Ex Dutch defence chief stumbles to the rescue as MPs contemplate ditching F-35

Contributor:  Yousuf Malik
Posted:  08/29/2012

Flight of fantasy

The former chief of defence of The Netherlands, Dick Berlijn, and Dutch defence expert, Peter Wijninga, recently backed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme and their government’s bid to acquire the fifth generation fighter. This comes after the majority of Dutch MPs now back the idea of ditching the hugely expensive and much-delayed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is built by Lockheed Martin, the US defence contractor.

The pair were recently interviewed [in Dutch] by the popular news website NU for a well-meaning article meant to counter The Hague’s dismay with the growing cost of the stealthy aircraft. Berlijn and Wijninga suggest that any alternative fighter jets the Royal Netherlands Air Force might buy would be outdated and just as expensive, if not more expensive.

In reality, it is a complete flight of fantasy which also contradicts the rest of their reasoning.

With age comes wisdom

It is unlikely that the former Dutch defence chief, who would have been privy to negotiations, could have gotten his facts so wrong.

“This has to be a politically motivated bid to cloud the debate and mislead Dutch taxpayers,” said an inside source who wished to remain anonymous.

The NU article quoted Berlijn and Wijninga as saying that the options available to the Dutch, which include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen, and the French Rafale, were all outdated. The pair asked: “Who would buy a new car with 20 year old technology?”

The F-35 program office started life in 1993. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Audi vs. Buick: Next-war-itis?

Aware that the Dutch might prefer a sporty Audi to a Buick, Berlijn and Wijninga compare the F-35 to the high-end car manufacturer and suggest it would be insane to replace an Audi with a Buick. They assert that the whole discussion in The Netherlands is simply political.

“Arguments, which are supported by independent research by the Rand Corporation, seem not to matter anymore,” they lament.

I would certainly hope they weren’t referring to the leaked Rand Corporation report which said the F-35 « can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run » and which resulted in the Australian government controversially buying more F/A-18 Super Hornets from Boeing, a fighter aircraft manufacturer.

Berlijn and Wijninga further argue that if The Netherlands send their men and women on dangerous missions, they have a duty to give them the best weapons. Perfectly reasonable then but convenient they didn’t burden themselves with explaining how exactly the F-35 is the best weapon. General Motors, which makes the Buick, would probably disagree with the pair, asking which particular model they’re talking about? What year? What engine? Like the gorgeous ’49 Buick Roadmaster, the F-35 is a brilliant plane but it is the best weapon for what exactly? Red threat? Blue threat? Grey threat? Taliban in a Toyota Hi-Lux? Robert Gates’ “Next-War-itis”?

Air warfare is not about speed and manoeuvrability, they assert, but about being invisible and stealthy and being able to “take out an F-16 from a great distance.” But the F-16 is not flown by any adversaries the Dutch are likely to come up against. It’s aircraft like the Su-27, Su-30, MiG-29s and all their Chinese variants and newer aircraft that the Dutch and other F-35 customers need to worry about. The F-35 truly is not as fast and is limited by the range of its weapons, which are exactly the same as the ‘Buicks’ – the F-16s, Rafales, and the Eurofighters– that Berlijn and Wijninga are comparing it to.

Invisibility through stealth is not as awe-inspiring as the smug Audi driver might think either. The kind of stealth that the F-35 comes with offers reduced ‘acquisition’ for enemy radars looking for you in the X-band only. There are ways to ‘see’ stealthy aircraft using longer radar wavelengths as the former Yugoslavian Army Colonel Zoltan Dani famously did when he shot down the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk back in 1999. Furthermore, modern infra-red search and track (IRST) technology has now advanced to the point that stealthy aircraft are no longer invisible.

The 2008 press release attributed to Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin’s Executive Vice President, really stirred up the stealth debate:

“Simply put, advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access – all before the F-35 is ever detected, then return safely to do it again.”

In response, Aviation Week’s veteran journalist Bill Sweetman remarked, “Jeebus on a Vespa… I have been writing about LO [low observable; stealth] technology for 28 years and I have never heard anyone make a claim like this. Stealth means that you are hard to detect, harder to track and harder still to engage, but it doesn’t make you invisible, particularly after large explosions have alerted the adversary to your presence.”

How much did you say?

