Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When I Read the Comment Section...



Just a reminder that I am simply a guy who blogs in his spare time. Yes, I am an "amateur" but I don't pretend to be anything else.  I just want to see Canada select the best multirole fighter for its needs. 

Like most of you, my life is devoted mostly to family and work commitments. 

I spend what little time I have to devote this site towards producing content.  As such, I don't spend much time in the comment section.  For the most part, I prefer to leave that to all of you to discuss things as you see fit.  (I do spent plenty of time on the Facebook group, however, please join us if you haven't!)

Unfortunately, trolling and other foul behavior is a fact of life in today's internet age. Those who can't form a cohesive  and intelligent argument resort to name-calling and other tactics.  While this never actually wins anybody over, these people are empowered by the attention.  So don't give them any.  Ignore them, block them, whatever.  Just don't let them bait you on to their level.  

I'll keep deleting and banning whatever trolls try to disrupt this blog.  It takes two clicks.  Some will undoubtedly return through proxies, alternate IP addresses, whatever.  I actually take it as a compliment that they are desperate to discredit me.  (Although I'm jealous that they have that much free time...)

Anyhoo...  I'm in the process of revisiting each fighter in the context of the government's questionnaire.  Stay tuned. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Whither the Snowbirds?

No...  Not that.
It would seem that the CF-18 is not the only RCAF asset that is being tasked with flying past its prime. (Unlike the wonderful and evergreen Anne Murray)

There ya go.

Recent news reports have stated that the RCAF's fabled demonstration team will likely continue flying the venerable CT-114 Tutor until the year 2030.  This would put the 60's era jet trainers approaching their 70th birthday by the time they retire.  Not as a design, but as actual 70-year-old airframes, as the last Tutor was built in 1966.  Even now, the Snowbirds can be considered ancient artifacts (apologies to any of my readers over the age of 50).  

There is no shame in this, as the CT-114 Tutor has outlasted the CF-101 Voodoo, and is well on track to outlasting the CF-18 as well.  

Indeed, the 431 Demonstration Squadron could be considered a "Heritage Flight".  As Professor Jones would say:



From 1961 to 2000, the CT-114 Tutor served as the jet trainer for the RCAF.  In 1967, ten CT-114s were adapted into the Golden Centennaires demonstration team in order to celebrate Canada's golden centennial.  

The Tutor ended up being a fantastic choice for a demonstration team.  Its small size, agility, and forgiving nature allowed it to perform maneuvers that larger aircraft (like the ill-fated F-105 of the Thunderbirds) simply could not.  Best of all, it is a Canadian-made and designed aircraft.  This makes it a perfect fit.

CT-114 in "Golden Centennaire" livery.

The sad thing is, there is no obvious replacement for the Tutor.  

Since 2000, the CT-114's pilot training duties have been passed on to the CT-156 Harvard II (aka: T-6 Texan II) and the CT-115 Hawk.  Either of these aircraft would make a serviceable replacement for the Tutor as both are currently used in air demonstration teams.  The BAE Hawk is currently in use by the RAF's Red Arrows while the T-6 Texan II is in use by Greece's HAF "Daedalus" demo team.  

There is one small problem here, however...

The RCAF does not actually own any Harvard IIs or Hawks.  Both aircraft types are leased.  Not that this would preclude either from performing Snowbird duty, it just does not seem right.

There is always the option of disbanding the Snowbirds altogether, but that would be a very sad day for the RCAF and Canadians as a whole.  

Canada and the RCAF have a proud legacy of producing some of the world's greatest aviators.  Not only does a air demo team wow the crowds and encourage enlistment, but it pays tribute to Canada's rich history of producing the likes of Billy Bishop and Chris Hadfield.

CT-156 Harvard II
The CT-156 Harvard II would likely be the more economical choice, short of disbanding the Snowbirds altogether.  Built by Beechcraft (now Raytheon) and maintained by Bombardier, the Harvard II serves as the RCAF's basic pilot trainer.  As such, any RCAF pilot, whether it be C-17, CF-18, or even CH-146 Griffon helicopter pilot should be familiar.  The Harvard II is also roughly the same size as the Tutor.

