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Which Fighter Jet should Canada choose?

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  • Some F-35s gathering dust waiting for repair parts

    The Marine Corps' F-35B fighters are among the oldest operating aircraft to come out of the Joint Strike Fighter program, and they're beginning to run into some maintenance issues. While many of the repairs being made to the aircraft are upgrades to bring them in line with the latest software releases and accompanying hardware upgrades, a fair share is for typical aircraft maintenance issues—and those issues are leading to an increasing number of aircraft left grounded waiting for parts. As Defense News' Valerie Insinna reports, that's often because the wait time for delivery on some parts is a month or longer. And according to a GAO report, the lead time for some F-35 replacement parts could be two years or longer


    • Some wars last less than two years...
      Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.


      • ^Hence buy more than you need just so you can have spare parts on hand.

        Although I say that in jest that was actually Soviet doctrine during the cold war. The Warsaw Pact had over 25,000 tanks (approx 2.5x NATO) and because the Soviets figured that WW3 would be a high intensity, high attrition affair of shorter duration than previous world wars they decided rather than repairing tanks in the field it would be more efficient to simply send another operational tank onto the front lines.

        While western military gear was deemed to have been of higher quality than Soviet gear the Russians adhered to the notion that "Quantity has a quality all of its own".
        Did my dog just fall into a pothole???


        • As an example, some of the best guns like the M16 or the Luger would jam if not constantly cleaned when they got dirty or used cheaper ammunition. Meanwhile the AK47 and the M1911A1could be dropped in the mud and sand and still shoot.

          The F35 may prove to be too fragile for forward operating bases, require too much specialized maintenance and parts. Can you get the plane off the ground if your software tech was just killed by a drone strike on your airbase?
          Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.


          • Trump may have just shot himself in the foot over F-35 purchase by Canada.

            Trump may have given Trudeau the excuse he needs to ditch the F-35 once and for all

            In short, the Trump administration has given an ultimatum to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. If Canada insists that industrial and technological benefits must come from the outlay of $19 billion for a new fighter jet fleet then Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth jet is out of the race. Full stop.

            The U.S. argument is that because Canada is a partner in the F-35 program it cannot ask Lockheed Martin to meet specific industrial benefits for a Canadian competition if the F-35 is selected. Under the F-35 agreement, partner nations are prohibited from imposing requirements for industrial benefits as the work is determined on the best value basis. In other words, Canadian firms compete and if they are good enough they get work on the F-35 program. Over the last 12 years, Canadian firms have earned $1.3 billion U.S. for their work on building F-35 parts.

            The U.S. had boldly stated it cannot offer the F-35 for the Canadian competition if there are requirements to meet for set industrial benefits.

            But that ultimatum could seriously backfire on the Trump administration.


            Trudeau will also be able to point to the other firms ready and keen to chase the $19 billion contract.

            Airbus, a major player in Canada’s aerospace industry, says it is open to producing its Eurofighter Typhoon in Canada with the corresponding jobs that will create.

            Boeing, which has a significant presence in Canada, will offer the Super Hornet.

            Saab has also hinted about building its Gripen fighter in Canada if it were to receive the jet contract.



            • Saab has proposed building most of the fighters for a proposed India order in India with Indian partners, so I could see them readily partnering with a Canadian firm to make them out here. The Gripen can also run from short runways, having been designed to take off from Swedish roads in the event of the air bases being bombed, which would be useful for Arctic sovereignty, allowing the Gripens to operate out of shorter arctic runways across the north if need be.


              • Originally posted by kkozoriz
                Trump may have just shot himself in the foot over F-35 purchase by Canada.

                Trump has nothing to do with this. The entire F-35 program was designed and laid out totally different than a traditional procurement award process, and Canada participated with both eyes wide open, receiving billions of dollars of economic benefits and work as part of that program. Now we're trying to back out of the program at the 11th hour and turning it in to a traditional procurement competition, with those billions in our pockets, and asking for billions more if by some miracle the F-35 wins the process (which it likely can't even participate in). Of course the US and other involved countries are going to be like "no, GTFO".

