Air Power Australia
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Air Power Australia
Air Power Australia
Founded2004 in Australia
FounderCarlo Kopp, Peter Goon

Air Power Australia is a private non-profit Australian think tank. It was formed by Dr Carlo Kopp and Peter Goon in October 2004. The stated primary aim of the organisation is 'air power research and analysis, especially in the context of a modern integrated joint national force structure.' Air Power Australia is not affiliated with the Department of Defence, the Australian Defence Force or any other Australian Commonwealth government organisation.


The Air Power Australia website archives well in excess of 350 articles and papers dealing mostly with contemporary military aviation and Australian defense issues.

The Air Power Australia Analyses journal (ISSN 1832-2433) is also hosted by the website. Its stated aim is to provide a vehicle for academic and professional research, analysis and discussion articles and papers which do not fit the parameters of established publications in Australia. Most of the journal's publications to date are concentrated in the areas of policy, policy reform, strategy, technological strategy and basic technology.

Controversy and Criticisms

Air Power Australia have provided a number of submissions with regard to the Royal Australian Air Force's F-35 JSF acquisition program.

In 2012 Air power Australia provided a submission which was to be included in the 2012-2013 The Joint Strike Fighter: overview and status report. The report paid particular attention to the Air Power Australia submission stating that contrary to the Air Power Australia assertions with respect to JSF:[1]

a. Cost is currently within the approved cost envelope;

b. Capability is expected to meet RAAF's planned Initial Operational Capability requirements as advised to Government in 2009, and;

c. Schedule remains on schedule to deliver our first two aircraft in 2014 for US-based training.

The Australian Department of Defence's submission to the Committee went on to say:

"To comprehensively rebut many of APA's assertions in regard to F-35 performance would require release of highly sensitive U.S. data. As neither APA nor RepSim have access to the detailed classified F-35 data, their analysis is basically flawed through incorrect assumptions and lack of knowledge of classified F-35 performance information. Without this knowledge, APA and RepSim can only speculate on the F-35's capabilities and its ability to counter extant and evolving threats." [2]

Air Power Australia made further submissions in 2016, which are included in the Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) report [3]; the centre-piece summary of the Air Power Australia submission is what has become known as the ZOCT Table, which was described by Dr Andrew Davies, the Director of the Defence and Strategy program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, as "not a useful contribution to a discussion of the efficacy of the F-35 aircraft" [4]. Dr Davies highlighted a number of flaws in the analysis and methodology of the ZOCT table, noting that:

"The list of characteristics (APA incorrectly calls these 'metrics') of what constitutes a 5th generation aircraft (a term that is not well-defined in any case) is selective and omits or grossly simplifies several of the characteristics that are the strong points of the F-35. Some of the characteristics that are included are of debatable value. In particular, the table has several entries that score for high levels of aerodynamic performance--which was never a design goal of the F-35 and is of questionable value in a beyond-visual-range encounter--a key design concept for the F-35." [4]

Equally critical of the Air Power Australia ZOCT Table, was the Sir Richard Williams Foundation (SRWF) - noting that the information, analysis and conclusions appeared:

"to the layman the arguments presented by APA are very persuasive...However, the vast majority of APA's arguments are based on bogus analysis and conclusions".[5]

The committee was advised by the Sir Richard Williams Foundation (SRWF) that Air Power Australia's ZOCT Table methodology is "not recognised by anyone else as a basis for assessing 5th generation capabilities' and is 'fundamentally flawed and its conclusion is completely wrong'" - explaining this conclusion more:

"The table focuses excessively on flight performance qualities of 4th and 5th generation fighters. Over half the table relates to the relative flying qualities of the assessed aircraft. Even using these characteristics, a true comparison is only possible with access to classified data. For example, the table is factually incorrect with the data on flight characteristics presented on the F-35 and Super Hornet. The performance of the Russian and Chinese aircraft is also misrepresented. However, even without access to classified data, open source reporting by the Indian Air Force on the deficiencies of the PAK50 give a good indication on the level of misrepresentation inherent in the table. There are videos available on the internet that point to the inadequate performance of both the J20 and J31. Chinese engine technology is many years behind their western equivalents. The ZOCT Table places significantly less emphasis on the 5th generation characteristics of Very Low Observability (VLO), sensor fusion and network interoperability, which are fundamental to the successful attainment of air superiority in a hostile contested environment. The table significantly underestimates the VLO of the F-35 and significantly overstates the Low Observability (LO) capabilities of the PAK50 and J20. Even open source reporting from Russia does not claim the same level of LO that APA states in the ZOCT Table. Another area where APA has significantly understated the F-35 and Super Hornet is in the performance of Active Electronically Scanned Array radars of each aircraft. The underlying data used by APA in their analysis of the competing radars is in error by a very significant margin and that leads to erroneous conclusions about the performance of the respective radars." [5]

Lockheed Martin advised the committee that Air Power Australia's ZOCT Table is 'not a relevant assessment' of fifth-generation fighters. The Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) report [3] noted Lockheed Martin as identifying three key flaws noting [6]:

a. that the ZOCT Table does not accurately focus on the key discriminators that distinguish the differences between 4th and 5th generation fighters;

b. the ZOCT Table's scoring method incorrectly applies equal weighting to all metrics;

c. and APA's analysis is based on arbitrary and subjective parameters which are reliant on opinion and open source information.

The Australian Department of Defence described Air Power Australia's ZOCT Table as 'simplistic' . Defence advised the committee that Air Power Australia 'has not been informed by a comprehensive analysis program and is unsuited to conveying an assessment of capability' and their submission 'contains assumptions and inaccuracies that further detract from its utility' [7]:

"The ZOCT is a simplistic aircraft attribute scoring table that is unsuited to convey how individual platform characteristics interact in an operational context to deliver capability outcomes. Further, the ZOCT is unsuited for identifying whether those aircraft, as part of a larger force structure, can meet Australia's strategic requirements."


  1. ^ "The Joint Strike Fighter: overview and status 2012/2013". July 2012.
  2. ^ "The Joint Strike Fighter: overview and status". The Parliament of Australia. 26 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter)". The Parliament of Australia. 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) section 4.17" (PDF). 13 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) Section 4.18". 13 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) section 4.19". 13 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Planned acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) section 4.20". 13 October 2016.

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