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The RCAF's Next Generation Fighter (CF-188 Replacement)

Humphrey Bogart

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SeaKingTacco said:
I have spoken to actual Hungarian Air Force officers about the Grippen. It certainly is an improvement over their Soviet era MIGs, but they didn't describe it as the best fighter in the world. More like the best that they could afford.

I do not see the continued attraction to building in Canada. What is the point of setting up a production line to build fewer than 100 fighters that will then just shutdown in a few years?

If jobs in Canada are the over riding consideration, then wouldn't being a continued partner in the F35 program be the way to go and get a piece of building 3000 (plus) jets over the next 3 decades?

"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good"

Nobody is saying the F35 is better than the Gripen E.  I have no doubt the F35 is a far more capable aircraft; however, the real issue which I think is a valid point presented in the above article is:

"Can Canada afford the F35 without major sacrifices to other programs and overall General Purpose Combat Capability across the Spectrum of Operations?"

What do we need to sacrifice IOT afford the F35?  half the expected number of CSCs? The Submarine Program? Griffon Replacements? Future Maritime Patrol Aircraft? Kingston Class Replacements?  UAVs that we still don't have? Air Defence? Future Anti-Tank Capability? Artillery?  Cyber & Renewed EW Capability? Heavy Engineering & Mobility?

Think of all the tools we already lack or are deficient in:

Naval Strike
UAV
Cyber
EW
Bridging
AAW
GBAD
ATGM Systems
SP Artillery
MLRS
AH
New Submarines
Proper AORs
Replacements for the CP140s
Replacements for Tac Hel
Replacements for Kingston Class
Replacements for Halifax Class
Cyber
EW

This list is not exhaustive.

The Future Fighter is going to have two primary roles:

1.  Defence of North America through NORAD (Gripen E is more than capable of filling this role)
2.  Bombing Brigands in North Africa and the Middle East (It is also perfectly capable of filling this role) in fact a Spitfire could probably do a relatively good job in certain instances. 

So what exactly do we give up so the Air Force can have their Ferraris?
 

dimsum

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SeaKingTacco said:
If jobs in Canada are the over riding consideration, then wouldn't being a continued partner in the F35 program be the way to go and get a piece of building 3000 (plus) jets over the next 3 decades?

Ding ding ding.

Humphrey Bogart said:
So what exactly do we give up so the Air Force can have their Ferraris?

I was pretty young at the time, but I swear Jean Chretien said something similar to kill the EH-101 and set back the Sea King replacement for 15 years.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Dimsum said:
Ding ding ding.

I was pretty young at the time, but I swear Jean Chretien said something similar to kill the EH-101 and set back the Sea King replacement for 15 years.

Yes he did say something similar; however, the context of what he said and what I am saying are different.

Buy the F35 if and only if it doesn't put other programs in jeopardy. 
 

dimsum

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Humphrey Bogart said:
Yes he did say something similar; however, the context of what he said and what I am saying are different.

Buy the F35 if and only if it doesn't put other programs in jeopardy.

Call me cynical, but I don't think $X saved in the future fighter project will mean $X gained in other projects.  The govt will take that back because let's be serious here, Defence doesn't matter for most Canadians (and definitely not for politicians, despite party platforms on election runs).
 

Cloud Cover

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Humphrey Bogart said:
"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good"

Nobody is saying the F35 is better than the Gripen E.  I have no doubt the F35 is a far more capable aircraft; however, the real issue which I think is a valid point presented in the above article is:

"Can Canada afford the F35 without major sacrifices to other programs and overall General Purpose Combat Capability across the Spectrum of Operations?"

What do we need to sacrifice IOT afford the F35?  half the expected number of CSCs? The Submarine Program? Griffon Replacements? Future Maritime Patrol Aircraft? Kingston Class Replacements?  UAVs that we still don't have? Air Defence? Future Anti-Tank Capability? Artillery?  Cyber & Renewed EW Capability? Heavy Engineering & Mobility?

Think of all the tools we already lack or are deficient in:

Naval Strike
UAV
Cyber
EW
Bridging
AAW
GBAD
ATGM Systems
SP Artillery
MLRS
AH
New Submarines
Proper AORs
Replacements for the CP140s
Replacements for Tac Hel
Replacements for Kingston Class
Replacements for Halifax Class
Cyber
EW

This list is not exhaustive.

The Future Fighter is going to have two primary roles:

1.  Defence of North America through NORAD (Gripen E is more than capable of filling this role)
2.  Bombing Brigands in North Africa and the Middle East (It is also perfectly capable of filling this role) in fact a Spitfire could probably do a relatively good job in certain instances. 

