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

Let me digress from the main topic just a little more because the last half dozen posts are on point with this.

The phase in the book that Old Sweat and I are writing right now deals with the stand up of both a counter mortar radar troop and a UAV troop for Op Athena 1s ROTO 0 back in 2003. I've conducted close to a dozen interviews on the subject and think I've got a fair handle on it.

At the time the Directorate of Land Requirements had been working on a project for the integration of land sensors into what is commonly called ISTAR. Both the CMR and UAV were elements of that although neither system existed in our inventory. Back in April of 2002 a number of agencies got together in Suffield for an exercise that tested both a high level and medium level UAV and out of the tests came an acceptance that the CAF needed a suite of UAVs operating at the high, medium and low levels. The understanding was that the RCAF would be concerned about the former and the Army the two latter ones (i.e. Tactical UAVs).

Fast forward to Feb 2003 and the MND announces we're going to Kabul catching most of the CAF flatfooted. We send a recce party to the current ISAF III roto there and the Germans are flying the Puma UAV while the Dutch are operating the US AN/TPQ - 36 FireFinder CMR. The requirement for such system for the next ROTO is identified and rapidly agreed to and within a few weeks an Unforcasted Operational Requirement (UOR) is issued by the Directorate of Land Force Readiness to DLR, cash is allocated and the the procurement process begins.

Fast forward slightly to April 2003 when 2 CMBG is at the BTE in Wainwright, still carrying out its ordinary training cycle for high readiness and the artillery is standing up a target acquisition cell while the brigade is experimenting with an ISTAR company. As part of that, the artillery is flying a Vindicator (an aircraft used as a target for air defence training) modified with a small camera sensor package. An Air Force helicopter is cleared into the Wainwright training area but doesn't contact the brigade's Air Space Coord Centre or its TACP and flies directly through a Restricted Operating Zone (ROZ) in front of the Vindicator as it was being prepped for launch. As a result the Army files a Transport Canada (TC) Flight Safety Incident Report which is sent to the RCAF for investigation. It is at this point that the RCAF has little cows and starts making comments about the "Army doesn't have the right to fly anything" and inserts itself into the already ongoing stand-up of a tactical UAV capability for Afghanistan.

By the summer of 2003 the artillery has already stood up a troop and the Sperwer has been acquired. The artillery sends some 20 personnel to a TC mandated civilian flight school for three months to learn about all things aircraft operation. Well before deployment and well before a single incident has occurred, the RCAF inserted five air crew trained personnel into the system at the time that the artillery's people attended Sperwer training in France for another three months.

I'm partially on board with Oldgateboatdriver with this. IMHO the type of aircraft matters. For high flying UAVs the Air Force should have full management of all five categories put forward by SupersonicMax; for medium level TUAVs the responsibility should be shared as suggested by Oldgateboatdriver; and at the low/miniUAV level the RCAF has no role whatsoever. There may need to be some discussion as to where the boundaries at this level should be but that's generally it.

There is a complicating factor that many of our allies do not have which is that aviation is usually an Army resource (and once was here too) while at unification the Air Force forced themselves into that field and made it an RCAF one. We therefore have an RCAF resource that typically operates in an environment already occupied by numerous Army projectiles and other systems that occupy and control the air space that aviation flies through. By intruding into this air space the RCAF has complicated tactical level air space management and the doctrine that controls it. Quite frankly we could simplify the entire system if rather than putting all of those five categories into RCAF hands, we put aviation into the Army's hands so that all five of those categories would be managed by the Army at the Aviation and below levels of operations. As I mentioned above, the whole issue respecting Sperwer started when an RCAF helicopter improperly entered a ROZ which was a measure imposed by a joint Army/Air Force tactical agency. Obviously there would still be instances of RCAF resources operating within Army controlled air space that would require joint management but the instances would be significantly fewer.

Incidentally I'm slowly moving my research forward along the timeline and while I know very little at this point about the RCAFs further insertion into the operation of UAVs for Athena 2 I'm looking forward to finding out the whys and whats that went on. I would very much like to speak to any RCAF individuals who were involved at that time and will let you know when I get there (probably late this year)

Not true. We, more often than not, operate in airspace nowhere near land forces. Also, by doctrine (be it Canadian, NATO or US), airspace (and all air assets, in some cases less helos in direct support of a maneuver force) is controlled by airpower. They apportion aircraft and airspace to the Army. Not the other way around. This ensures that all assets are deconflicted and that all effects are coordinated. Airpower does a lot more than supporting the Army.
Reread my paragraph and start with the part where I say "... as far as tactical air is concerned ...". Unless the air force has changed the joint doctrine somewhere "tactical air" concerns
An air operation involving the employment of air power in coordination with ground or naval forces to:a. gain and maintain air superiority;b. prevent movement of enemy forces into and within the objective area and to seek out and destroy these forces and their supporting installations;c. join with ground or naval forces in operations within the objective area, in order to assist directly in attainment of their immediate objective.
Funny that thing about air power apportioning air space to the Army. And here I always thought that in a given theatre that air power and air space allocation was exercised by the JTF commander through the Joint Force Air Component Commander with the main emphasis here being "through". Strangely enough, when we are considering operations where there is a requirement for tactical air in support of Army operations then the JTF commander who exercises overall command is an Army guy. There are a lot of things that the air force does because its their bag and no one cares enough to bother about but when it comes to who tells who what in a joint operation keep a clear eye on who is in overall command.

