The Pentagon's Director Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) report was released this week allowing us to take a peek at how well the JSF's testing has been going over the last year.
This has been an interesting year for the JSF, to say the least. While it has been the brunt of much criticism (including mine), the program has seen quite a bit of progress over the last year. The biggest sigh of relief must have been when two F-35Cs successfully completed carrier landing trials, putting that nasty tailhook problem to bed.
I always get suspicious when the the JSF program releases a fancy new picture and a bit of positive news. While the photograph is always well done, the "good news" is usually rather anti-climatic. Often, it merely boasts of meeting defined test points, stuff that should be deemed merely acceptable, not brag-worthy. What would be news is if the JSF did not meet these test points.
This is exactly the case this past weekend, when the program office released the picture you see above, along with the press statement that the "F-35 CONTINUES ON PATH TOWARD FULL WEAPONS CERTIFICATION"
Good to know that the F-35 might actually have weapons when the USMC declares initial operating capability (IOC) in six months.
As impressive as that photo above looks, there are a few caveats:
With a federal election coming later this year, Canada's new fighter replacement will almost certainly be making headlines again. That same election could finally bring a little bit of closure, depending on the outcome. 2015 could seal the fate of Canada's next fighter. People looking for insight on Canada's fighter selection may find themselves here. It is for them that I write this post. I will also edit the "PAGES" section to bring them more up-to-date. For those of you who just stumbled onto Best Fighter for Canada ( or BF4C, if you like), here is a quick rundown of what this blog is about:
It has been almost three years now since I started blogging about Canada's CF-18 replacement. Furious over the skyrocketing costs and dubious performance of the F-35, I started advocating for something different.
Thankfully, the internet age means that anyone has access to a soapbox to stand on. Starting up a blog site and a Facebook page required little effort o…
There is more rumbling about India's seemingly never-ending negotiations to purchase the Rafale. Despite Dassault's fighter winning the MMRCA competition three years ago, Indian officials are still hesitant to sign off on the purchase.
In the past, it seemed the biggest issue was Dassault's refusal to take responsibility for aircraft built by India's indigenous manufacturer, HAL. Now, we can add escalating price to the list of challenges, as Dassault is insisting that India accept the most recent variant of the Rafale, the F3R, rather than the F3 bid for the MMRCA. As with anything, the technological upgrades of the F3R come with a substantial price tag. Recent estimates peg the Indian Rafale at $120 million per unit, almost double the original $65 million that allowed it to win the MMRCA.
How could a $400 billion (possibly $1.5 trillion) fighter program leave out something as simple and basic as a gun? What good is a fighter without a cannon? Why will it take another four years just to get one to work?
I am here to tell you it does not really matter, anyway.
Even if Canada did decide to order the F-35 today, it likely would not receive its first airframes until 2017-2019 at the earliest. Even then, a CF-35 would not enter service until for a few years after that. Full operational tempo would not occur until the early 2020s. In the meantime, the RCAF will still have its life-extended CF-18s armed with the tried-and-true M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.
After a bit of an exile the last little while, I hope to return to my usual posting tempo. Thanks to those who have kept coming back, and a special thanks to those who have kept the comment section lively... Yet civil.
Of course, the big news for 2015 will be the upcoming Canadian federal election. The CF-18 replacement program will undoubtedly be one of the issues up for debate, as this election may indeed decide the ultimate fate of the proposed CF-35 procurement. In the end, the greatest threat to the CF-35 may not be Russian MiGs or ISIS ground fire... But the will of the people.
As this is an election year, discussion may tend towards one political platform to another. While I have attempted to keep this blog as politically balanced as…