The RAAF F111C are still

The RAAF F111C are still flying after 38 years but in todays Australian they are reaching their use-by date. Non military readers may be concerned that our bomber force is comprised of middle-age aircraft but don't believe that everything old is bad. (The conservative in me loves saying that). The USAF's B52s enlisted in 1955 and you could have meaningfull conversations with Saddams Republican Guards as to how effective they are. Menzies, the Prime Minister in the 60s, placed orders for the F111s to combat Indonesia's rumblings as 'Bung' Sukarno tried to deflect public opinion from economic worries by overworking the 'War' word - as you do. They worked. Just sitting on the tarmac at RAAF Amberly was a sufficient deterrant to all expansionists in South-East Asia. And get this; The aircraft was unpopular with officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs who lived with criticism from diplomats that, in all South-East Asia, only Australia possessed a warplane which could reach foreign shores. Get real, chaps, that is what it was all about. I hoped they smiled smugly when this obvious point was raised. Not only can it reach foreign shores but it was developed to fly from mainland US to China, drop a nuke and then fly back home again, so it's umbrella covers all of South-East Asia. The USAF has demobbed their F111s giving Australia a 'Cash Converters' type shopping mall that will enable us to keep the fleet airborne for years at 'competitive' rates. In the article much is made of new 'stealth' technology the US have deployed with their new strike aircraft but it is expensive and I can tell you an aircraft flying at mach 2.5 with ground hugging radar is a difficult target; considering that when the enemy are first aware of the bombs, the F111, using 'smart bomb' technology, is half way home. The Australian Defence Forces struggle as politicians and defence heads try and get more bang for the buck. In this article what isn't mentioned, is the years of bludging as Australia's decreasing spending on defence was rationalized by multi-coloured' papers, most common - White Papers. These papers promised no-one was about to attack and therefore we can cut back on Infantry battalions, new tanks and new aircraft. Us proffessional officers argued 'one day the rent will fall due' and it has. No-one anticipated the world as it exists today and if they did, they were laughed out of the conference room. Now, where are the Infantry Battalions, new tanks etc when we need them? Circulating from Government coffers to Arts funding, dole payments, single mother supporting pensions and a host of other social necessities that are needed in a caring society but have we balanced all our expenditure responsibilities? No! For every year we didn't spend responsibly on defence we need to make it up. If for ten years our defence expenditure was 1.5% of GDP when 2% is reaonable, then lifting 2004 to 2% doesn't begin to catch up. We need a big hit of 10 time .5 to get back in the game. Yesterday in Jakarta, Jemaah Islamiah announce that they are still playing the game, are we?