Canadian Fighter Replacement

Member for

3 years 11 months

Posts: 119

There is no recent thread for this on this site, and since it's an active procurement project, I thought I'd restart a discussion around Canada's replacement of the CF-18. Contenders include the F-35; F/A-18 E/F/G; SAAB Gripen E/F, EFT Single and Two Seater, and Rafale Single and Two Seater. The F-15 SE and F-16V have been popular alternatives for some, neither have been given serious consideration to this point and are likely not contenders.

Constraints and Context

  1. Compatibility with a unique Canadian Mission Set (NORAD/NATO/Canada First)
  2. Compatibility with NATO Weaponry and Infrastructure
  3. Forward Deployment in the Arctic (Short runways/cold weather/pilot survivability)
  4. Compatibility with Tanker Fleet
  5. Compatibility with Base Infrastructure (runways/hangers)
  6. Procurement Timeframe and Availability
  7. Budget Constraints (Acquisition Cost, Operating Cost, Low Canadian Dollar)
  8. Offsets

Recent Articles
http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/11/17/government-office-begins-work-on-finding-cheaper-cf-18-replacement/

Good Comparison Articles
http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/09/01/fighters/

Resources
http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/business-equipment/next-gen-fighter.page
http://bestfighter4canada.blogspot.ca/
http://ottawacitizen.com/category/news/national/defence-watch
http://www.vanguardcanada.com
https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2015/06/Smart_Defence.pdf

Original post

Member for

13 years 7 months

Posts: 784

There is no recent thread for this on this site, and since it's an active procurement project, I thought I'd restart a discussion around Canada's replacement of the CF-18. Contenders include the F-35; F/A-18 E/F/G; SAAB Gripen E/F, EFT Single and Two Seater, and Rafale Single and Two Seater. The F-15 SE and F-16V have been popular alternatives for some, neither have been given serious consideration to this point and are likely not contenders. l]

Not sure how the F35 would be a contender since it was dropped last year?

Profile picture for user FBW

Member for

7 years 11 months

Posts: 3,106

Not sure how the F35 would be a contender since it was dropped last year?

Yes and no, the proposed purchase was dropped. All signals from the government seem to suggest that the F-35 will be included in the new CF-18 replacement open competition.
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/02/18/f-35-jet-back-on-ottawas-radar-screen.html
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/f-35-fighter-jet-purchase-1.3464957

Not to mention that Canada is still part of the F-35 program, makes sense, for very little commitment they can still bid on F-35 contracts.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-to-stay-in-program-of-f-35-jet-buyers-despite-pledge-to-withdraw/article28897002/
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/2016/03/05/canadian-participation-f-35-program-remains-murky/81202784/

Member for

3 years 11 months

Posts: 119

As of now it has not been excluded (which was not the Liberals position during the election.) If I was handicapping this one I'd say there is a 60% chance it goes to the Super Hornet, 20 % F35 and 20% one of the other three.

I'd prefer to see a larger, mixed fleet. The F35 makes little sense for Canada and the SH lacks a bit in the top end. Gripen E's mixed with any of the other 4 would be pretty ideal.

Member for

9 years

Posts: 300

A mixed fleet of fighters would be the best compromise for Canada. I would forsee a squadron of f-35 along with 3 squadrons of longer ranged air superiority fighters. My personal preference would be used tranche 1 typhoons but anything from f-15s to super hornets with conformal fuel tanks would be fine.

The fighter fleet would then be supported by a330mrtt tankers (something for the francophones) and bombardier global 6000 erieye-ng AEW&Cs.

Profile picture for user Sintra

Member for

12 years 3 months

Posts: 3,765

There is no recent thread for this on this site, and since it's an active procurement project, I thought I'd restart a discussion around Canada's replacement of the CF-18. Contenders include the F-35; F/A-18 E/F/G; SAAB Gripen E/F, EFT Single and Two Seater, and Rafale Single and Two Seater. The F-15 SE and F-16V have been popular alternatives for some, neither have been given serious consideration to this point and are likely not contenders.

Constraints and Context

  1. Compatibility with a unique Canadian Mission Set (NORAD/NATO/Canada First)
  2. Compatibility with NATO Weaponry and Infrastructure
  3. Forward Deployment in the Arctic (Short runways/cold weather/pilot survivability)
  4. Compatibility with Tanker Fleet
  5. Compatibility with Base Infrastructure (runways/hangers)
  6. Procurement Timeframe and Availability
  7. Budget Constraints (Acquisition Cost, Operating Cost, Low Canadian Dollar)
  8. Offsets

Recent Articles
http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/11/17/government-office-begins-work-on-finding-cheaper-cf-18-replacement/

Good Comparison Articles
http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/09/01/fighters/

Resources
http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/business-equipment/next-gen-fighter.page
http://bestfighter4canada.blogspot.ca/
http://ottawacitizen.com/category/news/national/defence-watch
http://www.vanguardcanada.com
https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2015/06/Smart_Defence.pdf

Typhoon is also a contender, in the end it will be either the SH or the F-35A.