So what exactly do we give up so the Air Force can have their Ferraris?

The point to me isn’t what all of those systems cost to buy, sustain and use. It’s a lot of money, no doubt it would swing the defence spending needle close to 2.5% GDP. We can afford that as a country without giving up much, if anything.

But Canada doesn’t spend, or sustain the military rationally and our procurement system is far from rational. So even if they funded to buy the equipment, the money would flow in a sea of stupid and not much would change. That’s why Canadians and Canadian politicians don’t want to spend in this space.
 

Good2Golf

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Humphrey Bogart said:
...
So what exactly do we give up so the Air Force can have their Ferraris?

Tanks and submarines as well, if we want to divest ourselves of fighters.

All three of those capabilities have a disproportionately large share of CAF assets dedicated to them, if one were looking at a “solid Tier 2 helper force”’to the Tier 1 hegemonies.

Canada just needs to decide if it wishes to resolve itself to that place...like the Kiwis did to their Aussie big brothers.

Regards
G2G
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Good2Golf said:
Tanks and submarines as well, if we want to divest ourselves of fighters.

All three of those capabilities have a disproportionately large share of CAF assets dedicated to them, if one were looking at a “solid Tier 2 helper force”’to the Tier 1 hegemonies.

Canada just needs to decide if it wishes to resolve itself to that place...like the Kiwis did to their Aussie big brothers.

Regards
G2G

I think we can afford fighter jets, just not the top of the line ones.  If we do go for the F35, than something else must go.  The Shipbuilding program cannot be sacrificed, it's too important strategically and politically.

Does Gripen E get the job done?  Sure it does not nearly as well as the F35 but it gets the job done nevertheless.  If we can build it domestically, even better.

I personally think it's more important that we be able to build military hardware domestically long term than it is to have a few pieces of foreign equipment built entirely elsewhere.

The F35 is like the Tiger Tank of aircraft.  Super powerful but expensive which in a shooting war with the Dragon and Bear is going to be a huge impediment.  Canada needs a Sherman Tank, not a King Tiger.

I think this chart from Janes explains the problem space quite clearly:

main-qimg-1ebff55f5b48222ca8245a327bd0551e


Yes the cost to build an F35 is going to drastically come down but the cost per hour to fly the thing is going to break our piggy bank. 






 

PuckChaser

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Gripen's cost per flight hour is based on the Gripen-C. The numbers have been doctored to look like its way cheaper. See this article and breakdown: https://www.quora.com/Can-SAAB-Gripen-E-compete-with-F-35

Sure, maybe Canada doesn't need a Tiger tank. But the reason the Sherman tank was able to win the day was because there we 4 or 5 Shermans attacking every Tiger. Canada is getting 85 Tigers, or 85 Shermans. Given that choice, I'd take the Tiger everyday of the week.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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PuckChaser said:
Gripen's cost per flight hour is based on the Gripen-C. The numbers have been doctored to look like its way cheaper. See this article and breakdown: https://www.quora.com/Can-SAAB-Gripen-E-compete-with-F-35

Sure, maybe Canada doesn't need a Tiger tank. But the reason the Sherman tank was able to win the day was because there we 4 or 5 Shermans attacking every Tiger. Canada is getting 85 Tigers, or 85 Shermans. Given that choice, I'd take the Tiger everyday of the week.

That is where I took the data from  8)

There is no question the Gripen is way cheaper to operate than the F35, even if it isn't exactly that number.

My Sherman comparison has to do with ability to replace losses.  Having our own production line in that case becomes more important.  In a real peer war, we need to be able to crank out new equipment to replace our losses quickly.  It's all about industrial capacity. 

I would take Gripen's mixed with a fleet of Armed RPAs oh and put some bombs and missiles on the CP140 while we are at it. 

We have no RPAs at the moment, no bombs on the CP140 and we have just inherited some second hand Australian toilet paper. 

We also have a laundry list of other capabilities that need servicing.  Where does the money come from and where is the compromise?

 

SeaKingTacco

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Also, the Grippen E is looking to be about $113M USD per copy, vice about $80-85M USD for an F35.

I grant that the hourly O&M costs of an F35 will (probably) remain higher than a Grippen. But then there is the problem of operating a micro fleet *cough* Cyclone *cough*. You want a modernization package every 5 years or so (and you had better- if you want to win a war and have at least some of your pilots live)? It will be us and the swedes footing the R&D bill. Let me assure you- that won't be cheap.

