News   Jul 19, 2024
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F-35 Fighter Jet Purchase

While the world is becoming a far more dangerous place our MoD was newly appointed to focus primarily on #metoo sexual misconduct and gender/ethnicity representation issues.

All I'll say is that I listened to a general yesterday say that she's one of the few MNDs in his careers who has actually asked the right question when they've talked. Maybe people think she's a diversity hire outside. But she's got respect among those fighting for more resources. Now, if she can translate that to action in cabine remains to be seen. But it is refreshing to have a minister who listens more and talks less...
 
I hope this war, finally puts to bed the argument about why we need some high end weapons systems. We need a much stronger air force and navy. Along with space and cyber (we're finally setting up divisions for these....).

We need a new Defence White Paper on how to restructure for the 21st century. The romantic idea of the army filling up with reserve regiments like WWII needs to die. WWIII will be over before our conscripts finish filling out their paperwork.

Seeing how Ukraine has done with with Javelins and Stingers, I'd argue that we should restructure the army to be smaller, more nimble and more technologically advanced. Focus more of our additional investments on the air, naval, space and cyber forces.
 
I hope this war, finally puts to bed the argument about why we need some high end weapons systems. We need a much stronger air force and navy. Along with space and cyber (we're finally setting up divisions for these....).

We need a new Defence White Paper on how to restructure for the 21st century. The romantic idea of the army filling up with reserve regiments like WWII needs to die. WWIII will be over before our conscripts finish filling out their paperwork.

Seeing how Ukraine has done with with Javelins and Stingers, I'd argue that we should restructure the army to be smaller, more nimble and more technologically advanced. Focus more of our additional investments on the air, naval, space and cyber forces.

Canada needs to step up. In the decades after the Soviet Union collapsed, clearly toxic complacency took hold with military matters since the biggest threat to our way of life was assumed to have vanished, along with a perception that we could always rely on the US to bail us out just in case something happened. We need to be able to defend ourselves first and foremost.
 
Canada to purchase F-35s (no surprise there); announcement of formal negotiations w/Lockheed later today.
 
Here's the official press release:


From the above:

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As I predicted.
Ummm. Like I said previously, the competition is in bid evaluation right now. And it's a bid process that places the heaviest weight on technical merit/performance and then price. If the F-35 is that capable and economic (and in my personal opinion it is), we'll see a contract award next year. I would hope people support the current process and let it play out. It's one of the best evaluations I've seen in a long time. A much more transparent process and heavy emphasis on performance.


Repeating this to point out that I told you guys months ago this was the likely outcome.

My only surprise is that first delivery seems to have moved up from 2026 to 2025.
 
How much are we saving buying them now rather than at $300m+ per unit?
 
IMO this purchase was always going to happen, the only question was how long it would take the government to actually make the decision. The F-35 will be the Western multirole fighter of choice for US coalition warfare in future. And maybe not a direct comparison, but when countries like Denmark, Norway and Australia committed to the programme long ago for Canada to not have chosen F-35 would be acceptance as a B-team coalition member (in capability, not quantity).

This issue reminds me of the EH-101 with the Chretien government back in the 90s. Pulled out the programme cost a lot, but the capability gap remained and would need to be filled sooner or later. One aspect of the fighter choice that I am not sighted on is the industrial offset will be as a Level 3 partner.
 
How much are we saving buying them now rather than at $300m+ per unit?
To be fair we weren't going to buy them at $300M. If we contracted in 2012, first delivery would have been 2015. Probably US$105M. But the collapse of the CAD with the fracking boom blew the budget and is at least partly why the Conservatives backed off.

There will be lots of folks who say we should have just bought it then. But I think it worked out alright. A 2025 F-35 is a whole different animal from a 2015 F-35. The maturity is a boon to us.
 
With Russia shaking the cobwebs of complacency across NATO and everyone rushing to upgrade their air forces I wonder what the lead time for F-35As for Canada will be. I expect the last CF-18 will retire in the early 2030s, over fifty years since it entered service - akin to taking a 1916 Sopwith Camel into the 1966+ Vietnam War. As for the size of the fleet, is there any other nation with a lower fighter to square km of territory ratio?

But no matter, it’s good news. Now let’s get the Halifax and Victoria classes replaced ASAP. AFAIk there’s been zero chatter on the latter.
 
