Monday, April 28, 2014

Fighter problems

I'm gonna take a wild guess and suggest that the new fighter report is somewhat less than totally and utterly enthusiastic about the flying rainbow of awesome that the F-35 is supposed to be. The Cons simply don't like providing the public information about things that make them look bad, poor things.

A quick thought: Canada's ancient fleet of CF-18s have undergone upgrades to their weapons systems, radar, avionics, and communications suites that bring them up to par with their NATO peers. They are presently being [re]deployed to Europe under tense conditions in order mitigate against militarily aggressive moves by THE peer competitor.

If Canada's Hornets are so deficient, do you think they would be deployed under conditions that could see them pitted against the latest generation of Russian fighters and air defences?

Fun fact: Modern fighter and attack aircraft capabilities are partly products of flyability, and considerably more products of their weapons and sensor kit and pilot training, which is why RCAF CF-18s remain deployable as frontline combat aircraft. The critical problems with the F-35 is that it suffers airframe and sensor issues that require fixes because the technology in these things is simply not mature. The so-called 4th generation fighters are technologically mature, proven, designs where the major faults have been identified and rectified. They are also upgradable to keep up with sensors and weapons technology changes, like our CF-18s. Outside of low-speed turn and burn Battle of Britain style dogfights where agility and available energy matter a lot, the sensors and weapons are what make the difference. Dogfights are rare and risky, and air forces will try to win them before they start through missile kills at extended range.

Best thing Canada could do if it thinks it needs a combat air force is to quit faffing and pick a proven airframe (even two!) and stick with it and let the RCAF evolve around it, as it has always done to acceptable effect (e.g. CF-101, CF-104, CF-5, CF-18).

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