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

Good2Golf

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And the institutional cost for operators, maintainers and supporters as well as infrastructure for the UAS/UCAVs? 🤔
 

SeaKingTacco

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And the institutional cost for operators, maintainers and supporters as well as infrastructure for the UAS/UCAVs? 🤔
Exactly. You well recognize that you cannot focus on the sales brochure price. You need to look at what the item costs you in O&M, including how many PYs it needs (hint: no RPAS project in the world has yet saved PYs...).

I like the idea of loyal wingman. But, it should be considered on the merits of what it operationally brings to the table. Not because it will save money. Because it won’t.
 

GR66

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Exactly. You well recognize that you cannot focus on the sales brochure price. You need to look at what the item costs you in O&M, including how many PYs it needs (hint: no RPAS project in the world has yet saved PYs...).

I like the idea of loyal wingman. But, it should be considered on the merits of what it operationally brings to the table. Not because it will save money. Because it won’t.
I'm more thinking about getting ourselves wedded to a particular airframe (that may already be almost on the verge of replacement by the NGAD fighter) for the next 30+ years. Whether we go F-35 or Super Hornet we'll be going "all in" on that platform and the chance of upgrading in my remaining lifetime I think is pretty minimal.

If we were to go with 65 x manned fighters (@ $80-100 million each) and 65 x UCAVs (@ say $20 million each) I think we'd have a much better chance of a) replacing/upgrading the UCAVS in 15-years with the next generation of unmanned aircraft and/or b) replacing 65 x manned fighters with a similar number of next-gen aircraft in 20-25 years than if we have to look at replacing all 88.
 

SeaKingTacco

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I'm more thinking about getting ourselves wedded to a particular airframe (that may already be almost on the verge of replacement by the NGAD fighter) for the next 30+ years. Whether we go F-35 or Super Hornet we'll be going "all in" on that platform and the chance of upgrading in my remaining lifetime I think is pretty minimal.

If we were to go with 65 x manned fighters (@ $80-100 million each) and 65 x UCAVs (@ say $20 million each) I think we'd have a much better chance of a) replacing/upgrading the UCAVS in 15-years with the next generation of unmanned aircraft and/or b) replacing 65 x manned fighters with a similar number of next-gen aircraft in 20-25 years than if we have to look at replacing all 88.
And that is not bad reasoning, but nobody should kid themselves that it will save money.
 

Good2Golf

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A common (and rather reliable) rule of thumb for major capital projects is that 15-20 year life-cycle costs are usually 2 to 2-1/2 times the initial acquisition costs. So that would put potential ROM costs for a UCAV fleet at 3.5-4.5 billion dollars. Of note, UCAVs were not costed into Strong, Secure, Engaged.
 

MilEME09

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A common (and rather reliable) rule of thumb for major capital projects is that 15-20 year life-cycle costs are usually 2 to 2-1/2 times the initial acquisition costs. So that would put potential ROM costs for a UCAV fleet at 3.5-4.5 billion dollars. Of note, UCAVs were not costed into Strong, Secure, Engaged.
Which is important to note given the CAF wants to aquire them now.
 

GR66

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A common (and rather reliable) rule of thumb for major capital projects is that 15-20 year life-cycle costs are usually 2 to 2-1/2 times the initial acquisition costs. So that would put potential ROM costs for a UCAV fleet at 3.5-4.5 billion dollars. Of note, UCAVs were not costed into Strong, Secure, Engaged.
Which is why in my questioning the possibility of this as an option I stated that we'd reduce the manned fighter purchase from 88 aircraft to 65 aircraft to save in the range of $1.84 billion (23 x $80 million) to cover the cost of purchasing 65 x UCAVs at (let's assume a unit price of $25 million) $1.625 billion. Pretty much a wash as far as initial purchase price goes.
 

PuckChaser

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But then you need techs and infrastructure to maintain/house 42 more airframes. Not to mention expensive ground control stations for the UCAVs and the fact that we dont own any global communications satellites for the uplink, so we'd be leasing bandwidth which can easily be in the $10s of millions per channel per year. Oh, and starting develop a training system from scratch for a capability that doesnt have a single IOC platform yet.

UCAVs will be a thing, 20 years from now. Binning current procurement to bet on that technology is short sighted and foolish.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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May I ask a tangential question for those that would know?

What is the cost per flight hour of something like the SAAB Globaleye as opposed to the candidates we're currently evaluating?

Thanks in advance, Matthew.
 

Good2Golf

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Which is why in my questioning the possibility of this as an option I stated that we'd reduce the manned fighter purchase from 88 aircraft to 65 aircraft to save in the range of $1.84 billion (23 x $80 million) to cover the cost of purchasing 65 x UCAVs at (let's assume a unit price of $25 million) $1.625 billion. Pretty much a wash as far as initial purchase price goes.
That’s just a small part of the overall (notional) program.

