Showing posts from June, 2014


Take close look at the following:

What you are looking at is 4 F-35Bs, 2 KC-10 Extenders, 1 C-17 Globemaster III, and 1 KC-130 Hercules.  All together, you are looking at approximately $1 billion worth of hardware.  (Give or take, but I'm being generous here.)
These aircraft you see above will gather soon for a purpose.  That purpose:  So that the JSF can make its international debut in the United Kingdom.  The F-35B is scheduled to perform a flight demonstration at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford, followed by another aerial demonstration in Farnborough.  There is also hope that the F-35B will perform a flyby during the HMS Queen Elizabeth's naming ceremony in Scotland.
Four fighters, two tankers, one heavy transport, one medium transport and around 80 personnel.  That is what is needed in order for the F-35 to perform two air shows and a fly by.  There may be a static display at the Air Tattoo, but the aircraft won't even be landing in Farnborough.  There w…


Judging by the e-mails and comments, I can declare Friday's installment of "Fighter Jet Fight Club" another rousing success.  In a nutshell, most assumed that I had lost my dang mind.

I even got a (dishonorable) mention on Eric Palmer's blog.  Check it out here.  Mr. Palmer states that I  "just don't get it" because I have the audacity to declare the F-35 ever so slightly better than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet...  If you do not account for cost differences and the JSF finishes its development without any more hitches.  Mr. Palmer was not alone in his indignation.

How dare I declare the JSF anything else but a pile of excrement?

Fighter Jet Fight Club wasn't envisioned to to determine the best fighter in the world.  It is not even envisioned to determine the best fighter for Canada, since we seem to be at odds with what we want our military to be.  Fighter Jet Fight Club was intended to do two things:

Give me something to write about during the often…

Why I didn't include the ASH in FJFC...

I am glad "Fighter Jet Fight Club" is getting some attention!  Many of you don't agree with me, and I totally understand that.  I started the idea to promote discussion, not to generate a consensus.

As I mentioned early on, I consider similar systems to be equally effective.  This is so the discussion doesn't get bogged down in minutiae.  The Rafale's SPECTRA suite may in fact be overwhelmingly better than anything else out there, but without hard evidence, I cannot present it as such.  Also, discussion in this area is often the most liveliest, so I will leave it to you guys to decide which individual systems are best.

Also, comparisons are done with no regard to pricing and costs.  This is done for two reasons:  1) There are simply too many variables in this department.  2)  It dispels the argument that "Our military deserves the best, regardless of cost."  As we all know, you don't always get what you pay for.

Most frustratingly, comparisons can…

Fighter Jet Fight Club: F-35 Lightning II vs F/A-18 Super Hornet

Last week, we compared two very similar "Eurocanards".  This week will look at two American designs.  While they fulfill similar roles, they are quite different.  One is a updated version of an old favorite, while the other is completely new.  These aircraft will be serving alongside each other in both the US Navy and the RAAF.  For this match-up, we are going to compare more common variants of each, the F-35A and the F/A-18E.

How does the old workhorse stand up compared to the new kid on the block?  Let's find out.

Remember, this comparison is done using a particular set of rules, found here:
Air-to-Ground:Interdiction:  The Super Hornet is no slouch here, especially when supported by its EA-18G Growler variant.  The F-35 has the advantage of stealth, however, enabling it to sneak through an enemy's radar defenses.  While it may not match the B-2 in stealthiness, the F-35 is the …

Reset... Pause... A Call to Arms!

First "Reset" and now "Pause".

Like the Defense Acquisition Guide suggests, it looks like the decision to replace the CF-188 will be put off a little longer.  The decision will be put off until at least sometime during the summer, possibly even later.

According to the Globe and Mail:
"Sources say the government feels it’s being rushed and pressured by the Canadian Armed Forces and parts of the civil service to purchase the F-35 without a competition.“There has been an assumption that the F-35s were selected and that cabinet would just rubber-stamp the decision. That is not the case. They will review all of the options and make a decision.” This is no surprise.  It would be political poison to announce the purchase of a highly controversial stealth fighter while it is currently suspended from flight due to an unexplained fire.

So what happens now?

The Members of Parliament will soon return home to their ridings and participate in the summer barbecue circuit.  W…


It seems there have been some conflicting reports regarding the JSF's flight status.  Contrary to my previous post reporting that all Lightning IIs were still flying after a F-35A caught fire on take off, it turns out that JSF fleet has indeed been placed on the no-fly list.

The issue behind the confusion?  Wording.  Technically, the JSF has not been officially grounded, but F-35A and F-35B flights are now considered "suspended".  According to Breaking Defense:
Readers who may be wondering why you haven’t seen the word grounded should know that grounding has a specific meaning for the military and these aircraft have not been grounded — yet. Grounded means the plane won’t fly until further notice or the specific conditions that led to the plane being banned from flight is found and fixed. So far they’re expecting to get the planes back in the sky as soon as they have some idea as to the fire’s cause. Part of the ambiguity comes from the fact that the F-35 is a production…

F-35 fire update: JSF still good enough to fly!

