Mittwoch, 28. November 2012

Canada's next air superiority fighter

Recent reports indicate that Canada is slowly but steadily withdrawing from the purchase of F-35 as a replacement for its aging fleet of F-18s. The poor performance and extravagant cost of the F-35 are the reasons.

The F-35 has nothing going for itself instead of a low radar cross section and this is only a minor aspect in overall fighter plane design. Given the advances in sensor technology, radar and infrared, stealth won't really matter much in the future. The F-35 won't be invisible to the enemy. So you are paying a lot of money for a feature you don't need and that offers little advantage.

Canada should first define its requirements and then run a competition. Canada has to protect a huge territory. Therefore, it needs an

affordable long range air superiority fighter.

There are six planes on the market.

F-15 Eagle
F-16 Falcon
F-18 Super Hornet
Saab Grippen,
Dassault Rafale
Eurofighter Typhoon.

The cheapest solution would be the F-16 and Grippen, but these are single engine airplanes with limited performance. The F-16 is rather dated and I don't know wether it is still in production. If you don't mind only having a single engine just like the F-35 and want good performance at low cost, then the Saab Grippen should be on your shopping list.

Saab Grippen (single engine / low cost)

However, the extreme weather in the arctic demands a more reliable solution with two engines. Since you probably want to keep on using the American rockets and bombs acquired for the F-18 that excludes the Rafale, unfortunately, since the Rafale is a great plane.

The F-15 strike eagle would offer some advantages over the F-18 in terms of aeronautical performance, but the plane is rather dated and future upgrades are not very likely, since it is being phased out in the US.  This leaves you with:

F-18 Super Hornet (price, convenience)
Typhoon (performance)

The obvious choice would be the F-18 super hornet, because Canada has been operating this plane for some time. The newest version called "super hornet" does offer a couple of performance improvements. It would definitely be a good choice and a lot better than the F-35.

In terms of fighter performance, i.e. speed, acceleration, agility, climb rate and service ceiling, the Eurofighter Typhoon is by far the best plane on the market. The typhoon beat the F-22 in several mock dog fights earlier this year. BAE and EADS - the prime manufactureres - are struggling to get new contracts since they lost to Rafale in India due to price.

So this is a buyer's market. If Canada employs its negotiating skills effectively, Eurofighter GmbH could offer Canada to become part of the consortium that is producing the plane by letting Bombardier enter the group. Canada will probably want to manufacture parts of the plane and adapt it to its specific needs, for example by developing conformal fuel tanks in order to extend the range of the aircraft. The Brits would be delighted, I am sure.

Finally,  whatever Canada choses as new fighter plane, the Saab Grippen, the F-18 Super Hornet or the Eurofighter Typhoon, it will be better than sticking to the F-35.


  1. The Swedish airforce operates in the Arctic, the Gripen has lost less planes per operating hour than the twin engine F18.
    The French are cooperating with the Russians in military development, that means that Rafale fighter technology will be in the hands of the Russians.
    Why would Canada buy a fighter jet from a country that cooperates with Canada's no 1 enemy?

  2. "The Swedish airforce operates in the Arctic,..."

    So what? The typhoon has operated successfully in Red-Flag-Alaska. Arctic temperatures can be handled by any modern fighter aircraft.

    ".. the Gripen has lost less planes per operating hour than the twin engine F18."

    The Gripen has participated in far less combat operations than the venerable F-18. So this should be expected and is no measure for the reliability of the airplanes.

    "The French are cooperating with the Russians in military development,..." France is a NATO member and a staunch ally.

    "...that means that Rafale fighter technology will be in the hands of the Russians." France would never leak any technology of the Rafale to the Russians for two reasons. 1. France has not interest and no gain in giving away the technology to Russia. 2. The Russian Sukhoi fighter jets compete with the Rafale on the world market. France would not give away its military technology to a rival nation and thereby lose its competitive edge.

    "Why would Canada buy a fighter jet from a country that cooperates with Canada's no 1 enemy?"

    Last but not least, France is no partner in the Eurofighter typhoon. Canada would be buying the aircraft from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

  3. Thank you bhigr for bringing the facts to our friend up there in the Clouds....First, The Facts about the BEST fighter Plane for the money right now....RAFALE 4+ gen

    Performance via three War has also proven its Capacity...all this after spinning Loops around everything in the West...INCLUDING the Thyphoon (7 victories out of 8) . The Western competition are doing everything they can to falsify-denied-underscore the awareness of the Incredible performance of the French Rafale Omnirole fighter Jet.