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Showing posts from November, 2014

What if... Canada went with a mixed fleet?

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If Canada were to go it alone in building its next fighter, we should challenge the JSF marketing machine head-on.  That is what 46% of you believe, anyway.  While the medium-sized multirole fighter won out, it did not get a clear majority.  19% of you think we would be better off developing a smaller, cheaper aircraft, while  34% of you think that Canada should go big or go home.

This goes to show, you cannot please everybody.

Or can you?

Instead of taking a "one size fits all" mentality, Canada could hedge its bets by operating a mixed fleet of fighters.  I have advocated for this before, and I still believe it allows the most flexibility.  I am not alone in my belief here, as most of the world's major air forces operate at least two front-line fighters.

In 20 years, some of the largest fighter fleets around the world will look like this:

USAF:  F-22, F-35A, F-15E
USN:  F/A-18E/F, EA-18G, F-35C
USMC:  F-35B, F-35C (possibly others)
RAF:  Typhoon, F-35B
RAAF:  F-18E/F…

What if... Canada developed its own fighter?

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Thanks to everybody who voted in last week's "What if..." poll.  The results were pretty straight forward.  A staggering 81% of you believe that the F-35 is the wrong fighter for Canada no matter what the price.

Yikes.

The inspiration for this week's "What if..." comes from BF4C's new cover picture.  (I got a request to take down the Voodoo...)  The CF-100 Canuck remains Canada's only indigenous fighter design to make production.  While it certainly is not the sexiest aircraft design, it is still fondly remembered for its ruggedness and longevity.  The "Clunk" even managed to find a foreign buyer with Belgium.

It really is too bad that Canada's fighter industry died with the CF-100's successor, the CF-105 Arrow.

Right now, Canada's fighter selection is rather limited in variety.  While there is a substantial quantity of choices, the quality leaves a bit to be desired.  Even including two aircraft that are not officially in t…

Mythbuster correction.

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Thanks, PasserBy, for the reminder. 
In my "Mythbuster: Foreign Fighters" piece, I erroneously mentioned that Canada never operated a non-US jet fighter.  It turns out I completely forgot about the deHavilland Vampire!
My apologies. (It was way back in 1947...)

Speaking of "experts"...

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A link to this was posted in the "Experts" edition of Mythbusters.  It warrants being placed front and center.

I wish there were more representation for the other fighters (Rafale, Typhoon, and Gripen) but its a good debate.  Two former CF-18 pilots (neither of which is employed by a manufacturer) with differing opinions on what Canada's next fighter should be.

Thanks Super Rhinoceront for the link!

What if... The F-35 was more affordable?

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Without a doubt, the JSF's largest stumbling block so far is cost.  Sure, it has other issues, but cost always seems to make it to the top of the list of things that need to be fixed.

But what if the F-35 was a bargain?

From the start of the JSF program, an emphasis has been (supposedly) placed on affordability.  After all, this is the aircraft that is supposed to replace the F-16 as the predominant fighter of the Western world.  Realistically, it cannot do that if it is beyond the fiscal reach of its potential customers.

There has been a recent effort to put "affordability" back into the JSF program.  Mind you, a 2-4% reduction in price is nowhere near enough, but it is a good start.  Time will tell if Lockheed Martin will be able to make good on its promise to reduce F-35 prices down to "4th generation equivalents".

If this could be done, it would silence a lot of the JSF's critics.

What if the F-35A Lightning II could be purchased for the same price as…

Introducing "What If... Wednesdays".

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Things are getting a little hectic in my "real life" right now, so I will not be able to as much time to the blog as I would like for the next month or so.

I will still do my best to post whenever I can, and I will be keeping a close eye on what could be a back-alley deal to commit Canada to an F-35 purchase.

I will continue "Mythbuster Mondays"...  Just maybe not every Monday.  They take a fair amount of time to write, and I find it increasingly hard to get the hours at the keyboard required.

Just because I will not be around so much does not mean that the conversation should stop, however.