                Trump has absolutely nothing to do with this. He didn't make any changes in the program or issue any directives, to the best of my knowledge. It's such a complicated mess it's not really possible to apportion blame to the Canadian governments going back to 1997 when we joined the program. But the fact is that whether it's fighter jets, submarines, strategic air lift, SAR helicopters, supply ships, surface combatant ships, ice breakers, and who knows what else, military procurement is totally and utterly broken in this country. Look at how messed up the situation is with Mark Norman, formerly the second highest ranking member of the armed forces, being charged criminally for leaking documents about the supply ships (Scott Brison's retirement almost certainly had to do something with this whole mess, although he's not mentioned much in this particular story):

                It was known for decades that our supply ships were going to pretty much rust apart in the middle of the ocean, and even then, successive governments both Liberal and Conservative couldn't get their crap together and just buy a couple off the shelf supply ships.

                The only good news, I guess, is that apparently this is a problem in pretty much every developed country. Although I'd be curious if there's some sort of report or study that looks at those countries and compares their procurement records.
                Last edited by Marcel Petrin; 07-05-2019, 12:37 PM.


                • ^basically, the Liberals are not focused on buying the best fighter jet for the role. Virtually all of the F35's problem are sorted, it is puting up astounding performances at live military events, and its price is comparable to the other options being looked at. They just want to make sure their elite friends get work on whatever is spent (i.e. Irving family, or similar). The sad thing is, with Trudeau quite possibly losing later this year, the issue will just get punted again with even more delays. Brutal for our military watching the political football get booted around.


                  • For those interested in the matter you should take a look at the report released a few days ago by the MLI's Richard Shimooka. The link takes you to an overview page, the actual report is a PDF download from this page. Shimooka's findings are pretty eye watering and the report also has copies of recent replies to Canada from the JSF- JPO and the US Defense Department/Pentagon.
                    There are also embedded links to all of the reports issued over the years as this woeful tale has evolved.

                    My thoughts on this matter (the topic of this thread) follow Shimooka's train of thought.
                    There is really only one aircraft in the "competition" that we should be considering, and that is the F-35.

                    The biggest reason is that whatever we buy is going to have to serve for at least the next 40 years.

                    Due to the sheer scale of the JSF program (there will be no fewer than 2000 units built, perhaps as many as twice this number depending on how things evolve), in service support and upgrades for this machine will be absolutely available over the course of this 40 year period. None of the other aircraft under consideration have this going for them.
                    None of the others will be produced in the same volume (e.g. F/A-18E/F currently sits at about 600 copies built) and the economies of scale weigh heavily in favor of the F-35 as a result of this.

                    In a perfect world, we would have wrangled our way into the F-22 program many, many years ago and would have now been operating it for the past 20 years, strictly devoted to the NORAD mission. This would have allowed the conservation of our "legacy Hornet" fleet's flight hours, as they could serve as our "bomb truck" and deployable asset, while 40 or 50 F-22's watched over the homefront. This would see us set up to make a smaller buy of F-35's to replace the Hornet in the expeditionary mission, and to prepare for the F-22's eventual replacement by a sixth Generation machine in the 2040's.
                    Alas, this (my "perfect world") would have required us spending upwards of $10B in 1990 money and there was no way in hell that this would have gone through given the political climate (i.e. end of the Cold War) at the time.


                    • Another interesting addendum to the file.


                      • ^The engines on the F35 are also going to be used (with some variation) on the new B21 bomber, adding even more "scale", which will keep the costs coming down.


                        • Saab offers to build the Gripen in Canada:


                          Like the F35, the Gripen is a single engine jet - its proven to operate effectively in Arctic conditions. It uses mostly off the shelf components from various vendors (its Engine comes from the Super hornet). This "could" be the cheapest option.


                          • Originally posted by downtownone View Post
                            Saab offers to build the Gripen in Canada:


                            Like the F35, the Gripen is a single engine jet - its proven to operate effectively in Arctic conditions. It uses mostly off the shelf components from various vendors (its Engine comes from the Super hornet). This "could" be the cheapest option.
                            There are two serious problems with SAAB's offering. Range and sensor fusion.
                            They will be assessed during the (much delayed) competition on both of these matters and I really don't see how they will be able to beat the F-35 in either of these.
                            We are a huge Country. We need to be able to launch from YOD (Cold Lake), interrogate intruders, and have a fuel reserve to recover at Eileson AFB in Alaska for the sake of economy. The only way you can do this with the JAS 39 is to hang three drop tanks under it's wings.
                            Buying the SAAB machine would be similar to the fiasco which saw Trudeau (SR.) waste about a half Billion 1970's $ (over the lifespan) with the purchase of the "CF-116"/CF-5.
                            What should have happened at that point in time was a deal to license manufacture 240+/- F-4E Phantoms (like the RCAF wanted), once they were told that the Nuclear "Strike" role in the European Air Division was going away. This aircraft could have replaced the CF-104, CF-5, and the CF-101 and served all of their tasks much more efficiently as a common fleet. The air frames were still simple riveted aluminum at that point in time (=jobs for Canadair in Quebec) and Orenda was fully tooled up to supply OEL-7 (J-79's)...this was the power plant for the CF-104 after all.
                            Ergo? You already have a solid group of tech's to service the aero-engine aspect. The air frame is no more complicated than working on a 104 or a "Voodoo".
                            The "erk's" dealing with the radar system will have somewhat of a learning curve, the armourers just hang bombs and missiles on pylons, so there's little different in their world.
                            Aircrew is one (perceived) expense that had a bearing in the decision, although if you look at the situation (following stand-up of the CF-5 squadrons), the numbers required do not grow by any significant factor...perhaps 10%. The CF-101 units were already using a Pilot/RIO (+/-180 aircrew) and if you ditched the CF-5 (+/- 100 Pilots only) and retired/re-trained the CF-104 guys (+/-240 Pilots) then you're only 200 bodies (mostly RIO's) short for manning (+/-720 aircrew) a fleet of F-4E's.
                            The next (perceived;at the time) expense was the cost to purchase the aircraft ($2.1M USD/ea.). Considering the fact that we spent more than this over the lifespan of the CF-5 (> $1B USD), this is a wash. Like the CF-5, if the F-4E's were built in Cartierville with engines from Downsview, then the Government wins big time in terms of the ITB factor. We had the tech to manufacture the Radars and Attack/Nav computers domestically as well.
                            The last big negative (and this is a big one) revolves around the Phantom's range/specific fuel consumption for Northern patrol missions.
                            The F-4E could not do the mission profile from YOD either, not without air tanker support.
                            From Comox it was just possible, if the Phantom carried 10,000 lbs external fuel; on the East coast, staging was at Goose Bay and this was well within the operational profiles.
                            You really have to understand the mission (and the DEPTH/range of it) before advocating for a band-aid purchase for our air force.

                            There is no way that we buy anything besides the F-35A, not if it is a "open, transparent evaluation", like little buddy promised.
                            Anything else would be folly.

                            To extrapolate forward from my above "Phantasy/F-4E" purchase.
                            So we don't need to re-capitalize the RCAF by purchasing the CF-188 fleet in 1982-86. Good. While our A models have served us admirably over their lifespan, if we would have been sitting on a single airframe with a much more economical infrastructure behind it (ten years earlier)? We would be in a far better position.
                            This sets up the possibility/probability of getting on the F-22 Raptor for NORAD by the mid 2000's. We'd be down to 180+/- serviceable F-4's by this point, but with the political situation evolving as it did (end of the Cold War and all that), we could put a hundred of these into storage in Mountainview and cycle the airframes through the operational squadrons doing the expeditionary role (GW1/Kosovo/etc.).
                            With the NORAD thing already covered (F-22's), we look for a replacement for our expeditionary fleet in 2012-14 and decide that 65 F-35's will do just fine.
                            We are also talking to the US about the 6 Gen replacement for the F-22 fleet.

                            Perchance to dream.


                            • Alan Stevenson article

                              A little more support for my POV in this thread.
                              This situation (Airbus/Boeing "threatening" to not bid) is disingenuous to say the least. Of COURSE they won't bid...they have NO chance of winning.
                     through THIS article for a little more insight as to where we sit.

                              This article is instructive in regards to the "expectations" of our neighbor to the south.

                              We have a singularly "unique" relationship with the USA with regards to our shared defense of the North American airspace.
                              There is NO OTHER Nation on the planet that shares our "security clearance" level with the USA in this regard.
                              We will get the F-35 with every single "bell and whistle", not the dummied down versions that our NATO partners will have/operate.
                              N.B. (It's most likely that the UK will also get the "real deal", due to their function as a "trip-wire" for North American AD.)
                              We are one of the "TWO EYES" that Stevenson speaks about in the linked article.
                              If we would have funded an F-22 purchase back in the early 1990's?
                              WE (alone, among at least a half dozen nations that actually wanted to buy it) would have been an odds on favorite for Congressional approval, despite the mandate for NO exports associated with the project.
                              That's the difference...and after you read through the linked article?
                              It should make sense.


                              • While we wait the expensive F35, Warthogs will be operational until late 2030s