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With Russia shaking the cobwebs of complacency across NATO and everyone rushing to upgrade their air forces I wonder what the lead time for F-35As for Canada will be. I expect the last CF-18 will retire in the early 2030s, over fifty years since it entered service - akin to taking a 1916 Sopwith Camel into the 1966+ Vietnam War. As for the size of the fleet, is there any other nation with a lower fighter to square km of territory ratio?

But no matter, it’s good news. Now let’s get the Halifax and Victoria classes replaced ASAP. AFAIk there’s been zero chatter on the latter.

That is a sobering comparison with Sopwith Camel! Mind you, if the platform is sound, then upgrades can keep an older airframe relevant for many years. More than 60 years in service for the B-52, for example, and the now retired the British Canberra stayed in service as recce aircraft with modern imaging equipment.

But your point is well made. F-35s and fighting ships are the tip of the iceberg for actual military capabilities. There is a lot more equipment that is needed to support and round out a force structure that do not normally make the headlines. Had the interim support ship (MV Asterix and Admiral Norman affair) not been procured for the RCN, our navy would be deep, deep trouble.
 
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With Russia shaking the cobwebs of complacency across NATO and everyone rushing to upgrade their air forces I wonder what the lead time for F-35As for Canada will be.

First delivery is 2025. Last delivery is in the early 2030s. Currently the Hornet fleet is slated to completely retire by 2032. So drawdown will probably start in the late 2020s after we have enough F-35s on the ramp.

. I expect the last CF-18 will retire in the early 2030s, over fifty years since it entered service - akin to taking a 1916 Sopwith Camel into the 1966+ Vietnam War.

I get your point. But it's a bit deceiving. Technology changed substantially from the 1910s to the 1960s. This really isn't the case for 4th generation fighters. And the technology that did change (avionics, glass cockpit, helmet mounted displays, scanned arrays, etc.) could all be inserted into the current platforms. Today's CF18 would be substantially unrecognizable to a pilot who took delivery of them in the 1980s.

Also, we aren't exceptional on this front. The most famous example of technological insertion keeping a platform relevant is the B-52. The USAF plans to retire that in 2050, after a century of service.

As for the size of the fleet, is there any other nation with a lower fighter to square km of territory ratio?

No. But there's also nobody that has vast amounts of space that are useless to an attacker. There's really no risk of having to engage in air combat over Regina. To the extent that we have to defend against Russian intrusions, it about stopping bombers coming over the poles and threatening to fire cruise missiles that could hit our military and economic centres. We need enough fighters to stop and deter that, and enough to contribute to collective security in Europe. I think our current numbers are good for the first. Maybe we should consider amphibious carriers and F-35Bs for the latter task.

But no matter, it’s good news. Now let’s get the Halifax and Victoria classes replaced ASAP. AFAIk there’s been zero chatter on the latter.

We're behind on planning a replacement for the Victoria class. But I'm surprised that you don't know about the replacement for the Halifax Class. We're part of the Type 26 program with the UK and Australia. That's a highly capable cutting edge platform. And Canada is buying just under the combined total of the UK and Australia. Huge for us. While the Brits will take delivery of their first in 2024, the Aussies and us haven't cut steel yet and will take first delivery in the early 2030s.

We should discuss getting more subs. Maybe, you're right about that. We should also talk about losing our status as the only country in NATO without short range air defence, or being the only country in the G7 without amphibious or carrier capabilities, or not having attack helicopters, etc. There's a lot on the list that we lack. The shopping list is less important than having a serious discussion on foreign policy and where our military fits into that. The military can then determine what to buy and how to prioritize it.
 
We should discuss getting more subs. Maybe, you're right about that.
I’m aware of the Type 26, my point above was to expedite as much as possible.

At least for submarines there‘s near zero chance we’d demand to produce or assemble them domestically. So, let’s look to four new-built AIP SSKs like the German Type 212 recommended in CNR, at about CAD$500 million a pop including training and support.

 
I’m aware of the Type 26, my point above was to expedite as much as possible.

It's not really possible. The whole point of the National Shipbuilding Strategy is to create a pipeline of shipbuilding. Moving up construction breaks the pipeline. There might be some room. But you gotta ask how worthwhile it is.

At least for submarines there‘s near zero chance we’d demand to produce or assemble them domestically. So, let’s look to four new-built AIP SSKs like the German Type 212 recommended in CNR, at about CAD$500 million a pop including training and support.

Zero chance we cut a $2B cheque for four subs with zero economic benefit to Canada. Which ever government signs that deal losses votes on both coasts + Quebec. Also, we need way more than 4 subs. So might as well stand up a program and do it right.
 

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