Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) News and Discussions

Albedo

Active Member
My suspicion would be that the KC-10 would be horrendously expensive to operate, 3 man Cockpit crew for starters, which means the RCAF would have introduce Flight Engineers for them, thirsty Engines, and Spare Parts would be getting harder and harder to get hold of. And you would have to ask why are the USAF really getting rid of them, 59 Aircraft is not really a major issue Orphan Fleet wise, the USAF operate smaller Orphan fleets then that. The RCAF would have to train personnel on maintaining an old Aircraft. The Civilian Contractors would be using a lot of ex USAF personnel, who would be quite happy to do a 9-5 job before that doesn’t include all the BS that comes with being in Uniform to operate and maintain the Aircraft.
Canada would be far better off buying some 2nd hand A-330s and converting them to MRTT, A Number of close Allies are operating them incl Australia, UK, France, Singapore and the ROK, and the A-330 is still in production.
Probably a good time to pick up some 2nd Hand A330s in good condition too, might cost more in the short term but will be cheaper in the long run.
I thought the KC-10 would have gotten the MD-10 cockpit upgrade package during one of their previous cockpit modernization programs, but you're right, the KC-10 still requires a flight engineer. Spare parts availability might be manageable since Canada is only looking for 5-6 aircraft and could buy out US's remaining inventory of spare parts and cannibalize from the remaining 53 KC-10, but this will get expensive and as you say, beyond maintenance costs, operating costs are also high so the KC-10 really isn't a good idea.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
I believe Air Canada has taken advantage of the wage subsidy, which is available for any business, to keep employees on the payroll instead of laying them off, but they haven't gotten the dedicated airline bailout they've been asking for because the government is requiring airlines to fully refund their passengers for cancelled flights which Air Canada refuses to do. I wonder if Air Canada would be more amenable to an offer of a bailout in exchange for providing the government with heavily discounted airplanes instead of passenger refunds? But I'm guessing the Air Canada customers affected wouldn't be as happy with such a deal though. :oops:


It does look like A330s are the only option for tanker conversions since Boeing seems to be refusing to provide licenses to allow further 767 tanker conversions. Boeing forced Israel to buy new KC-46 instead of allowing Israel Aerospace Industries to convert 767s even though Israel Aerospace Industries has previously performed those conversions for Columbia and Brazil. Maybe the Canadian government can quietly hint to Boeing that denying the option to convert 767 aircraft in order to push their new build KC-46 would once again raise questions of trust which could impact future contracts like the Future Fighter tender.


If Canada is open to second-hand tankers, I'm curious if consideration will be given to the KC-10? The US has started retiring them since they consider the 59 KC-10 an orphan fleet relative to the 300+ KC-135 and 179 KC-46 on order. They date from the early to late 1980s which is admittedly older than the late 1980s CC-150s, but that apparently isn't old for a tanker since the US will continue using the KC-135 for decades to come. The KC-10 actually carries more fuel and cargo than the KC-135, KC-46, or A330 MRTT. Private contractors have recently been acquiring KDC-10 so Canada wouldn't be the only operator once the USAF retires them and the maintenance costs aren't likely outrageous if private operators can make a profit. The USAF KC-10 fleet just completed an avionics and cockpit modernization program in the 2010s. Presumably the up-front price of buying ready-to-use (barring minor Canadianization) KC-10 will be cheaper than converting commercial airliners and certainly cheaper than new-build tankers although careful analysis of life-cycle costs will have to be done. Maybe with agreements to provide a certain amount of tanker availability to service NORAD and NATO requests to relieve the demand on US tankers, the US would be willing to sell some of their newer, better condition KC-10 for an aggressive price. It's certainly better for all parties than them sitting in the Boneyard. I'm guessing though that the optics of trading one 1980s tanker for another is politically nonviable even if the KC-10 are more capable.
Air Canada has no A330s which IMO are the best option for AAR. Threatening Boeing to allow third party Air Canada 767 conversions to tankers as a condition for fighter replacement consideration would cause a $hitstorm for this already sad saga. If using Air Canada jets is deemed necessary then perhaps 777 conversions should be investigated, huge capacity if feasible and there are lots available from other airlines as well. Realistically, surplus A330s are the way to go.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Air Canada has no A330s which IMO are the best option for AAR. Threatening Boeing to allow third party Air Canada 767 conversions to tankers as a condition for fighter replacement consideration would cause a $hitstorm for this already sad saga. If using Air Canada jets is deemed necessary then perhaps 777 conversions should be investigated, huge capacity if feasible and there are lots available from other airlines as well. Realistically, surplus A330s are the way to go.
If you went down the B777 route, you'll have all the expense and risk of the research, proof of concept, prototyping etc., before you even get any IOC. Let someone else do all that on their dollar. Stick with the tried and true; go with the A330MRTT and work with the RAAF.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
If you went down the B777 route, you'll have all the expense and risk of the research, proof of concept, prototyping etc., before you even get any IOC. Let someone else do all that on their dollar. Stick with the tried and true; go with the A330MRTT and work with the RAAF.
Yes, the A330MRTT is really the best option. A shame the US didn’t consider the 777 for their tanker replacement program. The “Pacific Pivot” would have been better served with a larger aircraft and the long delay for the KC-46 would be more tolerable if it was designed around a 777 instead of the 767. Then Air Canada 777s might have been an option for RCAF tankers. If we don’t get some new fighters this decade then new tankers are kind of moot.
 