Perhaps most alarmingly, the NU article quotes Berlijn and Wijninga as saying that the “F-35 costs €88.5 million including training.” Are they talking about the two F-35s the Dutch bought? They certainly weren’t bought for €88.5 million. See Pentagon chart below.

Dismissing the French Rafale as an option for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Berlijn and Wijninga go on to say, « This aircraft has just been sold for €95 million each to India and is therefore more expensive than the JSF. »

The Rafale isn’t cheap but the two F-35s the Dutch bought probably cost in excess of €151 million [$190 million] each and they are incomplete as to final configuration and retrofit/modification cost (look at the lines for Unit flyaway cost and Weapons system flyawaycost, year 2010 in the chart above). The end of program final average forecast price for the F-35 aircraft on its own (without support, training or weapons and equipment costs) published in the 2011 U.S. Department of Defense F-35 Selected Acquisition Report is $78.7 million. To arrive at that price, the F-35 program office averaged the cost of 2,443 aircraft the US is meant to buy, and 716 aircraft that international customers are committed to buy over the total production run through to the year 2037. Tellingly, all 3,200 aircraft will have to be bought to realise that average figure. The Pentagon now projects that the cost of the F-35 program will be $1.45 trillion – up from $1 trillion a year ago. Costs are going up faster than we thought. That works out to a minimum average cost of $135 million per plane. Even that figure has only recently been made possible through creative arithmetic by estimating the total cost of the aircraft including operating costs spread over 50 years instead of 30 as was the original plan.

What about the Eurofighter then?

« This aircraft is absolutely not affordable and technically outdated. It has been sold for €271 million to Saudi Arabia, » remarks Berlijn.

The costs of the Eurofighter, Rafale and Gripen used by Berlijn have no source to validate what they are based on. Is that the cost of a single aircraft alone or the total cost including weapons, 20 or 30 years of support, logistics, training, etc. which is usually figured in to the published cost when a country buys a fighter jet? The Japanese cost per aircraft in their F-35 acquisition program is about $238 million per copy (42 aircraft at $10 billion).

“That’s quite a clever trick,” our source said. “When talking about the plane that he [Berlijn] supports, he gives you the price without engine, weapons, training or support over 20 years and when talking about the planes he wants to discredit, he adds everything in.”

That would be the cost of the Buicks with all the trimmings – go fast stripes, service and repairs for 20 years, 3 spare engines, 800 watt stereo, video entertainment system and the cute blonde from the TV ad.

“The plane Berlijn is pushing the Dutch to buy is the Audi – a fine car and arguably a lot more desirable than a Buick – but what he doesn’t tell you is that if you want the engine, wheels, lights or seats, you’ll have to pay a lot more.”

Perhaps Rob Meines from Lockheed rival Saab, which promotes the Gripen, best sums it up in the NU article: “Nobody knows what the JSF is going to cost us.”

Buick – 1. Audi – 0.

Source: Defence iQ


Pentagon Contract: Lockheed Martin

August 28, 2012

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Ft. Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $206,821,828 modification to a previously awarded cost-reimbursement contract (N00019-12-C-0070).

This modification provides for the System Development and Demonstration Phase I Increment 1, in support of F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) Air System for the Government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

This modification includes the development of the hardware and software for the Israel F-35A CTOL Air System from the initial requirements development to the Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

In addition, the post PDR of hardware only, will continue through finalized requirements, layouts, and build to prints, including production planning data.

Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas (60 percent); Los Angeles, Calif. (20 percent); Nashua, N.H. (15 percent); and San Diego, Calif. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2016. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Source: U.S Department of Defense

Political games continue to swirl around the F-35

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News

August 26, 2012

More than four months after the auditor general raised concerns about the Harper government’s handling of the $25-billion F-35 program, the political spin continues — with no end in sight.

This week was no exception as the NDP held a day of “hearings” into the program, while Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s parliamentary secretary claimed the government never said it had decided to buy the stealth fighter.

And that was only after a senior Lockheed Martin official said the company is still planning its deliveries of 65 F-35s to Canada — the Harper government’s promise to review the purchase notwithstanding.

Defence analysts say the political games surrounding the F-35 are the exception and not the rule as other countries looking to purchase the stealth fighter are engaging in more serious, open discussion about the aircraft.

They worry Canadian taxpayers are tuning out debate on a matter of serious, long-term national security importance to the country — which might suit the Harper government just fine.

