Monday, March 28, 2011

F35 Fighter Jet and The Canadian Election

Today a Liberal leader said that, I think we need to give the military jets but I don't see why "they should get the most expensive ones." Ignatieff had earlier suggested that the Liberals would build fighter jet components in Vancouver or somewhere else in Canada.

I confess, that shocked me.   You don't get something for nothing. There is no 'bargain basement' for competitive weapons technology. The history of warfare has been a history of the latest technology beating the lesser.

Canada's military has been sorely taxed in fulfilling it's treaty obligations in Afghanistan and now Libya.  Canadians like to shake a fist at the Americans but our freedom and independence have depended directly on our the strength of our American and NATO allies.

Since WWII the importance of air craft has been monumental. The Battle of Britain was decided by the superior speed and maneuverability of the Spitfire.

The F35 is simply the latest and best fighter available.  It's also has three variants - COTL, conventional take off and landing, STOVL, short takeoff and landing and CV carrier based.  These three variants share 80 % of their parts.  In war it's in the allies interest to have common weapons so that replacement parts can be supplied that much better. To this end our Allies use common 'ammunition'.  It's not likely that we're going to take on the US despite the threat Farley Mowatt with a 22 rifle proved to the US Air Command.

The F35 is made by Lockheed.  The making of the best fighter jets aren't a thing that is done like a backyard grow operation.  US, France, Russia, and England are making the most cutting edge fighters.  Russian military hardware was proven inferior in the Dessert STorm Arms Bazaar. It had depended alot on stealing western technology.  To date I haven't heard of a Liberal alternative.  I fear they may want to buy a French plane with French Instructions to please the Quebecois or maybe a Cuban one to please the NDP.

According to RAF Squadron leader Steve Long, "the F35 will give "the RAF and Navy a quantum leap in airborne capability".  According to Wickipedia even critics have stated "there is no stealthy, survivable new fighter program out there."  Comparable aircraft include the Russian built SUKHOI Pack FA and Chengdu J20. Neither is considered superior and neither is that much 'cheaper'.  The cost of high tech especially the cutting edge fighter jets is simply in the range of a million dollars.  The more that are ordered and bought , naturally the lower the price. Further, the more they are used by the US, the more advanced modifications are made. The Israelis using the F35 have already made modifications. Canada benefits greatly from the lessons that go with that learning by other nations.

There was concern about the projected costs by the Conservative being less than what are now expected. This was not 'deception' as presented in parliament by the opposition as some kind of terrible 'scandal'. It's reported that the Pentagon was as concerned.  That said, the contractors in BC would be considered saints collectively if they could keep their cost over runs from the prediction to finish at 1 1/2 projection.

The Lockheed Martin beat Boeing in competitin for the American contract.

Notably Air Canada has had it's problems and WestJet has succeeded as a result.  Perhaps the Liberal Government in Coalition with the Quebecois and NDP would suggest the military rely on  "suicide bombers" placed on either of these Air Canada commercial jets.  Possibly this would be done after some clever bankers have taken insurance on that 'Canadian" 'future's fighter jet.


Jason said...

I agree we need to uprgrade our fleet, but what about the criticism that the F-35 has only a single engine, which makes it more susceptible to engine failure in cold environments?

Anonymous said...

the issue is the true cost and the concealment by the gov of that true cost from parliament and Canadians. I wish there were fewer partisans who place the same faith in their political party and their politicians that some place in their religion. sad and irrational...

Tom Kennedy said...

In response to Jason the old pilot's joke is that the second engine is there to take you to the scene of the crash. The point being made is that a second engine does not add as much as you might imagine to safety.Two engines give you twice the chance one will blow up and destroy the aircraft for example.

Canadian fighters have been typically twin engined in the jet age as they had to roam far north where chances of survival were also remote.Twin engine aircraft are usually longer ranged. Exceptions have been the F80, F86,and F104 all single engined fighters operated by the RCAF.

The big change has been the much improved reliability of jet engines, viz,twin engined airliners are now allowed to fly across oceans, due primarily to engines that hardly ever fail. Search and rescue is much improved, too. Fighter engines will be less reliable than commercial engines but a rising tide lifts all airplanes, so to speak.

Cold weather is of little concern to jet engines, they just fire up and fly away no warmup required. The advantages with putative twin engine safety were the distance from an airport to recover a disabled aircraft and survival in case of ejection.

Th F35 is the most modern fighter available (it is still in flight test) which is significant when Canada flys them 40 years. Don't want to start with a half over the hill design. The twin engine objection is minor and becoming less so