Albedo

Active Member
Air Canada has no A330s which IMO are the best option for AAR. Threatening Boeing to allow third party Air Canada 767 conversions to tankers as a condition for fighter replacement consideration would cause a $hitstorm for this already sad saga. If using Air Canada jets is deemed necessary then perhaps 777 conversions should be investigated, huge capacity if feasible and there are lots available from other airlines as well. Realistically, surplus A330s are the way to go.
Yes, I agree A330 tanker conversions are the best option in terms of capability, sustainability, and affordability. I was just hoping a viable 767 tanker conversion option would inject some competition into the process and put some downward price pressure on the A330 proposals. One thing a KC-767 tanker proposal does have going for it is that while it's a smaller plane without the same capacity as the A330, that also means it's size is very similar to the CC-150 which should mean existing infrastructure like hangars can be reused. If existing infrastructure cannot accomodate the larger A330 then having to build new infrastructure will add to the project cost.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
It was the extra envisioned infrastructure costs that helped Boeing turn around the USAF’s original A330 tanker award. The planes would have been built in Alabama. There certainly would have been some costs but these would have been offset by a much better tanker. WRT new hangers for the RCAF should A330s be found, not a big deal considering the lifetime and compared to other acquisitions, a relatively minor expense.
 

Mikeymike

New Member
Was reading a blog by a Finnish defence enthusiast and thought there were some interesting things mentioned regarding the Finnish HX fighter replacement that were relevant to Canada’s fighter program. Unfortunately, I can’t check his sources to check whether what he mentions is correct as I don’t speak/read Finnish. Things I took away that were relevant to Canada were:
  • They are happy with the planned service lives out to 2060 if they aren’t the only user – this is obviously important for Gripen and Superhornet for the Canadian competition.
  • They are aiming for a jet that gives them a strong kill ratio (over 10:1)) which given that the Gripen, Superhornets/growlers and F35 are all in the running, if its not the F35 that wins it is a sign they can compete on capability.
    • Think this is particularly interesting considering Finnish air force is mainly concerned with beating Russian fighters which would also be Canada’s main concern over the arctic.
  • SAAB seems to think they can offer the same number of aircraft as other competitors + 2 Globaleye AEW&C aircraft within the €10b budget. This would include all aspects of bringing the aircraft into service.
    • This seems to indicate it is indeed quite a bit cheaper, though not sure how much they are betting on the Globaleye aircraft being able to reduce required Gripen flying hours to cover the cost?
    • If the Gripen does indeed meet Canadas performance/capability requirements, could this mean that there are additional funds for other programs or more than the 88 fighters?
  • All bids costs were “very close to each other”. This is interesting when you compare the different packages being offered by Boeing, SAAB and Lockheed.
  • Seems Canada (and other countries) could learn something from how open the Finnish Defence are about their major programs, especially around dispelling myths that seem to take root in non-defence media.
Overall, I think it’s interesting as they are replacing the same plane as Canada and have similar competitors, obviously each country has quite different operating requirements (range etc) though.

Originally, I would’ve said F35 is the best plane for Canada and clear winner but think a Gripen/Globaleye or a Superhornet/Growler combination could offer some advantages over an only F35 fleet. Not sure if the Canadian program is designed to consider those possibilities but will be interesting to watch who wins the Finnish competition.

Thoughts?
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Other than price, the Gripen is inferior wrt capability. More importantly though is the requirements for NORAD and this may erode that price advantage. Long term, the F-35 is a better 40 year investment compared to the Superhornet. Regardless, buying non-US jets will be politically difficult while providing zero advantages.
 

Mikeymike

New Member
Other than price, the Gripen is inferior wrt capability. More importantly though is the requirements for NORAD and this may erode that price advantage. Long term, the F-35 is a better 40 year investment compared to the Superhornet. Regardless, buying non-US jets will be politically difficult while providing zero advantages.
All good points that I agree with. If I was picking, I would choose the F35. Unfortunately, its not clear that Canada always goes with the best capability as there is economic and political considerations that may go against it.

In terms of capability, the Gripen is inferior capability wise and it seems the F35 is what the RCAF want, however unfortunately the competition is not just picking the best capability wise with only 60% of the scoring going to capability. If the Gripen or Superhornet can pick up points in the other 40% it could offset the advantage F35 has in capability. NORAD compatibility would erode this price advantage for the Gripen but obviously not enough that SAAB don’t think they have a chance.

Politically buying non-US jets may be difficult, but there is also political baggage buying from Boeing and the F35. Boeing from the dispute with Bombardier and F35 with the Liberals saying they won’t buy it. If the scores are very close overall these considerations may tilt the decision and allow the government to claim they have fulfilled an election promise.