Ostensibly a American T-6 Texan II, which itself is based on the Swiss  Pilatus PC-9, the Harvard II would likely be seen as a step down from the Tutor, however.  While a turboprop is still technically a jet engine, there would be a loss in performance and prestige compared to the CT-114.  Even the privately owned Patriots air demonstration team flies the turbofan-powered L-39 Albatross.


CT-155 Hawk
The BAE CT-155 Hawk would seem to be a more obvious choice.  Already in use by the RAF's Red Arrows demo team, the Hawk has seen use worldwide both as a trainer and a light fighter/attack aircraft.  It has even been modified for carrier landings by the USN, becoming the T-45 Goshawk.  

The Hawk is bigger, heavier, faster, and more powerful than the venerable Tutor.  While such an upgrade is usually welcome in most military aircraft, this is not always the best case for demonstration teams.  Undoubtedly, some of the maneuvers currently employed by the Snowbirds would have to be modified, if not abandoned with the adoption of the Hawk.

Textron AirLand Scorpion
Another option would be to acquire an entirely new aircraft, possibly the Textron AirLand Scorpion, or similar.  Ideally, this would replace both the CT-114 Tutor and (eventually) the CT-155 Hawk.  The Hawk is, after all, a 1970s design.  

Purchasing an all-new design could result in an attractive offset deal, possibly resulting in adoption of an aircraft that is built in (if not designed) Canada.  This would not only pay homage to Canada's aviators, but Canada's aerospace industry as well.  

Depending on the timeline, budget, and performance requirements; Canada may be able to adopt the winning T-X design.  An offset deal that includes Canadian firms participating in T-X manufacturing (similar to the JSF program) would likely be a boon to both the RCAF and the Canadian aerospace industry as the T-X will likely see worldwide sales.

There is one last option...

The RCAF's CF-18 Demonstration Team's 2016 livery.
For several years now, the Snowbirds have flown alongside a CF-18 Demonstration Team that performs a solo acrobatic performance.  This requires two aircraft (one as a backup) plus the usual crew.  

This begs the obvious question:  Why not amalgamate the two demonstration teams?

This would, of course, put the Snowbirds in whatever high performance fighter jet that replaces the CF-18, be it F-35, Super Hornet, Gripen, Typhoon, or Rafale.  This would put the Snowbirds more on par with their American counterparts; the USAF Thunderbirds and the USN Blue Angels.  

Operating costs for the Typhoon, and Rafale would likely prohibit their use a team demonstration aircraft.  Even their originating nations do not use them as such, preferring to use the BAE Hawk or Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet.  The Blue Angels intend to replace their aging Hornets with Super Hornets in the future (a move that does bring up questions) rather than the F-35C.  Whether or not the Thunderbirds will transition to the F-35A or T-X remains to be seen (the Thunderbirds recently transitioned to Block 52 F-16C/Ds, so there is no rush).

Given its low operating cost, the Saab Gripen could be the only potential CF-18 replacement fiscally capable of Snowbird duty.  Even then, numbers would likely need to to be cut.  Oddly enough, the Gripen is not used by any air force demonstration team.  Not even Swedish Air Force's (Flygvapnet) Team 60.  This could be explained by the fact that Team 60 is more of an ad hoc demo team comprising of senior flight instructors instead of full-time demo pilots.  Flygvapnet does provide a thrilling solo Gripen performance, however.  


Imagine five of these.


While the current plan may be to keep the Snowbirds flying the CT-114 Tutor until 2030, that may end up changing.  The government webpage on the replacement is quite vague, stating a cost estimate of "$500 million to $1.5 billion" and "may also be linked to the solution for Future Pilot Training, which is due to replace NATO Flying Training in Canada in the 2020 period".  

That sounds as if any and all options may be on the table, with a likely possibility being whatever replaces the currently leased Harvard IIs and/or Hawks...  Which could simply be more of the same.

Let us hope the Snowbirds are here to stay, and that they do not "spread their tiny wings and fly away".  





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Please stand by...


I must apologize for my recent lack of posts.

I was hoping to pick up the pace recently, but personal family matters have completely derailed any attempts for me to sit down at a keyboard.

Things are finally settling down now.

In the upcoming weeks I hope to revisit the fighter candidates using context from the Federal Government's Industry Consultation Questionnaire.  I will also examine the future of the Snowbirds, take a closer look at "cheap and cheerful" and hopefully much, much more.