So, in summary- it is expensive choosing to be a country with an adult foreign and defence policy. Unless we just want to outsource the whole thing to the US...
 

SeaKingTacco

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Humphrey Bogart said:
That is where I took the data from  8)

There is no question the Gripen is way cheaper to operate than the F35, even if it isn't exactly that number.

My Sherman comparison has to do with ability to replace losses.  Having our own production line in that case becomes more important.  In a real peer war, we need to be able to crank out new equipment to replace our losses quickly.  It's all about industrial capacity. 

I would take Gripen's mixed with a fleet of Armed RPAs oh and put some bombs and missiles on the CP140 while we are at it. 

We have no RPAs at the moment, no bombs on the CP140 and we have just inherited some second hand Australian toilet paper. 

We also have a laundry list of other capabilities that need servicing.  Where does the money come from and where is the compromise?

But we won't have a production line- at least not for long. I can guarantee that once the last fighter has rolled off the line in Canada's order, from the factory assembled at great expense in Bugtussle NB (or whatever "vital riding" needs the electoral bribery), the line will close and hundreds will be laid off. It will 4 years of work- tops.
 

dimsum

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SeaKingTacco said:
But we won't have a production line- at least not for long. I can guarantee that once the last fighter has rolled off the line in Canada's order, from the factory assembled at great expense in Bugtussle NB (or whatever "vital riding" needs the electoral bribery), the line will close and hundreds will be laid off. It will 4 years of work- tops.

Yep.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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SeaKingTacco said:
Also, the Grippen E is looking to be about $113M USD per copy, vice about $80-85M USD for an F35.

I grant that the hourly O&M costs of an F35 will (probably) remain higher than a Grippen. But then there is the problem of operating a micro fleet *cough* Cyclone *cough*. You want a modernization package every 5 years or so (and you had better- if you want to win a war and have at least some of your pilots live)? It will be us and the swedes footing the R&D bill. Let me assure you- that won't be cheap.

So, in summary- it is expensive choosing to be a country with an adult foreign and defence policy. Unless we just want to outsource the whole thing to the US...

I agree but I don't necessarily think it will be just us footing the bill for the Gripen, there are some other players in the mix:

Saab to hold meetings with Indian firms for making Gripen E aircraft

Saab is in the fray for a contract to supply around 110 fighter planes to India under the Multi Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) programme.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.economictimes.com/news/defence/saab-to-hold-meetings-with-indian-firms-for-making-gripen-e-aircraft/amp_articleshow/71095650.cms

And

Saab presents first Brazilian Gripen E fighter for flight test

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.upi.com/amp/Defense-News/2019/09/12/Saab-presents-first-Brazilian-Gripen-E-fighter-for-flight-test/5561568306285/

Also, Brazil eventually plans to increase that order to over 100 aircraft and are considering a carrier variant as well.

Their primordial reason for selecting the Gripen E over the F18 Super Hornet and Rafale was considerably lower operating costs and generous industrial benefits SAAB gave them.  Most South American countries are in need of new fighter aircraft and Brazil sees an opportunity for Embraer to build some aircraft for Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, etc.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Sure- basic flight safety, structural and engine upgrades over the life we could share with all Grippen users. Combat systems? Probably only the NATO Allies get to share the load, and maybe only the Swedes, depending how sensitive an issue it is. Maybe only us, if it is a NORAD related issue.

 

Good2Golf

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Humphrey Bogart said:
I think we can afford fighter jets, just not the top of the line ones.  If we do go for the F35, than something else must go.  The Shipbuilding program cannot be sacrificed, it's too important strategically and politically.

Ah, I see. It’s the Navy’s turn.  Cutting
edge force projection and coalition contribution only needs to happen at 28kts or less?  You’re parroting politically structured/postured argumentation...Classic “either this or that but not both...”

Are you personally confident in your knowledge of the Defence Investment Plan that CSC/JSS/AOPS protions of the NSS would be compromised were FCFP proceed with the existing DIP allocations (based on F35)? 


Humphrey Bogart said:
Does Gripen E get the job done?  Sure it does not nearly as well as the F35 but it gets the job done nevertheless.  If we can build it domestically, even better.

You believe the Gripen is ‘okay’....Saab has not formally submitted a proposal that has been evaluated by PSPC, so how certain are you about its capability and merit against all requirement s criteria that your statement is true.

Why not accept less within NSS?  Let’s see a reduction in the $100B+ life-cycle costs!

Humphrey Bogart said:
I personally think it's more important that we be able to build military hardware domestically long term than it is to have a few pieces of foreign equipment built entirely elsewhere.