“The government probably calculates that if we started to have a real adult conversation about why we want to spend billions of dollars on a fifth-generation fighter in this particular financial climate, Canadians might not agree,” said Kim Nossal, director of Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy.

Many had hoped Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report on the F-35, which was released at the beginning of April, would present an opportunity to push the reset button after years of defending the increasingly troubled stealth fighter program.

The Harper government committed to conducting a complete review of the stealth fighter program and analyzing other options while pledging full transparency and oversight on things like costs.

It wasn’t long, however, before deadlines started to be missed.

For example, the Harper government had promised to release full cost estimates by the beginning of June, but now that won’t happen until late fall or early winter.

The government insists it is following a seven-step plan that includes freezing funding for the program and conducting a review, but analysts say there has been little evidence alternatives to the F-35 are being considered.

Then this week, Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary to the defence minister, denied in an interview that the government had ever decided to buy the F-35 — and accused opposition parties of sowing confusion on the issue.

This was despite a long public record showing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers repeatedly committing to and defending the stealth fighter since 2010.

“Governments do this all the time, and it’s totally understandable that they would try to change the conversation,” said University of Ottawa defence expert Philippe Lagasse, who participated in the NDP’s hearings on the F-35 on Tuesday.

“The problem is there’s so much public evidence, that really you’re inviting mockery.”

But while analysts agreed Alexander’s comments were bizarre, they said they serve the purpose of muddying the waters and making it difficult for average Canadians to tell who’s telling the truth.

“As a taxpayer, the annoyance is the Conservative government hasn’t been entirely straight,” said Nossal.

“Instead what the government has done is kind of spin this in a way that is actually quite confusing to ordinary Canadians.”

Analysts say other countries considering the F-35, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and even the United States, have had much more open, frank discussions about the pros and cons of the F-35, which is facing cost overruns and production delays.

But there’s also a sense opposition parties have been contributing to the problem as well by trying to score political points out of the issue.

“The opposition is seeking to maximize the government’s political discomfort,” said Nossal.

“The fact is that both sides, in order to achieve their particular political, electoral objectives, are engaging in a certain degree of elasticity with how one interprets things.”

Ironically, analysts say, this may have played into the Harper government’s hands by turning Canadians off the issue.

“For the government, it’s ideal,” said James Fergusson, director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. “It doesn’t allow you to have an open and balanced critical assessment.”

The concern is the politicking has turned average Canadians off at a time when they should be paying more attention than ever.

“Here we have a major procurement, which is a lot of money, which has big implications for the country, for the economy, for the military, which you would think in Canada should be a big issue for us,” Fergusson said. “But it’s not.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Canada – Check out other jets

By Peter E. Greene, The Windsor Star

May 28, 2012

As someone who has worked in production and overhaul of military aircraft, I have been avidly reading the various letters and opinion/guest columns that have appeared in your paper, for and against the Canadian government’s decision to buy the F-35 aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The latest salvo condemning the F-35 program comes from retired colonel Paul Maillet, an aerospace engineer and former fleet manager for Canada’s CF18 fleet.

Paul Maillet called the F-35 a « serious strategic mismatch » to Canada’s military needs.

The drawbacks mentioned were the F-35’s single engine, low range, low payload and low manoeuvrability .

The F-35 has been shrouded in controversy, cost overruns and delays, yet the Canadian government and Department of National Defence are adamant to go ahead with this aircraft deal.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson gave a highly critical report of the Defence Department’s handling of the F-35 project. Why doesn’t the Canadian government follow a tendering and evaluation process for new aircraft that it wants to purchase?

No doubt the military industrial complex in North America has a powerful lobby which will bring pressure on our government and DND to buy this aircraft. Canada should be looking at other aircraft that several countries have to offer.

It is interesting to note that rising superpower India, which was looking to buy a medium multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian air force, started a tendering process and evaluated six aircraft from different countries over a period of five years.

They evaluated the U.S.-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-16 Super Viper jets, the Rafale made by Dassault Aviation of France, The Eurofighter Typhoon made by a European consortium, the Russian MiG-35 aircraft and the Saab Gripen made by Sweden.

U.S. President Barack Obama made a special visit to India to lobby its government to buy the F/A-18 Super Hornet. It was a hotly contested race of strict technical and commercial evaluation and the two finalists were the Rafale of Dassault Aviation and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The final clincher was the cost evaluation and the Rafale aircraft was selected. President Obama was disappointed and offered the F-35 aircraft to India.

