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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. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Funny how I can look at the same set of circumstances and come to a completely different conclusion.

    Waiting for 6th gen aircraft to become available, even with an interim F-15X (which does not actually exist yet as far as I have been able to confirm it remains a proposal) or other 4th or 4.5 gen aircraft buy would IMO be a classic example of pennywise, pound foolish thinking, though TBH I doubt it would even be pennywise. At present, I am unaware of even any agreed upon characteristics for what would distinguish a 6th gen fighter from a 5th gen one. That strongly suggests to me that at least for the time being, any work on a "6th gen" fighter is taking place in discussion groups. In short, the situation is likely to be similar what was going on in 1981 where the USAF was coming up with requirements for a new air superiority fighter to replace the F-15. These requirements led to the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) programme in 1984, which in turn led to the YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes and ultimately the F-22 Raptor which first entered service in 2005. More than 20 years after the ATF programme kicked off, never mind the capability requirements list which cause the ATF programme to be started with the RFI in 1981.

    Given that fighters like the F-35 are expected to see frontline service with the US until 2050 or later, I would anticipate any replacement programme that the US might have initiated already, to have a planned IOC some time in the 2040's. It might also be the case that the US does not currently have any real fighter programme running, and any noise people are hearing about is more theoretical ideas that some of the aerospace companies are toying with. Sort of like how some engineers at one point came up with a proposed FB-22 strike aircraft. This in turn raises some hard questions which would need real answers for.

    For instance, if the US does have a new gen fighter start entering service some time in the 2040's, would Canada or anyone else be able to purchase it? Keep in mind that by US law, the F-22 cannot be exported. If Canada was permitted to purchase this hypothetical replacement fighter, when would it be able to reach a sufficiently capable operating capacity to permit whatever active RCAF fighters were then in service to start being retired from duty and replaced? This would of course be dependent on what build slots Canada was able to get, as well as how quickly Canadian personnel could reach competency with the new aircraft.

    From my POV, there are just too many potential risks involved to plan on waiting until 2040 to get the 'next shiny new toy' which might not even be real.

    As for going with the F-15X... even with the proposed avionics upgrades it would still not have some of the capabilities inherent in a 5th gen fighter. I also found it interesting when I looked at the Boeing page which discussed it that Boeing made a point of highlighting the F-15's speed. As most people interested in defence matters should be aware of by now, the kinematic performance of fighters is of significantly less priority in terms of overall importance than other capabilities. A fighter with a pilot aboard who can withstand 12g turns is not going to be able to get away from a 60g-turning missile fired from within the NEZ, and a max afterburner speed of Mach 2.5 still would not be enough to get away from a Mach 4+ missile fired from within the NEZ. While a high max speed and acceleration can reduce the size of a missile's NEZ, I would much rather have a fighter with a significantly smaller RCS and heat signature, since those factors can dramatically impact the ability of hostiles to engage.

    As for the mission focus for any RCAF fighter replacements... They really should be multi-role fighters. If a much narrower focus like air superiority was selected, then they become inflexible and irrelevant for all missions except for those within their focus area. Given the small size of the RCAF, having such a limited capability could hamper the entirety of Canadian defences. A multi-role fighter could perform air intercept missions, ground attack/CAS, strike and maritime strike missions. Even if Canada were not to utilize them as such, a multi-role fighter could perform these roles in a training capacity so that Canadian Army and/or RCN personnel and kit could get experience working with such capabilities, or even defending against them if the fighters were used as an OpFor.

    We do not know what the future holds although I suspect there will be more conflict than we have seen in the past thirty years. With that in mind, I would much prefer that Canada get as much capability across a spectrum of potential threats as possible, rather than trying to defer doing so another 20 years or more into the future.
     
