Friday, March 1, 2013

DSCA announces to Congress of an Australian option for more Super Hornets

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency has sent an announcement to Congress that Australia may take options on up to 24 Super Hornet aircraft. This news was known to be pending but below is the list of items requested should Australia decide to go forward with this sale.

Australia – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2013 – The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Feb. 27 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for up to 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and 12 EA-18 GGrowler aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $3.7 billion.

The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of up to 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft, 54 F414-GE-402 engines(48 installed and 6 spares) 2 engine inlet devices, 35 AN/APG-79 Radar Systems, 70 AN/USQ-140 Multifunctional Informational Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT) or RT-1957(C)/USQ-190(V) Joint Tactical Radio Systems, 40 AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems, 24 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets, 72 LAU-127 Guided Missile Launchers, 15 M61A2 Vulcan Cannons, 32 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles or Night Vision Cueing Device System, 40 AN/APX-111 Combined Interrogator Transponders, 80 AN/ARC-210/RT-1990A(C)Communication Systems, 100 Digital Management Devices with KG-60’s, 36 Accurate Navigation Systems, 30 AN/AYK-29(V) Distributed Targeting Systems(DTS), 4 AN/PYQ-21 DTS Mission Planning Transit Cases, 24 AN/ASQ-228 Advance Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) Pods, 40 AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loaders (SKL), 80 KIV-78 Mode 4/5 Module, 48COMSEC Management Workstations (CMWS), 24 AN/ALE-47 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Systems, 80 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), and 400 AN/ALE-55 Fiber Optic Towed Decoys. Also included are system integration and testing, tools and test equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documents, personnel training and training equipment, aircraft ferry and refueling support, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $3.7 billion.

Analysis? It could be that the 12 Growlers mentioned will be F models that have the special wiring in them should Australia decide to set up those aircraft to the G configuration. Much like how the previous 24 aircraft have be done.

We will know more if Australia decides to take the option of purchasing more Super Hornets. The above announcement lays the ground work. A real order could have a very different mix of E and F models. If Australia decides to keep the fighter organisation status-quo this could cause some problems. There are significant plans at RAAF Williamtown for facilities layout for direct and dedicated F-35 support. So, if more Super Hornets are added, do you abandon this and stand up a Super Hornet operational training unit there or somewhere else?

A lot of questions to be answered. But, the implied threat to LM and the F-35 program is there in-place with this new request. Will this solve Australia's long-term air supremacy needs? Well, the Super is useful, but limited for high end threats. But the F-35 is not capable of taking on high end threats threats either. For everything else, the Super brings so much more value. Not a hard task when compared to the Just So Failed.

For this whole thing to look like anything more than a knee-jerk reaction and lazy analysis by Defence of long term needs will be difficult.


Anonymous said...

Interesting list indeed.

I'd be surprised if those weren't actually 12x real G models, along with 12x E/F models. Apparently, there's a unique-'G' wing modification for improved aerodynamics enabling better EW operations.

Could one imagine the flap if RAAF acquired 18x F-18F, converted to 'G'... then it was informed that said procured 'F+' aircraft would need to have their wings replaced w/ the proper 'G' type wing, in order to be effective?

Anyway regarding the 'list', I'm wondering if there's not some added F-18C/D Hornet upgrade kits being tucked in that proposed request too? That could explain some of the 'estimated' $154m per jet Contract... (note: the contract also includes a Total Procurement Unit Cost and not merely a Flyaway).

Interesting to note:

- 6 spare engines (F414-402?). BTW, were the first RAAF Super's powered by F414-400, or this -402?

- 70 MIDS sytems?

- 40x ALQ-214 IDECMS jamming systems. (V5 for C/D hornets?)

- 35x AESA Radars for 24 jets?

- 80 JHMCS

- multiple radios and communication and digital management devices.

- 400x towed ALE-55 decoys!! That could conceivably equate to a lot of killed AMRAAM shots fired at future Red Flag engagements :)

And lastly... what exactly are the "2 engine inlet devices", noted near the top of the list? Just curious why only '2' and what they were.

Intently Curios said...

Are we getting further way from F35s? Does is allow AU to look further afield, and negotiate out of the F35s and into something that mug work?

US might be moving to end the F35 program altogether?

Another Peter said...

I'd rather not go forward with more 24 "Stingless Super Dogs"/Growlers.

I prefer to acquire around 130 aircraft; a mix fleet of F-15E+s Typhoons or Rafales, or the Su-35S and Su-34.

Intently Curios said...

What's the long term solution here? What's next. In other posts on this forum it mentions the very real competing governments making a mess of AU defence.

The Super Hornet is up their (not the best however) for the moment as a front line strike/air superiority craft. But it's Multi role, and there are now better performers coming on line/in existence. .super hornet can be apart of a strong defence/strike fleet, but it needs help and won't last forever. What's next.
New white paper? Competent defence ministry and leaders might assist. Because there are a lot of things to fix and a very short amount of time!

Canuck Fighter said...

Australia while having similar expansive geography like Canada has a much different issue than Canada.
If Canada purchases F18 Super Hornets, it can do so knowing it has NORAD and US F-22's, and F-15's in the neighbourhood as part of it's defenses.
Australia on the other hand has a go it alone scenario for the most part. US Naval forces can be in the "area", but there is not a 100% guarantee on that.
Thus, as many have stated on this blog, the latest version of F-15 or Typhoon really needs to be considered (1 or 2 squadrons) to take on high end threats.