http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年01月15日 09:18 中國航空信息網
針對上屆政府計畫購買100架F-35 JSF戰鬥機並購買"超級大黃蜂"作為過渡方案的做法，Fitzgibbon認為該決定未經過正確的過程或能力辯證，他同時警告澳大利亞將不能容忍F-35再次出現任何進度推遲或成本上漲。(吳蔚 責編洪山)
Australia to weigh Lockheed Martin F-22 against Russian fighters
By Siva Govindasamy
Australia plans to request access to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, and will also consider Russian fighters such as the RSK MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-35, as part of a review of its air power capabilities that could lead to the cancellation of a A$6.6 billion ($5.8 billion) deal to buy 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets.
The USA has refused even close allies like Japan access to the F-22 (pictured below left, with US Navy F/A-18E), and Congress has banned its export. But defence analysts say that if Washington changes its mind, Japan and Australia could be among the first to get access to the type. Lockheed is also keen to keep its Raptor production line open, but a major deterrent to a foreign sale could be a reported development cost of up to $1 billion for an export variant.
But Australia's new defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon appears unfazed in the search for a replacement for the country's General Dynamics F-111s (pictured below) and early-model F/A-18s. "I intend to pursue American politicians for access to the Raptor," he says. "We are well placed to talk to Democrats on the Hill about it, and I want it to be part of the mix." Fitzgibbon adds that all possible options will be studied before a decision, including the possible purchase of Russian aircraft. "The review should include a comparative analysis of everything on the market," he says. "I'm not ruling out any option."
Observers believe that domestic politics are behind the Labor Party's review of almost A$23 billion worth of defence projects, given that the Liberal Party which lost last December's general elections is now led by former defence minister Brendan Nelson. He was at the helm when Australia pledged to buy 100 Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which are not expected to enter service until the middle of the next decade, and when it ordered its Super Hornets as a bridging measure.
Fitzgibbon charges that the latter decision was made without "proper due process or capability justification", while some military analysts have claimed that the aircraft lacks the stealth capability and power that the Royal Australian Air Force needs. The new defence minister has meanwhile warned that Canberra will not tolerate further delays or an increase in the cost of the F-35.
Another project under review is a A$1 billion programme to upgrade 11 Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters. These were purchased in 1997 to operate from the navy's Anzac-class frigates, but have been plagued by technical problems and have been grounded for more than a year. Nelson said last year that the helicopters will be upgraded and available for use around 2010.
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