    PeterM, oldsig127, John Fedup and 4 others like this.
  2. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    I would add that any fighter buy Canada makes will have to be good out to at least 2060 before any replacement is politically possible short of a major war happening. Fourth generation fighters out to 2060 isn’t viable. As for 6th Gen, who knows when and as Tod says, export restrictions may eliminate their selection by allies. The 6th Gen fighter may turn out to be a derivative of the B-21 that carries a huge load of missiles. This certainly would be very export limited.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  3. Redlands18

    Redlands18 Active Member

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    The F-15, F-16, FA-18 have now been in production for 45,44 and 39 years in various models so it would not be a stretch of the imagination to think that the F-35 might still be in production come 2060, certainly nobody could have foreseen the production life of the Teen series Fighters in 1975.
     
  4. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    True enough about the teen series production duration. However, based on training exercise reports, these teen series fighters are hopeless outclassed by 5th Gen fighters. Will the F-35 still be in production 30-40 from now, probably. Will it be viable then, somewhat if LO hasn’t been compromised by new detection technology. Space weaponization, hyper velocity missiles, and laser development along with new exotic detection (Quantum radar perhaps) may result in a total rethink on aerial combat. Unless greatly enhanced stealth capability becomes available, how effective will multi-million dollar future fighters be against some of the emerging technology? Lots of cheap stealthy drones supporting B-21s may be the future.
     
  5. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Further to my previous comments, and touching on two areas that have seen advocates for 4th or 4.5 gen fighters for the RCAF either ignore, dismiss, or misunderstand, I wanted to point out two things.

    The first has to do with the evolving nature of warfare. More specifically, the importance of information warfare and includes information superiority, dominance, and denial. Most people, and those advocating for 4th or 4.5 gen platforms certainly seem to not understand the importance or implications of information.

    On this forum, it has been talked about in a number of areas that warfighting is really a systems level, or system of systems level event. This is one of the reasons why the raw speed, turning rate and other kinematic performance characteristics of modern fighters and dogfights no longer has anywhere near the importance they did when 4th gen or earlier fighters were first coming out. Why have a modern flight of fighters wait until they are close enough to launch WVR missiles and/or in a dogfight to actually engage hostiles if offboard sensor support from an AEW aircraft, ground installation, or ship is available? Using an AEW aircraft as an example, an E-2 Hawkeye, an E-3 Sentry, or E-7 Wedgetail could detect, track and potentially ID a flight of hostile 4th gen fighters long before those fighters reach even maximum BVR missile launch range. This could allow a 4th or 4.5 gen fighter force supported by an AEW platform to arrange an engagement where the intercepting fighters are approaching from outside the sensor coverage of the hostile fighter's nose radars and possibly have missile locks without triggering the RWR's of the hostile fighters. If things work perfectly, there would be the potential for the hostile fighters to be engaged and shot down before they become aware they had been detected or can get off a warning.

    All of the above resources a network of sensors which can be used to work together, which also requires that there be sufficient comms for the relevant portions of the systems to be able to 'talk' to each other and share data. This covers one part of information warfare and is one that 4th and 4.5 gen fighter have the potential to operate in this space, and 5th gen certainly can to an even greater degree.

    One of the other areas, and where 5th gen fighters currently stand out from earlier generations is information denial. The area of information denial specifically applicable to 5th gen fighters is their LO status and capabilities.

    Using the same scenario as above, replace the hostile 4th gen fighters with 5th gen fighters. One thing which would certainly change is that the range at which a supporting AEW aircraft could detect and track a 5th gen fighter would be significantly shorter, possibly to the point that the 5th gen fighters might already be within BVR missile launch range by the time offboard sensor assets can detect them. It is also possible that due to the degree of LO capability, and the location/distance of the AEW aircraft, the offboard sensors might not be able to detect the hostile 5th gen fighters. Going further with this, the LO features would most likely make a successful engagement both much more difficult and more risky. Due to smaller RCS and thermal signatures, any air-to-air missile onboard terminal guidance would become less effective at range, potentially reducing the missile's NEZ and/or requiring missile launches be delayed until the fighters are much closer together.

    One thing people seem to keep forgetting is that a capability like LO has defensive applications which are useful not just when entering hostile airspace, but also when defending friendly airspace. Hence my interest in the RCAF having this ability in their warchest, including when meeting NORAD obligations.

