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Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) News and Discussions

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by John Fedup, Jun 16, 2015.

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  1. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    The F-35A LRIP 11 flyaway cost is US$89.2 million, so that's both the Typhoon and Rafale gone for a burton on price. The Superhornets are US$78 million and the Gripen E / F around US$60 - 70 million, so on the value for money / bang for buck front the F-35A would have to be looking good.
     
  2. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    If capability per dollar is the criteria for selection then the F-35 wins. Boeing might be able to offer a SH for less but it would not be by much and its selection would require an earlier than planned replacement. Of course junior doesn’t care about the jet itself, it’s all about covering his a$$ and image. He will soon find out a Bombardier built Gripen is not viable politically and the Typhoon is unaffordable. Thus he is forced to accept the F-35 or if his ego won’t allow that, exit the fast jet business. He is likely hoping some financial crisis will allow an exit. As for obligations to NATO and NORAD, Trump has given junior wiggle room to bail on the former and concerning the latter, other roles could be enhanced to pacify the Americans.
     
  3. Black Jack Shellac

    Black Jack Shellac Member

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    Keep in mind that they will be looking at total life cycle cost, not just procurement cost (budgets for defence spending in Canada are always life cycle cost IIRC). So it would be interesting to get a comparison of the life cycle costs between the options as well as know how much emphasis is placed on cost vs capability.
     
  4. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    I am aware of that, but it's best to use the flyaway cost where possible, because each country has it's own methodology when calculating whole of life costs. Also countries have different costs that are included within the acquisition budget which are capital expenditure and other costs that aren't. For example, New Zealand includes new infrastructure as part of the acquisition cost, so its capital expenditure, but any new weapons acquired for a platform are regarded as operational so come out of operating expenditure. Case in point, the current P-8 acquisition. New infrastructure at Ohakea is capital expenditure, however the Mk-54 ASW torpedoes etc., are operational expenditure.
     
  5. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    Yes, precisely. Even at $89Mil it represents best bang for the buck, all things being equal. Even more so given the Canadian project does not anticipate delivery of the first aircraft before 2022-23, at the earliest, which corresponds to Lot 13 or 14. According to every source I have seen the F35A cost (see links below) is expected to reach $80 million by 2020, which you would think would virtually ensure the selection of the F35 on cost alone, assuming no political interference. Scuttlebutt in Ottawa, however, is Typhoon has greatly increased its chances with the Bombardier/Airbus tie-up, as Airbus has hinted at Canadian final manufacturing and full transfer of technology. That could tip the scales, potentially. There are some pundits who suggest that a political solution could be a mixed fleet. That would be against the air force's wishes, however, which does not want to be saddled with the operational costs associated with operating two different aircraft, but might not actually be a bad outcome. A mix of F35/Typhoon, or F35/SH would be pretty potent mix, and provide some flexibility for deployments.

    The Evolution Of The F-35's Unit Cost [Infographic]

    Pentagon Awards $6 Billion Contract Modification To Keep F-35 Production Rolling - USNI News

    Lockheed Martin Awarded $6 Billion Toward F-35 Lot 12 Contract - Defense Daily
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 2:54 AM
  6. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    A mixed fleet is not a silly idea as long as the RCAF is given the funding to cover the costs. The Typhoon is not a bad aircraft and by all accounts it's given more than one F-22 driver cause to change their underpants - apparently Luftwaffe Typhoons make excellent F-22 hunters. For NORAD duties it most likely would be a good platform, especially if it was partnered with an F-35. I am not an adherent of the practice placing all ones eggs in one box. The only problem I see with the Typhoon is that I think that it has short legs, even so acquisition of say 8 x KC-30 MRTT and 5 or 6 x E-7A Wedgetail would rectify that problem. Yes I know that the Wedgetail is a Boeing aircraft, but if the RCAF was to work closely with the RAAF on both types they would have more capable AEW&C and A2AR aircraft than their southern neighbours, plus both types are already combat proven. Food for thought.
     
