Monday, January 31, 2011

F-35 Indefensibility

I really do have to wonder if Lockheed Martin is spiking the Air Force's drinking water, if they're recommending this thing.

The Canadian military does not have the ability to conduct aerial refuelling of the F-35 fighter jet it wants to purchase and is now looking at ways to get around the problem, the Ottawa Citizen has learned.
Options range from paying for modifications to the stealth jets to purchasing a new fleet of tanker aircraft that can gas up the high-tech fighters in mid-air. That option could cost several hundred million dollars, depending on how many new tankers are needed, according to sources.
In addition, because the F-35 would not be able to safely land on runways in Canada's North as those are too short for the fighter, the Defence Department is also looking at having manufacturer Lockheed Martin install a "drag" chute on the plane.
That parachute would deploy when the aircraft lands, slowing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter down. But some pilots have said that high winds affecting such runways could make using a drag chute tricky or even dangerous.
If there are any blue-suiters reading this and have issue with Pugilese's comments, please do step forward in the comments and offer rebuttal. Because if there's any truth to these claims, one may only conclude that the current mix of Con government and Air Force leadership cannot be trusted to competently manage the air defence of Canada. 

See harebell and impolitical for more!

DND offers a rebuttal- sort of. Major [General] Tom does a Bowie/Shilling and simply states that everything is groovy and the plane can land way up there no worries. At least as far as the CBC report goes, he didn't appear to be listening to ground conntrol and acknowledging that yes, the Canadian F-35 requires substantial modifications to operate with our existing kit and environment. For an aircraft already facing substantial development delays, the requirement for further modifications can only add to the cost and time.

This is getting weird.

1 Feb: MoS in the comments draws attention to the fact that the F-35 is able to use the probe and drogue refueling system we currently use.

I wonder if the probe system on the F-35 is an optional capability that the Cons didn't mention because they wanted to present the fine print 'starting at' cost to the public. Airshow's response on the issue is leaves just a little wiggle room:
"The F-35 will, of course, have refuelling capability and capacity. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the plane, has confirmed that the F-35 can handle different types of refuelling systems, including the one currently used by our forces," MacKay said. "Any modification with respect to refuelling will be done within the current budget allotted for the F-35."

Great, Lockheed Martin states what ought to be common knowledge. Then Airshow comes along and suggests that Canadian aircraft would be modified "within the current budget" (whatever the current budget might be is another question). There is definitely room to conclude that no, the government figure to date might not have included the 'probe and drogue' option...


Fat Arse said...

defn: "F-35", "F" stands for Fucked and "35" is the number of years it will take for DND to get this albatross off the ground!

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm as fierce a critic of this pig as anyone else but fairness requires that I point out the F-35 has already been equipped and tested with the standard, drogue and probe refueling system. You can see it on YouTube:

Boris said...

Thanks for that MoS! I wondered, but then I thought that given the ineptitude around the whole thing, that it might well have been possible they ordered a boom-only refueler. I wonder if Pugilese meant something else.

Edstock said...

How much is power steering and cruise?
Could we just go and get a re-equip with the super Hornet? We don't need stealth, we need 2 engines.
Or, apparently there's going to be a re-freshed F-15, but it might be too pricy.