F-35 vs F/A-18E/F: Australia Punts on Both


Australia is holding off on buying the initial batch of operational F-35s. For some time, that was expected to be good news for Boeing, but that no longer looks like it is the case.

Australia is loath to suffer a capability gap when its aging classic F/A-18s reach the end of their service life toward the end of the decade. Conventional thinking was that if the F-35 did not arrive on time, more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets would have to be acquired. 

But maybe not.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith says that the decision to purchase the first tranche of 12 F-35s (beyond two test aircraft being bought for delivery in 2014 and 2015) will be delayed for two years. The goal is to mirror the U.S. decision to avoid buying too many aircraft early in the program when development is still underway.

That is bad news for Lockheed Martin, which is looking for international buyers to offset U.S. deferals. But Smith also had bad news for Boeing. "My current advice is that the life of type of our 71 classic Hornets and our 24 Super Hornets is sufficient for our air combat capability,”  while acknowledging the issue was still under study and a decision will be taken by year-end.

Smith had some good news for Boeing. The new defense budget will protect funding to upgrade some F/A-18F to EA-18G electronic attack aircraft, if a decision is taken to do so.

Also protected appears to be funding for a Caribou replacement, with Alenia Aermacchi and Airbus Military watching closely as they hope to sell their C-27J and C-295 respectively.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


Aug 27, 2015

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 7

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Aug 14, 2015

Bonanza Travel Pays 3

The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza has an impressive production record, so perhaps the marketers back in 1949 were onto something when they coined the phrase "Bonanza travel pays."...More
Aug 14, 2015

Venerable Boeing 727 Prototype To Fly Again 26

The most famous 727, the prototype aircraft which would join United as N7001U, was delivered to the airline in October 1964 having served its time as a Boeing test aircraft....More
Aug 13, 2015

Aviation Week And The Bomb

Aviation News did not predict how nuclear weapons would change the world. But neither did anyone else....More
Aug 13, 2015

Collins Radar Takes The Ups And Downs Out Of Flying

Turbulence? Rockwell Collins had a solution for those bumpy rides in the early 80s with its WXR-700 Doppler Weather Radar....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×