    The other are I wished to touch upon has to do with space or distance, and the potential benefits and negatives associated with it. For the Kiwis, we tend to talk of their 'sea blindness' where they see the surrounding oceans as a vast protective moat, and ignore the fact that without the means to conduct surveillance of regional waters, NZ has little to no idea of what is going on nearby, and without the air and sea forces to patrol and if need be engage aircraft and vessels, NZ has little to no means of effecting outcomes. Unfortunately the impression I have formed is that Canada has a similar problem with the North, though this is less about 'sea blindness' but more 'snow blindness'. And yes, being a SAR team member and EMS first responder I am aware that snow blindness is a real, though somewhat different thing from what I am talking about.

    In the case of Canada, it seems as though what most Canadians believe to constitute a threat to Canada and/or Canadian sovereignty requires the ability to carry out strikes upon a Canadian population centre and/or industrial area. Given that something like ~90% of the Canadian populace lives within 160 km of the southern border with the US, which can be a very long distance from anywhere else outside of either the US or Canada, it can be somewhat understandable. However, this very narrow view of what would constitute a threat is IMO very short-sighted, and that is even before taking into consideration the potential impact and implications of climate change. With Canada having such vast areas which are both largely uninhabited and have a harsh environment much of the time, Canada needs to be able to both engage in domestic broad area surveillance and power projection. A failure or absence in either capability could easily lead to a loss of sovereignty, as Canada could become unaware of things going on within Canadian territory or home waters, and/or lacks the ability to respond to actions foreign nations or groups take within Canadian territory and home waters.

    Now with the vast distances involved in the Canadian north, there is plenty of space for a defence in depth for Canadian industry and the populace. However, that same vast distance also means that it is difficult and requires a fair amount of resources to maintain SA of what is going on in that area, as well as that the fact that any response will take time to arrive. For those who dismiss this as an issue, consider some of the events which led up to the Falklands War between the UK and Argentina. More specifically, I am referring to how the Argentine military was able to land a force on Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands and construct the Corbeta Uruguay base in November of 1976, with the British not discovering the existence of the base until December. If some group were to land on one of the northern Canadian islands and either construct facilities or occupy existing facilities, how long might it be before the Canadian gov't realized that it had occurred? Similarly, how long might it be before Canadian sovereignty was re-asserted? Also, what might such a facility be used for, before the existing status quo was restored? Those vast, uninhabited areas of Canada contain natural resources which others might wish to exploit through mining, drilling, or fishing, etc. Similarly, with the potential for climate change to enable the Northwest Passage to be open year round, another SLOC between Asia, western North America and Europe could open up. That would also be something which a number of international players would be very interested in being able to exert influence and/or control over. With this in mind, IMO Canada not only needs to maintain some of their picket outposts like CFB Alert, but improve upon the ability to maintain domain awareness, as well as the frequency in which some of the automated and seasonal outposts are checked. In a similar vein, I believe that Canada should maintain a capability where forces can be rapidly deployed to and operate from some of these posts, including during what would normally be their 'off season' during the winter. If memory serves, Russia has within the last decade (and possibly within the last five years) put resources into raising or re-raising the ability to deploy cold weather troops and stationing them in some of their northern bases. I do not, off the top of my head, recall specifics, but IIRC it was not just cold weather garrisons being raised, but troops and units which Russia could deploy and have operate in cold weather.
     
  6. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    @Todjaeger ...great assessment on our Northern defence situation. Unfortunately it requires situation awareness by the Canadian electorate before pollies will buy the tools to achieve military situation awareness as to what is going on in the North. Perhaps Russian presence on a remote Canadian Arctic island is required for something to happen.
     
  7. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Decision has been made for the CF-18 replacement.

    F-86 bi.jpg
     
  8. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    .....where’s junior’s twin engine version!
     
  9. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    The RCAF is getting their CH-149 helicopters upgraded and two new ones will be added to the fleet. There is no mention of bringing a few of the VH-71 versions purchased from the US Gov't into service so I guess they will remain as a spare parts source.