  7. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    I can’t imagine any Typhoon acquisition, it is simply too expensive. Any involvement with Bombardier would add to the cost and would be politically near impossible. Might as well go for advanced F-15s if we want interceptors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 3:00 AM
  8. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    Don't underestimate the attraction of jobs creation in this competition. Building Typhoons in Canada and transferring the technology would be immensely attractive to politicians. It would be foolhardy to dismiss this as a possibility. It would also keep all the maintenance and overhaul work in Canada as well. It's not a crazy idea, and Typhoon seems to have a lot of life left. I still cast my vote with F35, but Typhoon would be up there on my list.
     
  9. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    @John Fedup these are Canadian pollies we are talking about, so never discount anything no matter how outlandish.
     
  10. foxdemon

    foxdemon Member

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    I just wanted to comment on the number of aircraft types issue.

    Two is actually best. Though one type is cheaper logistically, two types means you still have something flying if the other half of the fleet gets grounded for one reason or another. Idealy one type would be from the preceding generation.

    Take racing car team practice as an anology. Typically there will be two cars, one based on what won last year, and the second is an innovative design which might beat the pack this year, or it might flop. So a risky model and a reliable model. Same thing with genetics in diploid organisms. Typically there is a hetrogametic gender and a homogametic gender. Same principle. Conserve what has proven successful and throw a new type in which may or may not succeed.


    So I argue two aircraft types is optimal. Three is wasteful.

    Furthermore, it needs to be said that fancy, 5th gen LO strike aircraft such as the F-35, really benefit from electronic attack support. Their LO characteristics really shine when EA aircraft are messing around with enemy radar.

    This is why Canada should take a very close look at the RAAF model. A combination of F-35 and a SHornet/Growler Fleet is really the ideal choice at this point in time.

    SAAB has poroposed an EA version of Grippen, so a JAS-39E / F-35 combo could work too. Only issue here is that the RCAF wouldn’t benefit from USN paid support and development costs. Rather, Canada would halve to pick up deveolpment costs.
     
  11. SpazSinbad

    SpazSinbad Active Member

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    Funny an USAF General said he didn't want Growlers anywhere near his F-35s which have a robust EA suite as it is. Our RAAF have said for many years 'only F-35As' and only RELUCTANTLY recently acknowledged that they would have to at least hang on to the Growlers (which will be updated to NGJ in lockstep with USN). Otherwise RAAF wanted a pure F-35 force; which they may get if the Super Hornets are retired/sold soon enough. Having TWO types is a waste in this age of reliable aircraft which become even more reliable as they mature after FRIP with all the bits and pieces up to date. Sure OLD aircraft were unreliable but today with ALIS and all the predictive doodads it is 'not so much' unreliable. And when push gets to shove the aircraft fly anyway even if 'some are grounded' - yeah right - that happens only in peacetime.
     
  12. foxdemon

    foxdemon Member

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    I’d say that General’s attitude reflected inter service rivalry. Fortunately, interservice co-operating is moving forward.

    First USAF Airman pilots Navy Growler in combat

    Regarding two aircraft types, a reliability issue might ground a fleet in peace or limited war. A cyber attack might ground a fleet in a general war. The Super Hornets were always, and will remain an exercise in risk mitigation for some time yet.

    However, you are right that in a general war we would be desperate enough to keep operating an aircraft type that had issues. Of course, under those circumstances we wouldn’t be arguing about one, two or three aircraft types being best. We would take anything and everything we could get put grumbly little paws on.
     
  13. SpazSinbad

    SpazSinbad Active Member

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    That is not my view of the USAF General's comments (I have to search it out for context). Meanwhile for some years USN Prowler/Growlers have operated with USAF whilst USAF crews have piloted Growlers as noted. Nothing suggests they flew with USAF F-35As though. Whilst the sky may fall in there is nothing to suggest the F-35 fleet is vulnerable to a general grounding for whatever reason. At moment all the F-35s are LRIP and they will be brought up to the latest mods as required. They are resilient - even from the falling sky.

