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The F-35

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I received this by e-mail and found it informative. It is written by Laurie Hawn who I think most of you know is a retired Canadian fighter pilot and now a Conservative MP from the Edmonton area.

Cheers

Greg.

Hi ------ (my edit)

Been a lot more talk in the bazaars, with some new wrinkles from PBO and GAO. This is a Coles Notes response I sent to an guy and it may be of interest to you and our friends. Some of it will be repetitive. We're a bit busy at the moment with my "job interview", but I'll be happy to go into more detail after 02 May.

- CF-18 will be 38 years old in 2020 and will have reached the end of its service life. Fatigue life will be used up.

- Buying the next aircraft to operate until beyond 2050.

- Can't know threats or situations that will arise - e.g. Kuwair, Kosovo, 2011, Afghanistan, Libya ............

- Have to equip CF with tools to meet the unknown future.

- Experts looked at all possible aircraft - F-22, F-35, F-18 E/F, Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen.

- F-22 eliminated on cost and availability.

- Rafale and Gripen eliminated on performance level.

- More detailed study of last three carried out over several years.

- All can do more or less the same things aerodynamically.

- Super Hornet and Typhoon cannot compete with F-35 in stealth, systems fusion and integrated communications.

- Stealth is applicable to all missions.

- The whole evaluation process took several years and Boeing and Eurofighter were given ample opportunity to input.

- Recent statements should be expected from companies who will say anything to stay in the game.

- Even PBO admitted that F-35 is only aircraft capable of meeting SOR, which was written by people qualified to write it.

- Ten countries looked at the same challenge and all ten came to the same conclusion - not a coincidence.

- The only important number is $9 billion for acquisition of 65 aircraft, simulators, infrastructure, initial training, initial weapons and spares.

- Acquisition budget of $9 billion includes contingency funds for e.g. cost increases in any area.

- This is really the only part that is relevant and those $$ will not be spent for several years; i.e. no money is being taken out of healthcare, education or anything else.

- The long-term operation of the aircraft should not factor into this discussion.

- We spend over $200 million per year to operate the CF-18 and the cost to operate the F-35 is merely a continuation of that, albeit somewhat more expensive.

- Every number in the PBO report was based on an assumption of a $ / kg cost of a fighter and a 4% annual compounding growth in the cost of as fighter since 1950. Change either of those and all the numbers change.

- His methodology may be fine for a purely theoretical bean-counting exercise, but it is highly suspect in a real-world environment where we know actual costs.

- Average costs being discussed reflect all three versions of the aircraft - ours in the simplest and cheapest.

- Average costs start with aircraft #1 at over $250 million.

- As average costs decline, they are brought down by current numbers which will be well below the average - that's why the average comes down..

- GAO numbers are not wrong, but they are subject to the same average cost considerations.

- We can move our acquisition to any position on the cost curve and we will always be paying less than the average to that point.

- We pay the same as the U.S. under the terms negotiated in the year of acquisition, not based on an average cost to that point.

- Within the MOU, we don't pay for research and development costs and we don't pay Foreign Military Sales fees. Our 65 aircraft would cost $900 million more outside the MOU.

- Within the MOU, we have access to technology that has cost us less than a penny on the dollar. We couldn't possibly develop that technology on our own.

- Outside the MOU, we lose access to the data that falls out of that technology and allows us to support our own aircraft independently.

- Within the MOU, Canadian companies have access to Industrial Participation Plans, which we would lose outside the MOU.

- Within the MOU, we can control our delivery schedule; outside the MOU we take them when the MOU partners want to give them to us.

- Doing what the Liberals are suggesting would cost us the money we have invested to this point; seriously damage our defence and foreign affairs relationships; result in increased costs; severely disadvantage Canadian industry; jeopardize the timely replacement of the CF-18; and render us incapable of long-term support of the aircraft on our own. Other than that, it's a great idea.

Cheers,

Laurie Hawn

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I received this by e-mail and found it informative. It is written by Laurie Hawn who I think most of you know is a retired Canadian fighter pilot and now a Conservative MP from the Edmonton area.

Cheers

Greg.

I don't think that's a very persuasive case for the F-35 over, say, the Super Hornet. I don't see stealth as being that critical for the Canadian Forces and the missions the plane would fly. Nor do I believe that manufacturers of planes competing with the F-35 will say "anything" to stay in the game. Right now, there are serious questions about the performance capabilities of the F-35, both in the absolute and in comparison to the Super Hornet in particular. the US Navy continues to order new Super Hornets and if it's good enough for the US Navy, I suspect it's good enough for us.

