Nov 18, 2014

Think Thank says Australian F-35B purchase wouldn't make sense

Acquiring F-35B (STOVL) fighters to operate from the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) two 27,800-tonne Canberra class landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious ships would not be justified, a leading think-tank has concluded.
This issue could be addressed in a Defence White Paper expected around mid-2015. However, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said the benefits of such a capability would be marginal at best and would not be justified by the costs.
The study pointed out that the LHDs - the first of which will be commissioned early in 2015 and the second in 2016 - could not carry a full complement of helicopters and amphibious troops with their vehicles and equipment and simultaneously deploy a useful number of STOVL aircraft and additional support aircraft.
Even in a STOVL-only configuration an LHD would face challenges in generating enough F-35B sorties continuously to protect itself and ships in company against a capable adversary, the study said.

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