Please stay tuned!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Industry Consultation Questionnaire: A Positive First Step

And so it begins...  Again...
The Canadian Government has taken its first step towards (hopefully) restarting its quest to find a suitable replacement for the CF-18.

The "CF-18 REPLACEMENT INDUSTRY CONSULTATION QUESTIONNAIRE" was answered by five aerospace companies (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab, Eurofighter, and Dassault) regarding their respected fighters.

Earlier reports that the Canadian government may sole-source an "interim" Super Hornet buy were met with sharp criticism (not from me) that doing so would break a Liberal election promise to hold an fair and open fighter competition.  Selecting a sole-source Super Hornet as an interim solution would make it all but inevitable for a full purchase.  Even if a different fighter was selected afterward, the additional costs of operating a diversified fighter fleet would cause financial stress.

[NOTE:  I believe the interim Super Hornet idea may have been intentionally "leaked" to gauge reaction.]

Whatever the case, Canada is now back to selecting one of five modern fighters to replacing its aging CF-18s.

The usual suspects...
Reading through the questionnaire (and I highly suggest you do) it becomes very apparent that priority will be placed on three things:

  1. Costs.  Not only are purchase costs and operating costs requested but concurrency costs (modifications required after-the-fact) as well.  
  2. Industrial benefits to Canada:  Will Canadian companies be included in the construction and continued maintenance of this aircraft?  Is work already being done here?  Is there potential for growth in the future?
  3. Performance:  Figures are requested for a typical NORAD interception mission, (i.e.: flying out of Cold Lake to Inuvik than a 100nm dash)  This places emphasis on interceptor capability more than the strike role.
Interestingly enough, there is no mention of a specific number of fighters to be purchased.  Figures are requested for "Unit-Recurring Flyaway Cost " along with eight simulators, two sets of aircraft training aids, and training for 100 pilots and 250 technicians.

Along with these priorities (Cost, Industrial Benifits, Home Defense), there are a few other "tidbits" included in the questionnaire that stand out (along with my musings).


  • Weapons currently in the Canadian Forces inventory that can be employed on the new aircraft will be retained. If the current CF-18 gun ammunition, deployable countermeasures (e.g. chaff/flares), missiles and bombs, are incompatible with the new aircraft this item should include the cost of an initial stock of such items. If current CF-18 weapons are compatible with the new aircraft, the cost of certifying their use on the new aircraft should also be included under this item.  This severely hurts the Rafale and helps the Super Hornet.
  • Provide the aircraft's planned production capacity (minimum annual) from 2017 to 2030, the associated currently known production orders as well as the planned closure of the production line.  This hinders the Super Hornet, Typhoon, and Rafale.  They all have an uncertain future after 2018 (the questionnaire does ask what contingency is in place for spares and long term support, however).
  • Provide a list of current customers operating your aircraft type, and the status of current customer deliveries.  This hinders both the Super Hornet (small user base) and the F-35 (late deliveries)
  • please describe the potential opportunities for Canadian companies to be integrated into the production supply chain of this aircraft? Could these opportunities extend to the global supply for future sales of this aircraft? Please explain. Not good for the Typhoon, Rafale and Super Hornet if their production ends
  • Please describe your approach to the transfer or provision of access to intellectual property (IP) and technical data to facilitate the support of the hardware and software of the solution.  This hurts the F-35, which is pretty much "black box" in this department.
  • Identify if the proposed platform requires the use of a special access facility? If so, provide unclassified infrastructure requirements.  This hurts the F-35, which requires enhanced security measures.
  • What is the total maintenance man-hours per flying hour for the proposed platform?  This helps the Gripen, which is famous for its ease of maintenance.


Damn near disqualified.  
Now for the kicker.  

The questionnaire asks for performance data on the following tasks:

  • Profile 1: Goose Bay to Iqaluit
    a. Depart Goose Bay, NL (CYYR);
    b. Transit to overhead destination, Iqaluit, NU

    (CYFB);
    c. Continue to alternate Kuujjuaq, NU (CYVP); d. Hold 15min; and
    e. Complete an approach, landing with dry tanks.