It looks as if a slight case of spontaneous combustion is not enough to ground the JSF fleet for very long.  After its second grounding (however brief) this month, the F-35 is still flying.

While the cause of the fire is still not known, authorities are confident (or desperate) enough to continue flying the JSF.  This is good news for those looking forward to seeing the JSF make its first trans-Atlantic appearance in the United Kingdom next month.

F-35 catches fire at Eglin Air Force Base!

I wonder if the F-35's grounding due to a faulty oil valve got lifted prematurely...

This is breaking news.  More here:

Everybody do the Cobra!

First, of all...  Thanks for the overwhelming response to the first installment of "Fighter Jet Fight Club"!  I set out to inspire some discussion, and I'm pretty happy with the result.  Lots of intelligent, well argued debates.  I may have not been able to answer all of you, but I do read all the comments.

One comment (it was actually responding to the post on the NFPS report) in particular got me thinking...

Commenter "Paul" stated:
"The F-18 is the only western fighter that can do the cobra".  This caught me by surprise, as I was unaware that the F-18 could perform the vaunted maneuver of dubious tactical benefit.  There is this video of a Super Hornet coming very close at the 0:50 and 2:25 mark...

Even if you consider those as Pugachev's Cobra (the Super Hornet doesn't quitego past a 90 degree angle), the Super Hornet is far from the only western fighter.

The F-22 makes it look easy, in fact:

Even Maverick could do it in his F-14:

This F-…

Fighter Jet Fight Club: Typhoon vs Rafale

For and introduction and rule to Fighter Jet Fight Club:  Click Here.

What better way to kick off Fighter Jet Fight Club than to examine two frustratingly similar aircraft?  Both are twin-engined "Eurocanards" of nearly identical size, power, and performance.  They even share a common origin, but France decided to leave the Eurofighter party early and make its own aircraft.  Was it worth it?

Let's find out.

Air-to-Ground:Interdiction:  Both aircraft carry incredibly advance electronic warfare (EW) suites equipped with jammers, decoys, and the like.  Advantage:  Tie

Deep Strike:  Both aircraft have similar combat radius'.  They are also both capable of delivering ALCMs like the Storm Shadow, AASM, or Taurus KEPD 350.  Advantage:  Tie

Payload:  The Rafale can carry 21,000lbs worth of ordinance on 14 hard points.  The Typhoon can only carry 16,500lbs on 9 hard points (it has 4 more dedicated strictly to BVR A2A missiles).  The Rafale can even carry nukes.  Advantage:  Ra…

Introducing Fighter Jet Fight Club

With summer more or less here, there will likely be a slower-than-usual trickle of fighter related news.  I will also be spending more time away from the computer and more time doing fun summer stuff.

That's no reason to stop this madness, however.

Over the next few weeks and months in an effort to truly find the "best fighter for Canada", I will be doing a direct comparison with what's available.  This will not be truly definitive, and it will not take into account the myriad economical and political benefits of each platform.  Instead, it will be a simple "this versus that" comparison.

Here are the rules to "Fighter Jet Fight Club":

Don't talk about Fighter Jet Fight Club.  Talk about it as much as you want!  The whole point of this exercise is to encourage discussion.  If you disagree about something let me know.  I may even change my mind...All participants will be considered to be flown by equally skilled pilots, with equally skilled sup…

Does the Defence Acquisition Guide point to a competition?

The Federal Government unveiled its new "Defence Acquisition Guide" on Monday, portraying a roadmap of Canada's military purchases for the next 20 years or so.

You can find the Defence Acquisition Guide here.

There are a few things in the guide worthy of attention, despite the Federal Government stating that it is "not set in stone".

Under "Future Fighter Capability", we have this:
Anticipated Timeline 2015 to 2017Definition Approval2017 to 2019Request for Proposal Release2018 to 2020Implementation ApprovalContract Award2026 to 2035Final DeliveryThe "Definition Approval" stage would seem to point to a new look into what Canada needs to replace the CF-18 Hornet, possibly even requiring the RCAF to come up with a new statement of requirements.  A "Request for Proposal" would indicate a competition, as manufacturers are asked for information.  The "Implementation Approval" and "Contract Award" stage seem to sugge…

Another week of not-so-great JSF news.

Supporters of the F-35 were given some good news last week when Canada's National Fighter Secretariat basically affirmed the Government's decision to sole-source the JSF.  Mind you, the decision was based on policy written prior to 2008, since then, Canada's military budget has taken a nose dive and the "Canada First" defense policy is now considered "outdated".

The decision to buy the F-35 or hold a competition is now left entirely to the Federal government.  With a decision being put off until later this summer at the earliest, with the possibility of it being put off until 2015.  It will not be an easy decision.  Announcing the purchase of the notoriously costly JSF at a time when the rest of Canada's military is hobbled due to budget cuts would be a risky move to say the least.  It would be hard to justify the expense, especially when the CNFS's report is still being held under wraps.

Then again, this last week would not have been an opti…