Stop reading air force doctrine and start reading joint doctrine when it comes to tac air. Kinda works the same for Joint Navy Task Forces to where the air element supports the Navy commander.


Interesting. I have never read this pub before, but will read it in greater detail later. Thank you.

However, just a few first comments from reading that page and then looking back to get what are some of the concepts it refers to.

I start by noting that an air doctrine put out by RCAF that puts it in charge of air doctrine is ... something that might not stand the test of other commanders stating their own doctrine. So there is obviously some coordination going on somewhere and input obtained from multiple sources. For instance, I know that our (CAF) ASW doctrine is signed off on by both CRCN and CRCAF.

I also note that the section refers to these five residual aspects as relating to "air power operations". I went back in the pub to find a definition of "air power operations" and found none. There is a list of characteristics of air power (including some that merely state that a given characteristic is that it is "less" or "more" of some aspect than the naval or land component's such character - an interesting negative way of stating things a bit like "we are Canadian because we are not Americans ;) ) but it doesn't state if those are merely some indicators used to help in qualifying some operations as air power or wether they are characters that must all be present for something to fall within the purview of air power. I don't know the answer and genuinely would like to know.

Nevertheless, staring from the fact that the RCAF doctrine applies to "air power operations", I ask the following: In the days of multiple types of RPA's and flying ordnance (long range missiles, ASu or Land attack, or even anti-ballistic), is it possible that not everything in the air constitute an "air power" operation?

Using the same examples I used before, I would suggest that the Army using a small RPA to look over a ridge or a frigates using a small shipboard RPA to go and read the ship's name, port of registration and look at the ship characteristic features to confirm identity for ship 20 NM from me - so I don't have to come about and close to ID - would be viewed by both the Army and RCN as mere extensions of one's senses or sensors (for the ship) in the usual discharge other functions, and not as applications of "air power", and therefore that the RCAF has no business sticking it's nose in it. I am not set in my ways here and am willing to be convinced otherwise, so anyone feel free to attempt so.

On the other hand, I completely accept that the use of helicopters for prosecution of submarines constitutes "air power" operations. This said, while the navy will accept that air safety, air worthiness (all aspects - technical and human) and in this case training and standards remain with the RCAF, I can also tell you that the navy will never accept that any doctrine relating to ASW as carried out from ship (with or without shipboard helicopters) be dictated by the RCAF.
Looks like they use the excuse of "evolving technologies" to cut forces, but to make it look like it's not as bad as it is. To run carriers without sufficient jets and wear out those airframe from over use is pennywise and pound foolish. Reducing the buy rate per year will help the budget without incurring other long term costs.
WRT the F15EX - and "drones"

Kratos has its own version of the Loyal Wingman - carried on the F15.

Is the F15 a UOR bomb-truck to carry drones in support of F35 led recce forces?

Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Demonstration (LCASD)

The LCASD system KUSD will provide represents a configurable design for multiple variants anticipated to perform various missions that could require Nap-of-The-Earth (NOE) Flight, Cruising at High Altitudes, Defensive Counter Air (DCA) Maneuvers, Offensive Counter Air (OCA) Maneuvers, the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and the Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD). Additionally, the System will also incorporate performance capability including extreme agility for missile avoidance maneuvers for improved survivability. The Kratos LCASD design will meet or in certain cases significantly exceed the following stated Air Force goals for the program:​

  • UAS Acquisition Cost: $3 million or less for the first unit up to 99 units, and $2 million or less for 100 or greater unit quantity purchases.
  • 1,500 nautical mile mission radius with a 500 lb. payload.
  • Capable of Mach 0.9 Dash.
  • Maximum G load limits, maneuver rates, and subsystem environmental suitability.
  • Internal weapons capability; sized to carry and deliver at least two GBU-39 small diameter bombs.
  • Runway Independent Take-off and Landing capability.
  • Emphasis on the use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) materials, sub-systems, manufacturing processes, and open mission system architecture concepts.
  • Tactical consideration of the vehicle shape, elimination of gaps and mismatches, and aero-structural inlet

How much of the Davis-Monthan boneyard could be repurposed as either bomb-trucks and/or optionally manned and/or unmanned aircraft?
Maybe it didn’t see itself? The ultimate confirmation of its stealth capability.

ps. The Vice article does have some incorrect information:

The F-35 is the most expensive weapon ever built. Just one of the B variants, flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, costs around $135.8 million.

The B-2 is significantly more expensive than an F-35, for example.
Vice.com is where I go to read stories, not news. Followed closely by the CBC.
Given how much the American government is seemingly looking at the F-35 as a financial black hole with little returns, how would this enhance the chances of the F/A-18E/F to win the contest?

Bring on the F-15EX!

About 10 years too late to the game, not happening in Canada unless we request it or go sole source buy. Stranger things could happen.

Anything but that stupid paper tiger from Sweden.
About 10 years too late to the game, not happening in Canada unless we request it or go sole source buy. Stranger things could happen.

Anything but that stupid paper tiger from Sweden.

Why don't you like the Grippen?
About 10 years too late to the game, not happening in Canada unless we request it or go sole source buy. Stranger things could happen.

Anything but that stupid paper tiger from Sweden.

I'm telling you right now....

If Trudeau can negotiate a deal which results in i) jobs in Eastern Canada where seats are contested, and ii) Boeing ensuring the contract is somehow carbon-neutral, I think he would jump at the opportunity. I think the Liberal Party is desperate to try to change the page from the WE Charity scandal and Vaccine Procurement issues, and a story like that would most certainly help.