The Indians rejected the F-35 and went ahead with their deal to buy 126 MMRCA Rafale fighters from France for $20 billion. Dassault will supply the first 18 aircraft by 2015 and the rest will be manufactured under licence by India.

This will be the longest opentender military aviation deal in the world.

Rafale is a twin-jet, semi stealth combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short-and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence. Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, with 13 for the naval version.

The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-toground missiles and Exocet/ AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The Rafale is a NATO-compatible aircraft and has flown in NATO operations over Tajikstan, Afghanistan and Libya.

Canada should evaluate more aircraft under a tendering process rather than making a hasty and costly mistake by going for the overpriced and untested F-35 aircraft. The Rafale aircraft offers high value for money.

It is high time that our defence department jettisoned the canopy, ejected and bailed out of the F-35 project.

Peter E. Greene lives in Windsor.

Après le Canada, les surcoûts du F-35 posent problème aux Pays-Bas


Les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse américains que prévu. Au Canada, le programme d’acquisition de cet appareil est gelé

La question des surcoûts du F-35, l’avion de chasse américain construit par Lockheed Martin bat son plein. Ce dimanche, le ministre de la Défense des Pays Bas, Hans Hillen a indiqué que les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse que prévu en raison de la hausse de leurs coûts et du fait que l’armée de l’air néerlandaise aura besoin de remplacer moins de F-16 qu’elle ne le pensait. Les Pays-Bas prévoyaient initialement d’acheter 85 F-35, construits par l’américain Lockheed Martin entre 2019 et 2027. Le ministre n’a pas précisé combien d’avions de chasse seront finalement achetés.

Un gonflement de 9 milliards de dollars de la facture canadienne

Au Canada, qui a commandé en juillet 2010 (sans appel d’offres) 65 exemplaires pour 9 milliards de dollars canadiens (autant de dollars américains), et 16 milliards en tenant compte des contrats d’entretien, la question des coûts fait rage depuis que le Vérificateur général du Canada (la Cour des Comptes locale) a reproché il y a un mois au ministère de la Défense Peter MacKay d’avoir fortement sous-estimé les coûts. Ceci en n’ayant pas « établi les coûts complets sur l’ensemble du cycle de vie » de l’appareil dont les coûts pourraient atteindre 25 milliards de dollars. L’opposition a aussitôt déclenché un tir de barrage contre le gouvernement conservateur.

Surtout, le rapport du Vérificateur a forcé le gouvernement à geler le budget pour l’acquisition des F-35, la plus grosse commande militaire du Canada. Aussi, ce gel pourrait se traduire par une révision à la baisse du nombre d’avions achetés. « Nous ferons l’acquisition du F-35 uniquement si nous pouvons le faire dans les limites de ce budget de 9 milliards de dollars », a déclaré le ministre associé à la Défense nationale, Julian Fantino.

Source: la Tribune

Le premier F-35 Lightning II hollandais sort d’usine

5 avril 2012

Le premier F-35 hollandais de pré-série est sorti dimanche dernier de la ligne de production de Lockheed Martin au Texas à Fort Worth.

Lockheed Martin va procéder à des tests sur l’appareil au sol et en vol avec ses pilotes maison. Si tout répond au cahier des charges, l’appareil de cinquième génération sera transféré aux Pays Bas d’ici l’été.

Il sera alors pris en main par les pilotes hollandais en condition opérationnelle. Le deuxième appareil, AN-2, n’est pas attendu avant l’année prochaine.

Source: Ministère de la Défense hollandais (defensie.nl)

Canada may back out of F35 purchase: minister

March 13, 2012

Ottawa – Canada’s associate defense minister on Tuesday said one of the most ardent supporters of the F35 program could back out of a multi-billion purchase of the fighter jets.

« We have not as yet discounted the possibility of backing out of the program, » Minister Julian Fantino, responsible for military procurement, was quoted as telling the House of Commons defense committee.

According to Canadian media, he said the government remains committed to buying the jet, but noted that no contract has been signed.

Fantino was not available to confirm the comments, which were widely interpreted as a step back from Ottawa’s clarion defense of the costly F35 program.