  • -  Profile 1a: Dash from Iqaluit (using Profile 1 configuration)
    a. Depart Iqaluit, NT (CYEV);
    b. Proceed 100nm North at 30,000’MSL at

    optimum range airspeed;
    c. Accelerate to Mach X.XX and maintain for

    10min (proceeding North);
    d. Return to overhead Iqaluit at optimum altitude

    and airspeed;
    e. Continue to alternate Kuujjuaq, NU (CYVP); f. Hold 15min; and
    g. Complete an approach, landing with dry tanks. 


  • Profile 2: Cold Lake to Inuvik
    a. Depart Cold Lake, AB (CYOD);
    b. Transit to overhead destination, Inuvik, NT

    (CYEV);
    c. Continue to alternate Norman Wells, NT

    (CYVQ);
    d. Hold 15min; and
    e. Complete an approach, landing with dry tanks.

  • -  Profile 2a: Dash from Inuvik (using Profile 2 configuration)
    a. Depart Inuvik, NT (CYEV);
    b. Proceed 100nm North at 30,000’MSL at

    optimum range airspeed;
    c. Accelerate to Mach X.XX and maintain for

    10min (proceeding North);
    d. Return to overhead Inuvik at optimum altitude

    and airspeed;
    e. Continue to alternate Norman Wells, NT

    (CYVQ);
    f. Hold 15min; and

     g. Complete an approach, landing with dry tanks.
This would seem to be the typical intercept missions expected from a Canadian fighter aircraft.  Launching out of major airbase where CF-18s are routinely stationed with a stop at a Forward Operating Locations (FOL) for fuel, followed by a 100nm cruise followed by a high-speed dash to intercept, followed by a return.  

One small problem, however...

The F-35A, in its current form, cannot operate from Inuvik or Kuujjuaq.

As has been discussed before, the F-35A requires 8,000 feet of runway (preferably 10,000).  FOL Inuvik has a 6,001 foot runway.  Kuujjuaq has 6,000 feet of asphalt.  When you consider the possibility of less-than-ideal landing conditions, landing at either base would be a no-go with an F-35A in its current form.  

While Lockheed Martin is working on a drag chute for the Lightning II, it will not be flight tested until next year.  The JSF's drag chute is unique in that it must be designed in a way to keep the F-35 stealthy.  It also needs to be constructed of kevlar in order to withstand the heat of the F135 engine.  This poses a problem as the questionnaire stipulates the following condition for the above scenarios:
use actual aircraft configuration (utilize systems which are operational with Armed Services today only – non- developmental) 
While it could be argued that the Gripen JAS-39E would be considered "developmental" at this time, Saab could simply use figures derived from the current C/D variants.  It could also back this up with performance data from the "Gripen NG" flight demonstrator aircraft as well as the actual Gripen E which is expected to fly by the end of the calendar year.  

"What ya doing'?"
"Oh...  Y'know...  Bear stuff."

The new questionnaire seems refreshingly simplistic in its queries.  How much does a fighter cost?  How can Canadian industry benefit?  Can the fighter actually do the job we need it to do?

Of course, how much weight will be put into each question is anybody's guess.  A questionnaire requesting non-classified information is far from a official competition, but it is a good start.  Better still, nothing about questionnaire seems to to arbitrarily rule-in or rule-out any particular aircraft.

Even the F-35's landing distance issue could be addressed easily enough.  Drag chutes are nothing new and the JSF's can be seen as "low risk".

Ultimately, the decision will likely come down to each manufacturer's individual bid.  This is a good thing, as it will help Canadian get the right fighter for the right price.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

[OPINION] Canada needs more than 65 fighters.

More than this...
Sixty-five fighters.

That is the minimum amount the RCAF has stated it needs to fulfill its duties.  This is a sharp decline in the current 77 CF-18s Canada currently operates.  Sixty-five fighters would also be less than half of the total 138 CF-18s procured by the RCAF over the years.  It should be noted that the RCAF also operated the CF-116 (CF-5) Freedom Fighter at the time as well.  

Why so few?

For one, the end of the Cold War has supposedly brought on a "peace dividend" in which military spending can be cut as the world becomes a safer place.  

There is also the argument that a modern, advanced fighter like the F-65 offers so much capability, performance, and reliability that less are needed.

