub was unaffected. However, the Hartford sustained damage to its sail and periscope, as well as the port bow plane. The USS New Orleans required dry dock repairs in Bahrain for the ship’s damaged hull and ballast tanks, and a ruptured fuel tank. The damaged USS Hartford, which was brought back to Submarine Base New London after the collision, is being repaired by General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Corp in Groton, CT, under contracts awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard, DC.