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HINDSIGHT 2020: CF-104 Starfighter

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Welcome to Hindsight 2020!  For this series we will be taking a look at Canada's past fighter purchases and asking a simple question:  "Did we make the right decision?"We will look at the aircraft itself, compare it to the alternatives available at the time, and determine whether or not Canada picked the right aircraft.  
The CF-104 Starfighter is aptly named.  Its sleek, pencil-like fuselage and razor blade wings give an appearance that would look right at home on the cover of a science fiction novel.  Developed under the supervision of Lockheed's legendary Kelly Johnson; the Starfighter offered the ultimate in speed, altitude, and climb performance.  The first production aircraft to achieve Mach 2, the F-104 immediately set records for speed, climb rate, and altitude.   The F-104 Starfighter was an impressive fighter.  Designed with input from Korean War fighter pilots, it stuffed a powerful General Electric J79 turbojet into the bare-minimum of fighter.  Its signatu…

HINDSIGHT 2020: The CF-116 Freedom Fighter

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Welcome to Hindsight 2020!  For this series we will be taking a look at Canada's past fighter purchases and asking a simple question:  "Did we make the right decision?"We will look at the aircraft itself, compare it to the alternatives available at the time, and determine whether or not Canada picked the right aircraft.  
The CF-116 Freedom Fighter (also known as the CF-5) was the last fighter aircraft built on Canadian soil...  A situation Saab would very much like to change.  From 1968 to 1995, 240 CF-5s were built.  Many more than were required by the RCAF.  That led to export sales to other nations, both as new builds and surplus.Initially developed by Northrop as a cheap, easily maintained point-defence fighter, the original F-5 Freedom Fighter did not get much love from its nation of origin; the USA.  While the USAF did utilize the  F-5 in the skies over Vietnam, it did so sparingly; preferring more expensive platforms like he F-4 Phantom and F-105 Thunderchief.  Th…

HINDSIGHT 2020: The CF-18 Hornet

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Welcome to Hindsight 2020!  For this series we will be taking a look at Canada's past fighter purchases and asking a simple question:  "Did we make the right decision?"We will look at the aircraft itself, compare it to the alternatives available at the time, and determine whether or not Canada picked the right aircraft.  
The CF-18 Hornet (officially the CF-188) needs no introduction.  It has been Canada's primary combat aircraft for almost 40 years now.  It has seen action in several combat arenas, including Kosovo, Libya, and the Gulf War of '91.  The Hornet also has the distinction of serving during the final years of The Cold War.  It is with no exaggeration that one could describe the CF-18 as one of Canada's most important aircraft.  With its long and varied service history, no one could call the CF-18 a "Hanger Queen".  It is hard to believe now, but the CF-18 was not without controversy when it was officially announced as Canada's new fig…

HINDSIGHT 2020

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Welcome back to Best Fighter for Canada!As the year 2020 (thankfully) comes to a close we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.  Three vendors have submitted their bids to replace the RCAF's aging fleet of CF-18s.  The decision in now in the (hopefully capable hands) of those government officials tasked with choice.  If things go as planned (they rarely do) we should have an answer by early 2022.  Rather than simply wait, I thought now would be a good time to examine Canada's past fighter purchases.  Doing so, we will ask a simple question:  Did we make the right decision?The answer may not always be simple.  While history has a way of pointing out which aircraft are duds and which aircraft become legends, that information can only be gleaned after years, sometimes decades of service.  No one ever sets out to make a lousy fighter, after all.  It just happens sometimes.  We will take a look back at past (and current) RCAF aircraft and judge them on how well they …

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

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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$

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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…