Initially, RCAF brass requested 78 F-35s to replace the CF-18s on a 1:1 basis.  This was reduced to 65, likely to get the purchase price under a $9 billion limit.

While one cannot expect the RCAF to match the USAF in terms of fighter strength, it is all-too-obvious that 65 fighters seems like an awfully low number.  That is because it is.  

In terms of defence budget, Canada slots in between Turkey and Taiwan.  

Turkey (until recent events) has planned on procuring up to 116 F-35s.  In the meantime, they will make do with 240 F-16s, 49 F-4Es, and 59 F-5s.  (348 fighters total)

Taiwan has been left out of the JSF club for now, but is upgrading its F-16 fleet of 115 aircraft to the F-16V standard.  This is alongside 47 Mirage 2000s and 23 F-5E/RF-5Es.  Taiwan also utilizes 102 copies of its indigenous AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo.  (287 fighters total)

The RAAF plans on procuring 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets as well as 72 F-35As.  That's 96 cutting-edge 5th and 4++ generation fighters.  

Even Brazil, a nation infamous for its depressed economy, poverty, and poor living conditions; is planning on acquiring 100 Saab Gripen E/Fs.  This is in addition to their 31 A-29 Super Tucano and 47 AMX light attack aircraft.  


Closer, but not quite...
When put in perspective, Canada's current and planned fighter fleet is quite frankly embarrassing.  Yes, some air forces are in worse shape, but that hardly excuses it.

Canada ranks as the 10th strongest economy in the world.  We have the enviable advantage of being in one of the most stable socio-political stable regions of the globe.  Our closest ally happens to wield the worlds largest military.  We are in an enviable position that allows us to take the moral high ground and look down our noses at military spending.

That is all well and good, but if Canada wants to do more to contribute to our own safety and the safety of others around the world it will have to step things up.

Since Canada is large nation surrounded by water on three sides and a powerful ally on the fourth, it goes without saying that airpower and naval power are paramount.  Luckily, Canada has the economy to support both a powerful navy and air force...  If it chooses to.  While we may not be able to match nations like the USA or China, we should be able to afford a blue water navy and a expeditionary air force.

Canada's air force is already quite impressive in most respects.  We have a superb tactical and strategic airlift capabilities.  Our CP-140 Auroras are still world-class ISR/ASW aircraft despite their age.  With any luck, new maritime helicopters and FWSAR aircraft will be finally arriving any year now.  That leaves our rapidly aging fighter fleet as a "sore point".

With the CF-18s replacement still very much up in the air, now is a good time to question not only what kind of fighter Canada needs; but how many.  


Now your'e getting it...



Allow me to make an argument why Canada should purchase more than 65.  Much more.




Geography

We will get the most obvious reason out of the way first.  Canada is big.  Really big.  You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is.  Only Russia is bigger.  Much of that territory is sparsely populated and inhospitable wilderness.  That means much of Canada's sovereign territory is accessible most easily by aircraft.  

Currently, Canada's CF-18 fleet operates primarily out of two airbases (Cold Lake and Bagotville) with rotations in three more (Comox, Goose Bay, and Greenwood).  That is not a lot of airbases to cover a massive amount of airspace.  

It could be argued that Canada is at very low risk for an aerial invasion.  Any conventional attack (not coming from the south) would require a massive investment in recourses like long-range bombers, aircraft carriers, and tanker aircraft.  The one exception to this would be a 9/11-style terrorist attack using civilian airliners.

The Dassault Rafale's Reco NG (AREOS) reconnaissance pod.

Versatility

When one pictures fighter aircraft, images of tense aerial dogfights or precision bombing runs often comes to mind.  Modern multi-role fighters are capable of much more than that, however.  Advancements in radar and other imaging sensors have made them impressive reconnaissance aircraft, especially when outfitted with a reconnaissance pod.  While a single or two-manned fighter would never be able to replace a dedicated spy plane like the CP-140, an armed fighter has the ability to go into contested airspace and defend itself while it performs its duties.  

With a myriad of various pods, missiles, and fuel tank options; a modern multi-role fighter can often be whatever is needed at the time.  Loaded with air-to-air missiles it can act as defensive interceptor.  Loaded with guided bombs and external fuel tanks it becomes a long-range bomber.  Depending on the load out, a fighter could be tasked anything from close air support to long range "bunker busting".  Better still, a modern fighter could perform a ground attack mission then transition to an air-to-air mission once it jettisons its heavy bombs.  