    The upgrade program will will keep the original 14 Cormorants flying until 2042...as Canada ran the SeaKings out to 50 years I guess we will be short 14 units for 8 years.:D

    RCAF to get more Cormorant helicopters, rest of fleet to be upgraded
     
  10. Black Jack Shellac

    Black Jack Shellac Active Member

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    And then there were three.

    Looks like Airbus with the Eurofighter are out of the competition. They can't meet the NORAD requirements cost effectively. I wonder if the same holds true for the SAAB Gripen?

    From what's left, I don't give much hope for Boeing, considering the age of the design and the bad taste left in Canada's mouth from the trade dispute with Bombardier.

    It will be the F35 or the Gripen E. In my opinion the final decision will depend on if they place more importance on capability or operating cost. Likely it will be the F35 and the entire fiasco, over the last 10 years or so, will be for naught. Just more politicians wasting our money; nothing to see here, just move along.
     
  11. Novascotiaboy

    Novascotiaboy Active Member

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    Gripen has the one attribute that the F35 does not and for those not from Canada its likely very difficult to understand.

    "BUILT IN QUEBEC"

    This will win the competition for the Gripen if they present an offer to build or assemble at Bombardier in Quebec.
     
  12. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    @Novascotiaboy ...Gripen built in Quebec, NFW! That would be a certain guarantee for the breakup of the country. Even if they were to be built in Sweden (more politically correct) there is still still the question of capability and the NORAD security compliance. The security compliance apparently was the main reason that Airbus is declining to bid. Also, there is the possibility that junior will have a minority govern or better still the Conservatives will after the Oct election.
     
  13. Novascotiaboy

    Novascotiaboy Active Member

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    John look at the history? The F35 like the EH101 is tainted.

    The easy out is Gripen.

    The Gripen is fully compatible with American systems.

    Lets be realistic. With the exception of the CF101 Voodoos and the McDonnell CF18s all post WW2 fighters have been assembled in Canada including F86 Sabre, CF100 Canuck, CF104 Starfighter and CF5 Freedom Fighter. It makes sense that Gripen will be assembled at the very least in Mirabel.

    This is Canada after all.
     
  14. Black Jack Shellac

    Black Jack Shellac Active Member

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    I hate to agree, but I do. If SAAB proposes to partner with Bombardier to build the aircraft in Quebec and the Liberals win the election (even a minority), then the Gripen will win. Just so junior doesn't have to eat crow.
     
  15. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think you guys are properly considering the political blowback on having Bombardier build Gripens. Giving this company money to setup a production facility to build 88 jets in a province that always has separation on the back burner, a $hitstorm in the making! I seriously doubt Bombardier could build any fast jet for less than what LM will offer the F-35 for. Furthermore, if Airbus considered the NORAD requirements were too expensive to develop then Saab will have the same problem. Bombardier has given away the C -Series for SFA and sold off the CR operation leaving business jets as their remaining aviation operation. They should stick with this.
     
  16. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    All those builds were North American, IIRC no European military planes have been built since WW2 and those were British (Lancaster and Mosquito). Even if Bombardier assembled them in Downsview, they would still cost too much and likely would be late. We would better off spending the $19 billion on new subs for the RCN rather than wasting money on Gripens or SHs that will be obsolete shortly and next to useless 15 years from now.
     
    Long range likes this.
  17. Calculus

    Calculus Active Member

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    Source please. Just because Gripen pilots can talk to American pilots via radio does not mean the aircraft is fully compatible with American systems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  18. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Is anyone aware of compatibility requirements for NORAD that are not required for NATO?
     
  19. Black Jack Shellac

    Black Jack Shellac Active Member

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    John, I am not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that if politics get involved, the Gripen is an easy out for Trudeau. Honestly, I don't have a clue which way this will go.
     
  20. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Honestly I am not sure if a Gripen selection is an easy way out for junior and even if it is in his mind, it will be long term damage for the Liberal party. He could always claim pressure from Trump for a F-35 decision and I am certain Trump wouldn't mind as he could claim this excuse as a win.