• ‘Savings’ - ($1.8B)
• Acquisition - $1.6B
• Life-cycle Support Costs - $3.3B to $4.1B
———
Total incremental program cost - $3.1B to $3.9B

That’s $3-4B we don’t have in the budgeted allocation for DND.

What do you recommend we cut to fund these UCAVs?
 

MilEME09

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That’s just a small part of the overall (notional) program.

• ‘Savings’ - ($1.8B)
• Acquisition - $1.6B
• Life-cycle Support Costs - $3.3B to $4.1B
———
Total incremental program cost - $3.1B to $3.9B

That’s $3-4B we don’t have in the budgeted allocation for DND.

What do you recommend we cut to fund these UCAVs?
The pay of ministers, parliamentary pension, # of GOFOs, all button and bow/renaming initiatives, charge penalties to shipyards for any further delays.
 

GR66

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That’s just a small part of the overall (notional) program.

• ‘Savings’ - ($1.8B)
• Acquisition - $1.6B
• Life-cycle Support Costs - $3.3B to $4.1B
———
Total incremental program cost - $3.1B to $3.9B

That’s $3-4B we don’t have in the budgeted allocation for DND.

What do you recommend we cut to fund these UCAVs?
You would have had life cycle and support costs of the additional manned aircraft anyways. So 2 to 2-1/2 times the $1.8 billion acquisition cost for the 23 extra manned airframes in life-cycle costs is replaced by 2 to 2-1/2 times the $1.6 billion acquisition cost for the 64 x UCAVs to replace them.

Yes I get that there are also additional costs from having more airframes overall, but we previously had 138 Hornets so presumably we as a nation should have the capability to support 130 manned and unmanned aircraft.

As far as ground control stations are concerned my understanding from the article is that the Loyal Wingman isn't controlled from a ground station, it's controlled by the accompanying aircraft, so no pilot, satellite or ground control station is required.

That being said I'm 100% sure that there will be additional costs with adding a new weapon system. However, any new system will require additional investments. If UCAVs are going to be the cutting edge technology, they why shouldn't we look at making that investment now (and getting them in the 10-year time frame that we're going to be getting our new manned aircraft) rather than waiting 10 years to get manned aircraft that we're going to keep for 40 years. That just puts us (again) at 40-years behind what other nations (like Australia with the Loyal Wingman) are getting.
 

daftandbarmy

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We could contract with MDA or another supplier (for unarmed UCAVs) for a period of time to develop the concept and internal capacity to operate a UCAV fleet, then procure them ourselves eventually based on that ramp up period:

 

FJAG

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But then you need techs and infrastructure to maintain/house 42 more airframes. Not to mention expensive ground control stations for the UCAVs and the fact that we dont own any global communications satellites for the uplink, so we'd be leasing bandwidth which can easily be in the $10s of millions per channel per year. Oh, and starting develop a training system from scratch for a capability that doesnt have a single IOC platform yet.

UCAVs will be a thing, 20 years from now. Binning current procurement to bet on that technology is short sighted and foolish.
If you go from 88 to 65 next generation fighters then presumably you should have one squadron's worth of existing personnel and infrastructure redundant which could be converted. Not to be too snide, but if UCAVs are a thing twenty years from no then we better start building the system now or we won't be ready when they are.

🍻
 

PuckChaser

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If you go from 88 to 65 next generation fighters then presumably you should have one squadron's worth of existing personnel and infrastructure redundant which could be converted. Not to be too snide, but if UCAVs are a thing twenty years from no then we better start building the system now or we won't be ready when they are.

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So you're suggesting we collapse one of the 4 line fighter squadrons completely now and shortchange our fighter capability (remember the 88 number is because we have a "gap") to prep for 2 decades from now when UCAVs are viable platforms? We can't build systems for things that are basically mockups and test aircraft. The CAF does not have the money, or procurement model to be able to lean out that far on a system. We can barely get what we own now into the air but we should have folks sitting on their tools waiting for an experimental aircraft we haven't even signed a contract to purchase yet because it doesn't exist.

There's 2x X-47B UCAVs that exist in the world. Cutting off badly needed fighter procurements now to bet on UCAVs is asinine.
 

MilEME09

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How many squadrons does 88 aircraft outfit? And how many spares would that leave us?
 

GR66

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So you're suggesting we collapse one of the 4 line fighter squadrons completely now and shortchange our fighter capability (remember the 88 number is because we have a "gap") to prep for 2 decades from now when UCAVs are viable platforms? We can't build systems for things that are basically mockups and test aircraft. The CAF does not have the money, or procurement model to be able to lean out that far on a system. We can barely get what we own now into the air but we should have folks sitting on their tools waiting for an experimental aircraft we haven't even signed a contract to purchase yet because it doesn't exist.