...of course lass the more than $1B of F35 parts built by 1000’s of Canadians to date...but that doesn’t even begin to address the disproportionate costs to keep low volume ‘unique’ aircraft running for three decades.  It is a mug’s game to believe that  cheaper acquisition costs necessarily equate to lower life-cycle costs...which are known to be lower when shared across much greater quantities


Humphrey Bogart said:
The F35 is like the Tiger Tank of aircraft.  Super powerful but expensive which in a shooting war with the Dragon and Bear is going to be a huge impediment.  Canada needs a Sherman Tank, not a King Tiger.

The F-22 Raptor is the King Tiger.  F-35 is ‘just’ a Panzer V (Panther).  Having a Panzer I or II without the sensor/fire control capabilities of the V or Tiger II...is that good enough for Canada?  So long as it gets all 15 CSC with bells and whistles, right?

Humphrey Bogart said:
I think this chart from Janes explains the problem space quite clearly:

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-1ebff55f5b48222ca8245a327bd0551e[/
[/quote]

Those may be Janes’ figures, but they are highly
contextual...the fact that a Gripen is cheaper than publicly available (via ATIP) historical all-up cost figures even for a CH-146 Griffon makes me wonder about the applicability of directly relating those figures provided with how Canada would operate and find the aircraft. Spoiler alert when you ATIP the RCAF platform costs, you’ll find the CF-188 is not the most expensive aircraft to operate...shut down those more expensive? Lease alternatives. Shoot solidly for middle of the road?


[quote="Humphrey Bogart"]
I think this chart from Janes explains the problem space quite clearly:
Yes the cost to build an F35 is going to drastically come down but the cost per hour to fly the thing is going to break our piggy bank.
[/quote]

Cost and life-cycle cost to come down drastically, but still not enough?

Break the piggy bank, aka Canada’s Fiscal Framework / Investment Plan?

Are you sure?  Do you know how much Canada spends on the F-18 today?  It’s in the public record, and it’s not a small number. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the anticipated YFR for FCFP throughout the 30 years of the aircrafts life and how it isn’t affordable within the Department’s already planned budgetary planned allocations.

Without seeing the details of the F35, Super Hornet and Gripen complete packages, I’m not going to parrot jingoistic, subjective critique-lines on any particular contender.

:2c:

Regards
G2G
 

SupersonicMax

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Do we really want to have partner nations like Brazil when it comes to software development and systems integration?  Or do we want to stay in the “circle of trust”?
 

SeaKingTacco

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SupersonicMax said:
Do we really want to have partner nations like Brazil when it comes to software development and systems integration?  Or do we want to stay in the “circle of trust”?

That was my point, above. Brazil, India, Botswana, South Africa, Thailand and maybe not even the Czechs or Hungarians would be allowed to see our version of the software.

Ask me how I know how ruinously expensive that will be for us....
 

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And we are back to Daddy Trudeau's playing footsie with Cuba, Yugoslavia and India in the Non-Aligned Movement.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Good2Golf said:
Ah, I see. It’s the Navy’s turn.  Cutting
edge force projection and coalition contribution only needs to happen at 28kts or less?  You’re parroting politically structured/postured argumentation...Classic “either this or that but not both...”

Are you personally confident in your knowledge of the Defence Investment Plan that CSC/JSS/AOPS protions of the NSS would be compromised were FCFP proceed with the existing DIP allocations (based on F35)?

Of course not as I am not privy to that information; however, its well known that the current force structure of the Canadian Armed Forces is unsustainable at current spending levels.  With no new money forthcoming, this will not change.

See: Fiscal Sustainability of Canada’s National
Defence Program

Dated: 26 Mar 15

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates
that the current force structure of the Department of
National Defence (DND) is unsustainable at current
funding levels. To achieve sustainability, it will be
necessary to change the force structure, increase the
amount of funding allocated to DND, or implement a
combination of the two.
https://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/web/default/files/files/files/Defence_Analysis_EN.pdf

This situation has never been rectified, even with all the theatrics of "Strong, Secure, Engaged" and all of the funding promised has been kicked down the road until later, whenever that date materializes.  So yes, the Defence Department continues to atrophy capability, year after year.

They also just released a report on the Canadian Surface Combatant program:

https://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/web/default/files/Documents/Reports/2019/Canada-Surface-Combatants-update/CSC_Update_2019_Report_E.pdf

Updated estimate cost is $69.8 billion for the program, that's close to $10 billion more than the previous estimate in 2017.  It keeps increasing, year after year. Inflation is a real killer!