    Gen. Mike Hostage On The F-35; No Growlers Needed When War Starts 06 Jun 2014 & Gen. Mike Hostage On The F-35; No Growlers Needed When War Starts [pages 2 & 3]
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 9:41 AM
  14. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    There is another factor which also needs to be considered when operating two different types. While yes, operating two types would eliminate the possibility of a fleet-wide single-type failure, it also introduces an increased probability of having aircraft grounded due to a type issue. If half a nation's fighter fleet is grounded due to a failure of some kind, and there are insufficient numbers of remaining of the 'other type' aircraft to support the required operations, then that is not much better than having a single-type fleet completely grounded.

    Also keep in mind that a mixed fighter aircraft fleet would have an increased cost to operate, maintain and sustain, so that either a reduced aircraft buy would be done (smaller total fleet size) or there would be an increased cost to purchase the same total number of aircraft. As a side note, with to different designs like an F-35/Gripen or F-35/Tornado combo, then a decision would need to be made on whether a single type or set of ordnance should be integrated and used, or whether different types already integrated for the respective aircraft should be purchased and stocked. Going with a single ordnance stream would simplify the logistics as well as reduce costs (apart from any required for integration) but also introduces it's own potential for an effective grounding, should there be failures with the selected type(s) of ordnance.

    One of the other real issues to consider when anyone brings up some of these 4.5 gen fighters as either an alternative or adjunct to an RCAF F-35 buy, is that one really needs to keep in mind just how viable those aircraft would be in future battlespaces. At present, the F-35 design is expected to have a front line service life with 1st world air forces out until ~2050. Given that aircraft like the Typhoon, Gripen, and Super Hornet all lack the signature management features which are designed into LO aircraft like the F-22 and F-35, even if the weapon, sensor and avionics capabilities are kept at the same levels, the LO aircraft is going to be more capable and survivable. With something like that in mind, one has to really stop and consider whether pouring money into purchasing and fielding a brand new fighter that might only be suitable for front line service for another 15 years when there is another new design available which would likely be viable for 30 years...
     
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  15. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    The workshare and technology transfer on 88 (a number that is unlikely given the unit cost for a Typhoon) doesn’t equate to the work the Canadian aerospace companies will get from being involved in the production of over 3,000 jets. This number could rise based on the increasing number of non-US orders. Furthermore new weapons development and integration will be much less. What kind of political support will junior have outside of Quebec for a Bombardier built Typhoon or Gripen? I say SFA. As for the Typhoon’s service life, it is the same as other 4.5 Gen jets, limited to 15-20 years at best. Having to redo a fighter replacement in 10 years (as it will take at least 10 years to make a decision) is something all pollies will cringe at as will the electorate.
     
  16. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    True, but the number one priority is re-election so pollies outside of Quebec know a Bombardier built Typhoon is a death wish. Even if Bombardier built the jets at Downsview, it still wouldn’t be acceptable to Western Canada. I don’t think Viking participation is possible or desirable.
     
  17. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    Not relevant. This decision will be made after the next federal election.
     
  18. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    It will still be relevant if junior ends up with a minority government this Oct. and the Liberal Party will still pay a price in the 2023 election with or without if junior. Canadians have had enough of Bombardier’s corporate welfare for the benefit of Quebec.
     
  19. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    Lots of life left in the Typhoon. Upgrades to radar and EW are in the works, CFTs are planned (which, according to Wikkipedia, increase the combat radius to 1500nm, which would be class leading, and perfect for the interceptor role). Aerodynamic enhancements are said to improve agility and maneuverability. The engines were reputed to have a design margin of 30%, and could be equipped with Thrust Vectoring Nozzles.

    This could also give Canada a doorway into the development of the Franco/German New Generation Fighter.

    Eurofighter Typhoon - Wikipedia
     
  20. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    I really don't understand the Australian model, frankly. Isn't the SH/Growler platform redundant now that F35 is coming in to the fleet?