Don't hold your breath for the F35 either Phil. At current budget levels without a change in government we wont be able to afford very many. From what I am hearing we'll more than likely end up filling the gap with more Super Hornets. After all is the RAAF really going to spend millions training crews and maintenance just to have to do it all over again in a few years?
Our defence force is in real trouble under a Labor government. Ever Labor government reduces defence spending but this one has to take the cake.
My son flys F-18Es. The F-35 is on the horizon. I want him to have two engines when he flys. Glad he's in the super hornet (but would have prefered he flew the two-seater so someone else could be there to help him watch the fuel gauge).
Everyone says the maintenance cost to have 2 engines is too much, but crash just one airplane due to the only enging failing, and you have more than paid for the extra cost of maintaining a second engine for the entire fleet. Just sad. The F-18 is the cat's meow, and it has an all digital backbone. So all the technology improvements being used to justify a new airplane could be simply installed into the super hornet instead.
On the Herk issue, you can put three times the number of pallets into a C-17 than a Herk, BUT, a C-17 can only be in one place at a time, while the same number of pallets in herks can be in three different places at once.