One could go even a step further and look at the example set by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.  With "buddy" refueling pods it becomes an aerial tanker.  With extensive modifications it becomes the specialized EA-18G Growler electronic warfare craft.    


Anytime, anywhere...  With a little support.

Deployability

Fighter aircraft, by their very nature, are mobile machines.  At a moment's notice, they may need to be scrambled to defend home turf.  They are also able to deploy to just about anywhere in the world with short notice.  Once there, fighter aircraft can operate out of a friendly airbase (sometimes not even that).

This is not to say that fighter aircraft are easy things to deploy from a logistical standpoint.  When fighters are sent, they need the support of pilots, maintainers, spare parts, fuel, and other materials and support staff.  When compared to other heavy military equipment (tanks, helicopters, etc) however, the fighter jet is incredibly mobile.  It does not need a strategic airlift to carry it overseas.  

When the Swedish Air Force assisted in the NATO-led mission over Libya, it was able to support a force of eight JAS 39C/D Gripens with a single C-130 Hercules.

CT-155 Hawk

Training

The more aircraft available in the fleet, the more training hours can be made for both new and experienced pilots.  When those aircraft and training hours become sparse, the effect can be felt for years.   

Whenever budget cuts need to be made in military spending, training hours should NEVER be on the table.  Doing so not only reduces the effectiveness of our forces, but it is dangerous.  Pilots need to fly, simple as that.  Not out of some spiritual need, but in order to stay proficient.  Lack of training hours can be deadly.  Modern simulators are good, but they still do not completely replace actual seat time.

A well-trained force is an effective one.  Proper training requires time spent with the equipment to be used in wartime.  Unfortunately, unit-hours are often a precious commodity due to low fleet availability or an abundance of airframe hours.  More airframes mean more flight hours should be available, leading to more training hours.  

Safety

While it may seem unheroic, modern warfare is all about having an extreme advantage over your enemy.  You fight them on your terms, not theirs.  

Needless to say, a pilot flying 30,000 feet above at subsonic speeds is in an enviable position compared to the ground troops stuck down in "the suck".

Since its introduction in 1983, not a single CF-18 has been lost in combat action.  This, despite being deployed to several combat zones (Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, etc).  While contributing to the ground action in Afghanistan, the Canadian military lost 132 of its members to enemy action, with another 27 killed by "non-enemy action" (suicide, friendly fire, accidents, etc.).

While no war can be won strictly from the air, nor can a modern war be won without air-superiority.  Canada does have the means to offer up air support in lieu of ground troops.  At the risk of sounding cynical and callous, I believe most Canadian would prefer Canadian soldiers to die defending their country instead of someone else's.  

At the very least, Canadian ground troops may take more comfort that their air support is being provided by Canadian aircraft...  Instead of someone else.  

Before the Snowbirds...  There was the Golden Hawks.

Demonstration Team

Lightening things up a bit, Canada is not only in need of new combat fighters, but new aircraft for the Snowbirds demonstration team.  

Currently, the Snowbirds fly the CT-114 Tutor, a Canadian-made trainer/attack aircraft that first flew in 1960 and has not been produced since 1966.  Currently, the Tutor is used strictly for Snowbird duty as pilot training duties have passed on to the CT-156 Harvard II and CT-155 Hawk.  Canada also operates a CF-18 Demonstration Team.  While the continued existence of either team may seem superfluous to some, we will not get into that argument here (stay tuned).

Unless the RCAF wants its demonstration team to consist of FWSAR aircraft, airlift aircraft, or helicopters, it is going to need either fighters or trainer aircraft to make up the Snowbirds.  This would suggest either the CT-156 Harvard II, CT-155 Hawk, or whatever Canada's new fighter will be.  Given that Canada's current Harvard II and Hawk fleets are leased, they may not be the best solution.  

Instead, the RCAF may choose to emulate the USAF Thunderbirds and USN's Blue Angels demonstration teams and "upgrade" to its workhorse fighter.  This may raise concerns about operating costs, but these could be mitigated by fleet commonality, reducing the team size, and choosing a fighter with low operating costs.  This is not without precedent, as the CF-86 was used in the precursor to the Snowbirds, the Golden Hawks.


