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

Looks impressive, but it's missing a few very important things...
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 only be done on known commodities.  If I start including every single possible future concept, things would simply get out of hand.  Comparing hypotheticals is a fool's errand.  The challenge here is distinguishing between a simple concept and a concrete future pathway.  The Super Hornet straddles a blurred line here.

The F/A-18E/F is a very known commodity.  It has been in service for years and there is plenty of information out there regarding its development, performance, and service history.  Out of all the fighters being considered to replace the CF-18 Hornet, the Super Hornet is the one that would be easiest to estimate costs and capabilities under RCAF operation.

The Advanced Super Hornet (ASH), or "Block III" is different story, however.

Boeing, to its credit, has funded a working mule of the Advanced Super Hornet with mock-up conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) and Enclosed Weapon Pods (EWP).  This is far from what the Block III could be however.  Boeing also wants to add upgraded engines, built-in IRST, updated avionics and modernized cockpits.

This is a similar upgrade path as that taken by Saab for the Gripen "NG" (E/F models).  In effect, it transforms the fighter into an entirely new aircraft.  Upgraded engines alone are enough to improve thrust-to-weight numbers, along with speed, time-to-climb, payload, and multiple other performance numbers.  In effect, an Advanced Super Hornet should be considered an entirely new and different aircraft.

An Advanced Super Hornet with upgraded engines, improved avionics, better sensors, CFTs, and EWPs would likely be faster, stealthier, deadlier, and longer-legged by a considerable amount over the current model.  But by how much?  That is the question.  None of these upgrades is considered a "sure thing" and so far no current Super Hornet customer is investing into this.  In all, this leaves too many questions and hypotheticals surrounding the Advanced Super Hornet.

Playing by those rules, I would have to take the same consideration for the F-35, adding some of the future upgrades planned for that aircraft.  This includes greatly enhanced ECM/EW capability, six internal AMRAAMs, and even the mythical CUDA missile.

IRST/center-line fuel tank

There are other, less ambitious Super Hornet improvements being studied, however.  These include a combination IRST/center-line fuel tank and a "hybrid" Super Hornet/Growler that incorporates the Growler's ALQ-218 sensors on the Super Hornet.  These concepts look promising, but they would likely have not changed the outcome of the Super Hornet's match-up against the F-35 in Fighter Jet Fight Club.

Then again...  Is it not good enough that the Super Hornet, as it stands today, almost had a tied score with a fighter that costs twice as much?  Also, there is a pretty good chance that an Advanced Super Hornet would have handily won.


  1. You don't need an advanced super hornet to detect a Low observable airplane, just stealth at the front but not at the sides, bottom and rear. All you need is a 4th gen fighter with AESA radar, decent electromagnetic sensors and a good IRST. If the F-35 goes to close to an L-bAND radar with out the coverage of the Growler, it will be easily detected and intercepted by any 3+ Gen fighter like the Kfir with new avionics, HMD. sensors and advanced ir missiles. The F-35 is a super expensive Turkey.

  2. All of these proposals add to the SH's biggest problem, weight. The SH is recognized worldwide as having the handling of a Airborne Pig (not Rhino). A major redesign is what needs to be done, not more crap(weight). While more powerful engines may not weigh more, they will burn more fuel. Where is that fuel going to go? In 2 small CFTs? 10 years ago Rafale started cross decking to American Carriers. The French pilots in the oldest F1 models just laughed at the SH pilots. The Navy tradition of having the losing pilots cook a farewell dinner for the winning pilots has resulted in 11 American cooked meals and not even one French dessert.
    No a Super-Duper Hornet is not the answer.

  3. Sure, the last time they did dogfights the french pilot finished swimming in the mediterranean.


  4. First of all, truly interesting. I feel privileged to be
    able to read your comments as I simply do not have access to people with this
    kind of knowledge. Second, and out of total curiosity, whom among you are or
    have been pilots and fighter pilots?

    I am not; but I am old enough to remember the last Canadian
    fighter sweepstake. The family debate between my father, brother, and me was
    something akin to watching a game on the tube.

    I assume Yves has been or is as he happened to rub elbows
    with the head of the French Air Force. Doug, either you are or you’re the next
    Tom Clancy. ..

    And finally a comment about the undisclosed source saying that
    the military brass is pressuring for an F-35 rubber stamp: no competition!