There's 2x X-47B UCAVs that exist in the world. Cutting off badly needed fighter procurements now to bet on UCAVs is asinine.
Who says we have to drop a fighter squadron completely now? We haven't even selected a replacement aircraft. How many years will it be before we get our first new fighter? How many before we get our 65th?

The question isn't whether UCAVs are ready to fly today to replace one of our fighter squadrons it's whether they will be ready by the time we receive our 65th new fighter. That's when you'd be looking at rolling the UCAVs into the 4th fighter squadron when they are (finally) retiring the last batch of Hornets.
 

Drallib

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Unfortunately right now without budgetary increases ti the RCAF, as well as Trained manpower increases a split fleet of any kind will hinder us more then help. I agree the RCAF needs more then 88, id prefer a number around 138, which would replace every hornet we ever had 1 for 1. We keep wanting to do more with less, there comes a point where you can't do that any more because birds can't be in two places at once.
MilEME09, I asked a few months ago on this thread why Canada was only getting 88 aircraft oppose to the original number of hornet we had, and the response to that was we had a hornets in Germany or something along those lines. Basically, our mission now doesn’t require that many Fighter jets.

To add, if you look back prior to our purchase of the hornets, Canada had hundreds of fighter jets at one time (post-WWII) and different fighters as well. This was during the Cold War I think.

Different times call for different measures, and Canada’s mission today only calls for 88 Fighters (so our leaders say).

I think the 65 F-35As requested by the CPC was the absolute bare minimum required for our mission, which I assume more would have been purchased later on...
 

PuckChaser

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Who says we have to drop a fighter squadron completely now? We haven't even selected a replacement aircraft. How many years will it be before we get our first new fighter? How many before we get our 65th?

The question isn't whether UCAVs are ready to fly today to replace one of our fighter squadrons it's whether they will be ready by the time we receive our 65th new fighter. That's when you'd be looking at rolling the UCAVs into the 4th fighter squadron when they are (finally) retiring the last batch of Hornets.
FJAG said if we dropped fighters we'd have a Squadron of pers to put towards UCAV.

With 2 aircraft built right now, the literal only UCAV that we'd consider buying is the X-47B. If you look at how long it took to make the F-35, which was a generational change aircraft, there's no possible way a UCAV is ready to bid in the early 2030s that FOC is supposed to be for FFCP. We also need to know what the damn are capable of, and what doctrine they support before we even start a project office and send out a RFP. We're supposed to have our first future fighter in mid-2020s, so for arguments sake in 2025. CF-188s start retiring then. There might be 4x X-47Bs flying around then. Totally a good idea to dump billions of finite defense dollars into an experimental project.

🤦‍♂️
 

FJAG

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So you're suggesting we collapse one of the 4 line fighter squadrons completely now and shortchange our fighter capability (remember the 88 number is because we have a "gap") to prep for 2 decades from now when UCAVs are viable platforms? We can't build systems for things that are basically mockups and test aircraft. The CAF does not have the money, or procurement model to be able to lean out that far on a system. We can barely get what we own now into the air but we should have folks sitting on their tools waiting for an experimental aircraft we haven't even signed a contract to purchase yet because it doesn't exist.

There's 2x X-47B UCAVs that exist in the world. Cutting off badly needed fighter procurements now to bet on UCAVs is asinine.
Not at all. I personally think it would be nice to have them all. In fact more than 88 except the cash isn't there. But I digress ...

My comment was only in response to your response to GR66s suggestion that reducing from 88 to 65 would free up the procurement cash to for the UCAVs to which you stated that:

But then you need techs and infrastructure to maintain/house 42 more airframes ...
All that I said was that IF you reduce from 88 to 65 then you would have the equivalent of one squadron's worth of resources to throw at the UCAVs -- 13 less aircraft being roughly one squadron.

I just think that GR66 is being a bit more forward leaning then some. If you buy the full 88 the RCAF will be wedded to those things for the next three decades at least (the CF 18 has been around for 38 years) There won't be a downstream nickel for anything new until the last F-35 or Grippen or whatever has rusted out on the tarmac.

I think it would be smart to leave some room in the inventory for the next generation of things.

Let's face it. We're all just spit balling here. If the Army isn't growing it's capabilities for the next peer conflict, then what is the next generation fighter really for. How many do we need to intercept encroaching Bears? I can see the need for new naval capabilities to "protect the homeland" against peer threats, but am having some troubles in seeing the next generation fighter as a "must have" rather than a "nice to have". If we'd bought them a decade ago like we should have, then okay. They were the only real option then. But now, there's a whole herd of new capabilities on the horizon and it would be nice for once to get in on the ground floor of new concepts. Putting all our Air Force eggas in one basket and locking them down for decades to come seems short sighted to me.

(Pretend there's $0.02 imoji here)

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