Posts

IF THE FFCP CONTENDERS WERE CARS... [OPINION]

Image
A recent post on the BF4C Facebook group got me to thinking...  "What if the fighters contending to replace the CF-18 were cars?"
It is a simple enough question, but it turns out to be a real thought exercise.  Sure, one can quickly generalize the fighters into certain cars easy enough; but getting it exactly right takes some in depth analysis.   Also, as a bit of a car nut myself, I know how easily it would be to offend both automotive and aeronautical enthusiasts simultaneously.  
Whatever.  It sure wouldn't be the first time I offended someone.  
Making this list, I forced myself to follow certain rules: Since the aircraft are available now, I could only pick automobiles currently on sale new.  This disqualifies the all-too-obvious Saab 9-3 for representing the Saab Gripen.  Place of manufacture must be considered, but not strictly adhered to.  This is because both car and aircraft manufacturers muddy the waters here.  Your "American" pickup truck may have been …

BACK TO BASICS: POLITIC$

Image
Welcome to "Back to Basics"; an ongoing series in which we will attempt to "get back to basics".  Each week (or so) we will examine one crucial aspect of a fighter and how the fighters vying for Canada's FFCP compare.
While airplane nerds may obsess over how fast, how maneuverable, or how stealthy an aircraft is; no other factor matters more to an aircraft than the politics that surrounds it.  Indeed, political will has already put a stop to not one, but TWO fighter purchases intended to shore up Canada's fighter capability.  
Any person reading this blog knows the story by now.  Way back in 2010, the Harper government announced the purchase of 65 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II for $9 billion.  Two years later, a KPMG audit revealed that this number was hopelessly optimistic, with the actual cost being closer to $19 billion.  This, combined with concerns over JSF's troubled development, led to a "reset" of Canada's CF-18 replacement prog…

BACK TO BASICS: LOGISTICS

Image
Welcome to "Back to Basics"; an ongoing series in which we will attempt to "get back to basics".  Each week (or so) we will examine one crucial aspect of a fighter and how the fighters vying for Canada's FFCP compare. 

"An army marches on its stomach" -Napoleon Bonapart 
A rifle is of little use without bullets.  A tank will not go far without fuel.  An aircraft that cannot leave its hangar becomes little more than an expensive lump.  A modern military force is far more than a collection of separate parts, it is a complex machine that depends on how well those parts work together.
There is is tendency to look upon fighter aircraft as separate entities in their own little world.  We assume that they will have access to all the fuel, facilities, and ammunition they need.  This is not always the case.  Pristine, fully equipped airbases will not always be available.  This is especially true for the RCAF, which spends a good part of its time supporting NATO…

BACK TO BASICS: RANGE

Image
Welcome to "Back to Basics"; an ongoing series in which we will attempt to "get back to basics".  Each week (or so) we will examine one crucial aspect of a fighter and how the fighters vying for Canada's FFCP compare. 

No matter how capable a fighter aircraft may be, it is of little value if it cannot get to where it needs to be.  While this fact may seem obvious, many fighter comparisons seem to either gloss over an aircraft's range or ignore it entirely.  One could make the argument that, in the age of aerial refueling, an aircraft's maximum range is no longer a priority.  Maybe so, but that assumes ample resources will be available; something that is not always the case.  

Perhaps one of the reasons a fighter aircraft's range is often overlooked is because there is never a clear-cut answer.  Unlike top speed or g-limits, which have a clear "maximum" number; an aircraft's range often comes down to "it depends".  


An aircraft&#…

BACK TO BASICS: STEALTH AND COUNTERMEASURES

Image
Welcome to "Back to Basics"; an ongoing series in which we will attempt to "get back to basics".  Each week (or so) we will examine one crucial aspect of a fighter and how the fighters vying for Canada's FFCP compare. 

For a combat aircraft, speed and maneuverability are important factors in its survivability.  Once detected, a pilot may need to push an aircraft to its limits to avoid enemy fire.  Of course, the simplest way to avoid enemy fire is not get detected in the first place.  

Despite its widespread use in all the latest material, the concept of a stealthy aircraft is nothing new.  It began when combat aircraft were first painted in a disruptive camouflage pattern in WWI.  While this may seem basic by today's standards, one must remember that the most effective detection equipment of the day was the Mark I Eyeball.  Up until partway through WWII, one could avoid detection by utilizing cloud cover, flying out of the sun, or simply flying at night.  

Th…