Member for

11 years 5 months

Posts: 2,610

From an article in vanguardcanada.com:

Given the government’s commitment to a strong presence in the Arctic, it has been mentioned many times that two-engines would be the preferred configuration. This is something I strongly agree with.

If a pilot ends up losing the engine on a single-engine fighter over the Beaufort Sea (or anywhere north of the tree line in the Arctic) he/she will be left piloting a lawn dart. Even in the event of a safe ejection, the chances of survival are slim-to-none. A pilot in command of a twin-engine aircraft, however, could limp it back to one of our Arctic airbases, as the chance of losing both engines is minuscule.

The counter-argument to this is reliability. If you have a well-built, reliable engine in your single-engine fighter, what is there to worry about?

Unfortunately, all it takes is one event for a pilot to lose his/her life. Having two engines gives you one more possibility, and there is no way around that. It may be the more expensive option, but at what point does saving dollars trump protecting the lives of our servicemen and women?

http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/09/01/fighters/

Is recovery of a pilot who ejects over water or in winter really so unlikely?

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 3,259

In a water close to 0 degrees, the time of survival is a matter of minutes. What's more, even if he/she ejects over ice, the surface can be pretty uneven, and can cause heavy injuries/death even if the ejection as such was ok.

Add to that the possibility of bad weather (it can become really bad very rapidly at such lattitudes, and the only conclusion is that you definitely do not want to eject there ;)

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 4,619

We all know that Canada has not needed stealth for anything it has done in the past 30 years. It does need speed, lots of weapons and excellent radar and sensors so we are looking at either Rafale, Typhoon or something to keep Boeing in work.

Member for

7 years 4 months

Posts: 3,156

We all know that Canada has not needed stealth for anything it has done in the past 30 years. It does need speed, lots of weapons and excellent radar and sensors so we are looking at either Rafale, Typhoon or something to keep Boeing in work.

So we "all know" Canada has not needed stealth for anything it has done in the past 30 years... but it needs speed?

Canada is currently operating F-18s, an aircraft that is neither particularly fast nor long-legged. What does that say about what we "all know" Canada does or doesn't need?

Member for

7 years 4 months

Posts: 3,156

From an article in vanguardcanada.com:

http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2015/09/01/fighters/

Is recovery of a pilot who ejects over water or in winter really so unlikely?

The real issue is that while that scenario is much discussed, it is very very rare.

We have decades of safety statistics on single engine aircraft like the F-16 and Gripen and operators like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and the US operate them in the arctic without problems.

Profile picture for user MSphere

Member for

9 years 9 months

Posts: 8,850

Canada is not Denmark or Sweden.. Canada is a sparsely populated country of monstrous dimensions. The only comparable country is Russia - which have abandoned any single-engine fighters completely.

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 4,619

So we "all know" Canada has not needed stealth for anything it has done in the past 30 years... but it needs speed?

Canada is currently operating F-18s, an aircraft that is neither particularly fast nor long-legged. What does that say about what we "all know" Canada does or doesn't need?

It might just be that the F35 is not the aircraft for Canada. That is a possibility. If the RAF considered the F35 for the job the Typhoon is currently doing I would be up in arms. So it is possible that the many strengths of the F35 just happen to be the ones least needed by the Canadians a lot of the time.

I am assuming that they are looking for something to intercept at range and bomb as part of a coalition?

Profile picture for user FBW

Member for

7 years 11 months

Posts: 3,106

It might just be that the F35 is not the aircraft for Canada. That is a possibility. If the RAF considered the F35 for the job the Typhoon is currently doing I would be up in arms. So it is possible that the many strengths of the F35 just happen to be the ones least needed by the Canadians a lot of the time

The UK MoD does not seem to be worried about the F-35B's ability to project power and provide air cover for a task force.

