There’s interest in this item on Australia’s future frontline air weapon, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that appeared on the Dow Jones newswire yesterday:

Pentagon approves Joint Strike Fighter program plan

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer has approved the Defence Department’s current program for buying the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The new fighter, made by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), is the most expensive military program ever with an estimated $257 billion in lifetime costs… Delivery of the first planes is scheduled for 2008.

Michael Wynne, the Pentagon’s outgoing chief weapons buyer, signed off on a memo approving the program’s latest incarnation. The program has encountered cost increases and delays as a result of weight problems and other development issues.

Wynne approved the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) Program Review restructured program known as the “re-plan” effort. He also approved an updated acquisition strategy, said the memo, signed Tuesday and released Wednesday…

Re-plan? Ask local defence sources? Our defence bods plan to retire our F-111s before the F-35 enters service sometime next decade. There are already concerns among defence analysts, however, that the F-35 can’t match many of the older plane’s abilities – let alone worries about what our air defence will consist of while we wait for the JSF to enter service. There’s plenty on the JSF debate here.

The analysts now fear that wait – that defence gap – could be looking longer.