Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1:7 and musings on a Tundra Air Force

Air Force Magazine:
Second, a brutally high operations tempo since 2001 has taken a toll on high-performance aircraft, particularly F-15E and F-16 types. One year in Southwest Asia translates into five to seven years’ worth of real degradation. Simply put, the jet aircraft fleet is wearing out too swiftly.
So does this mean that if Canada had rotated squadrons or flights of CF-188s through Afghanistan, we'd have virtually none left to fly now considering how desperately close to the end of their service lives they are already? And how would some ultra-fancy contraption like the F-35 stand up to a sustained deployment in Southwest Asia, let alone our Arctic? An Afghanistan with F-35s could mean that we'd really need to replace them in 20 years.

The article quoted describes the US desire to move toward using comparatively primitive and much cheaper turboprop aircraft in the close air support role because their very expensive and complex front-line strike aircraft are just a little climate sensitive. These turboprop aircraft (we use them as trainers; Canadian industry can easily build them...) have flight performance characteristics closer to WW2 fighter-bombers than today's fast jets, do well in austere conditions, and require much less maintenance.

Hmmm. Maybe this type of plane would be much more amenable to floats, skis, and fat tundra tires if say the Army and Navy wanted something to support them in the North. Planes like that could actually stay up there instead of visiting for short periods from Cold Lake or Bagotville. Similarity to the types of aircraft already flying up there means they could easily use existing maintenance facilities. If the RCAF is really keen on getting in on the action in the next big international mess, its buy-in might be much simpler than donating 10s of billions of Canadian tax-dollars to the Lockheed Martin bail-out plan.


Alison said...

Finally a sensible solution. Too bad it's not shiny, sexy and photo-op friendly.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey Boris. I was just exploring the speed performance of America's 2nd Gen stealth warplanes. It turns out going too fast for too long seriously degrades the stealth coatings, an integral part of the Holy Trinity to technologies behind the supposedly vaunted stealth advantage. If they're heat and friction sensitive one can only speculate what other vulnerabilities, such as operations in Third World dustbowls, there may be.



Boris said...

It's worth much a longer post, and comes through in the themes in some of my other ones, but tech is a black hole. The shiniest piece of kit in the world is useless if it can't deploy effectively or is otherwise unreliable, and that includes the basic cost of the thing.

Steve said...

Dash 8 with no pilot. We could use Nortel tech.