My entire argument is based around the premise that if no increase in Defence spending as a percentage of our GDP is forthcoming, we will not be able to feed our Defence Department's considerable appetite for cutting edge equipment. How do we build ships while also maintaining a fighter force capability?

You believe the Gripen is ‘okay’....Saab has not formally submitted a proposal that has been evaluated by PSPC, so how certain are you about its capability and merit against all requirement s criteria that your statement is true.

Why not accept less within NSS?  Let’s see a reduction in the $100B+ life-cycle costs!

...of course lass the more than $1B of F35 parts built by 1000’s of Canadians to date...but that doesn’t even begin to address the disproportionate costs to keep low volume ‘unique’ aircraft running for three decades.  It is a mug’s game to believe that  cheaper acquisition costs necessarily equate to lower life-cycle costs...which are known to be lower when shared across much greater quantities

I believe the Gripen to be adequate for our needs.  Will it be anywhere close to as capable as the F35, hell no.  Will it be capable of bombing brigands in North Africa and the Middle East?  Absolument.  It's also perfectly capable of chasing down 60s era Tupolev bombers.  If a country like Sweden, which is 27% the size of Canada population wise can support their own fighter aircraft, it should not be a problem for us.  I am worried about costs to the Canadian Armed Forces of actually operating the F35.  Which will come at the expense of other projects, projects that are equally necessary.

I also doubt that we will have 15 Frigates at the end of the CSC, regardless of what the present Government says.  The timeline for the CSC is so long that any Government in power can basically say whatever they want.  My prediction is due to escalating program costs coupled with inflation, we end up with less than 15 CSCs.  We might build some additional ones but maybe they will be sold to someone else (New Zealand, Chile, etc).  Every new ship build in Europe has over-promised and under-delivered so what makes us think we will be any different.

Likewise, unless we do something drastic, I can't see affording new capabilities like RPA, Investments in Cyber, replacements for the Aurora, Vic Class Submarines, etc.  I trust the PBO way more than I trust any sort of Defence Investment Plan.

The F-22 Raptor is the King Tiger.  F-35 is ‘just’ a Panzer V (Panther).  Having a Panzer I or II without the sensor/fire control capabilities of the V or Tiger II...is that good enough for Canada?  So long as it gets all 15 CSC with bells and whistles, right?

Those may be Janes’ figures, but they are highly
contextual...the fact that a Gripen is cheaper than publicly available (via ATIP) historical all-up cost figures even for a CH-146 Griffon makes me wonder about the applicability of directly relating those figures provided with how Canada would operate and find the aircraft. Spoiler alert when you ATIP the RCAF platform costs, you’ll find the CF-188 is not the most expensive aircraft to operate...shut down those more expensive? Lease alternatives. Shoot solidly for middle of the road?


Cost and life-cycle cost to come down drastically, but still not enough?

Break the piggy bank, aka Canada’s Fiscal Framework / Investment Plan?

Are you sure?  Do you know how much Canada spends on the F-18 today?  It’s in the public record, and it’s not a small number. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the anticipated YFR for FCFP throughout the 30 years of the aircrafts life and how it isn’t affordable within the Department’s already planned budgetary planned allocations.

Without seeing the details of the F35, Super Hornet and Gripen complete packages, I’m not going to parrot jingoistic, subjective critique-lines on any particular contender.

:2c:

Regards
G2G

I have no particular allegiance to the Navy, the Army, the Air Force or any service in the CAF for that matter.  What I care about is that Canada is able to deliver capabilities across the spectrum of combat with the budget that we have been allocated by the Government of Canada which according to SIPRI was $21.6 billion last year placing us at #14 in the world for total military spending.

https://sipri.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/fs_1904_milex_2018_0.pdf

Canada absolutely needs fighter aircraft but it also needs RPAs, New Maritime Patrol Aircraft, New Ships, Submarines and many other capabilities which it is presently lacking.  It somehow needs to fit this in to that $21.6 billion and sacrifices will need to be made for that to be accomplished.

Chris Pook said:
And we are back to Daddy Trudeau's playing footsie with Cuba, Yugoslavia and India in the Non-Aligned Movement.

We have been in the Non-Aligned Movement since the 1970s in all but spirit.  Token contributions to Defence of Europe notwithstanding, we have sat out almost all Anglo-American interventions and were an otherwise reluctant player 95% of the time.  This isn't to knock the quality of the CAF, it's the reality of the political situation in Canada. 
 

SupersonicMax

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HB:  how do you assume our mission set is unopposed CAS exclusively?  Have you read SSE and how it relates to what we, the fighter force, need to be ready to face?
 
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