Make the RCAF great again...

With a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the CF-18's replacement, now is the time to seize the opportunity to revamp Canada's fighter fleet.  Instead of merely "making do" with the minimum amount of fighters, the RCAF should be provided with a first-class fighter fleet with ample equipment and training.

What fighter we ultimately choose to replace the CF-18 may not be nearly as important as how many. Whether that solution includes an "interim" fighter, a mixed fleet, or even UCAVs; the RCAF deserves to have enough combat aircraft to do its job at anytime and anywhere in the world.  This can only be done if there is enough inventory.  Hand-wringing over airframe hours or part availability should never be an issue.  

While some would prefer Canada procure a smaller number of bleeding-edge aircraft, the wiser solution may be to select a more affordable fighter (or combination of fighters) in much larger numbers.  Remember, it is not the fighters that matter as much as pilots flying them.  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Turkish Coup d'Etat... And the JSF

We might need to cross out a flag or two...


May you live in interesting times.
-Chinese curse 

"Interesting" does not begin to describe the event of the last few weeks.  Mass shootings, terror attacks, the possibility of a Trump presidency...

Now comes word of an attempted coup in Turkey.  While military coups are not unheard of, this recent Turkish coup stands out for two very concerning reasons.

  1. Turkey is a NATO country.  This has ramifications for all NATO members if Article 5 is invoked.  
  2. Turkey is a Level 3 partner in the JSF program with plans on buying up to 116 F-35As.  
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Erdogan has been a controversial figure to say the least.  While democratically elected, there claims he is evolving into a dictator.  Turkey's tactics in the war against ISIS/ISIL not only armed extremist factions, but came close to sparking off WWIII.

Normally, this sort of behavior would lead to some sort of sanction, but friends are hard to come by in the middle-east these days.  

The question is:  Should the Joint Program Office follow through on selling F-35s to Turkey?

The obvious answer is a resounding "NO".  

While the JSF still has its issues, it is still a highly advanced stealth fighter/bomber.  In the interest of global security, care must be taken to insure it does not end up in the hands of a unstable, unpredictable, or extremist government.  Doing so would be a recipe for disaster.  

During the attempted coup, anti-government forces took control over one air force base.  F-16s flew at low altitude over populated areas as a show of force.  


It does not matter whether or not the coup was justified or not.  At this point in time, Turkey is clearly an unstable nation.  There can be no other option but to indefinitely postpone ANY weapon sales until proper order is restored.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ANNOUNCEMENT... AND RANT.


Apparently...  I have been lax in keeping tabs on the comment section.  For that, I apologize.

Long-time readers will remember that I prefer to take time away from this blog during the summer months to take advantage of the nice weather, spending time with my family, and other adult stuff.

Imagine my chagrin when I look at the comment section to find it swarming with trolls and off-topic ranting.

Listen, at this point, I don't CARE about the differing fanboy opinions are.  I don't CARE if some think I am an F-35 hater.

All I wanted when I started this whole thing was for Canada to take a step back and re-evaluate its choice of CF-18 replacements.  That looks like it might actually happen.  If so, I will consider it a "WIN" and move on.  It doesn't even matter what fighter is ultimately selected.  Sure, I have my preferences...  But I am not so enamored with them that I would resort to throwing tantrums or name-calling at the mere mention of something else.

Unfortunately, some have chosen to do just that.  As much as I feel sorry for those that suffer from such narrow-minded ignorance, my patience with such is at an end.

If you post spam or attempt to troll, you will be banned.

That's it.

I don't spend much time participating in the comment.  I'd like to, but I would prefer to spend my blogging time creating new content.  I do read the comments on a regular basis however.  Up until now, I've preferred to let people freely have a discussion.

I will ask that people try to keep their comments ON TOPIC however.  For example, the last post (about a possible open fighter competition) turned into the usual F-35 debate.  For god's sakes people...  IT'S BEEN DONE TO DEATH.  Who cares at this point?

Posting off-topic material could be considered as spamming or trolling and result in banning.   So let's try and keep it ON TOPIC...  Mmm'kay?