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What else would you expect Laurie to write. ????..ex Mil, flew whiz-bangs, Conservative Party, and probably, at some time in his tenure......would like the role of Minister of National Defence.:Grin-Nod:

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What else would you expect Laurie to write. ????..ex Mil, flew whiz-bangs, Conservative Party, and probably, at some time in his tenure......would like the role of Minister of National Defence.:Grin-Nod:

I realize that Kip which is why I was very clear as to who he was and is. He is making an argument for the F35 and it seems to me that the idea would be to point out where he might be wrong as opposed to just saying that he must be wrong because he doesn't have an objective point of view. We all come to this with a subjective point of view.

Actually I think Dagger makes a good point about the Super Hornet. However I have a hunch that in the end the Super Hornet will wind up costing as much in the long run anyway, but I for one am not sure.

Cheers

Greg

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Actually I think Dagger makes a good point about the Super Hornet. However I have a hunch that in the end the Super Hornet will wind up costing as much in the long run anyway, but I for one am not sure.

These 5th Generation aircraft (F-22 & F-35) are to the Super Hornet what the Hornet was to the 101 & 104. Our replacement aircraft shouldn't be just about the money. False economy comes to mind. As to missions these replacement aircraft might be required to fly in the future - who knows? Who would have thought that we'd have Hornets flying over Libya today? If we're going to stay in the business, let's do it right.

http://vimeo.com/3437045

Cheers,

Doug

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These 5th Generation aircraft (F-22 & F-35) are to the Super Hornet what the Hornet was to the 101 & 104. Our replacement aircraft shouldn't be just about the money. False economy comes to mind. As to missions these replacement aircraft might be required to fly in the future - who knows? Who would have thought that we'd have Hornets flying over Libya today? If we're going to stay in the business, let's do it right.

http://vimeo.com/3437045

Cheers,

Doug

I'd love to replace my current Chrysler with a brand new Mercedes S-Class that parks itself ands can probably cook dinner, but it's more car than I need and a lot more than I want to pay.

You cite Libya, but here's another example, like Iraq and Serbia, where we don't need "next generation" to do a perfectly good job. Just good pilots.

I think the following article is a nice little overview of the controversy in the US without getting into a food fight over the aircraft's deficiencies. It's no wonder DoD is pro-F-35. Like the US defence establishment, they love buying the most extravagant weaponry because they aren't spending their own money, and believe that in a comparison between any two competing products, the more expensive, with the greater number of bells and whistles, must be better even if it's wrong for the mission.

http://www.theatlant...ustralia/72454/

If the issue were only money, well, maybe I could be persuaded, but the F-35 is having a lot of trouble living up to its design specs. It's becoming the 787 of jet fighters.

The Aussies are having the same debate as we are, only not in an electoral context. I found the comments to this article as interesting as the article itself.

http://australianaviation.com.au/2011/03/delay-jsf-purchase-williams-foundation/

Edited by dagger

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........................... He is making an argument for the F35 and it seems to me that the idea would be to point out where he might be wrong as opposed to just saying that he must be wrong because he doesn't have an objective point of view. We all come to this with a subjective point of view......................

Greg

Greg,

Do you really think a Conservative MP would listen to a simple reason for NOT buying the planes?? I think I have been very clear on "why" I don't think they are needed and there is no point in droning on about the expense of each of these birds and the fact that we DO NOT need them.

Do you, or any of the advocates of "new" fighters, really feel that NATO would be brought to its knees if we decided to get out of the fighter game and put 'some' of the money toward more reasonable military expenses?

The fact that so many exMil individuals hang on to a military idea that is outdated in Canada is understandable, seeing that they had the privilege of flying the front lines birds ...............but never saw actual combat operations...They were living the dream of being on the fastest and best whiz-bangs we had............. but.................as the years moved on there was no real requirement to have them either. The threat generated by the Cold War has long past, post WW2 times are gone. Conflicts, if you can call Libya a conflict, is something we really don't need our aircraft in....surely other NATO countries can carry that load and we can contribute in many other ways.

The airline industry has, and is changing, and it's time for the air arm of the Military in Canada to realize that there are facets of DND that should be changed.

The only compromise I would be willing to put forth would be to wait a few years before actually buying the F35, and I mean after they have proven themselves and have all the 'bugs' out.......the F18 is due to be TXed in 2020. How about...if we have to............ we go for a new 'bug-free' aircraft in 2025.;)

Edited for spelling

Edited by Kip Powick

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Hi Kip

As I pointed out, I'm not claiming that Laurie's view is objective, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't listen to the argument he makes.

The NDP position, (as I understand it), is that the F18's shouldn't be replaced at all. I think that makes more sense than the Liberal plan which is essentially to go back to square one. IMHO if we were to start from scratch we will wind up with either the F35 or the Super Hornet. In that scenario, even if we buy the Super Hornet I doubt we will save much, if any money over the projected cost of the current plan to buy the F35.