    You got to be nuts or on the verge of retirement! Common sense. We are Canada. We haven’t
    bombed jack shit in years. We passed on the F-15 and were still here 30 years
    after the fact! Look around. The world is in a global recession. Heck, Toyota
    is recalling cars! I love big toys. Wanted a Harley, got 3 Japanese bikes. For Christ
    sake, if we are so worried about war, we should buy some second hand Harpoon
    missiles, modify them with small baby nukes, put them in super quiet diesel
    electric subs (with AIP), and then dare the world to shoot down our second rate
    Gripens, Rafales, but not Eurofighters because they will not make them here,
    and sorry the SH is not sexy enough.

    Feel better now!

    Doug thank you again for this blog. I read it regularly with pleasure.

  5. A stealth aircraft can always be detected. It's just a matter of how easily and from what distance.

    In theory, a purpose built stealth aircraft like the F-35 will always be harder to detect than one without stealth. Again, these match ups assume everything works as advertised.

    IRST systems do no have the range of radar. There are limitations to using other radar bands as well.

  6. How did the US get all the planes over Iraq without them knowing?

  7. If you walk into a car dealership you look at the cars that fit your needs at what you can afford. Works the same way here. What is Canada's needs? I can't see Canada doing a first strike. How many aircraft are needed and how many pilot do you have? How many planes does an Air Force loose to accidents? Can you get more if you need to? Are the upgradable? Can they communicate with your NATO friends?

    One big one, if anyone ever can in force to Canada, the Full US Air Force would show up.

  8. The Five Golden Rules of plane design on the BBC website. So how does the F-35 fit into these rules?


  9. @ Paul

    In the irst Gulf war it was basically Tomahawks and Laser guided bombs from the F-117
    Today the Tomahawks continue to do the job but you can choose any type of airplane wih an escort jammer or growler like in Libya to launch many type of stand off bombs, guided by GPS or by satellite images saved in their memory card. You don't need to expose a 200 milliion airplane to launch a bomb that can be launched from a 20 million upgrated Kfir or a 55 million new Super Hornet.






  10. General Yves ( former F18 pilot) as been in the a Rafale.

    Canada bombed Libya a few years ago.

  11. As for bombing Jack shit ... I was referring to first strike, as you point out, in an extremely hostile situation ... along the lines of the Gulf war... as a justification for one type of aircraft, the F-35. No disrespect intended to the RCAF in any way.

    I am not a pilot. I am coming at this thing with sincere curiosity, as an aircraft enthusiast, and as a tax payer who wants the air force to have "solid" performing aircraft.

    If anything, I would like to see Canada manufacture (assemble) it's own aircraft as a means to boost our economy, acquire highly specialized skills, and to some degree, control supply. In the case of the Gripen, Rafale, as this blog seems to suggest, both are very capable aircraft. I was surprised that the French were willing to handover technology in addition to assembly. I was sure the Canadian government was going to jump on one of the two and make the Americans happy with a purchase of some Growlers. I was naïve and wrong.

    A while back, I voted for the conservatives because they promised transparency. I cannot believe this is still being pushed back.

  12. Me too. And it is a frigging beautiful bird!

  13. Not if they sell the Mistral class ships to Russia, I say we remove the Rafale from contention......

  14. Sorry Goose, this an utterly worthless argument.

    You'd have to remove the Hornet and the F-35 because of Guantanamo, the EF because the Brits claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the Germans for whatever fake reason you can invent, the Swedes because they invented dynamite and their Gripen is built with parts coming from the UK and the US (which leads back to preceding arguments).

    The only questions Canada needs to ask itself are :
    What do we need the jets for ?
    Do they really do what the promise ?
    Is our choice reliable ?
    How much are we ready to pay ?
    How much can we afford in the long run ?
    What do we get in exchange ?

  15. I understood they used Apaches with hellfire missiles below radar to blast the major radar instillations to make a corridor for the airforce.

  16. Canada' navy was looking at the Mistral. The French can sweeten the deal. Canadianized Rafale and a Mistral, nice! I don't know how far Dassault wants to go. The India deal route, but India has a fighter manufacturing industry. We don't, but I would like to see a partnership with Bombardier and Dassault. Either build the fighters here or build most of it in France and build the rest here or build comp. here, such as; glass cockpit, pylons that hold NATO weapons, software.

    As far as the Mistral, this is where Canada can save face with the U S.
    Buy 8 to 10 F35B's for the Mistral. This is where I can see the F35 useful. Assault ship take you to the shores of a country and you assault or show a presents. I would not mine if Canada would have a Flag Ship, but that is a different Blog.