The Joint Strike Fighter is supposed to form the backbone of the future US air fleet and 11 other allied countries have joined the program.

But defense officials have struggled to keep costs under control, with each plane’s price tag doubling in real terms over the past decade.

Ottawa has budgeted Can$8.5 billion to buy 65 F35 fighter jets plus another Can$7.5 billion for lifetime maintenance.

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government would not spend more than this amount for new fighter jets, leaving open the possibility of scaling back the number of jets it buys to stay within budget.


L’Italie commandera moins de F-35 que prévu


Dans le cadre d’un plan de réductions budgétaires, Rome a décidé de tailler dans le programme d’avions F-35 destinés à l’armée de l’air et la marine italiennes. La cible d’acquisition a été ramenée de 131 à 90 appareils, soit 30% de moins que prévu en 2002, lorsque l’Italie a rejoint le programme Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), emmené par les Américains. Le gouvernement espère, ainsi, économiser 5 milliards d’euros.

On ne connait pas pour le moment le détail de cette réduction de voilure. Initialement, l’Italie devait commander 69 avions conventionnels de type F-35A, ainsi que 62 appareils du type F-35B, à décollage court et appontage vertical. Parmi ces derniers, 22 doivent rejoindre l’aéronautique navale. Les appareils de la marine seront sans doute maintenus, faute de quoi le nouveau porte-aéronefs Cavour, actuellement doté de Harrier vieillissants, n’aura plus d’avions à mettre en oeuvre d’ici la fin de la décennie. En revanche, la pertinence de doter l’armée de l’Air d’une quarantaine de F-35B, en plus des F-35A qui lui conviennent mieux, n’était pour beaucoup pas avérée. D’autant que l’Aeronautica militare utilise aussi l’Eurofighter Typhoon, dont 121 exemplaires doivent être livrés.

Source: Mer et Marine

Lockheed’s F-35 fighter jet under renewed pressure

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON | Tue Feb 7, 2012

(Reuters) – Key U.S. senators raised fresh questions about Lockheed Martin Corp’s $382 billion F-35 fighter program on Monday as the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer underscored deep flaws in the way the multinational arms program was set up from the start.

The unusually blunt talk about the most expensive U.S. arms program came a week before the release of a fiscal 2013 budget plan that is expected to postpone funding for 179 warplanes until after 2017, a move that has Australia and other international partners questioning their own procurement plans.

Cuts to the F-35 program are part of the Pentagon’s plan to start implementing $487 billion in defense spending reductions over the next decade.

The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee blasted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision to lift a « probation » imposed on the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 a year ahead of schedule, saying the move appeared premature and was not vetted with Congress.

Senator Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, and Senator John McCain, its top Republican, cited continuing cost overruns on the F-35 program and said Panetta had wasted a chance to « focus Lockheed Martin’s attention and disrupt ‘business as usual’ in this multibillion-dollar effort. »[ID:nL2E8D6IKK]

They said Lockheed’s fourth production contract for 32 F-35 jets was expected to overrun its target cost of $3.46 billion by $245 million, and that the cost of retrofitting planes already built would add $237 million more to the program’s budget.

Panetta last month threw his support behind the F-35B model, which takes off from shorter runways and lands like a helicopter, during a carefully orchestrated visit to a Maryland military base where the warplanes are being tested.

But a week later, he told reporters the Pentagon would further slow procurement of new F-35s to allow more time for development and testing — news that could prompt the eight international partners to cut or delay their orders as well.

Australia has already said it is rethinking its plans to buy 12 jets, Turkey has put off buying two jets, and Italy may follow suit, according to FlightGlobal. The other partners are Britain, Denmark, Norway, the Netherland, and Canada.


Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition chief, said the U.S. military was committed to the program, but he told industry executives at a Washington think tank that the United States was clearly « paying the price » for starting production of the new jets years before their first flight test.

« Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done, » Kendall said in remarks after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Initial development work on the fighter began in 1996 under the Clinton administration. Lockheed then beat out Boeing Co to win the program in 2001, early in the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Kendall said the plane’s problems so far were typical of those seen with other fighter jets and there was nothing that would prevent continued production at the current low rates.

The F-35 has completed about 20 percent of its required testing and should accomplish an additional 15 to 20 percent of testing in each of the coming years, Kendall said.