Incidentally, my understanding is that we have an agreement, but we still have a couple of years before we are committed to that agreement.

I am not convinced either that the Super Hornet might not have been the better choice. There was however a process that got us to where we are and I'm inclined to think that those who came to this agreement on our behalf were far better informed than either of us. There are incredible job spin offs for Canada and the technology is about 20 years newer than the other options. Presumably that means that they will be around longer than the Super Hornet.

My understanding is that the money for this purchase will come out of the existing DND budget. I assume that means that if the money wasn't spent on this project it would be spent on other military hardware.

It seems to me that the Liberal position in this discussion is strictly partisan. The real argument is between the NDP and Conservative positions. Do we or do we not want to maintain a military that is able to perform effectively around the world. I think that a good argument can be made that we should forget the whole thing and just look at having a military that can take care of internal issues. At the same time I think it is a reasonable argument that we should play a part in the world wide community which means things like what we are doing in Libya now.

I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers but it does seem to me that at this point we are better off to go ahead with the existing agreement than we would be if we were to start the whole process over.

JMHO

Greg

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Do you, or any of the advocates of "new" fighters, really feel that NATO would be brought to its knees if we decided to get out of the fighter game and put 'some' of the money toward more reasonable military expenses?

Probably the most "reasonable" military expense would be to invest in non-flying, non-floating, armaments, meaning ground forces equipment. But we have learned in Afghanistan that troops on the ground don't always come home, whereas most of our aircraft, and their crew, do.

Modern aircraft have the capability of helping to meet our military goals with money rather than flesh. A better choice, IMO.

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Probably the most "reasonable" military expense would be to invest in non-flying, non-floating, armaments, meaning ground forces equipment. But we have learned in Afghanistan that troops on the ground don't always come home, whereas most of our aircraft, and their crew, do.

Modern aircraft have the capability of helping to meet our military goals with money rather than flesh. A better choice, IMO.

Well, almost..... but modern aircraft, (assuming you mean aircraft NOT built for Military purposes), are not built for the roles we require,. For example the C130 is invaluable for TAL (Tactical Air Lift), and there is nothing in a civilian inventory that can do that job.(((In this case I am referring to the fact that one TAL role is to take "armament", (armed troops), into difficult access areas)))

Similarly, armed helos can do the same job, (armed troop carriage), but are rather restricted in air-to-air role....helo air- to- ground is a feasible role though

...................But we have learned in Afghanistan that troops on the ground don't always come home.........

I believe that the vast majority of the members of the CF killed overseas in Afghanista, during combat ops, was the result of an IED.....I don't believe any Mil equipment has been devised that can eliminate that threat.

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Hi Kip

..................................... I think that a good argument can be made that we should forget the whole thing and just look at having a military that can take care of internal issues. At the same time I think it is a reasonable argument that we should play a part in the world wide community which means things like what we are doing in Libya now.

I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers .

Greg

No, I don't think we should a Military in Canada that only looks after internal issues,................we should be involved in world affairs but in my mind there is no reason to have the F35. As I stated elsewhere, the CF is well known for our roles in SAR as well as global Humanitarian efforts, Global transport as well as Peace Keeping missions.

The money expended on a stealth fighter can be better spent upgrading those arms of the Air Wing.

As far as Libya goes, IMO we probably would not be there and it would be a US led 'conflict' but US public opinion concerning US Forces as well as US political thinking is against putting US Forces at "war" again, especially after Iraq and Afghanistan...besides.............. I believe Libya only accounts for 3% of oil exported to USA.....;)

Like you Greg.............JMO.

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The only compromise I would be willing to put forth would be to wait a few years before actually buying the F35, ...

I think that's a very reasonable position to take, Kip. To quote from the Williams Foundation article in the Australian Aviation link provided by Dagger above: "... there could be very good reasons for Australia to delay delivery of the F-35 until the production line is mature." But not cancel it: "Still, the Williams Foundation continues to strongly endorse the F-35 as Australia's future air combat capability."

I don't want to see our country get swallowed up in a boondoggle come hell or high water simply for the sake of the F-35. But we, together with a number of other countries have been participating in the design and development of this aircraft for the better part of a decade - since its inception. Setbacks, delays, deficiencies are all part and parcel of aircraft design and development. If at the end of the day the aircraft doesn't perform, or the government decides we don't need the aircraft then we move on.

In the meantime, let's work with our partners until we come to that fork in the road.

Cheers,

Doug

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One concept that seems to be advocated by a number of Australians with aviation/military backgrounds is for that country to split its order - go for Super Hornets up front, and order a smaller number of F-35s for later delivery. So the Australian air force front line aircraft might be a combo of say, 35 F-18/E/F and 25 F-35s. The Super Hornets would start replacing the oldest classic F-18 frames, while the later delivery of the F-35 would assure continued technological supremacy, assuming the aircraft ever lives up to its design performance specs.

