Thursday, December 11, 2014

Government's Own F-35 Report Demolishes Myth of F-35 Superiority

A report commissioned by the Harper government concludes that the F-35, stacked up against the competition, is no clear winner except in one area, open state-versus-state warfare, which it concludes is "highly unlikely."

Tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the report represents the culmination of the Conservative government’s F-35 “reset” after Auditor General Michael Ferguson blasted its handling of the stealth fighter project nearly three years ago.
Overseen by an independent panel of experts, defence officials spent a year re-examining the F-35 as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Boeing Super Hornet to determine if the aircraft could adequately replace the military’s aging CF-18s.
The report identifies six missions Canada’s next fighter jet will be expected to fulfil. Those include defending Canadian airspace, participating in a Libya-style bombing mission, responding to a terrorist attack, and assisting in a humanitarian emergency or natural disaster.
However, the report says historically, domestic and North American missions have accounted for at least 90 per cent of the work done by Canadian fighter jets.
“Moreover, 80 per cent of the missions flown by the fleet have related to the ability to protect Canadian air space from intrusion,” it adds. “This function is projected to continue to be the most important role of the Canadian fighter capability.”
The report shows all four aircraft were capable of protecting Canadian airspace and performing four of the other missions with minimal risk. “This was due to the fact that most of these missions involve relatively low level of threat and are less onerous for fighter aircraft,” the report says.
Dassault has welcomed the report, saying that the only way for Canada to now move forward is with a "full, open and transparent competition."  Yes, what would be better than a genuine fly-off with the contenders put through their paces in a grueling competition.   That would make Canada the first country to evaluate the F-35 on a "fly before you buy" basis.

Expect Lockheed to do everything in its power to derail any possibility of an open and transparent competition.  Not only might that imperil Lockheed's current lock on the Harper government but it could also reveal to other wary markets just what they're really getting for their defence dollar.  The F-35 is already at a cost disadvantage.  A flying competition could threaten its "wunderplane" publicity.


Anonymous said...

Any future aviation battle of the superstates will be fought at the altitudes of satellites.
Integrated weapons systems such as the F35 & F22 rely upon satellite communications.
The day of the stand alone quick thinking aviator is here to stay.
As in both world wars; he with the most airplanes wins.
Technical superiority has yet to win a major confrontation.
Think ME 262 in WWII.
Modern day weapons systems are a product of the military/political/ industrial alliance.
When the day is done greed will trump ,true, national defence & security.
We are ,universally,moving toward limited war and by limited I mean it in the sense of limited partnerships as whilst our respective governments sabre rattle our multinationals work together to maximize profit regardless of political leaning.

The Mound of Sound said...

I can agree with some of your points, Anon. As Stalin said, quantity is a quality of its own. I don't know about the future of manned combat aviation, however. As for offensive bombing, the Russians are developing some significant, long-range cruise missiles that can be fired, en masse, from behind the forward edge of the battle space in numbers that will overwhelm the defenders. As long as enough get through, overall losses are almost irrelevant. With manned aircraft even continued moderate losses are considered unsustainable.

It's one of the great failings of the F-35 that it requires its support aircraft - such as tankers and AWACS - to be brought to the front where they're entirely vulnerable to fast, long-range interceptors. Their presence also advertises the presence of a stealth strike attack. The defender's stealth fighters are more effective than the attacker's because they rely on less vulnerable ground support and have the home field, nearby airbase advantage. Non-stealth interceptors, like the SU-30 family, can meanwhile focus on the tankers. Once they're down it's a one-way, single-mission war for the F-35s. That's hardly cost effective when the job could easily be done by swarms of cruise missiles.

I suspect the offensive, strike role is going to be relinquished to unmanned systems while home defence will remain the focus of manned warplanes.

Unknown said...

F-35 a joke right not left it is hard being a centrist...

Anonymous said...

I've seen commercial jets flying through so-called 'practice zones', where we would perform stalls and spins. My father told me he (and his colleagues) saw flocks of geese flying between twenty and thirty thousand feet.

Will there be accidents? Will there be bird-strikes? Absolutely.