Lockheed, which says the F-35 will account for 20 percent of its revenues once it reaches full production, insisted that the program was continuing to make good progress, citing Panetta’s decision to lifted probation for the Marine Corp variant and better than expected flight test results for 2011.

Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said the U.S. government’s plan for concurrent production and development would have affected any winning bidder. He noted that most fighter plane programs had some degree of this concurrency.

« Lockheed Martin has worked hard during the past decade to cost effectively meet government procurement requirements, » he said, noting that each successive batch of F-35 jets had less « concurrency » costs — the cost of retrofitting already built planes to deal with problems found during testing.

Kendall said the Pentagon had counted on improved design and simulation tools to catch possible problems before jets went into low-rate production, but those design tools failed. He said he hoped no more serious issues came up in coming years, which would allow Lockheed to increase output and cut costs.

« The key to getting the cost down on the F-35 is getting the production rate up and we need to do that as soon as we’re ready to do it, but we’re not ready to do it yet, » he said.


President Barack Obama last month nominated Kendall, who has held a series of jobs at the Pentagon since 1982, to permanently take over as chief arms buyer. The Senate must approve the nomination, but no hearing date has been set.

Kendall, who had been the deputy chief arms buyer for the past two years, said he was already working on various initiatives to rein in chronic cost overruns and schedule delays on other major weapons programs, as well as service contracts that comprise about half of Pentagon procurement spending.

He discussed measures to train acquisition officials, review and analyze requirements to understand the full cost of programs before they are launched, and underscored the Pentagon’s commitment to maintaining the defense industrial base.

Kendall also warned that there were no simple, single-point solutions, including the fixed-price contracts favored by lawmakers and Pentagon officials on the F-35 program and others.

He said the United States was not facing another « procurement holiday » and cuts to weapons programs would not be as steep as after the end of the Cold War.

But he said the cuts would approach those post-Cold War levels if lawmakers did not reverse another $500 billion in spending cuts that are due to take effect in January 2013.

Source: Reuters

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Richard Chang)

Le Japon préfère le F35 américain à l’Eurofighter


Yann Rousseau

Tokyo aurait finalement estimé que l’appareil de l’américain Lockheed Martin était le seul capable de répondre à la montée en gamme des aviations russe et chinoise.

Les industriels européens auront probablement une nouvelle occasion de fulminer, cette semaine, contre le gouvernement japonais. Tokyo devrait annoncer vendredi qu’il a choisi l’avion de combat F-35 du constructeur américain Lockheed Martin pour renouveler sa flotte vieillissante et non l’Eurofighter Typhoon, construit par un consortium regroupant les Britanniques de BAE Systems, les Italiens de Finmeccanica et les Allemands et Espagnols au sein du groupe EADS.

Selon la presse japonaise, la décision des autorités devrait être entérinée par le Premier ministre, Yoshihiko Noda, à l’occasion du prochain conseil de sécurité nationale. Le ministère de la Défense, qui a repoussé à maintes reprises son arbitrage dans cet appel d’offres, où concourrait aussi le F/A-18 Super Hornet de Boeing, aurait finalement estimé que l’appareil le plus coûteux de la compétition était le seul capable de répondre à la montée en gamme des aviations russe et chinoise.

Un coût supérieur à 6 milliards de dollars

Les responsables de la Force aérienne d’autodéfense japonaise (JASDF) sont inquiets des ambitions de ces deux nations, qui mettent chacune de leur côté la dernière main au développement de chasseurs de nouvelle génération. Ils auraient donc plébiscité la grande furtivité du F-35 dans leur projet de remplacement de leurs « vieux » F-4 Phantom à partir de 2016.

Le renouvellement des avions de deux escadrons, soit environ 40 appareils, pourrait coûter, selon les analystes, plus de 6 milliards de dollars.

A Tokyo, les entreprises européennes commençaient à douter, ces dernières semaines, des chances de l’Eurofighter Typhoon, dont les performances et le prix avaient pourtant été vantés par une partie de la JASDF et de l’administration. Leurs « sources » dans les coulisses du pouvoir leur avaient confié que le lobbying de Washington s’était récemment intensifié.

Sauf surprise, le ministère de la Défense japonais, qui ne traite quasi-exclusivement depuis la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale qu’avec des industriels nippons ou américains, va refuser une fois encore de froisser son allié «historique et stratégique ».

Source: Les Echos