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I agree with that. why not use a proven airframe up front and supplmient with the F-35 once the bugs are worked out. other than the expense of spares and tooling it's not a bad thing to have different airframes for different roles.

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Utterly astonishing, the number of people who have no experience whatsoever with TacAir or current theatres of operation, but who believe they are gifted or empowered with some sort of all-encompassing geopolitical knowledge. You arrogant pogues.

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Ahh, c'mon Preet,

We all know it's not "pogues". The correct spelling is "pukes"!

Other than that little peccadillo…you're banging out "nail on the head" stuff.

Luck,

mic

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Surely the argument can't be whether or not our airforce should have the best flippin' equipment available? ... I mean, I'm sure everyone here would agree that any Canadian Air Force pilot should have everything he needs, precisely when he needs it... So... the argument must be whether we think we need an airforce or not???

I don't quite get why anyone would think we don't? ... or.... was I wrong with my first assumption? :Scratch-Head:

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Surely the argument can't be whether or not our airforce should have the best flippin' equipment available? ... I mean, I'm sure everyone here would agree that any Canadian Air Force pilot should have everything he needs, precisely when he needs it... So... the argument must be whether we think we need an airforce or not???

I don't quite get why anyone would think we don't? ... or.... was I wrong with my first assumption? :Scratch-Head:

I don't believe that anyone is advocating that we DO NOT NEED an Air Force with the top equipment. Much to the chagrin of some, others favour the POV that the F-35 stealth fighter is not required and that the Air Arm of the CF and government should seriously consider other options....that being a less expensive aircraft, or getting out of the air combat/air-to-ground role with whiz- bangs. The other sections of the Air Arm do have new and better equipment, for example the C-17 and the brand new C130s.

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The only question I want to throw into the mix is...

When taking off out of Cold Lake, wouldn't a pilot appreciate the second engine on the trip up into the Arctic? :Scratch-Head:

Iceman :whistling:

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A very good point Iceman! The failure of the 'one' engine on the F-35 equates to the total loss of a very expensive piece of equipment.

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I don't believe that anyone is advocating that we DO NOT NEED an Air Force with the top equipment. Much to the chagrin of some, others favour the POV that the F-35 stealth fighter is not required and that the Air Arm of the CF and government should seriously consider other options....that being a less expensive aircraft, or getting out of the air combat/air-to-ground role with whiz- bangs. The other sections of the Air Arm do have new and better equipment, for example the C-17 and the brand new C130s.

I think what concerns me is that the F-35 is being challenged in several countries for what should be its strengths. It's called fifth generation technology but it's questionable if it even measures up to some of the fourth generation equipment still being manufactured.

If you are buying the "best" and paying for the "best" it had better be up to the performance specs.

And is it even the right plane for the missions we anticipate?

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One needs to remember that the F35 is an example of the great Canadian Government Procurement Boondoggle (CGPB for short)

It does not matter if we need it, want it or it can do the job.

As long as enough Canadian manufacturers get enough offset work in enough regions of the country, then it is a winner.

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"I think what concerns me is that the F-35 is being challenged..."

I don't believe you're being honest. I'll bet the only reason you're harping on the issue is disappointment over the Liberal's failure to turn JSF into EH-101 redux. They tried and failed with JSS and "soldiers with guns, in our streets, we're not making this up" and have failed again to stoke public ire over military procurement.

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(snip)...Globe and Mail.............

Previously, rebel fighters from the besieged city of Misrata told The Globe and Mail that government troops paused their bombardment of the city when they heard NATO jets overhead. After an hour or two, the soldiers resumed their attacks.

That's a disadvantage of what soldiers call “fast air,” fighter jets capable of swooping down and destroying a target but not lingering overhead for many hours. Mr. Gadhafi's forces could hide and wait for the aircraft to go away.

Britain and France had called for the Americans to deploy aircraft capable of so-called “low and slow” missions, such as the A-10 Thunderbolt and AC-130 Spectre gunships, which can deliver enormous firepower and intimidation. (The heavy cannon on the A-10 howls like a prehistoric beast.) But even the smaller Predators will almost certainly inspire fear. They have flown most intensively in recent years over the tribal areas of Pakistan, where locals call them “wasps” – a reference to the constant whine of their engines, somewhere far above – or “thunder.” The latter nickname refers to the sound of a Hellfire missile strike, a bolt from the sky with no warning. .........................(snip)

Perhaps one could surmise that stealth, all purpose, etc. etc. (F35s) are not required in this case.........

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