  17. So Canada needs cruise missles, not stealth fighter?

  18. Not Cruise missiles but Stand off weapons launched from Super Hornets like the Australians do.
    What Canada really needs are more patrol aircrafts like the Orion, tankers, Awacs like the Wedgetail, L/O airplanes like the Super Hornet and Growlers and a lot of drones to patrol the 3 oceans and the huge artic 24/7. Canada doesn't need an expensive tiny expeditionary air force over mistrals to defend any isolated island in the polynesia like the french the US Marines. Also Canada need some Aegis destroyers, Ice brakers and really capable deasel Subs like the Scorpene or the germans U-214, all of them able to operate coordinated to cooperate to truck and engage any enemy ship or bomber.


  19. Um no, not a worthless argument........NONE of the countries you have listed have annexed, illegally, part of another country. I suppose you would have been in favour of France selling battleships to Germany before the WW 2?

  20. Read your history books again, Goose.
    The Brits should give back Gibraltar, the US, Guantanamo and so on...
    You're comment was just plain French-bashing.

  21. Um, are you the type of person that subscribes to the logic of he did it so I guess it's ok if I do? According to your thought patterns it perfectly ok to sell ballistic missiles to Iran or North Korea. I don't get it. And ya, I'm an advocate for the closure of Guantanamo. Gibraltar is for Spain and the UK to work out. The UK has granted independence to most of its colonies, and has granted a referendum to Scotland. Given the choice between the Rafale and the Buffalo Brewster, er, I mean the F-35, I would take the Rafale hands down, she's a proven beauty. I think it would do more for democracy and stability if Canada took the 9 billion, bought the Mistrals, maybe 20 inexpensive fighters to do us over until the 2025 When we could make a better decision. When I was in Paris, it was one of my favourite European cities, and the the Mirage 2000, hands down the MOST beautiful aircraft EVER! I love watching the video of a Greek 2000 waxing a Turkish Falcon. Hey Doug, I have another Fight Club competition for you......

  22. No, Goose, I'm not the kind of person you describe. I'm the kind of person that's against double standards.
    People who read me will have grabbed I don't like the lame duck F-35, all its present shortcomings and all the ones we haven't heard of.
    On the other hand I can't stand schoolyard arguments. If the US can have their own questionable policy, France mustn't be judged either.
    Unlike you, I prefer London.
    But just like you, I find the Rafale (I quote) "a proven beauty".

  23. uhhhhh! How did we get into the French Mistrals? I missed something here!

  24. France is pretty! Did southern England and that was really nice ... as for London?????

  25. So, if you behaved badly in the past, you would let someone behave that way now, because calling them out on it would be a double standard?

  26. No, bad is bad, but I have the disturbing impression that when the French do something wrong, they're always treated more harshly than any other nation, and this tends to smack of schoolyard arguments. Just to avoid any misunderstandings, I'm not French.

    Regarding London, yes, you should definitely go, if only for some of the nicest pubs in the world.

  27. I like where you're going with the Mistral and even the Apaches. It's time for the Canadian forces to really define where they are going. There really is no reason why our air and naval forces can not have more flexible platforms or offensive weaponry. I say this not because I champion Apaches or Mistral only that those types of platforms should be in the mix.

  28. I have a hard time seeing the gov support this kind of platform. Heck, they got rid of the army's TOW2 missiles, a really good force multiplier, as is our subs that we just can't seem to fix.
    Bell-Textron in Quebec could probably have built the Cobra AH-1Zs, but we didn't. The Perry frigs have 40 SM1s, ours have 16 sea sparrows ... pattern forming.
    This whole F-35 is so out of character and misplaced it is almost funny. If it was up to me, I would get the 80 Gripens, a good solid Swedish plane, and with the rest of the cash, go heavy on special ops ... C-130 gun ships, some more drones, fix the damn subs ... and more JTF2 soldiers. I do not know but 10 billions buys a lot of stuff.
    As for the command ship, forget it. To easy to sink with whatever is on it. Diesel boats constantly screwed with American carrier forces.

  29. Should be "assume everything works as advertised and has funding".

    And in that case Canada will still save much of its hard earned tax payers money funding the advertised development and buying the ASH.
    Take the UAE-F16 b60 route.

  30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Canadian_Forces_projects

  31. Boeing could have continued its development of the F-18 like the Russians have done with the SU-27 thru to the SU-35. Combined the F15 and the F18.

  32. I still see the Gripen as an F5 on steroids.

  33. Ahhhh come on! Seriously! You make it sound like revved up Chevy Nova. Anyway, You have me smiling here! Ben Johnson did those and he came in first :)

  34. By November 2010, the Gripen had accumulated over 143,000
    flight hours without a single engine-related failure or incident; Rune
    Hyrefeldt, head of Military Program management at Volvo Aero, stated "I
    think this must be a hard record to beat for a single-engine application" :)

  35. Well this has better aerodynamics...


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