First of all, I would encourage everyone (who hasn't already) to join the discussion on the Facebook group.  There is a lot of good stuff on there posted by a bunch of great people far smarter than myself.  It is a closed group, but access is given to anybody with a legitimate Facebook account.  (Don't bother if all you want to do is sell discount sunglasses.)

Apart…

Mythbuster: "Experts"

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Captain Buster was never one to say know to a free lunch, especially lately.  As his financial planner was fond of telling him, Captain Buster was much better at flying a CF-18 than managing his debt.  While he was not exactly starving, his bank statements were not exactly heartwarming.

Besides, Captain Buster was looking forward to catching up with his old buddy, who had left the RCAF to join the private sector.  Vought-Republic, one of the biggest defense contractors around, was picking up the lunch bill today.  What Buster did not realize was that his friend would be bringing a co-worker...

"Thanks for meeting with us today, Buster.  It's great seeing you again."

"Yeah, it really is good to have a chance to catch up.  How has civvy life treating you?"

"Really good!  I've just made junior vice-president.  You should see my office, it's got a great view of the city."

"Wow."

"Let me introduce you to the man responsible.  This is Georg…

Canada buying 4 F-35s? Not yet!

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Some of you have already seen reports that Canada has plans to purchase four F-35s in 2017. 
First of all...  Calm down. 
The Canadian government needed to place its order this month if it wanted any F-35s built next year.  This is not happening, as CF-18s are getting life-extensions and its replacement decision has been put off. 
Instead, the DND is requesting a "swap" allowing it to change places with the USAF  this would push back Canada's purchase until 2017 (at the earliest) while the USAF gets our spot in line. 
The USAF have agreed to this under two important conditions:
1:  The USAF keeps its planned 2016 IOC date. 
2:  Canada's delay will not undermine international faith in the JSF program. 
While these conditions may seem a tad unfair at first, but they could very well act as a litmus test. If the USAF pushes back its IOC date, or there is a sign that this move will topple the house of cards that is the JSF program; Canada will be well served in canceling its par…

F-35C lands on a carrier for the first time? That's cool... I guess.

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Given that the F-35's engine will not fit in a C-2 Greyhound, the USN may need to revisit this.

Just sayin'....


F-35C lands on carrier... Doesn't explode!

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What?  You were expecting it to crash?  Explode?  Plunge into the watery depths?

Carrier trials would simply not have happened if simulated tests performed on land did not pass with flying colors.  Infamously, the F-35C's initial land trials were a bit of a bust.  This forced a tailhook redesign.

The newer tailhook is more heavily dampened and boasts a sharper "hook".  This addresses two of the F-35C's three major issues with its tailhook.  Earlier models were unable to snag the arresting wires reliably enough to be deemed carrier-worthy. As it was, oscillations created by the rear landing gear wheels created a bouncing effect that made it difficult catch the wire.  This is exacerbated by the short distance between the landing gear's rear wheels and a tail hook that was too dull.

This does not mean that the F-35C is out of the woods yet.  The aircraft needs to not only demonstrate the capability to reliably catch the wire, but to do so in rough weather and witho…

Mythbuster: Drones

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Captain Buster felt his stomach tie in knots when he was told the news.  How was this possible?  After countless years as one of the RCAF's most talented pilots, he was now wondering what he would end up doing until retirement.

"Sorry Captain...  But I'm afraid you are now obsolete.  These new drones are cheaper, stealthier, fly longer, and can maneuver way harder than any manned fighter.  They really are the future don't you see?"

Captain Buster was not convinced.  "How is some bucket of bolts going to make up for years of experience?"

"That's the beauty of it, don't you see?  We just upgrade the software every couple of years and these things will be better than you could ever be!  Don't feel so bad.  It's much safer to stay on the ground anyway."

"I don't know how to do anything except fly!  What am I supposed to do?"

"Maybe we can switch you over to flying a transport or something..."

Drones.

The mere men…