F35 is the better long-term investment and would be my choice, but I wouldn’t consider it a done deal. And neither do Boeing or SAAB it seems.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
With junior, nothing is certain (even kicking a decision past the next election call). At this point, the F-35 has a lead over the SH and the Gripen is a distant third...just my opinion. At this point almost any pick would be an improvement.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
With junior, nothing is certain (even kicking a decision past the next election call). At this point, the F-35 has a lead over the SH and the Gripen is a distant third...just my opinion. At this point almost any pick would be an improvement.
When is the next election due? IIRC he's running a minority government isn't he?
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
When is the next election due? IIRC he's running a minority government isn't he?
Yes, he has a minority government. He has a couple of more years but could try an early election if he thinks his multi-billion cash COVID handouts will put him in majority again. With vaccine delays and the recent GG scandal/resignation, an early election is probably less likely now.
 

Black Jack Shellac

Active Member
Yes, he has a minority government. He has a couple of more years but could try an early election if he thinks his multi-billion cash COVID handouts will put him in majority again. With vaccine delays and the recent GG scandal/resignation, an early election is probably less likely now.
There is a good chance he will call a snap election this spring, as he is up in the polls (even with all the nonsense) and wants his majority back.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
There is a good chance he will call a snap election this spring, as he is up in the polls (even with all the nonsense) and wants his majority back.
I’m not so sure, if vaccine deliveries fall off then things may well go south for him. It is just a matter of time before all the redacted portions about the GG get leaked. Junior by-passed the GG selection process to pick his choice even when there was ample reasons to be concerned about her suitability. Anyways it is risky as many will turned off this opportunistic move during a crisis. Enough OT for now.
 

Black Jack Shellac

Active Member
I’m not so sure, if vaccine deliveries fall off then things may well go south for him. It is just a matter of time before all the redacted portions about the GG get leaked. Junior by-passed the GG selection process to pick his choice even when there was ample reasons to be concerned about her suitability. Anyways it is risky as many will turned off this opportunistic move during a crisis. Enough OT for now.
Don't want to side track the thread too much.

I hope you are correct; however, look at the competition. No other party in Canada has a chance to win. The Conservatives have all their support in the Prairies, too localized; they can win the popular vote and still lose the election because of the distribution. Without the NDP splitting the vote, the conservatives don't have a chance; and Singh is a joke, no sane person would vote for him. Any of the parties could have brought this govt down last fall, but they all declined because they know that it is a losing position for them right now.

Time will tell.

Now back to the regular program.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Don't want to side track the thread too much.

I hope you are correct; however, look at the competition. No other party in Canada has a chance to win. The Conservatives have all their support in the Prairies, too localized; they can win the popular vote and still lose the election because of the distribution. Without the NDP splitting the vote, the conservatives don't have a chance; and Singh is a joke, no sane person would vote for him. Any of the parties could have brought this govt down last fall, but they all declined because they know that it is a losing position for them right now.

Time will tell.

Now back to the regular program.
Well I suppose the RCAF could always acquire Sopwith Camels. There's an outfit here in NZ who builds replicas :cool:
 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Other than price, the Gripen is inferior wrt capability. More importantly though is the requirements for NORAD and this may erode that price advantage. Long term, the F-35 is a better 40 year investment compared to the Superhornet. Regardless, buying non-US jets will be politically difficult while providing zero advantages.
Even price is highly debatable given SAAB’s reluctance to concede that anything besides fuel and frontline maintenance makes up the CPFH of a tactical fighter...

Apples to Apples cost comparison of the Gripen, usually doesn’t show it in the amazing light, many of it’s proponents like to imagine it in...
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Even price is highly debatable given SAAB’s reluctance to concede that anything besides fuel and frontline maintenance makes up the CPFH of a tactical fighter...

Apples to Apples cost comparison of the Gripen, usually doesn’t show it in the amazing light, many of it’s proponents like to imagine it in...
Our stupid electorate can easily be duped by junior’s claims about an economic boost of having Gripens assembled in Québec and the smallest jet engine will make it “greener”.
 

Black Jack Shellac

Active Member
Our stupid electorate can easily be duped by junior’s claims about an economic boost of having Gripens assembled in Québec and the smallest jet engine will make it “greener”.
To be fair, at this point, I would be happy for Canada to get anything. The constant dragging out of the purchase, now for 8 or 10 years, is just stupid. We can't keep pilots, they don't want to fly a 40 year old plane. Yes, the F35 makes the most sense, but even the Grippen would be better than used F-18's from Australia (no offence Australia).

To be honest, even the Sopwith Camels are starting to look good.
 

RoyZZConnor

Member
To be fair, at this point, I would be happy for Canada to get anything. The constant dragging out of the purchase, now for 8 or 10 years, is just stupid. We can't keep pilots, they don't want to fly a 40 year old plane. Yes, the F35 makes the most sense, but even the Grippen would be better than used F-18's from Australia (no offence Australia).

To be honest, even the Sopwith Camels are starting to look good.
To be fair, considering the COVID situation and the indefinite lockdown, I wouldn't be surprised if any future fighter jet purchase is delayed by years. The main focus after COVID is economic recovery and rebuilding the education system. Fighter jets, while fancy as they are, takes a backseat.
 
Top