There seems to be several questions driving Canada's vacillation over the CF-18 replacement:
1. What role will Canada play in NATO (if any), 2. what service branch can best defend Canada's arctic interests, and therefore receive limited defense funds? (Navy- Air Force), 3. What roles should be emphasized in shaping the requirements for the CF-18 replacement?
I may be of the minority opinion, but I doubt that there will be any choice made by the Liberal party under Trudeau. There will be delays and paper shuffling. His campaign pledges would make it hard to backtrack and choose the F-35 (after costing taxpayers millions in a wasted open competition). Canadian industry has contracts with the F-35 program, and the government has noted that they continue to be a partner nation throughout the SDD phase. Most likely, 3-5 years down the road after the next national election, Canada will order the F-35.


I am assuming that they are looking for something to intercept at range and bomb as part of a coalition?

Were those the two key requirements, then the F-35 would be perfectly suitable. It is interesting that Norway, faced with similar strategic needs, seems to have ardent supporters within it's defense establishment.

Canada is a sparsely populated country of monstrous dimensions. The only comparable country is Russia -

Yes, but with 90% of Canada's population massed on the US northern border preparing to invade.....(joke) God help us if Trump becomes the next US president

Member for

9 years 4 months

Posts: 237

Not that I think that the F35 is the ideal candidate for Canadian use, I particularly do not understand why the more robust, slightly longer range and probe and drogue refuelling F35C is never considered and the conversation is always about the F35A.

Profile picture for user SpudmanWP

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 5,198

Increased cost and pulls less Gs?

Member for

3 years 11 months

Posts: 119

It might just be that the F35 is not the aircraft for Canada. That is a possibility. If the RAF considered the F35 for the job the Typhoon is currently doing I would be up in arms. So it is possible that the many strengths of the F35 just happen to be the ones least needed by the Canadians a lot of the time.

I am assuming that they are looking for something to intercept at range and bomb as part of a coalition?

As a stand-alone solution the F-35 is probably the worst choice of the bunch for Canada. It may be the best plane, but it's not really what we need. It's simply a solution to a problem we don't really have. In the case of a state on state conflict, it's not like we are going to be doing SEAD or first day strike. We'd be defending against incursions over the arctic or defending the Baltics, Germany Poland and Scandinavia.

I don't mind the F-35 as part of a mixed fleet at all if we had the tankers for it. I absolutely hate it as our only fighter.

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 353

...... The only comparable country is Russia - which have abandoned any single-engine fighters completely.

It seems Russia has gone from having point defense fighters in previous decades, to long range, multi-purpose fighters (which makes sense given their territory and requirments). So perhaps Russia does not have a true aversion to single engine fighters, but the performance requirements of a big, capable, long range fighter almost always drives the design to twin engines. Happy to be corrected.

Member for

9 years 10 months

Posts: 2,163

It seems Russia has gone from having point defense fighters in previous decades, to long range, multi-purpose fighters (which makes sense given their territory and requirments). So perhaps Russia does not have a true aversion to single engine fighters, but the performance requirements of a big, capable, long range fighter almost always drives the design to twin engines. Happy to be corrected.

But Russia is probably the most comparable country in the world to Canada... hence MSphere's thought train.

MiG-31s for the Canucks! :D

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 4,619

[QUOTE=FBW;2299579]"The UK MoD does not seem to be worried about the F-35B's ability to project power and provide air cover for a task force."

Yes but they are not QRA jets and for the next several years will have a limit to what weapons they carry.

If you want to get up and intercept stuff quickly there are better jets around. If you want to buy into a massive arms programme, then the F35 is as good a bet as you will find.

I wouldnt buy a warmed over boeing design if I were looking to keep it for another 30 years though.

Member for

3 years 11 months

Posts: 119

All of the options have serious warts. All of the options can deal with the mission set Canada primarily needs it for.


Ideally....mixed fleet but I'd be happy with any of these options in order of preference:

40 Gripen E + 30 F-18F, 6 F-18G (NGJ)
Gripen + Typhoon (High/low capability mix)
Typhoon + (LCA, UCAV Drones)
Rafale (Canadianized) + (LCA, UCAV Drones)
Gripen E, F + (LCA/UCAV Drones)
F 18 E, F Limited Buy (36 - 48 aircraft and find a better long term solution) <-----THIS IS THE MOST LIKELY OUTCOME

Not reasonable but plenty sexy
Typhoon + F-18 F/G (Operating costs too high)
F-35A + F15 SE (Operating costs, acquisition costs, hangers, forward base runways too short)
F-35A + Typhoon (operating and acquisition costs too high)
Mixed Rafale/Gripen (impossible to canadianize small Rafale buy without a bunch of other countries doing the same)

I Don't Like
F-35 alone (runways, hangers, operating costs, interception)
F-18 E/F/G alone (as a long term solution)
F-15 SE alone (runways, hangers, operating costs)