Friday, September 25, 2015

Buy the F-35!

It's still Canada's best bet as a replacement for the F-18:
... a competition would be a costly and largely pointless process.

... it is clear that cancelling the F-35 procurement will not result in tens of billions of dollars saved, nor serve any of Canada’s longstanding interests. The men and women who will operate Canada’s future fighter deserve better.
The above conclusions are based on the current fly-away cost per aircraft (using the F/A-18E Super Hornet as a comparison).  This is in contrast with  this partisan analysis which uses scary looking full life-cycle costing.

Fly-away cost is the simplest and most realistic basis for comparison.  Any aircraft of roughly similar capability will incur similar life cycle (operation, maintenance, supply and upgrade) costs.  The most important differences will be seen in the bang for fly-away buck. It's the way we all make decisions for big ticket purchases.

Unfortunately, politics, not cost or capability, will be the biggest factor in the decision, with Trudeau's promise to scrap the F-35 procurement sounding like Chretien's costly scrapping of the Sea King replacement in 1993 (we're still waiting for the replacement to be completed).


Joe said...

I vote Conservative and I really think Justin is out of his league BUT I do have real reservations about the F35. It seems to be like the Avro Arrow -long on promise short on delivery. From all the performance reports I have found and read the F35 is not a good fighter or bomber nor is it very stealthy.

JR said...

There are a lot of opinions out there, many of them out of date. The F-35 program has had its problems and controversies but has made strides in sorting out both. Here's one from Aviation Week (Jan 2014):

"... Over the last several years, the tri-service F-35 fighter program has gradually retired risks and reduced costs, in the process acquiring broader political support.

Although the Pentagon has been deliberately vague about how the stealth, sensor fusion and other features of the F-35 make its performance far superior to that of last-generation fighters, it is rapidly emerging as the gold standard of tactical aviation in global markets. ..."

JR said...

Here's another, more detailed, performance comparison with the F/A-18E.

Joe said...

There's a reason the Swiss Army Knife never really made it in the field. The F35 is designed to a the Swiss Army Knife of airplanes. It doesn't do anything well because it was not designed not to do anything well.

JR said...

Many would disagree. See above performance comparison.

Anonymous said...

One of the confusing things about F-35 discussions is that there are actually 3 different F-35's, A, B, and C. The Air Force variant (A) has done very well in all of the testing. The problems the U.S. are having are primarily with the B and C variants for the Marines and Navy. The VTOL version for the marines is a lot more expensive and the technology is quite complex. I believe this variant accounts for the bulk of the overruns and delays. The Navy carrier variant must be built to much more robust standards to survive the rigors of carrier take-offs and landings. The extra costs of these variants get included in the overall cost of the program for the US.